Baptist History Homepage

Campbellism in the Long Run Associaiton (KY)
J. H. Spencer
This left Long Run Association 23 churches, aggregating 2,721 members. This was the strength of the body, when Campbellism began to seriously agitate the churches. The leaven of the Christian Baptist began to ferment early in some of the churches of this Association. Benjamin Allen, Zacheus Carpenter, John B. Curl, Philip S. Fall, and some other preachers of less notoriety, were among the first fruits of Mr. Campbell's sowing, in this field. Those named were all men of respectable talents and commanding influence, unless Mr. Carpenter be excepted. And if he fell somewhat below the others, in preaching talent, he supplied the deficiency, by a tireless zeal and an unyielding persistence. They were all men of good moral character, and of respectable standing in the churches and communities in which they were known. When they adopted Mr. Campbell's views, and (what was even more pernicious to the immediate peace and order of society) his spirit and manner, their influence could not fail to be speedily felt and reflected, by the churches to which they preached. They had hardly had time for mature deliberation on the radical changes Mr. Campbell proposed to make in the doctrine, polity and long established customs of the Baptists. The thirteenth number of the Christian Baptist had just been issued, when Long Run Association met, at Brashears Creek, the first Friday in September, 1824. Yet had its influence been so great on these preachers, that they strongly reflected its doctrines and spirit, both through the churches they served, and in their personal deportment. Philip Fall was Clerk of the Association, that year. On the minutes of its proceedings, are found, for the first time in its annals, the term bishop, instead of elder or brother, and the expression, Lords Day, instead of Sunday or Sabbath. The terms
[p. 163]
were not, in themselves, either, unscriptural, or otherwise objectionable. But the changes were a needless violation of an established custom, equally unobjectionable, and showed how thoroughly Mr. Fall was under the influence of Mr. Campbell.

Several queries from the churches, exhibited the same spirit of insubordination, in factions and individuals. Union Spring, was divided in sentiment, as is shown by the following query, sent to the Association for solution; "Is it consistent with gospel order for any church, which is a member of this Association, to invite and permit a preacher to administer the ordinances to them, who is not in union with us, and denies the doctrines on which we are constituted?" The Association simply answered, -- "No." But its asking of such a question showed that there was a new influence at work, among its members -- an influence which presently divided the church, and ultimately destroyed it. New views of the Scriptures had also confused Sulphur Fork church, as the following query evinced: "Is there any scripture to prohibit the members of the Baptist Society from communing with other orderly Christian societies?" The Association answered. "We think it unadvisable and unscriptural, for members in the Baptist Union, to commune with members of other christian societies, though orderly, according to their views, yet differing from us, in faith and the administration of the ordinances."

But the query from Beargrass church, this year, was especially significant. It evinced the spirit and tactics of Mr. Campbell, in a manner that proved its author to be fully under the influence of the "sarcasm, ridicule and, especially, the caricature and sophistry" of that belligerent controversialist. The query was as follows: "Is there any better rule of faith and practice, for christians, than that contained in the Old and New Testaments?" The question was simple enough, and sufficiently easy for the Association to answer with an emphatic "No." But it contained a false implication, that was one of the chief implements of warfare used by Mr. Campbell and his followers, against the Baptists. It implied, with a covert sneer, that the Baptists did not take the Old and New Testaments, as a rule of faith and practice; whereas every Baptist organization that had ever existed, and had made any declaration on the subject, had unequivocally affirmed the Bible to be its "only rule of faith and
[p. 164]
practice." The Baptists had indeed, embodied, in brief confessions of faith, creeds, or abstracts of principles, what they regarded the fundamental teachings of the Bible; but these creeds were universally held in subordination to the sacred Scriptures. And, when any item in such creed, appeared to them to come in conflict with the word of God, it was immediately abolished, or so altered, as to make it conform to their understanding of the Bible. Was it possible that the church at Beargrass, or any others of Mr. Campbell's disciples, could do more than this, to honor the Author of the Bible? It is impossible that a christian, whose very salvation depends on his belief, should be without a creed; and the outcry against his confessing such creed, in writing or print, is as ridiculously [sic] absurd, to a thinking being, as was the query from Beargrass church. It is hardly necessary to state, that the ancient and hitherto prosperous organization, which acknowledged the maternity of this query, speedily came to nought.

