The Churches of Christ

The Churches of Christ

The Churches of Christ

The Churches of Christ

Synopsis

This volume tells the story of the Churches of Christ, one of three major denominations that emerged in the United States from a religious movement led by Alexander Campbell and Barton W. Stone in the early 19th century. Beginning as an effort to provide a basis on which all Christians in America could unite, the leaders of the movement relied on the faith and practice of the primitive church. Ironically, this unity movement eventually divided precisely along the lines of its original agenda, as the Churches of Christ rallied around the restorationist banner while the Disciples of Christ gathered around the ecumenical cause. Yet, having begun as a countercultural sect, the Churches of Christ emerged in the 20th century as a culture-affirming denomination. This brief history, together with biographical sketches of major leaders, provides a complete overview of the denomination in America.

The book begins with a concise yet detailed history of the denomination's beginnings in the early 19th century. Tracing the influence of such leaders as Stone and Campbell, the authors chronicle the triumphs and conflicts of the denomination through the 19th century and its reemergence and renewal in the 20th century. The biographical dictionary of leaders in the Churches of Christ rounds out the second half of the book, and a chronology of important events in the history of the denomination offers a quick reference guide. A detailed bibliographic essay concludes the book and points readers to further readings about the Churches of Christ.

Excerpt

The Greenwood Press series of denominational studies follows a distinguished precedent. These current volumes improve on earlier works by including more churches than before and by looking at all of them in a wider cultural context. the prototype of this series appeared a century ago. Between 1893 and 1897, twenty-four scholars collaborated in publishing thirteen volumes known popularly as the American Church History Series. These scholars found twenty religious groups to be worthy of separate treatment, either as major sections of a volume or as whole books in themselves. Scholars in this current series have found that outline to be unrealistic, with regional subgroups no longer warranting separate status and others having declined to marginality. Twenty organizations in the earlier series survive as nine in this collection, and two churches and an interdenominational bureau have been omitted. the old series also excluded some important churches of that time; others have gained great strength since then. So today, a new list of denominations, rectifying imbalance and recognizing modern significance, features many groups not included a century ago. the solid core of the old series remains in this new one, and in the present case a wider range of topics makes the study of denominational life in America more inclusive.

Some recent denominational histories have improved with greater attention to primary sources and more rigorous scholarly standards. But they have too frequently pursued themes for internal consumption alone. Volumes in the Greenwood Press series strive to surmount such parochialism while remaining grounded in the specific materials of concrete ecclesiastical traditions. They avoid placing a single denomination above others in its distinctive truth claims, ethical norms, and liturgical patterns. Instead, they set the history of each church in the larger religious and social context that shaped the emergence of notable denominational features. in this way the authors in this series help us understand . . .

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