A Frightening New World/A Hopeful New World: An Annotated Bibliography
A Frightening New World/A Hopeful New World: An Annotated Bibliography
Douglas A. Foster
Part of the Biblical Studies Commons; Christianity Commons; and the Religious Thou ght; The ology and Philosophy of Religion Commons
As Leonard Allen highlights in his article "The Future of the Restoration Movement," today's thought world
is vastly different from the one that gave birth to the Stone-Campbell Movement and Churches of Christ.
Church leaders struggling to understand this new world and respond in godly ways are faced with a daunting
body of literature that both defines and embodies this new situation. Though not claiming to be
comprehensive nor implying endorsement of all ideas presented, this annotated bibliography is a starting place to help
chart the main contours of this frightening and hopeful new world. The materials are organized into six
sections that roughly parallel Allen's main points.
I. THE NEW WORLD IN WHICH WE LIVE
Braaten, Carl, and Robert W. Jensen, eds. The Strange New World of the Gospel: Re-Evangelizing in the
Postmodern World. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002.
The editors contend that most "unbelievers" in America and the West were actually brought up in church but
no longer believe. The task of the church in the postmodern/ post-Christian world is to "re-evangelize." Nine
scholars representing major-Christian traditions examine ways the church can relate the gospel to this new
Greer, Robert C. Mapping Postmodernism: A Survey of Christian Options. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity,
A gripping introduction and survey of the church's major options in understanding postrnodem thought.
Using four twentieth-century Christian thinkers as the basis of his study (Francis Schaeffer, Karl Barth, John
Hick, and George Lindbeck), Greer shows the modernist concept of "absolute truth" as an enemy to the
Christian faith. He moves, however, toward a new concept of absolute truth and way of doing Christian
theology that he labels post-postmodernism.
Lukacs, John. At the End of an Age. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002.
Renowned historian John Lukacs examines evidence that the Modem Age is ending, especially the
widespread questioning of its two central notions-the certainty of scientific knowledge and the principle of
Progress. His provocative approach challenges both conservatives and liberals, creationism and evolution.
He concludes with the argument that the historical appearance of Christ upon earth is the most significant
event in the universe.
Fourth Quarter 2006
II. THE RATIONAL ROOTS OF THE STONE-CAMPBELL MOVEMENT
Allen, Leonard, and Danny Gray Swick. Participating in God s Life: Two Crossroads for Churches of
Christ. Orange, California: New Leaf Books, 200l.
Allen and Swick begin with the fascinating story of the 1856 Tolbert Fanning-Robert Richardson
controversy. Fanning, whose theology was completely shaped by Baconian common sense philosophy, was unable
to acknowledge that he held any philosophical presuppositions. He accused the more "mystical" Richardson
of skewing the gospel with philosophy. Allen uses the story as a springboard for appealing to Churches of
Christ to embrace trinitarian theology as central to spiritual formation and a corrective to the negative
implications of our rationalistic past.
Bozeman, Theodore Dwight. Protestants in an Age of Science: The Baconian Ideal and Ante-Bellum
American Religious Thought. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1977.
For three decades Dwight Bozeman has been one of the premier historians of Puritan history and thought. In
this seminal book he describes how the Baconian theory of knowledge created the assumption that correct
biblical interpretation was a "scientific" enterprise. This idea became almost universal in early
nineteenthcentury America. Bozeman uses the Presbyterian Church as his case study, yet readers will easily see the
massive influence of the ideas on Alexander Campbell's Restorationist program.
Hughes, Richard T. Reviving the Ancient Faith: The Story of Churches of Christ in America. Grand Rapids:
Hughes's monumental history of Churches of Christ describes the nineteenth century origins of the
StoneCampbell Movement and how those origins shaped us in the twentieth. Contrasting the Campbellian
rationalistic and Stoneite "apocalyptic" understandings of the church and the world, Hughes masterfully tells the
stories of how the rationalistic tendencies largely triumphed.
