MOVE as an organization traces its roots and holds as it heritage the American Restoration Movement. The Restoration Movement is predominantly an American movement that had its beginning on the American frontier during the days of the Second Great Awakening at the end of the nineteenth century. It began in reaction to the divisions and in some cases “hyper-divisions” that existed among Christian denominations of the day. Early leaders such as Thomas Campbell, his son Alexander Campbell, Barton W. Stone, and Walter Scott longed to see the church unified under the banner of Christ alone guided by the truths found in the Bible. It was their hope that all Christians the world over would unite, restoring the church to God’s original intention and design.
RESTORATION OF UNITY. The early participants in the Restoration Movement were not alone in their longing for unity; it was just such a longing that had been a driving force in the European reformation movements of the preceding centuries. It was in the fertile ground of an ever expanding Western Reserve that those who were aware of the paradox of a divided church were moved to action. To these individuals it seemed contrary to the will of Christ for His church to exist in such a state of division and disarray. The current state of Christ’s church was also was viewed as a hindrance to its ability to witness to the world around it. These early restorationist’s held the fundamental belief that the church of Jesus Christ on earth is essentially, intentionally, and constitutionally one, and as a group they committed themselves to functioning as one in Christ!
RESTORATION OF TRUTH. In order to accomplish this lofty ideal of unifying the church, early Restoration leaders made a plea for all Christians to set aside their personal opinions and church traditions, and return to the fundamental truths of the Bible. They held that the Bible was the divinely inspired and inerrant word of God, the unifying guide in the presentation and application of the Gospel, doctrine, church structure, and living the Christian life of freedom in Christ. It was their belief that unity was possible, if Christians were willing to come to an honest examination of the Bible and unite on its teachings alone. It was their conviction that when it came to the essentials of the faith, there must be unity, in matters of opinion there must be liberty, and in all things there must be an attitude of love extended to all!
RESTORATION OF THE CHURCH. Unlike the reformers of the previous centuries who had sought to correct the doctrinal and theological errors of the Catholic Church the leaders Restoration Movement sought to restore the function and structure of the church to the Biblical precedents set out by the Apostles, as recorded for us in the New Testament. The commitment to this stance had a number of significant implications as it led to the movement distancing itself from some of the doctrines and practices held by the denominational churches of the day. Among other things this stance included the acceptance of baptism by immersion as the Biblically mandated form of baptism; along with concluding that it was originally connected to the individuals personal salvation, as the time when one’s sins were initially forgiven. Similarly, their study of scripture also led to the acceptance and practice of weekly communion, stemming from the example of the churches in the New Testament. It was the hope of the Restoration Movement leaders that this return to primitive Christianity would result in the unity of Christians throughout the world.
We today are a legacy of this movement, one that is wholly committed to the restoration of unity, truth, and Christ’s church.
For more information on the Restoration Movement check out these helpful links and resources