Knoxville, TN — Mass hysteria and riots have broken out in Bible Colleges across the country, lead by a large contingency of scholars and preachers of the Stone-Campbell Movement. In acts of protest, students have been ripping out the Old Testament pages from their Bibles and burning them, creating huge bonfires. On each campus, Koine Greek graffiti continues to spread at an alarming rate. Chants of “I am a New Testament Christian” can be heard everywhere. What could have caused such a response at these schools? The major source of ire of these protests has been identified as the upcoming Stone-Campbell Journal Conference.
Several years ago the conference was organized around the theme of the Septuagint, and this year the focus has turned to the Hebrew Bible. Many groups are furious that a second year’s conference is focusing on the Old Testament—again. Responses have varied. A group of church historians, the Alexandrians, are in an uproar over the focus on what they deem to be an inconsequential part of the Bible. Pacifists have been protesting on Twitter with the hashtags #Resist #Pray4SCJC & #NotMyConference. The Old Paths have responded by organizing a counter-conference within the conference proceedings; the parallel sessions have been filled with sermons focused on the New Covenant, where the Old Testament is only to be used as illustration material and never a main text. The Open Theists, in imitation of Abraham, are petitioning God to find good organizers of this year’s conference so that it can be saved from destruction.
We asked multiple Old Testament scholars that registered for the conference what they thought of the heated situation. All three of them will deliver the same speech they give every year to their governing boards on how the Old Testament should still be taught at their schools.
By Alexander Foster McGarvey
Knoxville, TN — Robert W. Funk, famous member of the Jesus Seminar, is being honored at his undergraduate school—Johnson University—12 years after his death. Within the Russell Preaching Center, dedicated to retired megachurch preacher Bob Russell, renovation and a dedication are happening to the building’s bathrooms. Soon to be revealed is a plaque that renames the bathrooms after Funk, along with exquisite mosaics of Jesus pictured as a king. These mosaics are made up of red, pink, gray, and black stones—a tip of the hat to the Jesus Seminar’s use of these colored beads to indicate the degree of authenticity of Jesus’ words in the Gospels. Further, when the lights are dimmed, these mosaics change to pictures of a fox.
But why has Johnson University taken so long to honor their most famous student? Vice President of operations, Joe Shmoe, told us: “We at Johnson have a brand built upon a conservative Stone-Campbell Movement stance. We always avoided Funk’s name being associated with the school for fear of it poisoning our reputation with a scholar that doubted that Jesus existed. But now, since we got rid of the cows and need to reassure the donors of our stance, we are going to take a big crap on his name. Over and over.”
In light of these plans, the philosophy department of Lincoln Christian University is in the process of installing and dedicating a scarecrow in honor of John W. Loftus among the landscaping so that students majoring in apologetics have a straw man to debate with on sunny days.
By Alexander Foster McGarvey
Raleigh, NC – Gut-busting laughs have been heard in the library at Raleigh Christian College due to a group of freshmen reading the Restoration Herald. Jessica Babcock, explained, “It all started during our first week of college when a couple of professors were reading it and laughing hysterically, so we figured it was our Movement’s version of Mad Magazine.”
“Every month we eagerly awaited for it to show up at the library, so we could read it together,” explained Joel Winters. “We thought we had run across the motivation for the Babylon Bee, because, surely, nobody who claims to be about unity would ever write those kind of things about fellow believers.”
A few students had initial doubts about the periodical’s satirical genre, but they were overcome: “We always wondered, because there was generally an article in there by some Merold guy that didn’t seem very satirical and was actually really good,” said Babcock. “We just thought that was part of the beauty of the magazine.”
Students still meet every month to read the magazine. They can be identified on campus by the “Make the Restoration Movement Great Again” buttons on their backpacks.
By Mark Molten
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Mason, OH — The monthly magazine produced by the Christian Restoration Association (CRA), The Restoration Herald (RH), recently announced that they are changing the magazine’s name to better reflect the content contained within it, along with their subscriber base. According to inside sources, “Old Man Yells at Cloud” was the perfect fit.
