My last broadcasted post described a letter I found from Elias Smith of the Christian Connexion to Daniel Humphreys, whom Smith described as “A Sandemanian Teacher.”
I have now obtained and digitized a letter from Humphreys to Smith, which is fascinating. Humphreys’ polemic against Smith in many ways reminds me of the countless polemics I have read from preachers in the Church of Christ against denominational doctrines. Whether it is Humphrey’s attacking Smith as being a member of a denomination (I think Smith would disagree), or attacking Smith for being creedal (again, I think Smith would reject this idea), it reads familiar, except, at one crucial point. One of Humphreys’ main attacks on Smith is over baptism by immersion. To quote Humphreys:
Your zeal for a favorite point respecting baptism, leads you to pronounce these your opponents, and the common churches around us, antichristian. (4)
Humphreys agrees with Smith’s contention that the other churches are in fact antichristian. But he also feels that Smith and his band of Christians are as well, for “failure to come out of Babylon.”
I had reported incorrectly in my post about Smith’s letter to Humphreys that Humphreys had asked why the two churches could not commune. This was incorrect, as I noted in an errata in the original post. This question had been asked of Smith by Congregationalists in New England, and Smith’s answer was baptism. Humphreys answers the question back to Smith, saying:
By this time you will perceive that I am none of those who put the question, Why cannot you commune with us?–No–we may commune as fellow citizens and neighbors, but present sentiments continuing, religious connexion is quite out of the question.
Smith, however, wouldn’t have been interested in communing with Humphreys anyway, because the Sandemanians practice infant baptism. being the Calvinists in Soteriology that they were.
Humphreys spends much of the balance of the letter comparing the doctrines of the Christian Connexion to that of the Sandemanians, praising Smith where he thought praise was due, and condeming Smith’s understandings where they disagreed.
Near the end of the letter, Humphreys exhibits some pattern theology, another common thread between the Sandemanians and Churches of Christ. Humphreys compares Smith’s “church building” to the pattern of God, and declares it wanting.