Among the Early Evangelicals

The Transatlantic Origins of the Stone-Campbell Movement

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Pub Date 08 Aug 2017 | Archive Date 30 Oct 2017

Description

Though many of its early leaders were immigrants, most histories of the Stone-Campbell Movement have focused on the unique, American-only message of the Movement. Typically the story tells the efforts of Christians seeking to restore New Testament Christianity or to promote unity and cooperation among believers.


Among the Early Evangelicals charts a new path showing convincingly that the earliest leaders of this Movement cannot be understood apart from a robust evangelical and missionary culture that traces its roots back to the eighteenth century. Leaders, including such luminaries as Thomas and Alexander Campbell, borrowed freely from the outlook, strategies, and methodologies of this transatlantic culture. More than simple Christians with a unique message shaped by frontier democratization, the adherents in the Stone-Campbell Movement were active participants in a broadly networked, uniquely evangelical enterprise.


Though many of its early leaders were immigrants, most histories of the Stone-Campbell Movement have focused on the unique, American-only message of the Movement. Typically the story tells the...


Advance Praise

“It’s not every day that a historian upsets the historiographical applecart with new perspectives that essentially transform the way we understand a given subject, but that is exactly what Gorman has done with this book. For decades, scholars of the Stone-Campbell Movement—myself included—have assumed it was quintessentially American in its inception, framework, and ideology. But Gorman, picking up on the work of the late Hiram Lester, has demonstrated that the transatlantic evangelical missions movement of the late eighteenth century shaped the Campbells’ thinking on virtually all the key issues that defined the Stone-Campbell tradition—restoration of a simple gospel, missions, the unity of all Christians, and the coming millennial age. Kudos to Gorman for such a trailblazing book!

Richard T. Hughes, author, Reviving the Ancient Faith: The Story of Churches of Christ in America

“Readers of James Gorman’s illuminating Among the Early Evangelicals will learn a great deal not only about the origins of the Stone-Campbell Movement, but also about the shaping of early evangelical Christianity in Britain, Ireland, and America. I recommend Gorman’s book enthusiastically.”

Thomas S. Kidd, Distinguished Professor of History, Baylor University


“The work of Thomas and Alexander Campbell in creating a new religious tradition that developed into the various branches of the Churches of Christ and Disciples has been seen as a specifically American phenomenon. James Gorman shows that such an estimate is a mistake. On the contrary, their program was rooted in the missions movement of the eighteenth century, culminating in the 1790s, that marked the whole Evangelical world. By the 1790s, there was enthusiasm for discarding denominational obstacles to the spread of the gospel in England, Ireland, and Scotland, and the Campbells imbibed that spirit. This book is a major reinterpretation of the Campbell movement, but it is also more: a case-study that forms a powerful critique of American religious exceptionalism.”

—David Bebbington, Professor of History, University of Stirling


“Thoroughly informed by transatlantic studies and meticulous in his original research, James Gorman has provided the most comprehensive account to date of the Campbells’ crucial interconnectedness with their British evangelical precursors. Moving beyond previous studies, Gorman sets the Campbells squarely in their context, giving new and valuable insights into their passion for unity and restoration. Gorman’s work is an important contribution to Stone-Campbell studies and to the new global historiography of the church.”

 —Douglas A. Foster, Professor of Church History, Director of The Center for Restoration Studies, Abilene Christian University







“It’s not every day that a historian upsets the historiographical applecart with new perspectives that essentially transform the way we understand a given subject, but that is exactly what Gorman...


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