[forthright] Cherokee Christians (Part 2)/With Understanding

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From: Forthright Magazine <forthright@...>
Date: Fri, 02 Jun 2006 13:00:22 -0500
Forthright Magazine
Straight to the Cross

Cherokee Christians (Part 2) by Paul Goddard
With Understanding by Tim Hall

COLUMN: Up for the Task

Cherokee Christians (Part 2)
by Paul Goddard

James Jenkins Trott was the first preacher from
the churches of Christ to evangelize among the
Cherokees. At the age of fifteen, his parents
moved from North Carolina to Tennessee where Trott
joined the Methodist Episcopal church in 1821./1
The Methodist Episcopal "traveling connection"
licensed Trott to preach in 1823 and sent him to
minister among the Cherokees in Georgia in 1828.
While in that state, he established many Cherokee
congregations and was held in high esteem by the
tribal chiefs when he married into the tribe./2

During the presidency of Andrew Jackson, an oath
of allegiance was created in Georgia requiring all
Cherokees and missionaries to pledge their
allegiance to the state. Refusing, Trott got into
serious trouble with the authorities. Writing
under the pseudonym of Cherokee, he described his
trouble: "I have been arrested, chained,
imprisoned, condemned, reprieved, and banished
from the territory of the state, because I refused
to take what I believe to be an unconstitutional
and impious oath."/3

While in prison, he was able to read some of the
writings of Alexander Campbell and was impressed
with Campbell's thought of returning to the
primitive gospel. Using the Bible as his only
authority, Trott was baptized after his release
from prison. Departing from the Methodist
Episcopal Church, he continued working in Georgia
until the Cherokees were deported to Indian
Territory in 1837. He spent the next twenty years
preaching among the whites of Alabama, Georgia,
North Carolina, and Tennessee.

In 1860, Trott wrote to Campbell: "My dear
brother, I shall, perhaps, see your face no more
in the flesh. I am much indebted to you, as the
able and successful and persevering and successful
advocate of the Reformation, for my redemption
from sectarianism, and my present position as an
humble preacher of the primitive gospel. I
acknowledged that indebtedness long ago, but it
affords me pleasure to repeat it, and I hope you
will receive it in the same fraternal feeling in
which it is tendered. I hope you will grant me
another favor. My destiny and that of my family is
once more connected with that of the Cherokees. I
feel much interest in the success of the Indian
Mission. The favor is this, something from your
pen in favor of the Indian Mission. If you feel
free to commend it to the favorable consideration
of our Missionary Society, I would be pleased to
see something in the Harbinger on the subject. The
Lord sustain you in the evening of life, and
prolong your labors of love among us, is the
prayer of your brother in Christ, J.J. Trott."/4

1/ Tolbert Fanning, "Obituary of J.J. Trott,"
Gospel Advocate 11 (March 18, 1869), 271.
2/ Edward J. Moseley, Disciples of Christ in
Georgia (St. Louis: Bethany Press, 1954), 123.
3/ Cherokee, "Letter," Millennial Harbinger 3
(February 1832), 85.
4/ James J. Trott, "The Indian Mission,"
Millennial Harbinger 9 (September 1860), 505.

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COLUMN: Heavenly Connections

With Understanding
by Tim Hall

What place does intellect have in worship?

"Why do you want to marry me?" the young woman
asked.  "Because I love you," her fiancé instantly
replied.  That was a good answer.  But she pressed
further: "Why do love me?"  At this point, a young
suitor does well to carefully consider his
response.  To say, "Because I have to" or "Because
of the way I feel right now" aren't reasons upon
which to enter into matrimony.  A person needs to
have strong and reasonable motives before saying
"I do."

Praising God is a wonderful activity.  The Bible
often calls upon us all to give God the glory and
honor due his name.  But why praise God?  To say
that it's our duty or that I happen to be feeling
good at this moment isn't good enough.  God wants
praise from a heart that has contemplated deeply
the relationship between the Creator and his

Psalm 47:7 states the principle clearly: "For God
is the King of all the earth; sing praises with
understanding" (NKJV).  If we attempt to sing
praises without understanding, do we please the

There are many reasons to praise God.  Earlier
verses in that psalm state some of them: "For the
Lord Most High is awesome; he is a great King over
all the earth.  He will subdue the peoples under
us, and the nations under our feet.  He will
choose our inheritance for us, the excellence of
Jacob whom he loves" (Psalm 47:2-4).  Added to
these are hundreds of other reasons to exalt the
name of God.

Paul affirmed the importance of understanding in
our worship to God.  He wrote to correct some
abuses of miraculous gifts by Christians at
Corinth.  Some were gleefully parading their
ability to speak in other languages, though no one
in the assembly spoke that tongue.  Paul's rebuke
was to the point: "Yet in the church I would
rather speak five words with my understanding,
that I may teach others also, than ten thousand
words in a tongue" (1 Corinthians 14:19).

Worship, according to these passages, must involve
our understanding, that rational part of our
nature.  To base our praise on emotions alone is
not enough.  God wants us to know why we worship
him and to be able to teach others those reasons,

Worship is not meant to be cold and sterile.  We
were created with emotions, and these should also
be involved in our praise to him.  But what drives
our worship?  Religion that minimizes the
understanding does not find its roots in the

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