History::Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)


Christ::church    Churches::campbell    Church::united    General::tucker    States::pages    Their::movement

History The name, Disciples of Christ, is shared by two groups, The Churches of Christ and the independent Christian churches and churches of Christ. They emerged from the same roots.<ref>McAlister and Tucker (1975). Page 29</ref> The Stone-Campbell movement began as two separate threads, each without knowledge of the other, during the Second Great Awakening in the early 19th century. The first of these two groups, led by Barton W. Stone began at Cane Ridge, Bourbon County, Kentucky. The group called themselves simply Christians. The second, began in western Pennsylvania and Virginia (now West Virginia), led by Thomas Campbell and his son, Alexander Campbell. Because the founders wanted to abandon all denominational labels, they used the biblical names for the followers of Jesus that they found in the Bible.<ref>McAlister and Tucker (1975). Page 27</ref>


Barton W. Stone
{{#invoke:Side box|main}}

{{#invoke:main|main}} In 1801, the Cane Ridge Revival in Kentucky planted the seed for a movement in Kentucky and the Ohio River Valley to disassociate from denominationalism. In 1803 Stone and others withdrew from the Kentucky Presbytery and formed the Springfield Presbytery. The defining event of the Stone wing of the movement was the publication of the Last Will and Testament of The Springfield Presbytery, at Cane Ridge, Kentucky, in 1804. "The Last Will" is a brief document in which Stone and five others announced their withdrawal from Presbyterianism and their intention to be solely part of the body of Christ.<ref>Marshall, et al. 1804.</ref> The writers appealed for the unity of all who follow Jesus, suggested the value of congregational self-governance, and lifted the Bible as the source for understanding the will of God. They denounced the divisive use of the Westminster Confession of Faith.<ref>McAlister and Tucker, (1975) page 79</ref>

Soon, they adopted the name "Christian" to identify their group. Thus, the remnants of the Springfield Presbytery became the Christian Church.<ref>McAlister and Tucker, (1975) page 80</ref> It is estimated that the Christian Church numbered about 12,000 by 1830.<ref>McAlister and Tucker, (1975) page 82</ref>


Thomas Campbell

{{#invoke:main|main}} Independently of Stone, the Campbell wing of the movement was launched when Thomas Campbell published the Declaration and Address of the Christian Association of Washington, (Pennsylvania) in 1809. The Presbyterian Synod had suspended his ministerial credentials. In The Declaration and Address he set forth some of his convictions about the church of Jesus Christ, as he organized the Christian Association of Washington, not as a church but as an association of persons seeking to grow in faith.<ref>McAlister and Tucker, (1975) pages 108-111</ref> On May 4, 1811, however, the Christian Association constituted itself as a congregationally governed church. With the building it then constructed at Brush Run, it became known as Brush Run Church.<ref>McAlister & Tucker (1975) Page 117</ref>

Young Alexander Campbell

When their study of the New Testament led the reformers to begin to practice Baptism by Immersion, the nearby Redstone Baptist Association invited Brush Run Church to join with them for the purpose of fellowship. The reformers agreed provided that they would be "allowed to preach and to teach whatever they learned from the Scriptures."<ref>Davis, M. M. (1915), Page 86</ref>

Thus began a sojourn for the reformers among the Baptists within the Redstone Baptist Association (1815–1824). While the reformers and the Baptists shared the same beliefs in baptism by immersion and congregational polity, it was soon clear that the reformers were not traditional Baptists. Within the Redstone Association, the differences became intolerable to some of the Baptist leaders, when Alexander Campbell began publishing a journal, The Christian Baptist, promoting reform. Campbell anticipated the conflict and moved his membership to a congregation of the Mahoning Baptist Association in 1824.<ref>McAlister & Tucker (1975). page 131</ref>

Walter Scott

In 1827, the Mahoning Association appointed reformer Walter Scott as an Evangelist. Through Scott's efforts, the Mahoning Association grew rapidly. In 1828, Thomas Campbell visited several of the congregations formed by Scott and heard him preach. The elder Campbell realized that Scott was bringing an important new dimension to the movement with his approach to evangelism.<ref>McAlister & Tucker (1975). pages 132 - 133</ref>

Several Baptist associations began disassociating congregations that refused to subscribe to the Philadelphia Confession. The Mahoning Association itself came under attack. In 1830, The Mahoning Baptist Association disbanded. Alexander ceased publication of The Christian Baptist. In January 1831, he began publication of the Millennial Harbinger.<ref>McAlister & Tucker (1975). pages 144-145</ref>


File:SMITH Raccoon John.jpg
"Raccoon" John Smith

The two groups united at High Street Meeting House, Lexington, Kentucky, with a handshake between Barton W. Stone and "Raccoon" John Smith, on Saturday, December 31, 1831.<ref>Davis, M. M. (1915), Pages 116-120</ref> Smith had been chosen, by those present, to speak on behalf of the followers of the Campbells.<ref>Davis, M. M. (1915), Pages 116</ref> While contemporaneous accounts are clear that the handshake took place on Saturday, some historians have changed the date of the merger to Sunday, January 1, 1832.<ref>Garrison & DeGroot (1948) page 212</ref> The 1832 date has become generally accepted. The actual difference is about 20 hours.

