In his System of Alexander Campbell: An Examination of its Leading Points, R.L. Dabney writes:
“… when we observe that the proper use of creeds, for which alone we contend, does not authorize us to persecute any who differ from our creed, however extensively, nor even to unchurch any who differ from it in things not fundamental. Of all these latter, Methodists, Lutherans, Immersionists, Episcopalians, etc., we only determine, by the application of our creed, that they are not of our denomination in the church. We cordially recognize their places in Christ’s church catholic; we recognize their ordinances and discipline; we join them in every act of Christian fellowship and love consistent with the testimony which our consciences constrain us to bear. We neither desire nor attempt to estop their liberty in serving God after their preferred way. And against even those who, like Pelagians and Unitarians, deny the vitals of the faith, we hurl no anathema; we aim no persecutions; we only bear our testimony, and leave them to their Master in heaven. Thus, the employment of this human expedient does not assail or infringe any man’s liberty, but only protects our own” (R.L. Dabney, Discussions; underlining mine).
What does Dabney mean when he says that “we hurl no anathema” at Pelagians and Unitarians? What does it mean to say that the doctrinal vitiators of vitals are to be left “to their Master in heaven”?
“But even if we, or an angel out of Heaven, should preach a gospel to you beside the gospel we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, and now I say again, If anyone preaches a gospel beside what you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9).
Is Dabney refusing to follow the Biblical example to judge righteous judgment (cf. John 7:24)? Is he simply saying (implying?) that those who “deny the vitals of the faith” are not to be judged as indefinitely anathema, and thus reprobate (non-elect)? Or, is Dabney saying (or implying) that proper use of a doctrinal creed entails that even false gospelers are not to be (physically?) hindered with hurled anathemas? Is Dabney saying there might be at least some regenerate Pelagians or Unitarians? Could this be why he desires to “leave them to their Master in heaven”?