Wednesday, July 16, 2008

JOEL MARK SOLLIDAY: "THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IN THE 21st CENTURY: Where are the Heirs of Alexander Campbell's 19th Century Restoration Movement Today?"

MP3 Available Here

JOEL MARK SOLLIDAY, minister of Northern Light Church of Christ in Brooklyn Park, MN will address the theme: "THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IN THE 21st CENTURY: Where are the Heirs of Alexander Campbell's 19th Century Restoration Movement Today?"

The 19th century "Restoration Movement," also known as the "Stone-Campbell Movement" after its leading figures, revivalist preachers Barton Stone, Thomas Campbell and his son Alexander (the latter being most well known due to his apparent dominance in the movement), is a movement born of the Second Great Awakening that has been steeped in great controversy since its inception and remains so to this day (members are known by many outside the movement as "Campbellites," a label viewed as a pejorative term by most within the movement). Stone and the Campbells jettisoned their Presbyterian moorings and entered a missionary effort calling all Christians to abandon sectarianism and denominationalism in order to restore unity among all of Christ's disciples under the banner of "No head-quarters but heaven, no creed but Christ, no book but the Bible, no plea but the gospel, and no name but the divine."

While this movement may have indeed had very noble goals in mind, it very early on became riddled with the same division, sectarianism and infighting that it was seeking to erase from Christendom. Ironically, while originally not seeing infinitely more vital matters such as a belief in the "Trinity" as being necessary for Christian fellowship, infighting arose over issues many today both inside and outside of this movement would find quite trivial, perhaps even laughably so. Those once professing to be brothers began to denounce one another as apostates and infidels over such matters as the use of many cups rather than one communal cup during the Lord's Supper, church supported schools and orphanages, the practice of having "Sunday School," the use of musical instruments in worship and many more catalysts of church splitting than we have room to enumerate here (it should be quickly admitted here that many of these matters of division have also existed between Baptists, Presbyterians and congregations within other Evangelical groups and denominations). One of the mottos of the Stone-Campbell Movement, "Christians only, but not the only Christians" was replaced in practice with the concept "We ARE the ONLY Christians," a theme deeply entrenched in the minds of many within each of the warring factions.

Three major groups emerged from this Restoration Movement which remain today: "the Disciples of Christ", "the Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ" and "the Church of Christ (A Cappella)." These groups are typically viewed as reflecting a spectrum from liberal to conservative, the "Disciples" representing the "far left wing" and the "Church of Christ (A Cappella)" representing the "far right-wing", but in today's religious landscape these groups become increasingly more difficult to pigeonhole.

The group to which our guest, Joel Mark Solliday, is associated, the "Church of Christ (A Cappella)", on its own, is a group spanning the spectrum from liberal, to mainstream Evangelical, to cultic isolationism (what began as the "Boston Church of Christ Movement," also once known as the "Shepherding Movement" and the "Discipleship Movement," now known as the "International Churches of Christ" (ICOC), has even been branded by many in the far-right of more mainline Churches of Christ as a cult).

Today, within congregations identifying themselves as being part of the "Church of Christ (A Cappella)", you have disagreements over a wider spectrum of matters than those issues that dominated the stage earlier on in the 20th century, including women ministers, the necessity of baptismal immersion for salvation, the recognition of Baptist and other Evangelical immersionists' baptism, identity as a stream flowing from the 16th century Protestant Reformation, ecumenical relationships with professing Christians outside of their "brotherhood" (including Roman Catholics), various themes within the "Calvinist-Arminian" debate, the "sign gifts" of the Holy Spirit such as speaking in tongues, the "Hyper-Preterist" controversy, eternal conscious torment in hell, and more.

Our guest Joel Mark Solliday, is indeed a unique minister within the Church of Christ (A Cappella). He regularly expresses his thoughts on the Christian life in an email devotional he calls "Currents of Living Water," in which he frequently praises the contributions of the Protestant Reformers and other Evangelicals outside of the Restoration Movement for their invaluable, immeasurable gifts to Christianity. This past October Joel had a special "Reformation Day" edition of "Currents" urging all Christians to remember and honor "the Great Reformer" Martin Luther for the great legacy he left to all those who rejoice in the true freedom only found in Christ, and who savor being released from the shackles of superstition and the oppression of a religion which demands man to help earn his salvation.

Joel grew up in a Christian family in California and graduated from Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA, with a B.A., Magna Cum Laude, in 1976, completing two majors (Art and Religion). In 1979, he received the Master of Divinity degree from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA.

Joel describes his spiritual moorings as being in the Restoration Movement and affirms he is deeply grateful for this. As he puts it, "This gives me more of a 'revivalist' heritage than a 'reformed' one. I have come to see the greatness of both theological traditions without being blind to the flaws. Sometimes, I tend to make both 'sides' uncomfortable because I just cannot reject the bible-based wisdom I see on both 'sides'...". Joel quite humbly adds, "I still need and welcome dialogue to help me sort out a clearer theological vision."

Joel has seven years of youth ministry experience and has worked on two college campuses in various roles. He also has experience as a free-lance artist and has taught "Art Appreciation" at Hope International University in Fullerton CA.

Beginning in 1990, he served as pulpit minister of the Moorpark Church of Christ in CA for five years and then for the WestSide Church of Christ in CT for five more years. Today, He is approaching his eighth year serving as the pulpit minister of the Northern Light Church of Christ near Minneapolis, MN. He has also been Editor of Campus CrossWalk between 2003 - the present. He married Katie Wells, a school teacher, in 2005, and they live in Ostego, MN.

1 comment:

Penn Tomassetti said...

I was a member of the international church of christ for a while. I don't think you dealt with the baptism issue adequately. I would love to hear you ask Joel Solliday some very upfront and clear questions about baptism and salvation and then deal with Acts 2:38 and other verses Biblically.

Believe me, it would help a lot of struggling saints. Personally, I would love to see the churches of Christ embracing calvinism! It happened to me :D

God bless!

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