Two representatives of those assembled were appointed to carry the news of the union to all the churches: John Rogers, for the Christians and "Raccoon" John Smith for the reformers. Despite some challenges, the merger succeeded.<ref>McAlister & Tucker (1975). pages 153 - 154</ref>


With the merger, there was the challenge of what to call the new movement. Clearly, finding a Biblical, non-sectarian name was important. Stone wanted to continue to use the name "Christians." Alexander Campbell insisted upon "Disciples of Christ". Walter Scott and Thomas Campbell sided with Stone, but the younger Campbell had strong reasons and would not yield. As a result, both names were used. The confusion over names has been present ever since.<ref>McAlister & Tucker (1975) pages 27-28</ref> Prior to the 1906 separation, congregations would typically be named "Disciples of Christ," "Christian Church," and "Church of Christ." However, there are different practices by each. More than the name separates each church example:"Independent Christian Church" will not accept a woman as a minister when some of the "Disciples of Christ" congregation will. These different congregations (Disciples of Christ, Church of Christ, and Independent Church) share many of the same beliefs and practices but there are, in fact, differences.

First national convention and missionary movement

Alexander Campbell, Age 65

{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$N=Refimprove section |date=__DATE__ |$B= {{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$N=Refimprove |date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Message box|ambox}} }} }} In 1849, the first National Convention was held at Cincinnati, Ohio.<ref>Garrison and DeGroot (1948) page 245</ref> Alexander Campbell had concerns that holding conventions would lead the movement into divisive denominationalism. He did not attend the gathering.<ref>Garrison and DeGroot (1948), page 245</ref> Among its actions, the convention elected Alexander Campbell its President and created the American Christian Missionary Society (ACMS).<ref>Garrison and DeGroot (1948) Page 247</ref>

The formation of a missionary society set the stage for further "co-operative" efforts. By the end of the century, the Foreign Christian Missionary Society and the Christian Women's Board of Missions were also engaged in missionary activities. Forming the ACMS did not reflect a consensus of the entire movement. Sponsorship of missionary activities became a divisive issue. In the succeeding decades, for some congregations and their leaders, co-operative work through missionary societies and the adoption of instrumental music in church worship was straying too far from their conception of the early church. After the American Civil War, the schism grew. While there was no disagreement over the need for evangelism, many believed that missionary societies were not authorized by scripture and would compromise the autonomy of local congregations.<ref name="Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement: Missionary Societies Controversy">Douglas Allen Foster and Anthony L. Dunnavant, The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, Churches of Christ, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004, ISBN 0-8028-3898-7, ISBN 978-0-8028-3898-8, 854 pages, entry on Missionary Societies, Controversy Over, pp. 534-537</ref> This became one important factor leading to the separation of the Churches of Christ from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).<ref name="Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement: Missionary Societies Controversy"/>


From the beginning of the movement, the free exchange of ideas among the people was fostered by the journals published by its leaders. Alexander Campbell published The Christian Baptist and The Millennial Harbinger. Barton W. Stone published The Christian Messenger.<ref>Garrison and DeGroot, (1948), page 208.</ref> In a respectful way, both men routinely published the contributions of others whose positions were radically different from their own.

Following Campbell's death in 1866, journals continued to keep the discussion and conversation alive. Between 1870 and 1900, two journals emerged as the most prominent. The Christian Standard was edited and published by Isaac Errett of Cincinnati. The Christian Evangelist was edited and published by J. H. Garrison from St. Louis. The two men enjoyed a friendly rivalry, and kept the dialog going within the movement.<ref>Garrison and DeGroot, (1948), page 364.</ref> A third journal became part of the conversation with the publication in 1884 of The Christian Oracle, later to become The Christian Century, with an interdenominational appeal.<ref>Garrison and DeGroot, (1948), page 364</ref> In 1914, Garrison's Christian Publishing company was purchased by R. A. Long, who then established a non-profit corporation, "The Christian Board of Publication" as the Brotherhood publishing house.<ref>Garrison and DeGroot, (1948), page 426</ref>


