Churches of Christ

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The Churches of Christ are a group of autonomous churches in the United States made up of believers in Jesus Christ who have been baptised by immersion. They consider themselves to be non-denominational and prefer not to be categorized with Protestant denominations, saying that they do not seek to reform the Catholic Church. With roots going back into the early 1800s, they were organized separately from similar bodies early in the 20th century. They are strongest in the lower Midwest and upper South.

Disciples of Christ and Churches of Christ

The break around 1906 between the Disciples of Christ and the Churches of Christ was due in part to disagreements over the use of music in worship and missionary societies. More important was a fundamental division between the views of two early leaders of the movement. The dispute was over that which Barton Stone called primitivism and the Campbellian modernistic position. Alexander Campbell believed in progress toward the Kingdom of God and was both optimistic and not hostile toward the secular world. Stone, on the other hand, wanted a radical separation from the world, and he was pessimistic about human nature and the prospects for progress.

From the end of the Civil War to 1917, David Lipscomb dominated the Churches of Christ and managed to balance the views of Campbell and Stone. After Lipscomb's death, the Churches of Christ moved away from the premillennialism of Stone and Lipscomb and embraced Campbell's views. Foy Wallace, whose views prevailed among the Churches of Christ from the 1930s through the 1950s, continued the movement away from the thought of Stone and Lipscomb.[1]

More specifically, the Disciples have evolved into a centralized denomination, whereas the Churches of Christ maintain an earlier system of fellowship between congregations which does not involve any surrender of congregational independence. In addition, the Disciples of Christ are active members of the National and World Councils of Churches and are ardently commited to social change. The Churches of Christ tend to avoid politicial controversies.

Further reading

  • Harrell, David Edwin, Jr. The Churches of Christ in the Twentieth Century: Homer Hailey's Personal Journey of Faith. (2000). 472 pp. by a leading historian
  • Hughes, Richard T. Reviving the Ancient Faith: The Story of Churches of Christ in America. (1996). 448 pp.
  • Williams, D. Newell. Barton Stone: A Spiritual Biography. (2000). 249 pp.


  1. Richard T. Hughes, "The Apocalyptic Origins of Churches Of Christ and the Triumph of Modernism." Religion and American Culture 1992 2(2): 181-214. 1052-1151