While Roger Williams was patient, awaiting a restoration, Thomas Campbell aimed to actively cause one. A Scottish Presbyterian Minister who migrated to the United States in 1807, Thomas disagreed with Presbyterian teachings, leading to a split. He published a tract in 1809 titled “Declaration and Address of the Christian Association of Washington,” emphasizing the promotion of simple Evangelical Christianity and rejecting human authority and opinions in matters of faith.
Thomas Campbell aimed to recover Apostolic Christianity, rejecting historic Christian Creeds like the Nicene Creed as unnecessary and divisive. He believed the Bible was clear enough on its own. His motto, “Where the scriptures speak, we speak; where the scriptures are silent, we are silent,” directly challenged historic Christianity, as Creeds were central to both Catholic and Protestant denominations.
His son, Alexander Campbell, followed in his footsteps, also disillusioned with Presbyterian practices. By the time they reunited, both had rejected traditional Christianity and aimed to restore the primitive Christianity of the New Testament. They organized congregational churches with local governance and identified simply as Christians, although their followers were nicknamed “Campbellites.” Their movement is now known as the Church of Christ or the Disciples of Christ.
The Campbells sought to recover the original by subtracting errors, believing that removing anything superfluous would unveil the original. However, this approach couldn’t recover what was lost. Restoration required adding, and only God could provide that. Alexander Campbell recognized that religious disputes often centered on what the Bible didn’t say, indicating the need to look beyond subtraction and focus on divine addition.