In 1906, the U.S. Religious Census listed Churches of Christ for the first time as a group which was separate and distinct from the Disciples of Christ.<ref>McAlister & Tucker (1975). Page 251</ref> However, the division had been growing for years, with published reports as early as 1883.<ref>McAlister & Tucker (1975). Page 252</ref> The most obvious distinction between the two groups was the Churches of Christ rejecting the use of musical instruments in worship. The controversy over musical instruments began in 1860, when some congregations introduced organs, traditionally associated with wealthier, denominational churches. More basic were the underlying approaches to Biblical interpretation. The Churches of Christ permitted only those practices found in accounts of New Testament worship. They could find no New Testament documentation of the use of instrumental music in worship. The Disciples, by contrast, considered permissible any practices that the New Testament did not expressly forbid.<ref>McAlister & Tucker (1975). Pages 242 - 247</ref>

After the division, Disciples churches used "Christian Church" as the dominant designation for congregations. While music and the approach to missionary work were the most visible issues, there were also some deeper ones. The process that led to the separation had begun prior to the American Civil War.<ref>Cartwright, Colbert S. (1987) pages 17 - 18</ref>

Following the 1906 separation by the Churches of Christ, additional controversies arose. Should missionary efforts be cooperative or should they be independently sponsored by congregations? Should new methods of Biblical analysis, developed in the late 19th century, be embraced in the study and interpretation of the Bible?<ref>Garrison and DeGroot, (1948), pages 418-420</ref> The "cooperative" churches were generally more likely to adopt the new biblical study methods.

During the first half of the 20th century, these opposing factions among the Christian Churches coexisted but with growing discomfort and tension. Among the cooperative churches, the three Missionary Societies merged into the United Christian Missionary Society in 1920.<ref>Garrison and DeGroot, (1948), pages 428 & 429</ref> Human service ministries grew through the National Benevolent Association and provided assistance to orphans, the elderly and the disabled. By mid century, the cooperative Christian Churches and the independent Christian Churches were following different paths.


Following World War II, it became obvious that the organizations that had been developed in previous decades no longer effectively met the needs of the postwar era.<ref>McAlister & Tucker, (1975). page 419</ref> After a number of discussions throughout the 1950s, the 1960 International Convention of Christian Churches adopted a process to "restructure" the entire organization.<ref>McAlister & Tucker, (1975). page 421</ref> The Commission on Restructure, chaired by Granville T. Walker, held its first meeting on October 30 & November 1, 1962.<ref>McAlister & Tucker, (1975). pages 436 - 437</ref> In 1968, the International Convention of Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) adopted the Commission's proposed "Provisional Design of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)."<ref>McAlister & Tucker, (1975). pages 442 - 443</ref> Soon the Provisional Design became "The Design."

{{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$N=Refimprove section |date=__DATE__ |$B= {{ safesubst:#invoke:Unsubst||$N=Refimprove |date=__DATE__ |$B= {{#invoke:Message box|ambox}} }} }} Under the Design, all churches in the 1968 yearbook of Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) were automatically recognized as part of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In the years that followed, many of the Independent Christian Church Congregations requested formal withdrawal from the yearbook. Many of those congregations became part of the Christian churches and churches of Christ.

The modern disciples have been described as "a Reformed North American Mainstream Moderate Denomination."<ref>Williams (2008)</ref>


The Peoples Temple and Jonestown

In 1955, Indiana preacher Jim Jones founded the organization that became Peoples Temple of the Disciples of Christ, a New Religious Movement grounded in Pentecostalism. In 1960, the church applied for and was accepted in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), attracted by the denomination's tolerance of political views and local autonomy. Membership conferred the Temple with legitimacy and an umbrella tax exemption. Jones himself became a Disciples of Christ Minister on February 16, 1964.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> The Temple moved to California in 1967, grew substantially to over a dozen locations with a membership that was about 80% black, became politically active along a line of Socialism, and adopted cult practices. In 1974, the temple leased land in the South American country of Guyana to form the Peoples Temple Agricultural Project, known informally as Jonestown, growing to 900 residents.

On November 18, 1978, a San Francisco Congressman Leo Ryan visited Jonestown to investigate claims of abuse. Members of the Temple expressed a desire to leave, saying they were trapped. On a local airstrip, Temple security guards killed the congressman, three journalists, and a Temple defector. That evening, Jones ordered his congregation to drink a punch laced with cyanide and tranquilizers. Parents were instructed to inject their children with the drink. 918 people died in the mass suicide, including 276 children.

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) sections
Intro  History  Beliefs and practices  Membership trends  Affiliated academic institutions  Ecumenical relations  Prominent members  See also  Notes  References  References  Further reading  External links  

PREVIOUS: IntroNEXT: Beliefs and practices