|An Interview: Leroy Garrett
Questions presented by Fred Peatross
Wednesday, June 5, 2002
Leroy Garrett was born in 1918 and grew up in Dallas, Texas.
Most scholars of the Bible and church historians have been religious professionals. Leroy, however, has made his living teaching philosophy while becoming a scholar in these other fields.
Leroy attended Freed-Hardeman College, Abilebe Christian University, Southern Methodist University, Princeton Seminary, and Harvard University where he received his Ph.D. Throughout his career, he has been Dr. Garrett on campus but simply Leroy to his Christian brothers and sisters.
For years Leroy authored the Restoration Review. Today he periodically mails out a small newsletter titled Once More With Love.
1) Sometime after Cane Ridge our movement was knocked off track. Exactly when did we lose our focus and what in your opinion happened?
It was not "exactly when" in that it was an evolution over time. The seeds of discord were present all along, but were kept at bay so long as Alexander Campbell lived. The genius of the movement was that believers could unite upon the essentials of the faith, and allow liberty in areas of opinion, theory, method, theology. When leaders emerged with a differet mindset, that made opinions tests of fellowship, we "lost our focus," as you put it, or we became legalistic in that we made patternism essential to unity.
2) Are there any parallels between our movement today and the early restoration movement?
I don't know I would call them parallels. History has a way of repeating itself, and problems in the church have a way of staying around from generation to generation. Whenever we stand up for unity on the grounds of "In essentials, unity" we are where Stone-Campbell were, and thank God we have many today with that spirit. Whenever we say it can be only one way, and we make our opinion, our method a condition for unity, then we are parallel to those "Editor Bishops" that derailed us.
3) Can you evaluate our heritage in the year 2002? What encourages you about the current movement? What discourages you?
I am not discouraged. I've learned from history that reformation not only has to be ongoing but slow and even painful. I am encouraged by many things. I'll name just a few:(1)The Movement, especially Church of Christ, is more introspective, self-critical and reform-minded; (2) We are more conscious of our own history, more willing to face up to who we are, which makes "an identity crisis" a good thing: (3) We are a more spiritual people, more prayerful, more conscious of the ministry of the Spirit and grace of God; (4) We are more biblically responsible, as is evident in numerous books that point us in new directions.
4) I sense a major shift taking place in our culture. What changes have you noticed in the way we now do ministry ministry and what do predict ministry will look like in the future?
The world as a whole has long been becoming "a global village," which affects our worldview. As for our own country we are far more multi-cultured, and this vastly affects the ministry of the church. A different worldview is emerging, which puts our provincialism and parochialism in the past. As for the Church of Christ, we will continue to be less sectarian, we will not only "join the human race," but we will become a part of the church catholic more and more. We will in time witness to the values that gave us birth, especially our witness to the unity of the curch and of all humankind. That we still have a long way to go does not discourage me. The signs of a new direction are clearly present. We have blessings to count.
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