Campbellite Doctrine in The Book of Mormon

Posted: February 11, 2013 in Book of Mormon, Cambellism, Fred Anson, Mormon Studies, Theology
Alexander Campbell (circa 1855)

Alexander Campbell
(circa 1855)

by Fred Anson
The following list summarizes Campbellite doctrines, and indicates where they can be found in The Book of Mormon:  

1. A Great Apostasy necessitating a Restoration of the doctrines and practices of New Testament Christianity.
Campbell referred to this as a restoration of the “Ancient Order of Things.” Early Mormon Leader Sidney Rigdon referred to it as a “restoration of all things.” References in The Book of Mormon include the following: 1 Ne 12:11; 13:26; 2 Ne 26:9-10, 20; Hel 13:5.

2. Restoration and Gathering of the Jews.
1 Ne 15:19-20; 2 Ne 29:43 Ne 29:1.

3. Imminent millennial reign of Christ.
1 Ne 21:26.

4. Campbell’s followers used the “Bethany dialect,” and especially what was referred to as the “word alone system.”
This is a belief that religious experience came from hearing the divine word alone. Alexander Campbell referred to this concept in his remarks on the Bible Dec. 1, 1828.
(see “Campbellism Examined” by Jeremiah Bell Jeter, Sheldon, Lamport, & Blakeman, 1855, p.161 and p.270 )

Mosiah 26:15-16 reads:
“Blessed art thou, Alma, and blessed are they who were baptized in the waters of Mormon. Thou art blessed because of thy exceeding faith in the words alone of my servant Abinadi. And blessed are they because of their exceeding faith in the words alone, which thou hast spoken unto them.”

5. Sacrament prayer and partaking of the sacrament bread and wine as a memorial rite in frequent gatherings.
Moroni 4:3, 5:2, 6:6.

6. Rejection of infant baptism and original sin.
Moroni 8:1-12, 14, 20, 22.
This doctrine is at odds with Methodism. This is relevant because of Smith’s documented attraction to Methodism, even during the translation process.

7. Adult immersion for the remission of sins as the central ordinance of the Gospel.
3 Ne 11:26.
This elevation of the importance of baptism happened at a time when practically no other group of Christians made baptism that important or so easy to obtain. Calvinist churches demanded proof of a spiritual conversion experience before acceptance into a congregation. Campbellites merely asked for a statement of belief, and baptism was possible at a moment’s notice. In Mormonism, acceptance of The Book of Mormon qualified a new convert for immediate baptism, quick confirmation, and speedy ordination of male converts. This was a useful strategy for rapidly acquiring new converts among those who had been turned down for membership in other faiths.

8. Missionaries of the church should provide their own support.
Mos. 18:24-26; Mos. 27:4-5; Alma 1:3, 26; Alma 30:31-32; 2 Nephi 26:31 — and the clergy as well — Alma 1:3. Alma 35:3, 1 Nephi 22:23.

9. Elders set apart by the laying on of hands.
Alma 6:1.

10. Speaking as if authorized by Jesus Christ.
— Words of Mormon 1:17; Mos. 13:6; Mos. 18:13; Alma 17:3; 3 Nephi 5:13; 3 Nephi 11:25; Moro. 7:2; Moro. 8:16.

11. Reference to “the Holy Spirit” as a kind of shared divine nature.
1 Nephi 2:17; 2 Nephi 2:28; Jar. 1:4; Mos. 3:19; Alma 5:46; 11:44; 13:28; 18:34; 31:35
Ideally, data on beliefs, such as the information on Campbellism summarized above, should be analyzed in the context of the major beliefs of each of the Christian sects in North America 1820-30. The relative uniqueness of each belief or practice could then be determined. However, in the absence of such data, it is reasonable to assume that those best qualified to compare Mormonism with the beliefs of other religions at the same time and place would be those living in that same time and place. Among them, Mormonism was quickly branded “Campbellism Improved.”
(see ; retrieved 2011-03-28 )

Why is this significant?  For two reasons:
 1) It is evidence that The Book of Mormon echoes 19th Century Restorationist theology and religious controversies thus discrediting it’s claim to be an ancient Jewish text.
 As Alexander Campbell himself stated in his review of The Book of Mormon:

“This prophet Smith, through his stone spectacles, wrote on the plates of Nephi, in his book of Mormon, every error and almost every truth discussed in N. York for the last ten years. He decides all the great controversies – infant baptism, ordination, the trinity, regeneration, repentance, justification, the fall of man, the atonement, transubstantiation, fasting, penance, church government, religious experience, the call to the ministry, the general resurrection, eternal punishment, who may baptize, and even the question of freemasonry, republican government, and the rights of man. All these topics are repeatedly alluded to. How much more benevolent and intelligent this American Apostle, than were the holy twelve, and Paul to assist them!!! He prophesied of all these topics, and of the apostacy, and infallibly decided, by his authority, every question. How easy to prophecy of the past or of the present time!!But he is better skilled in the controversies in New York than in the geography or history of Judea. He makes John baptise in the village of Bethabara, (page 22) and says Jesus was born in Jerusalem, p. 240. Great must be the faith of the Mormonites.”
 (see “Delusions: An Analysis Of The Book of Mormon…” by Alexander Campbell, 1832)

2) Sidney Rigdon was a high ranking Campbellite Minister before he and his congregation (which included Parley Pratt who was an elder in Rigdon’s church) wholesale joined the Mormon Church in 1830.
 (see )

The Spaulding-Ridgon Theory asserts that the primary author of the Book of Mormon was Sidney Rigdon as the result of a secret conspiracy with Oliver Cowdrey and Joseph Smith which began sometime in 1827.  Advocates of this theory point to this internal evidence as a kind of “smoking gun” for Rigdon’s involvement.

“Sidney Rigdon: Creating the Book of Mormon”
by Craig Criddle

Craig Criddle: Authorship – Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon
(video presentation on the Spaulding-Rigdon Theory at the 2009 ExMormon Foundation Conference)

Wikipedia Article on the Stone-Campbell Restorationist Movement
Wikipedia Article on Alexander Campbell
Wikipedia Article on Sidney Rigdon

(Special thanks to “Uncle” Dale Broadhurst who did the original research on this subject. This piece is but a small expansion on top of the superb foundation that he laid)

Sidney Rigdon

Sidney Rigdon

  1. […] Fred W. Anson, “Campbellite Doctrine in The Book of Mormon”, Beggar’s Bread, February 11, 2013; also see Rock Waterman, “The Book Of Mormon Bait […]


  2. […] that Campellism can be found throughout the Book of Mormon is a well established fact. My article “Campbellite Doctrine in The Book of Mormon” briefly discusses where many of the above doctrines can be found in the Book of Mormon. On the […]


  3. […] that Campellism can be found throughout the Book of Mormon is a well established fact. My article “Campbellite Doctrine in The Book of Mormon” briefly discusses where many of the above doctrines can be found in the Book of Mormon. On the […]


  4. […] political, literary, cultural and theological record. For example, the Book of Mormon was so infused with 19th Century Campbellite doctrine and ideas that primitive Mormonism was referred to as “Campbellism Improved” […]


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