As a person who has heritage within the Churches of Christ, I find it most interesting to read the pages of Stone or Campbell and attempt to see if we are doing what they visioned.
As I have time, I have been reading Works of B.W. Stone Volume 1, a compilation produced by Elder James M. Mathes, published in 1859. First, Mathes’ publication came out about 15 years after Barton Stone’s death in 1844; about two years prior to the American Civil War, and more than fifty years before the great division of 1906. For those keeping track of history, this means that Stone died one year before Texas became a State (Texas Statehood 1845). So, when I am reading this material, the material has a much different flavor than that of modern writings. The thing we know as the Church of Christ was much younger, and had experienced far fewer problems.
Mathes, in Chapter Five: An Address to the Churches, records B.W. Stone having said:
Believing mankind to be fallible creatures, we therefore feel a spirit of toleration and union for all those Christians who maintain the divinity of the Bible, and walk humbly in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord Jesus Christ, and who live by faith in his name, though they may hold opinions contrary to ours. We wish others to exercise the same spirit toward us, that we might be mutually edified – that the interests of our Redeemer’s kingdom might be advanced – and that foul blot upon Christianity, the division of Christians, might be wiped away… Page 49 (underline-emphasis mine; bold-original was italicized, but I bold here to show the author’s original emphasis)
When it comes to unity and fellowship with other Christians, I really want to know the intended meaning of Stone’s statement. What he meant by his saying prior to his death in 1844, not today. Because I have a gut feeling based on other material in the Volume 1 collection that B.W. Stone is generous in his “Christian” association.