In 1832, the Dover Association of Virginia was the largest organization of Baptists in the world and the inroads of Campbellism into the churches of that association were resulting in numeAlexander and Margaret Campbellrous church splits and a general spirit of division and unhappiness. The solution to this problem is another illustration of early Baptist separatism. Although we today think of Campbellism (or the Disciples of Christ) as another denomination, it is important to remember that the Alexander Campbell had been propagating his views in his Christian Baptist publication, and the controversy arose out of the Baptist churches. The report of the association concluded,

“We, therefore, the assembled ministers, and delegates of the Dover Association, after much prayerful deliberation, do hereby affectionately recommend to the churches in our connection, to separate from their communion all such persons as are promoting controversy and discord, under the specious name of ‘Reformers.’ That the line of distinction may be clearly drawn, we feel it our duty to declare, that whereas Peter Ainslie, John Du Val, Matthew Webber, Thomas M. Henley, John Richards and Dudley Atikinson, ministers within the bounds of this Association, have voluntarily assumed the name of ‘Reformers,’ in party application, by attending a meeting publicly advertised for that party, and by communing with, and otherwise promoting the views of the members of that party, who have been separated from the fellowship and communion of Regular Baptist churches–therefore

“Resolved, That this Association cannot consistently, and conscientiously receive the, nor any other ministers maintaining their views, as members of their body; nor can they in future act in concert with any church or churches that may encourage or countenance their ministrations.” 1

1John T. Christian, A History of the Baptists of the United States: From the First Settlement of the Country to the Year 1845, 2 vols. (Texarkana, TX: Bogard Press, 1926), 2:434.

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