Allen, Leonard. Unseen Things: Churches of Christ in (and After) the Modern Age. Siloam Springs, AR:
This book represents a more fulsome development of the ideas put forth in Allen's essay published in this
issue of Leaven. Eight trenchant essays orient readers to the largely modem philosophical and theological
formation of Churches of Christ, offering ideas for moving responsibly into the twenty-first century.
III. CHRISTIAN UNITY AS A CORE VALUE
A. Unity as Understood in the Stone-Campbell Movement
Callen, Barry L., and James B. North. Coming Together in Christ: Pioneering a New Testament Way to
Christian Unity. Joplin, MO: College Press, 1997.
A compelling call and theological rationale for churches traditionally opposed to participation in
"ecumenical" activities to embrace ecumenism-though questioning modernist presuppositions of the Ecumenical
Movement. The book draws from the dialogue between members of the Christian Churches/Churches of
Christ and the Church of God (Anderson, IN) in the 1980s and 1990s.
Foster, Douglas A. "The Struggle for Unity During the Period of Division of the Restoration Movement:
1870-1900." Ph.D. dissertation, Vanderbilt University, 1987.
THE FUTURE OF THE RESTORATION MOVEMENT
The author examines the early ideas of Christian unity in the Stone-Campbell Movement and in American
Christianity, demonstrating how four very different understandings of unity were behind the two divisions
that tore this unity movement apart in the twentieth century.
Foster, Douglas A. "The Face of Christian Unity." Christian Standard (February 6, 2000): 4-6.
The first in a series of four articles examining the major foci of the Stone-Campbell Movement during its
two hundred year history, Foster examines the complexity of the concept of unity in the face of current
church realities. He identifies areas that have been key to a healthy understanding of our responsibilities to
work for the visible unity ofthe church-areas that do not require a rigid rational consensus.
Shelly, Rubel. I Just Want to be a Christian. Revised edition. Nashville: 20th Century Christian, 1986.
A landmark book that challenged sectarian exclusivist assumptions of Churches of Christ through an
examination of the theology of Christian unity from the Stone-Campbell heritage. Though modem in approach and
assumptions, the book opened the way for understandings of the church that countered traditional exclusive
conceptions yet maintained continuity with the history of the Movement.
Shelly, Rubel, and John O. York. The Jesus Proposal: A Theological Frameworkfor Maintaining the Unity
of the Body of Christ. Siloam Springs, AR: Leafwood, 2003; and Rubel Shelly and John O. York. The Jesus
Community: A Theology of Relational Faith. Siloam Springs, AR: Leafwood, 2004.
In these two books, Shelly and York call for unity among believers based not on modem rational
understandings of the gospel, but on a personal relationship with Christ and with all who have such a relationship.
In The Jesus Proposal the authors assert that the "postmodern" atmosphere of the twenty-first century can
foster relational unity in Christ that is greater than theological agreement, ecclesiological structure, and
institutional loyalty. The Jesus Community describes how a church might live out the vision described in the first
B. Unity as Understood in the Larger Context of Christianity
Meyer, Harding. That All May be One: Perceptions and Models of Ecumenicity, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,
An experienced leader in the Ecumenical movement, Meyer describes the shifts away from institutional
ecumenism that have taken place among churches worldwide. In two major sections he first describes the wide
range of understandings of Christian unity that exists today, then surveys the proposals for how unity can be
lived out by Christians and churches.
IV. THE ROLE AND IMPORTANCE OF TRADITION-REEXAMINING
A. In the Ongoing Life of the Stone-Campbell Movement
Allen, C. Leonard, and Richard T. Hughes. Discovering Our Roots: The Ancestry of Churches of Christ.
Abilene, TX: ACU Press, 1988.
Allen and Hughes challenge the anti-historical attitude common in American thought and Churches of
Christ, showing the potentially devastating implications of such an attitude when applied to our
self-understanding. Beginning with the Protestant Reformation, the authors trace the major streams of thought that
have profoundly shaped Churches of Christ.
