I tried to write about the origins of the Churches of Christ, I really did; but it ended up feeling like writing a school report that no one, not even the teacher, wanted to hear. There just isn’t anything new there unless you are already predisposed to want the new paradigm that the Church of Christ founders were selling. So, cutting to the heart of the matter, here is a quick overview of what happened.
Barton W. Stone, like a plethora of religious men before (and after!) him were sure that the church they belonged to had interpreted God and Jesus wrong. It was, after all, right there in black and white. There was no possible way that anyone could interpret the bible different than they did. Barton’s only difference was that he pointed his founding myth [note 1] at the first Pentecost instead of somewhere else in his holy book.
At around the same time, Thomas and Alexander Campbell were doing something similar in a different part of the United States. While they might not have pointed their founding myth at Pentecost, they were sure that if people just read their holy book close enough that they would find what Jesus and his death really meant. Needless to say, he had also been booted from his church of origin as well.
Long story short, these men got together and other people followed their lead. They wanted to paper over all the differences in their belief, so they decided to just call themselves “Christians” and their church the “Christian Church”, “Churches of Christ”, “Disciples of Christ”, or something else that they could find in the translation of the Bible that they were using.
The differences weren’t as easy to paper over as the founders had hoped. It didn’t take long before the divisions grew in the fledgling church. The divisions grew into rifts and finally chasms. No one wanted to worship with unreformed heretics. Human nature asserted itself and the church disintegrated.
As the church split, each took a different name that was in use within the church. One branch took the name “Churches of Christ” while others split off into other divisions.
Notes, References, and Links