In 1825, there was an increased agitation among the churches, on the subject of the then chaotic teachings of Mr. Campbell. Elk Creek evinced its desire to know somewhat more about Baptist bishops, by sending to the Association the following query: "Is it for the honor of the cause of Christ, that all ordained Baptist preachers be called bishops?" The Association answered, "That it was evidently the practice in the first churches, to denominate the pastor of one congregation, a bishop. It is also clear that the terms elder, shepherd, teacher, and overseer, all refer to the same persons. It is, therefore, according to the word of God, and for the honor of the cause of Christ, that the teacher of one congregation be called a bishop." The Louisville church had become so much perplexed, under the teaching of Philip Fall, in regard to the correctness of Baptist polity, that it sent to the Association the following queries:
1. "Is there any authority in the New Testament for religious bodies to make human creeds and confessions of faith, the constitutions or directories of such bodies, in matters of faith and practice?
2. "Is there any authority in the New Testament for Associations? If so, what is it? If not, why are they held?"
The following query from the church at Shelbyville was also
[p. 165]
presented: "Are our associations, as annually attended, of general utility?"

All these questions were referred to the churches, for their investigation, with the request that they should express there [sic] sentiments, on these subjects, in their letters to the next Association.

The churches doubtless felt a deep interest in these questions, and they were earnestly discussed, on both sides. The Cambellite partisans here, as everywhere else, were full of zeal for the newly discovered truth, as they deemed it, and were confident in their expectation of its speedy triumph. The ministers who adhered to Baptist principles, were also active in defending their ancient doctrine and practice. By far the most prominent among these, was the wise, earnest and eloquent George Waller. He was preeminently the leader of the Baptists, in this struggle between the friends of order and the revolutionists. With a grave and well tempered zeal, he labored indefatigably to defend what he deemed long established truth, with such power and prudence, that his opponents made but little headway.

When the Association met at Elk Creek, in 1826, the result of the year's investigation was summed up in the following words:
"In answer to the queries from Louisville and Shelbyville churches, we now say, that having referred those queries to the several churches composing this Association, and having received their answers, we find that 12 out of 22, report in favor of a declaration of faith, and 21 in favor of Associations. We disavow any authority over the book of God, unanimously believing that it is the only supreme directory of our faith and practice; but, in accordance with the answers of its churches, we consider it necessary, in order to unity and purity in the churches, that we have a written declaration of faith. . . . Respecting the revisal of the Philadelphia Confession of faith. . . . as we have lived happily for more than twenty years, we think it improper at this time to intermeddle with it."
During the ensuing year, a revival commenced in the churches, and prevailed about three years. In 1827, the churches reported to the Association, 780 baptisms; the next year, 362, and the third year, 536: making an aggregate of 1,678, during the three years' revival. Four new churches were received during the revival:
[p. 166]
Fishpool, in 1827, and Taylorsville, Floyds Fork and Hopewell, in 1828. Fishpool was located in the southern part of Jefferson county. It enjoyed the ministrations of Robert Gailbreth and Peter M. Carr. It was dissolved about 1853. Taylorsville church, in the county seat of Spencer, is still a prosperous body, and, at present, enjoys the pastoral labors of J. S. Gatton. Floyds Fork was located in the eastern part of Jefferson county. Some years past, it moved about a half mile, and took the name of Fisherville, from a small village in which it is located. Hopewell was located near the present village of Ballardsville in Oldham county. It was soon dissolved.

The subject of Cambellism was not discussed in the Association, during the revival. But the advocates of that system, if it may be called a system, were zealously engaged in propagating it among the churches. In 1829, Benjamin Allen and Zacheus Carpenter gathered two small churches, known as Goose Creek and Pond Creek. They were "constituted on the Bible," and the same year, applied for admittance into the Association. As they had adopted no creed, the question of their reception was referred to the next Association. A committee consisting of Elders Zacheus Carpenter, George Waller, Joel Hulsy, Reuben Cottrell and Brother B. C. Stephens, was appointed to confer with these churches, and report to the next Association. This afforded an additional opportunity for the discussion of Campbellism, which was well improved, during the ensuing year.