Fourth Quarter 2006 Childers, JeffW., Douglas A. Foster, and Jack R. Reese. The Crux of the Matter: Crisis, Tradition, and the
Future of Churches of Christ. Revised study edition. Abilene, TX: ACU Press, 2002.
Beginning with a description of the postmodern world, the authors examine the biblical, historical, and
theological factors that have shaped Churches of Christ through the last two centuries. They show how
these very factors can be the basis for embracing the challenges of our new world. The book points out
the strengths we have enjoyed and the temptations we have faced, then concludes that the core value of
Christianity- the cross of Christ-must be the determinative force that shapes our future.
B. Tradition in the Larger Context of Christianity-Past-Evangelical
Middleton, J. Richard, and Brian 1. Walsh. Truth is Stranger Than It Used to Be: Biblical Faith in a
Postmodern Age. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1995.
This book is a vivid introduction to postmodern culture and philosophy with a withering critique of modern
assumptions about reality. The collapse of modem thought, the authors contend, actually provides
tremendous potential for Christians to speak the gospel in a way that provides a radical word of hope and
Webber, Robert E. Ancient-FutureFaith: Rethinking Evangelicalismfor a Postmodern
The postmodern shift has resulted in a longing among many believers for the richness of early Christianity.
This impulse is seen in a return to new forms of classical understandings of the church, the Eucharist, and
baptism as powerful and mysterious. Webber has since published other books with the "ancient-future"
motif, including Ancient-Future Worship (video 1999), Ancient-Future Evangelism (2003), and
AncientFuture Time (2004).
World. Grand Rapids:
Webber, Robert. The Younger Evangelicals: Facing the Challenges of the New World. Grand Rapids: Baker,
In many ways a history of Evangelicalism in the twentieth century, Webber describes three phases that he
labels "traditional evangelicals" (1950-1975), "pragmatic evangelicals" (1975-2000), and "younger
evangelicals" (2000-present). He describes the shifts from the rational worldview of the traditionalists, to the
therapeutic understanding of Christianity of the pragmatics, to the younger evangelicals' longing for a return
to the ancient emphasis on the church as community. Highly visual and technologically adept, these younger
believers have a commitment to the poor, multicultural churches, and intergenerational ministry.
C. Tradition in the Larger Context of Christianity-PostLiberal
Frei, Hans W. The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative: A Study in Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century
Hermeneutics. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974.
Frei can be called the father of "postliberal" Christian theology. He contends that in the Enlightenment the
narrative reading of scripture that had previously defined the world was overturned when modem
theologians imposed their world on the Bible. Both liberals and conservatives approached the Bible with these
modernist assumptions, but Frei's chief critique is against the liberal enterprise. He urges the
re-appropriation of scriptural narrative as the basis for theology.
Lindbeck, George A. The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age. Philadelphia:
THE FUTURE OF THE RESTORATION
Lindbeck critiques the most widely held understandings of religion as "cognitive propositionalism," which
sees doctrines as pointing to objective realities, and "experiential expressivism," which views doctrine as
representing inward experiences. His chief criticism is toward the second, the orientation of liberal
theologies. In his proposed "cultural-linguistic" model, religion's significance is not located primarily in
propositional truths but in "the story it tells and in the grammar that informs the way the story is told and used."
Barrett, Lois Y., ed. Treasure in Clay Jars: Patterns in Missional Faithfulness. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,
Using the characteristics described in Guder's Missional Church (see below), eight researchers sought out
congregations that embodied these ideals-including biblical formation, risk taking, worship as a public
witness, dependence on the Holy Spirit, and giving themselves to the community. The result is a series of
compelling stories of actual congregations that are practicing these patterns and becoming missional churches.
The Gospel in Our Culture Network. http://www.gocn.org/
The network was begun to help American church leaders respond appropriately to postmodern
(postChristian) shifts that have moved the church out of its privileged position. It is a place for Christian leaders
and groups who want to collaborate with others who share similar concerns. Seven years of the Network's
newsletter are available online, as well as information about national conferences and the formation of local
groups to help Christians engage people with the gospel.
Guder, Darrell L., ed. Missional Church: A Visionfor the Sending of the Church in North America. Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998.
