Friday, January 18, 2013

Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement

Foster, Douglas A., Paul M. Blowers, Anthony L. Dunnavant, and D. Newell Williams, eds. The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004.

This is a fairly comprehensive reference work about the ecclesiastical traditions tracing their roots to Alexander Campbell (1788-1866) and Barton W. Stone (1772-1844). These traditions include the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, and Churches of Christ. The editorial board may be commended for bringing these divergent branches of the movement together, at least in book form.

The essays range from a few paragraphs for Enos Dowling (1905-1997) to 21 pages for Alexander Campbell. Topics include biographical figures like Dowling and Campbell, institutions like Phillips Theological Seminary and Harding University, publications such as Millennial Harbinger and Restoration Review, agencies such as the American Christian Missionary Society and the Ladies' Aid Society, discussions about the movement in relation to historical events such as the Civil War and Temperance, discussions about world missions in various parts of the world such as Latin America and the Carribbean, discussions of theological doctrines such as Grace, Christology, and Lord's Supper, and places and objects important to the movement such as the Cane Ridge Meetinghouse.

The essays are authored by prominent researchers across the three main branches of the Stone-Campbell Movement.The tone is generally nonpartisan and informative. Most essays are readable but dry. They provide a surprising amount of depth about their subjects.

The work is a large, single volume of 854 pages, which includes a thorough index. The work include occasional black and white sketches and photos.

If you've ever wondered about what would possess a Christian movement to divide itself over musical instruments, or wondered what Campbellites mean by "restoration," or wondered why 18th century Presbyterians would start baptizing by immersion and take on a generic identity as "just Christians", then you might find this resource informative and interesting.

The real beauty of this work is that it encompasses the whole Stone-Campbell movement, and you will not sacrifice detail by selecting this reference work over works produced within each of the major branches. It appears to be out of print, but is still widely available. Used prices are beginning to escalate, probably owing to the usefulness and thoroughness of this work.

Rest in peace, Tony Dunnavant!





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