Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross
Bob Drury and Tom Clavin wrote the instant New York Times bestseller book, Blood And Treasure: Daniel Boone and the Fight for America’s First Frontier. The book is gripping and informative, and the title speaks to the price paid by not only Boone but so many others who waded into dangerous conflict with Native American tribes which cost so many lives on both sides and depleted resources from these conflicts but also from the French, British, and even newly-formed American governments. Boone, who narrowly escaped death on many occasions, outlived six of his ten children. James and Israel died violent deaths in conflicts with Native Americans. He lost a brother, Ned, to the same fate. The authors do a masterful job of speaking to the costs paid by many in search of a “better life.”
Daniel Boone had a sister named Hannah Pennington. Her first husband, John Stewart, was killed by Indians. They had four daughters together. She then married Richard Pennington and had four more children, three sons and a daughter. They ultimately migrated to the area right outside the small community of Tompkinsville, Kentucky. The year was 1798, and it was in the area known as “Mill Creek” that the local Baptist preacher named John Mulkey would begin to have misgivings about John Calvin’s teachings on subjects like unconditional election. Ultimately, it would lead him in the fall of 1809 to stand before his congregation and ask all that agreed with him that the Bible alone should be their guide follow him out the west door of what is still to this day called the Old Mulkey Meetinghouse. 150 of the 200 present did so, and Hannah Pennington was in that number. It is estimated that both John Mulkey and his son, also named John, would each baptize about 10,000 people and establish congregations all across the “western reserve” and beyond.
What price she paid for breaking with the religion of friends and family we are not really told. She died in the home of her son, Daniel Boone Pennington, in 1828 at the age of 82. But she lived at a time when many were making the painful decision of leaving behind the religious tradition of ancestors in favor of following simple New Testament Christianity, participating in an effort that is today often called “The Restoration Movement.” It is an effort we should continue to attempt, to have no book but the Bible and no creed but the Christ. It may be unpopular in a culture that is moving further from the Bible and opposing a great many biblical principles.
What price are we willing to pay? The writer of Hebrews commends the Christians in his audience for their sacrifices as new Christians, who “endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated” (10:32-33). He told them, “…You showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one” (34). But, he expressed this concern about them now, some years later, telling them that “you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; and you have forgotten the exhortation which is addressed to you as sons” (12:4-5).
We are searching for something better than a new land on some new frontier on this earth. We seek “a better possession and a lasting one.” What will that cost us? It is hard to say. The writer of Hebrews says it might cost “blood and treasure.” Whatever it costs us, we must be willing to pay in order to “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (12:1).Read more