Leroy Garrett's life's work as a teacher, preacher and editor is among the most influential and controversial in Churches of Christ in the late 20th century. In his 2003 autobiography* Dr. Garrett described his ministry as a quarrelsome quest for freedom:
Once you realize the extent of my quarrel, you may wonder why I didn't just leave the Churches of Christ. As I have said for fifty years, and I say once more: I will never leave the Churches of Christ, never, no matter what, for I love my people too much to leave them. Even if they kick me out, I'll stay around!
There is more involved here than love. When a reformer stays with his people and works for change, he is saying that he believes in them and expects better things of them. His quarrel is a compliment. (p. xii) Garrett sought, through preaching and teaching and particularly through his writing, to engage Churches of Christ in a quest for freedom. The sort of freedom he sought was freedom from sectarianism and "opinionism", freedom "to embrace the grace of God fully, and to be joyfully confident of our salvation", freedom to critically evaluate our history, freedom to "bring an end to male domination" and "freedom to make use of modern biblical scholarship, and to be honest about the difficulties one faces in the interpretation of Scripture--without being called names or having one's motives impugned." Finally, he says,
Our Lord assures us that it is truth that makes us free, and truth may call for change. And change is often painful. I agree with Thomas Jefferson that no person, church, or nation can expect to move from despotism to liberty in a feather bed. And in stating what my pilgrimage of freedom has been about, Jefferson said it better than I can: I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. (pp. xiii-xiv)
Available here are primary sources revealing that pilgrimage, from Dr. Garrett's own pen and typewriter...from the 1950's Bible Talk through the complete thirty-four-year run of Restoration Review to Soldier On!
In addition to the printed word, there are audio and video resources, as well as the full text of Alexander Campbell and Thomas Jefferson: A Comparative Study of Two Old Virginians. You can browse the collections or use the search box at the top of the page.
Access to these digital resources made possible through the generosity of Dr. Leroy Garrett and Dr. Bob D. Lewis.