Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Sometimes things show up in my mailbox, and sometimes they're worth mentioning. One such item appeared yesterday, Christian Primitivism in the Twenty-First Century: Thinking "Inside the Box" About Restoring New Testament Christianity, by David Edwin Harrell, Jr. Ed Harrell is, of course, retired professor of History at Auburn University, and a recognized authority on not only Restoration History, but also on 20th Century Pentecostalism. I've been privileged to travel to India with him three times, and I will honestly say that he's one of the few men who impresses you more every time you're with him.

Dr. Harrell has been refining the arguments he utilizes in this book over the past few years. I've heard pieces of it in lessons both in the US and in India. The book is built around three propositions.

Proposition 1: Regarding Apostolic Authority
Restorationist, primitivist religious thinking assumes that the Apostles were given specific authority to define doctrine and set in order churches. This authority was perpetuated

Proposition 2: Regarding Common Sense Hermeneutics
Restorationist, primitivist religious thinking assumes that human beings, through the use of a common sense possessed by all, have the ability to read texts and reach common conclusions about meanings. This empirical, logical type of thinking is the basis for all pulbic (as opposed to private and subjective) human understanding.

Proposition 3: Regarding Local Churches (Congregationalism)
Restorationist, primitivist religious thinking assumes that the practices of local churches in New Testament days rested on apostolic authority and that the ordering of churches was intentionally designed by God to promote uniformity (catholicity) among Christians.

Obviously, he expands on these propositions, and demonstrates the validity of these underlying assumptions in restorationist thinking. It's a small book, a booklet or pamphlet, really, but I think it's one of those things that ought to be in anyone's library who desires to think seriously about how we ought to serve God and approach Scripture.

To order (retail, $4.95) contact Harwell/Lewis Publishing Company at (863) 688-2665 or the Florida College bookstore.


Wild Bill said...

Thanks for the heads up, Alan. (Of course, maybe I can weasel a free one from Ed's daughter, ha!). It will be an interesting read. I must confess to being skeptical somewhat of the "common sense" approach (what makes "sense" in one time or culture, may not make "sense" in another), but I suspect, from what I've listed to of Ed, that is not what he means by common sense and that'll I'll find myself in substantial agreement.

Alan said...

When he speaks of 'common sense' he's not talking about the sort of reasoning attorneys are used to.

Wild Bill said...

Oh, very funny. Next you'll make fun of cavemen.

Alan said...

"I'm just a caveman--your hermeneutics frighten me. I don't understand. But what I do know is that common sense works."

Wild Bill said...

GEICO will be sending a trademark infringement warning tomorrow.

Anyway, I'll have to read the pamphlet. I'm either "in the box" or more alone than I imagined.