- The term Restoration movement includes a set of American Protestant denominations that emerged on the American frontier early in the 19th century, often in rebellion against the rules and regulations of the many existing denominations, and aiming to "restore" the faith and practice of the New Testament church.Among those who wished to return to the simplicity of the biblical church were three former Presbyterians: Barton Stone (1772-1884), Thomas Campbell (1763-1854), and his son Alexander CAMPBELL (1788-1866). Censured for participating in camp meetings, Stone left the Presbyterian Synod of Kentucky and formed the independent Springfield Presbytery. in 1809, having concluded that a congregational POLiTY was more biblical, the presbytery was dissolved and the group began to call itself simply the Christian Church. Meanwhile, the Campbells founded an independent church that united with the Red Stone Baptist Association in Pennsylvania. While agreeing on many points with the BAPTiSTS, they rejected even the loose Baptist congregational associations. The Campbells left the Baptists in 1830.Both strains of the movement were committed to evangelism and to building Christianity in America, especially in the lands west of the Allegheny Mountains. The movement is associated with the origins of camp meetings, though they quickly came to share their leadership with the Baptists, Methodists, and Cumberland Presbyterians. Alexander Campbell brought some unity to the movements through his travels, preaching, and writings. In 1830, he founded and for many years edited the widely read magazine Millennial Harbinger.The Restoration churches hoped to unify the different denominations that made up the Protestant world. Toward that end, they chose to use no label other than Christian. In fact, however, they came to resemble Baptists in many ways. They eschewed infant baptism, baptized only by immersion, and saw the Lord's Supper as a memorial meal. Uniquely, they included the Lord's Supper as part of their regular Sunday worship.The branches of the movement led by Barton Stone and by the Campbells came together in a loose association in 1832, but refused to set up any formal headquarters. The Campbells' publishing house and periodical served as visible points of unity for the movement.In the years after the Civil War, the congregations in the North and South began to drift apart. The split was formalized in 1906, ostensibly over the use of instrumental music, which the southern congregations (which came to be known as the Churches of Christ) forbade, while the wealthier northern churches (which came to be known as the Christian Church [Disciples of Christ]) could afford to buy organs. Through the 20th century, the northern movement proved more open to pan-denominational structures, and was willing to identify with the Protestant Ecumenical movement and became a member of the World Council of Churches. However, many northern members objected to the new structures within the Disciples of Christ, especially the International Convention, which brought together a number of parachurch organizations. That led to a second formal break in 1968; the more conservative group left and subsequently became known as the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ.Thus, since 1968, the Restoration movement has been composed of three separate branches, popularly known as the Independent Christian Churches, the Disciples of Christ, and the Churches of Christ. In addition, the very loosely organized "noninstrumental" Churches of Christ have spawned several subgroups that have added additional points to the standard Churches of Christ affirmations. One group has adopted pre-millennialism, another refuses to organize Sunday schools, and still another has accepted the Pentecostal baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. Each subgroup is built around a periodical and publishing concern, and some support separate colleges and Bible schools.The newest and most successful of the subgroups has been willing to tolerate a more centralized structure in order to carry out a plan for world evangelism. The International Churches of Christ has a headquarters in Los Angeles and no longer considers itself as part of the older Churches of Christ fellowship.The larger branch of the Churches of Christ has found its own focus by supporting several schools such as Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, and Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. it is also served by two prominent periodicals, Firm Foundation and the Gospel Advocate.in spite of their hostility to structure, the churches of the Restoration movement were able to build and maintain vigorous foreign mission programs, often operating through autonomous missionary agencies drawing resources from whichever congregations or individuals chose to support them. By the 1990s, the Churches of Christ reported some 14,000 congregations worldwide.As the new century begins, the three main branches of the Restoration movement each has roughly 1 million members.Further reading:■ D. Newell Williams, ed., A Case Study of Mainstream Protestantism: The Disciples' Relation to American Culture, 1880-1989 (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans, 1991)■ Leroy Garret, The Stone-Campbell Movement: The Story of the American Restoration Movement (Joplin, Mo.: College Press, 1994)■ Lester G. McAllister and William Tucker, Journey in Faith: A History of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (St. Louis: Bethany Press, 1975)■ Henry E. Webb, In Search of Christian Unity, A History of the Restoration Movement (Cincinnati: Standard, 1990).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.
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