“Christian freedom and academic freedom are enjoined in common cause—to seek truth without interference” (Diekema 75). Religious journals were significant in the formation of the Restoration Movement. Through the various journals, the Stone-Campbell movement solidified as well as progressed. One could not completely understand the Restoration Movement without a comprehension of the role of the journals because of the considerable influence the editors of these publications wielded.
This paper will survey the various major journals in the restoration movement. It will begin with the early journals of influence and progress to the modern journals of today. Also, these modern publications will be categorized into the major theological groupings of conservative, liberal, and scholarly. Moreover, the importance of the journals will be discussed by examining the unifying power of the papers as well as the divisive nature of the papers. The journals in the restoration movement either unite or divide the body of Christ.
Journals Past and Present
The Scholarly Journals in the Stone-Campbell Movement
Most of the publications in the Restoration Movement were not scholarly in the treatment of scripture. They were written by the common student of the Bible for the common man in the pew. But there have were endeavors to present a scholarly voice in the
Another attempt to produce a semi-scholarly quarterly publication was produced in 2002. James Farris and Odis D. Duncan produced the Journal of Biblical Interpretation and Application. This journal was an attempt to provide a more conservative voice in
The Foundational Journals in the Stone-Campbell Movement
The next group of journals laid the foundation for the tremendous spread of the restoration ideal. These early papers were directed toward the average man in search of God. The first journal ever officially produced for the Stone-Campbell movement was the Herald of Gospel Liberty. This publication was edited by Elias Smith and lasted from 1808 to 1817 (Hooper 328).
Probably the two most influential journals in the early years of the churches of Christ were both edited by Alexander Campbell. The first publication that Alexander Campbell produced was called the Christian Baptist to appeal to a Baptist audience.
Two other influential restoration leaders had journals. Barton W. Stone produced the Christian Messenger from 1826 to 1845 and Walter Scott printed the Evangelist from 1832 to 1842. Both of these journals had an important voice in the early years of the movement, but it was
There are some other early major journals that influenced the Restoration Movement. A survey of religious journals in the Stone-Campbell movement would not be complete unless one mentions the Gospel Advocate and the Christian Standard. The Gospel Advocate was started by Tolbert Fanning in 1855 but had to cease publication during the Civil War years. After the war, David Lipscomb became editor of this major influence in the churches of Christ. The Gospel Advocate was the voice in the church for the south while the Christian Standard, which was founded in 1866 by Isaac Errett, spoke for the churches in the North. The Gospel Advocate and the Christian Standard were most widely circulated journals, but the American Christian Review, the Lard’s Quarterly, and the Apostolic Times were read through the middle decades of the 1800’s (Hooper 328).
Modern Journals in the Stone-Campbell Movement
Douglas Foster in his book Will the Cycle be Unbroken? identifies some of the major modern journals within the churches of Christ. Though the book is dated because it was published in 1994 and some of the listed journals are no longer published, nevertheless it is a valuable source in highlighting the spectrum of religious thought within the movement. Foster lists eight journals and surveys the editors on various theological views (82). The magazines that he listed are: Christian Chronicle (which functions more like a newspaper than a biblical journal), Contending for the Faith, Firm Foundation, Gospel Advocate, Image, 21st Century Christian, World Evangelist, and Wineskins. In Foster’s survey, Wineskins, Image, 21st Century Christian and the Christian Chronicle were more on the progressive side of religious controversy while the Gospel Advocate, World Evangelist, Contending for the Faith, and Firm Foundation were more on the conservative side. Wineskins was the most progressive paper while the Firm Foundation and Contending for the Faith were the most conservative journals (Foster 82).
The journals that Foster lists are just a small sample of the hundreds of local published journals that are produced by the people in the churches of Christ. In October of 2001, the Harding Graduate School of Religion compiled a list of periodicals associated with the churches of Christ. This list includes 113 journals within the churches of Christ (www.hugsr.edu).
Journals—Uniting or Dividing
If there was ever any doubt whether the printed page in the churches of Christ was powerful, all one must do is look at the empire of journals that Foy E. Wallace used to defeat Premillennialism in the churches of Christ. Wallace used journals to fight against perceived heresy within the church. He was the editor of the Gospel Advocate from 1930 to 1934. After he left the Advocate, he established his own paper called the Gospel Guardian which he used as a “watchdog” on the brotherhood. Then in 1938 he issued the Bible Banner, which was another avenue for Wallace to spread his influence and views on the church. Wallace’s papers were the uniting glue that forced the churches of Christ to remain united on the issue of premillennialism. Foy Wallace’s immense power in the churches of Christ grew through the spread of his journals throughout the brotherhood (Hughes 160-161).
Even though the religious journals in the churches of Christ were able to maintain unity, typically they were a means of division. In the Christian Church in
Moreover, Gary Holloway and Douglas A. Foster also attribute much of the division in the Restoration Movement to religious journals and the editors that oversaw them. The authors are shocked that a movement that does not contain any ecclesiastical order above the local congregation could officially divide. The two authors charge the division to the work of traveling preachers and religious papers. They say that we “fundamentally divide as we united, congregation by congregation, through the influence of religious editors and powerful preachers” (93). Many times the powerful preachers became authoritative through the journals that they edited.
The role of the religious journals has been important in the development and progress of the restoration ideal of rebuilding the primitive faith of the first century Christians. Sometimes the press was used to unite the body of believers, but sadly the journals were also used to divide the Body of Christ. Nevertheless, one cannot doubt the influence of the printed page in the Restoration Movement.
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- Preacher’s Keeping Journals
- Teaching Restoration History
- Emergent Theology or Restoration Theology
- Loyalty to the Movement
- A Quick Review of Phil Sanders Article “The Emerging Church Movement.”