The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is the combination of two separate churches of the “restoration movement,” the Christian Church, and the Disciples of Christ. The “restoration movement” was established in the late eighteenth century; its members who left the largest impact came in the 1820s with Barton Stone, Thomas and Alexander Campbell, and Walter Scott, all Presbyterians who wished to “restore” the principles of Christianity as seen in the New Testament. Barton Stone believed that there needed to be unity in faith, desiring to be rid of the denominational attitudes of his day. He organized his group of believers as the Christian Church. Meanwhile, Thomas and Alexander Campbell, father and son, also desired to return to a more unified Christianity, without creeds or clergy. They believed that baptism needed to be done for adults by immersion, and that the Lord’s Supper ought to be served weekly. They named those within their group the Disciples of Christ, and called their congregations the churches of Christ. In 1832, the two groups merged. The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is known for its positions on baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and was close to the church of the New Testament, yet unfortunately fell short.
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The “Restoration Movement” first divided in the latter half of the nineteenth century over the use of “missionary societies” and other forms of parachurch organizations; many “independent Christian Churches” at this time became distinct from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Another division occurred the end of the nineteenth century, for many had recognized the need to go further and remove instruments from the church building (among other things) and return to the church of the New Testament. They took on the name of the church of Christ, finding a designation of the church that was present in Scripture. Many have argued that the “church of Christ” is a denomination that began at this time: it can be proven, however, that the “church of Christ” does not have its origin in the “Restoration Movement,” but has existed throughout history, with evidence for its existence in many places. Many just discovered the truths of the Scriptures in the late nineteenth century and practiced Christianity as seen in the New Testament.
Since the nineteenth century, the members of the churches of Christ have divided over many issues, all of them hearkening back to denominational tendencies: giving benevolence to non-saints, instrumental music within the worship service, growing acceptance of the Evangelical belief system, and others. It is our hope that all members of the church of Christ return to the teachings of the New Testament.