In the newest issue, yet to hit the presses, the cover article states: “In the previous issue we announced the death of Cincinnati Bible Seminary/Cincinnati Christian University, which the Christian Restoration Association has been an important part of throughout the years. We decided that the time was right for a name change and that it was good for the newsletter. We are all old and we do yell a lot about how things aren’t like they used to be in 1924. And, you, our readers, are just like us. It is a very honest name. And we want you to know that the content of this magazine will continue in the same inflammatory style you have come to know and love.”
Below are CRA comments reflecting the mood at “Old Man Yells at Cloud”:
“Until a few years ago a CRA trustee had always been on the CBS (CCU) [Cincinnati Bible Seminary (Cincinnati Christian University)] board. Changes have been made this week that lead me to think it is time for the school to have another name change: ‘Ichabod University.’” 
“We have some wonderful men who stand alongside R.C. Foster, Lewis Foster, and George Mark Elliott in earnestly contending for the faith. But the appearance of anyone who gives the impression of leaning away from their stance is a matter of great concern.” 
With the projected success of the magazine’s relaunch, the CRA has also decided to change their name to “The Restoration Movement’s Magisterium” in order to reflect their stance as the Independent Christian Church/Churches of Christ’s authority to establish the church’s authentic teachings. Accordingly, there will be a new section entitled “Ex Cathedra Bethany.”
If you are old enough to collect social security, you are encouraged to subscribe to “Old Man Yells at Cloud.”
By Alexander Foster McGarvey
Shelbyville, TN – It’s looking like it will be another bad year of family Christmases for families with students at Tennessee Christian College. “We’ve already heard complaints from the mayor and the police department about changes being made to nativity scenes across town,” said Robert Willis, Dean of Students. “Stables have disappeared. Three wise men have been either removed completely, reduced to two, or increased to four or five. We project awkward family Christmases again this year for those related to our students. When they start studying the New Testament for the first time they become overzealous like those cage-stage Calvinists.”
For the Wrights, last year’s family gathering was anything but peaceful. Gladys Wright, grandmother of Elijah, explained, “Last Christmas was rough. I simply asked Elijah how school was going and what he was learning, and the next thing I know I hear my wise men should not be there with the shepherds in my nativity scene. Then, he proceeded to throw one of the wise men away, because the idea of three wise men was just a man-made tradition, and he put the other two in the other room saying they couldn’t see the baby Jesus for a couple years.”
Sharon Hall’s parents recalled her return last year from Christmas break: “Sharon took my Willow Tree stable and tossed it in the fireplace,” said her mom. “She got out some paper mache and constructed this cave for baby Jesus. We heard from other parents that their daughter converted the stable wood into the upper room of a family home. That would have been nicer.”
Most families hope it will be better this Christmas. Sharon’s parents said, “Christmas was easier when the family got together and debated politics and who spent more money on the most thoughtful gift. Of course you have the rehash of past hurts and grudges too. These nativity critiques make us long for the old days.”
Unfortunately, their hopes may not materialize, because Sharon learned the star may have been a comet, so she has even grander plans for star modification involving “moving fire.” Its relationship to something she said about a dragon remains to be seen.
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Oberlin, OH – Summer Babcock, senior at Oberlin College, decries the Christian privilege in higher education in the United States. “All of society is a safe space for Christians, especially college,” explained Babcock. “They have safe spaces with steeples on every corner. What do they have to be offended about? In contrast, we are constantly bombarded with offensive messages and triggering situations everywhere we turn. Have you seen the cultural appropriation in our cafeteria? Do you know they want students across the US to read poets who are white men? We can’t even skip class to pursue social activism without hurting our grades. I can’t even walk be the TV in the dorm lobby without being offended by SNL. It’s distressing. Can you believe I saw a Trump bumper sticker on campus the other day? I was so triggered I couldn’t eat or go to class the next day.”
Babcock did highlight some occasional, positive aspects of her education: learning about Peter Singer’s argument for infanticide, watching the film Kinsey in class, reading Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens to learn how stupid Christians are, participating in #shoutyourabortion on Twitter with her dorm, being referred to as “ze” in class, and learning Jesus was a gay man who married Mary Magdalene.
While interviewing Babcock, we invited Kelsey Wright, a conservative Christian, to offer her perspective. When asked if she felt college was a safe space, she glanced at Babcock’s shirt which displayed the unofficial Planned Parenthood slogan “Don’t F—k With Us; Don’t F—k Without Us,” and said, “Jesus said, ‘If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.’”
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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
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