As the influence of the church continues to decrease, North America is now more than ever a mission field.
The contributors to this seminal work argue that the church cannot respond to this new reality as long as it
views mission as a program of the church. Instead, mission must be the very definition of the church-s-God's
people sent into the world. The book's purpose is to assist church leaders in moving congregations away
from institutional maintenance to truly missional design and definition. The book describes twelve
characteristics of a missional church.
Jacobsen, Douglas, and William Vance Trollinger, Jr. Re-Forming the Center: American Protestantism,
to the Present. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998.
Emerging from a larger project of the same name, this series of essays challenges the "bipolar myth" that
twentieth-century American Protestantism essentially divided into liberal/mainstream and fundamentalist!
evangelical camps. Essays treat a range of church bodies, including one on Churches of Christ. The editors
argue that seeing American religious bodies as related to a "center" (not clearly defined in the book) would
alleviate the negative polarizing effects of the two-party thesis.
Jinkins, Michael. The Church Faces Death: Ecclesiology in a Post-Modern Context. New York: Oxford,
Beginning with the reality of the dramatic decline of mainstream Christianity in Europe and America,
Jinkins struggles to re-define the church by looking at it from a series of divergent angles. Each view
illumines something about the church the others do not. Jinkins begins with the proposition that the church's.
"impending death" may release it from concern over its own fate so that it can truly follow Christ. The
question he seeks to answer is, "Is there life after death for the church?"
Kimball, Dan. The Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for New Generations. Grand Rapids: Zondervan,
In an iconoclastic mode, Kimball rejects traditional methods of evangelism-including the "seeker
sensitive" model-as largely ineffective in reaching emerging generations. These anti-Christian, antichurch,
postChristian people represent one of the largest mission fields in the world. Kimball, however, does not simply
propose a new model. Instead he takes readers through a fast-paced tour of the massive changes that have
occurred in society in the last centuries. In the second part of the book the author proposes a range of
possibilities for churches to be truly missional, including helping people connect with the ancient disciplines of
the church--one part of "vintage" Christianity.
Love, Mark, Douglas A. Foster, and Randall J. Harris. Seeking a Lasting City: The Church s Journey in the
Story of God. Abilene, TX: ACU Press, 2005.
Described as a "narrative ecclesiology," the authors depict the church not as an institution that derives its
legitimacy from conforming to lists of "marks of the true church," but as the embodiment of God's work in
the world-the continuing story of God's love. The book makes this point by recounting biblical and
historical stories, concluding with theological challenges for Churches of Christ to continue "seeking a lasting
city" rather than assume we have already arrived.
McLaren, Brian D. A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey. San Francisco:
One of many books by Brian McLaren, the "father" of the emergent church movement, which embraces
the exhilarating possibilities of abandoning the modem worldview and its constraints on Christianity. In
this book he relates a fictional dialogue between a burned out conservative minister and a science teacher,
which leads to new understandings of scripture and the church. Also notable is his 2004 book, A Generous
Orthodoxy, which celebrates the richness of the varied Christian traditions.
Miller, Donald. Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality. Nashville: Nelson, 2003.
This is the intimately introspective story of Miller's journey from a vague superficial evangelical faith, to
a successful ministry that again left him feeling far from God. The last experience finally drove him away
from traditional "institutional" Christianity to a faith focused on a more culturally relevant intimacy with
Minatrea, Milfred. Shaped by God's Heart: The Passion and Practices of Missional Churches. San
Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2004.
Defining mission as "the purpose of inviting and equipping individuals to be authentic disciples of Christ,"
Minatrea writes of twenty-first century congregations that are moving from maintenance to missional
churches. While not proposing models for other churches to copy, the author does list nine essential
practices of missional churches that include having clear but high expectations for membership, being authentic,
and teaching to equip people to serve-not just to know facts. The final section provides strategies for
helping a church become missional.
Reno, R. R. In the Ruins of the Church: Sustaining Faith in an Age of Diminished Christianity. Grand
Rapids: Brazos, 2002.
