Barton Stone

Barton W. Stone
Barton W. Stone
Born Barton Warren Stone
(1772-12-24)December 24, 1772
Port Tobacco, Maryland
Died November 9, 1844(1844-11-09) (aged 71)
Hannibal, Missouri
Resting place Cane Ridge, Kentucky
Nationality American
Occupation Preacher
Years active –1844
Political movement Restoration Movement

Barton Warren Stone (December 24, 1772-November 9, 1844) was an important preacher during the Second Great Awakening of the early 19th century. He was first ordained a Presbyterian minister, then was expelled from the church after the Cane Ridge, Kentucky revival for his stated beliefs in faith as the sole prerequisite for salvation. He became allied with Alexander Campbell, and formed the Restoration Movement. His followers were first called "New Lights" and "Stoneites". Later he and Campbell tried to bring denominations together that relied solely on the Scriptures.

Early life and education

Stone was born to John and Mary Stone in Port Tobacco, Maryland. During his childhood, the boy grew up within the Church of England, then had Baptist, Methodist and Episcopal church influences as well. Preachers representing Baptists and Methodists came to the area during the Second Great Awakening, and Baptist and Methodist chapels were founded in the county.

Barton entered the Guilford Academy in North Carolina in 1790.[1]:71 While there, Stone heard James McGready (a Presbyterian minister) speak.[1]:72 A few years later, he became a Presbyterian minister.[1]:72 But, as Stone looked more deeply into the beliefs of the Presbyterians, especially the Westminster Confession of Faith, he doubted that some of the church beliefs were truly Bible-based.[1]:72,73 He was unable to accept the Calvinistic doctrines of total depravity, unconditional election and predestination.[1]:72,73 He also believed that "Calvinism's alleged theological sophistication had . . . been bought at the price of fomenting division" and "blamed it . . . for producing ten different sects within the Presbyterian tradition alone."[2]:110


Stone also took issue with the doctrine of the Trinity, and argued against it. "Revelation no where declares that there are three persons of the same substance in the one only God; and it is universally acknowledged to be above reason" (Address to the Christian Churches, 2nd Edition [1821]). At the Cane Ridge, Kentucky revival of 1801, which attracted an estimated 20,000 people,

In 1803 Stone and others with the same theology formed the Springfield Presbytery. After re-examination, he and others in the presbytery felt compelled to dissolve the organization, believing that it was still too close to "Romanization" and creating a human institution, rather than coming together in the way suggested by Scriptures. This led to the famous "Last Will and Testament of The Springfield Presbytery."

Elias Smith had heard of the Stone movement by 1804, and the O'Kelly movement by 1808.[3]:190 The three groups merged by 1810.[3]:190 At that time the combined movement had a membership of approximately 20,000.[3]:190 This loose fellowship of churches was called by the names "Christian Connection/Connexion" or "Christian Church."[3]:190[4]:68

From 1819-1834, Barton Stone and his family lived in Georgetown, Kentucky. He purchased land in Morgan County, Illinois and in 1834 moved there to Jacksonville, in part because of his opposition to slavery, which was prevalent in Kentucky.

In 1832 in Kentucky, Stone met with Alexander Campbell, a meeting that led to the partial unification of the "Christian" (Stone) movement and the "Reformed Baptist" (Campbell) movement into what is commonly called the Restoration Movement. Campbell had been working in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia, mostly among Baptist groups. Stone had been preaching to Presbyterians in Kentucky and Ohio, although trying to lead them from "denominational bondage". Campbell had been publishing the Christian Baptist since 1823,[5] and Stone the Christian Messenger since 1826.[6] Through these publications, they began to bring their followers closer together in uniting under Christ.[7] This movement was especially powerful among the churches in the backcountry and on the western frontier.

When the Christians and Disciples united in 1832, only a minority of Christians from the Smith/Jones and O'Kelly movements participated.[3]:190 Those that did were from congregations west of the Appalachian Mountains that had come into contact with the Stone movement.[3]:190 The eastern members had several key differences with the Stone and Campbell group: an emphasis on conversion experience, quarterly observance of communion, and nontrinitarianism.[3]:190

Stone died on November 9, 1844 in Hannibal, Missouri at the home of his daughter. His body was buried on his farm in Morgan County, Illinois. When the farm was sold, descendants had his remains reinterred at Antioch Christian Church east of Jacksonville. In 1847 his remains were moved again and reinterred at Cane Ridge, Kentucky.

A marble obelisk there is inscribed:

"The church of Christ at Cane Ridge and other generous friends in Kentucky have caused this monument to be erected as a tribute of affection and gratitude to Barton W. Stone, minister of the gospel of Christ and the distinguished reformer of the nineteenth century. Born December 24, 1772: died November 9, 1844. His remains lie here. This monument erected in 1847."[7]

Theological controversy

Stone was ordained Presbyterian but rejected many things from the Westminster Confession of Faith. In particular he had issues with the classical view of the Trinity. He denied being Unitarian, Arian or Socinian but he did have a subordinationist view of Christ. In addition to his issues with the Trinity he also had trouble with the orthodox understanding of Christian Atonement. He did not believe that Jesus died in man's place as substitutionary sacrifice, his views are more in line with the "moral influence theory" of Charles Finney.[8]:163–164.

Legacy and honors


External links

  • Barton Warren Stone's memorial at
  • Writings of Barton W. Stone, Memorial University, Canada
  • Holds artifacts and records relating to Barton Stone.


  • West, Earl Irvin (2002). The Search for the Ancient Order, Vol. 1. Gospel Light Publishing Company. ISBN 0-89225-154-9
  • Foster, Douglas A.(Editor), Blowers, Paul M.(Editor), Dunnavant, Anthony L.(Editor), Williams, D. Newell(Editor). The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan. ISBN 0-8028-3898-7
  • John Rogers, , (Cincinnati: J.A. & U.P. James, 1847), 120-29, at Dr. Hans Rollman, Restoration Movement Website, Memorial University of Newfoundland
  • North, James B. "Union in Truth: an Interpretive History of the Restoration Movement".

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