Hiram, OH — “Phenomenology and the Restoration Movement” is a new class being offered by Dr. Kan Shu Sness at James Garfield University. The class is based in the pioneering work of Roger Waters, a forgotten New Zealand Church of Christ phenomenologist from the turn of the 20th century. Recently rediscovered by Dr. Sness, Rogers placed the pleas of the Restoration Movement on the firm foundationalism of Edmund Husserl’s phenomenology, replacing the outdated philosophy of John Locke and Thomas Reid in the 19th century reformers. Dr. Sness believes that Waters’ work will usher in a revolution in Stone-Campbell Movement circles.

In the class’ introductory lecture, Dr. Sness discussed Roger Waters manifesto, entitled “We Don’t Need No Education: Being-Towards-Restoration.” In this document, a first grader is upheld as the example of the best reader of the Bible because of a lack of baggage and a new acquaintance with the task of reading. “To read the Bible like a child,” Waters wrote, “the Husserlian eidetic reduction must be applied to the experience of reading the Bible—along with the strict use of reason and common sense—if the Restoration Movement’s classic call to return to the ancient order of things is to be achieved.” Waters continues, “If you are to read the Bible like you have never read it before, then you must perform the epoché and bracket out everything you’ve ever read. Bracket out all of your traditions. Bracket out how to read. Bracket out your use of language. Strive to read the Bible like the pages are just black marks on a white background. This is the final brick in the wall we must hurdle. Simply bracket out everything you’ve ever experienced and you’ll reach the essence of the Bible. ‘To the Bible itself!’ After these reductions, we can all agree on the content of the Bible and live out Jesus’ prayer from John 17.”

Dr. Kan Shu Sness lamented that “No one else has taken the principles of the Restoration Movement to their logical conclusion in such a forceful way as Roger Waters. He realized that most Disciples of Christ were comfortably numb with their readings of the Bible and he wanted to wake the Churches of Christ from their dogmatic slumber. The man was a genius. It would have been great to work with him . . . I wish he was here.”

Sadly, after his breakthrough essay and attempts at reforming the 19th century reformation, Waters had a bad breakup with his fellow Campbellites and quit writing philosophy; instead, he decided to only write instrumental music in spite of his a capella brethren. He believed that arguing with Restoration Movement fundamentalists for years simply wasn’t worth the effort.

For interested parties, future lectures in “Phenomenology and the Restoration Movement” include:

  • What are the essential structures that allow us to read the Bible?
  • To the Church of Christ itself!
  • Adumbration applied to the gravestones of Restoration Movement leaders.
  • The Transcendental Ego of Alexander Campbell.
  • Churches of Christ and the bracketing out of instruments.

By Alexander Foster McGarvey


Photo Credit: Robert Cheaib – Theologhia.com Flickr via Compfight cc

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