The church in the twenty-first century is in a state of ruins. Far from a disaster, however, the ruin of the
church and the suffering it brings to Christians is forcing believers closer to Christ and real faith. Reno
contends that conservatives and liberals alike have been bound by the modernist notion that we must
sepaTHE FUTURE OF THE RESTORATION
rate ourselves from whatever is ruined or defective. The author insists, to the contrary, that we must remain
in the ruins of the church and "suffer divine things." Through this loyalty to the church, daily prayer, and
engagement with scripture Christians in this postmodern world can experience true intimacy with Christ.
Us WELL IN THE POSTMODERN AGE
Allen, Leonard, and Lynn Anderson, eds. The Transforming of a Tradition: Churches of Christ in the New
Millennium. Orange, California: New Leaf Books, 2001.
Fourteen younger church leaders in Churches of Christ write about the changes taking place in this heritage
and ways we can respond appropriately to the new world in which we live. Topics range from our
understanding of the church and our heritage, to worship renewal, instrumental music and becoming missional
churches. The writers are all committed to maintaining continuity with their past as they strive to remain
faithful to God and his mission in the world.
Childers, JeffW., and Frederick D. Aquino. At the River s Edge: Meeting Jesus in Baptism. Abilene, TX:
ACU Press, 2004.
An excerpt from the larger Christo logical study, Unveiling Glory (ACU Press, 2003), this study booklet
functions as an introduction to baptismal theology for non-Christians and Christians alike. The authors show
the central role of baptism in shaping our very identity as Christians. The decision to be baptized cannot be
taken lightly, for it involves a deadly vision-dying with Christ-and being utterly changed. Furthermore,
this does not happen in isolation, but in community.
Hicks, John Mark. Come to the Table: Revisioning the Lords Supper. Orange, CA: New Leaf Books, 2002.
In one sense Churches of Christ have held a high view of the Lord's Supper, insisting on its weekly
observance. Yet Hicks believes that the way we have understood and experienced it is very different from the way
the early church did. Through biblical, historical, and theological analyses, Hicks proposes that we should
approach the Supper not as altar, which fosters a sense of individualism, solemnity and sorrow. He insists,
rather, that "table" is the most appropriate metaphor, with its accompanying sense of community, joy, and
Hicks, John Mark, and Greg Taylor. Down in the River to Pray: Revisioning Baptism as Gods Transforming
Work. Siloam Springs, AR: Leafwood, 2004.
The doctrine and practice of baptism has been a cornerstone of Churches of Christ, and the authors insist
that must continue. They contend, however, that despite our emphasis on baptism we need more teaching on
it. Hicks and Taylor take readers through a rich biblical, historical, and theological journey examining
baptism and its significance for individuals and the church.
Hughes, Richard. Reclaiming a Heritage: Reflections on the Heart. Soul and Future of Churches of Christ.
Abilene, TX: ACU Press, 2002.
Moving beyond the story told in his Reviving the Ancient Faith, Hughes brings together eight essays
delivered or published in various places, to explore implications of our history for the twenty-first century.
Among strengths he identifies our focus on scripture, our emphasis on the unity of Christ's chi rch, and
our sense of standing against the values of the world. Yet our restorationist impulse has often te t ipted us to
become arrogant and exclusive in attitude and has tended to blind us to important social and moral issues
such as racism. Hughes calls for a re-appropriation of an "apocalyptic" world view seen in leaders like
Barton W. Stone and David Lipscomb.
Noll, Mark A. "Rethinking Restorationism-A Review Article." The Reformed Journal 39 (November
A remarkable review of four 1988 books on restorationism and Stone-Campbell history by one of the
premier historians of American Christianity. Noll shows that while authors Leonard Allen, Richard Hughes, and
Michael Weed (contributors to one or more of the books reviewed) launch serious critiques of the restoration
ideal as understood and embodied by Churches of Christ, they also demonstrate the "nobility of
restorationism" and its potential for Christian renewal.
DOUGLAS A. FOSTER teaches church history at Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas.