Friday, July 12, 2013

‘The Story of Churches of Christ’ (Book Review)

When someone asks about the history of the independent Churches of Christ, there are a number of valuable websites, books, and other resources to direct them toward. However – Surprise! Surprise! – not everyone wants to read a systematic study, especially if they have little prior knowledge or interest in theological intricacies and denominational history. Enter Douglas A. Foster and his The Story of Churches of Christ (ACU Press, 2013) to the rescue.

Like other books on the Stone-Campbell Movement, Foster begins looking at how the religious group was birthed by Baptist, Presbyterian, and Enlightenment thinking. He briefly touches on controversies over the Trinity, baptism, instrumental music, and so on, giving a reader a rough idea of how these disagreements originated and how they were (mis)handled over time. The book also provides a good overview of what the Churches of Christ look like today, noting the unfortunate transition from the early reformers’ dedication to church unity regardless of differing opinions to the current members’ commitment to only worshiping with those in perfect agreement with them on creed and practices.

The Story of Churches of Christ is neither for academic nor church Bible class use. It’s a simple tract-sized document (38 pages) designed to give both CofC members and non-members a rough idea of how that branch of the Restoration Movement began. QR codes are strategically placed in the book to direct the reader to websites with more information. Those more familiar with the movement’s history may find the book a quick refresher, and we can all recognize the value of a short work that’s inexpensive and convenient to give out to seekers and visitors.

I received a complimentary copy of The Story of Churches of Christ from representatives Abilene Christian University Press as a registration gift during the 2013 Pepperdine University Bible Lectureship in Malibu, California.