In 1830, the Association met at New Castle, in Henry county. The committee appointed to visit the churches on Goose Creek and Pond Creek, reported that those organizations declined to adopt any creed. The vote was then taken on the question of their reception, and they were rejected. Bethel and Buck Creek churches, both under the pastoral care of George Waller, asked advice of the Association, concerning Campbellism; to which the Association replied as follows:
"In answer to requests from two of our churches, that we inquire into, and advise them of the facts in relation to Campbellism, and of their duty in relation to those who support that system of things, we say, that this Association was constituted on the Philadelphia Baptist Confession of Faith (with the exception taken by the Elkhorn Association,) as an expression of her views of the doctrine of the Bible, and as it is one of the

[p. 167]
plainest dictates of sober reflection, that while we continue members of the body, we should maintain the principles of its existence; and as the writings of Alexander Campbell are in direct opposition to the existence and general dictates of our constitution, we, therefore, advise our brethren, that they discountenance those writings, and all those who support that course of rebellion against the principles of our Associational existence. And we further advise our brethren, that they exercise great tenderness in relation to those among us, who think differently from us, remembering, that as we are in the flesh, we are at best imperfect creatures."
This closed the long and exciting controversy between the Baptist and Campbellite parties; and the latter became a distinct sect. "Then had the churches rest." The loss to this Association, by the Campbellite schism, although considerable, was proportionately less than in the associations lying east of it. In 1829, the Association numbered 27 churches, with 3,957 members; in 1831, it numbered 27 churches, with 2,845 members, which shows a loss of 1,112 members. The churches left to the Baptists were prosperous, and the Association soon regained what it had lost by the schism.

Simpsonville church was received into the Association, in 1830; in 1833, the church at Rollington was received; Mt. Pleasant and Bethlehem were received, in 1834, and, in 1839, the Second Church in Louisville. Rollington church was located in what is now called Pewee Valley, in Oldham county. It dissolved only three years after it was constituted. Mt. Pleasant was located in Henry county, and was formed, as stated heretofore, by the union of Rock Lick and North Six-Mile. Bethlehem was located in Spencer county. It was dismissed from Long Run, in 1837, to join Middle District Association. The in Louisville was constituted, September 30, 1838. It united with the First Church, about 1850, to form Walnut Street church. In 1842, East Church, in Louisville, and Shiloh were received into the Association. Shiloh was located in Jefferson county, about ten miles south-west from Louisville. It ceased to meet, about 1852. The African church, in Louisville, constituted of 475 members, was received into the Association, in 1842.

Since 1842, the following churches have been received into
[p. 168]
the Association, at the dates indicated: In 1843, Union Ridge, in Oldham county. It was soon dissolved. In 1844, Liberty, in the same county. In 1846, the Fourth Church in Louisville, (since dissolved,) Jeffersontown, in Jefferson county, and Bethel, since called Clay Village, in Shelby county. In 1854, Jefferson Street church, now known as Chestnut Street church, and the German church, both in Louisville. In 1858, Fifth and York Street African church, and Portland Avenue, both in Louisville. In 1860, Beechland, in Jefferson county, and Knob Creek, in Bullitt. In 1868, Pilgrim and Broadway, in Louisville, Pewee Valley, in Oldham county, and Jeffersonville, in Indiana. Since the War, the following churches have been received into the Association, and have since been dissolved: Pleasant Grove, Olive Branch, and Valley, in Bullitt county; Westpoint, in Hardin county; Falls and Middletown, in Jefferson county, and Hope, in Louisville.

After the Campbellite schism, the Association moved on harmoniously and prosperously for a number of years, with few vicissitudes.

[From J. H. Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists, Volume II, 1885, pp. 162-168. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

More Kentucky Baptist Histories
Baptist History Homepage