In Part 2 of my discussion on Restorationism, I will focus on select traditions. I will briefly note what they consider to be their contributions to the Christian faith. For the deeper currents of thought, I have included at least one reference work.
Forms of Restoration Belief
Adventists: The post-Millerite Seventh-day Adventist Church is rooted in the “Great Disappointment” of 22 October 1844, when Christ’s Second Coming did not physically occur. They see themselves as a “reformation of the Reformation.” Restored ideas would include Saturday Sabbathkeeping, the gift of prophecy (through Ellen G. White), the correct interpretation of prophetic biblical writings, sleep-state of the dead, and the pre-Advent Judgment. Their status within the evangelical community is debated. For the deeper currents of mainline Adventist thought, consult the Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology (2000) edited by Raoul Dederen. For the life of Mrs. White, see The Ellen G. White Encyclopedia (2014) by Denis Fortin and Jerry Moon.
Baptists: Expressed from several directions, there is no one Baptist Church. Most would consider themselves evangelical. Others would see themselves as exclusive. Landmarkism is an example of Baptist Restorationism. Restoration ideas include believer’s baptism by full immersion after salvation, congregational government and the personal authority of the believer to interpret the Bible. Some denominations would add footwashing, Saturday Sabbathkeeping and a free-will theology. For a full discussion of the development of Baptist Thought, see James Leo Garrett’s Baptist Theology: a Four-Century Study (2009).
Christians (Disciples): Arising on the American Frontier in the 1820s and 1830s, the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement called for Christian unity. This was to be accomplished through restoring the primitive New Testament church. By 1860, they had become the fifth largest church in the United States. Variations are extreme, ranging from Liberal Protestant ecumenical thought to strictly exclusive with no compromises. Historic Restorationist ideas include believer’s baptism for the remission of sins, congregational autonomy and using no denominational names – simply Christian or Disciple. Some would add forbidding instrumental music and choirs in worship; others admit them. For all expressions of this movement consult The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement (2004), edited by Douglas A. Foster, Paul M. Blowers, Anthony L. Dunnavant and D. Newell Williams. For some conservative theology consult Jack Cottrell’s The Faith Once for All: Bible Doctrine for Today (2002)
Holiness: Rooted as far back as the 1830s, a distinct evangelical holiness movement emerged out of North American and UK Methodism by the 1860s. Their emphasis was on John Wesley’s doctrine of Christian Perfection, termed Entire Sanctification. This constitutes a secondary experience and completes the process of salvation begun at conversion. Two excellent texts for discussing this specific concept is Diane Leclerc’s Discovering Christian Holiness: the Heart of Wesleyan-Holiness Theology (2010) and J. Kenneth Grider’s Entire Sanctification: The Distinctive Doctrine of Wesleyanism (1980).
Pentecostals: Rooted in the Wesleyan-Holiness movement at the turn of the twentieth century United States, most Pentecostals would see themselves as evangelicals. Some scholars consider Pentecostals a new branch of Christianity. They see their mission is to restore the Gifts of the Holy Spirit to the world and usher in the Second Coming of Jesus. Currently, they are the second largest branch of Christianity worldwide with some half billion adherents. The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements (2002) edited by Stanley M. Burgess and Eduard M. Van Der Maas covers major movements, trends and theology.
Plymouth Brethren: Rooted in Dublin in 1827-8. Its largest impact has been in the UK, Ireland and in British Commonwealth countries. They see themselves as a restoration of the New Testament Church, with some Brethren seeing themselves as the only true church. There are varieties of “Open Brethren” and “Closed (Exclusive) Brethren.” They see their contribution as helping to restore and develop the Rapture Theology. A standard history is A History of the Brethren Movement: Its Origins, Its Worldwide Development and Its Significance for the Present Day (2001), by F. Roy Coad and F. F. Bruce. The enormously popular Scofield Study Bible (1909) building upon the Brethren approach has embedded Rapture Theology firmly into Evangelical Thought, especially in the United States.
Mormons: Founded in 1830 there developed several Latter Day Saint denominations. The largest is the Utah LDS Church. Their historic impact was in the development of Western North America with colonies stretching from southern Alberta down to northern Mexico. They see the New Testament church went completely apostate and needed a restoration through modern-day prophets, apostles and scripture. While Mormons consider themselves Christian, they are not Protestants. Scholars debate whether they are a new branch of Christianity or an emerging new world religion. The Utah church’s restored theology concerning “work for the dead,” including baptism for the dead, affects family history to no small degree. One contemporary work for Utah Mormon Thought is LDS Beliefs: A Doctrinal Reference (2011), edited by Robert Millet, Camille Fronk Olson, Andrew C. Skinner and Brent L. Top. For an in-depth academic treatment of founding prophet-president Joseph Smith, see Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (2005) by Richard Lyman Bushman.
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