History of the Restoration Movement

Thomas Raines Burnett

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Biographical Sketches On The Life Of T.R. Burnett

Thomas R. Burnett was born in Tennessee in 1842. He moved to Texas when he was eight years old, and was raised on a farm in Fannin County. He was educated principally in Plum Grove Academy, near his home, where he attended school about eight years. When just ready to enter college, the Civil War began, and he served four years in the Confederate army. After this war he taught school for about two years, then bought a newspaper and for several years was a political editor. While in this business he was baptized by Prof. Chars Carlton, at Bonham, Texas, and soon thereafter established the Christian Messenger, which he published 20  years. On account of failing health he sold the paper to the Gospel Advocate, and was associate editor for that paper for four years, during which time he traveled and preached all the time. On regaining his health he established the Christian Messenger, which he published 20 years. On account of failing health he sold the paper to the Gospel Advocate, and was associate editor for that paper for four years, during which time he traveled and preached all the time. On regaining his health, he established Burnett's Budget, a monthly magazine, which he published ten years. He is the author of fourteen books, some of which have had an extensive circulation. He has engaged in a great many debates, thirteen with the Methodist one with the Presbyterian, seven or eight with the Adventists and still more with the Baptists.

He has held 200 protracted meetings, and several thousand have been brought into the Kingdom of God through his labors. During early life he was a Methodist, and remained  in fellowship with them until he was 32 years old. Since become a Christian he has been a very busy man.

--Nichols, Gospel Preachers Who Blazed The Trail. c.1911, page 28


Thomas Raines Burnett

Preacher, author, poet, and controversialist born near Nickajack Lake, Tennessee.

Burnett's family moved from Tennessee to Texas when he was 8 years old, and he was educated for six years in local Texas schools. He served in the 34th Texas Cavalry and Polignac's brigade during the Civil War, seeing action at least seven times.

Burnett described his family religion as "Wesleyan," and he grew up as a Methodist. Following the war, Burnett taught school and edited several small Texas newspapers. Immersed by Professor Charles Carlton in 1874, Burnett established the Christian Messenger at Bonham, Texas, in 1875, appointing Carlton its first editor.

Through the Messenger, Burnett resisted the introduction of instrumental music into Texas churches, fought the idea of the "hired preacher," and attacked Austin McGary's demand for rebaptism of converts already immersed. In 1894 Burnett sold the Messenger to the Gospel Advocate, joining the Advocate staff with a page called, "Burnett's Budget."

David Lipscomb generally agreed with Burnett's doctrinal positions, but found disagreeable Burnett's penchant for controversy, including "cuts and innuendoes." In 1899 Lipscomb terminated Burnett's editorial connection with the Advocate. By 1901 Burnett had turned Burnett's Budget into a four-page monthly periodical, and through its pages he continued to articulate his views with wit, humorous rhyme, sarcasm, and vitriol until his death in 1916.

Burnett produced eighteen popular books and tracts, including Center Shots (1912), Hezekiah Jones (1895), Valid Baptism: A Discussion Between A. McGary and T.R. Burnett (1898), and three volumes of Doctrinal Poetry (1905, 1910, and 1913).

Bibliography: Terry J. Garner, "T.R. Burnett - Master of Repartee," Faith and Facts 23 (April 1995): 121-39 * Charles R. Nichol, Gospel Preachers Who Blazed The Trail (1911, 1955) * John T. Oakley, J.N. Hall's Campbellite Catchism with Conflicting Answers of Two Distinguished Campbellites, A. McGary and T.R. Burnett (1898).

Source: The Encyclopedia Of The Stone-Campbell Movement: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), ed. Douglas Allen Foster, page 103.

Directions To The Grave Of T.R. Burnett

In Dallas, Texas take I-35 E just south of the downtown area to Exit 426b (8th Street E.) and go east about one mile to the Oakcliff Cemetery. When entering the cemetery go down the road until you come to just past the second left. Look to the right near the road for the Burnett Plot. While here be sure to visit the grave of Joe S. Warlick.

GPS Coordinates
N32° 44.971' x WO 96° 48.310'
Facing East
Accuracy to 20ft.
Old Cemetery Section 1 - Lot 53

Exact Location At Green Arrow Below - Hover Mouse for GPS

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T.R. Burnett
Louise O. Burnett

*The Grave marker says that T.R. Burnett was born in 1837, but two different biographical sketches determine that he was born in 1842.

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