Disciples logo- a red chalice with a white cross on the top left of the chalice.
Date of establishment: Unknown (Active for years)

One of three religious bodies that trace their origin to the Stone-Campbell Movement of the nineteenth century. 

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) is the only one of the three that willingly accepts a denominational label. Contemporary congregations are generally known as “Christian Churches,” as in First Christian Church or University Christian Church, while members refer to themselves as “Disciples.” In 1968 Disciples adopted their current name, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Kenneth Teegarden, a former general minister and president for Disciples, once offered a defining summary of the name: “The generic first part, Christian Church, points to our objective of unity; the distinguishing second part, Disciples of Christ, reminds us that we have not arrived.” 

Disciples historically have been deeply influenced by their American context. This influence surfaces especially in their commitment to support the right of all people to think through the claims of religion for themselves. The American cultural commitment to personal liberty in matters of religion has also surfaced among Disciples as a deep commitment to both the importance of lay participation in congregational life and the ability of congregations to own their property, select their pastoral leadership, and govern their affairs. Offering further testimony to the connections between Disciples and American cultural values is the fact that three U.S. presidents (James A. Garfield, Lyndon Baines Johnson, and Ronald Reagan) possessed religious roots nurtured within Disciples congregations. 

To understand the developments that led to the emergence of contemporary Disciples of Christ, one must look first to the crucial half-century period from about 1870 to 1920. During these years, Disciples made adjustments within their intellectual and institutional life that created the kinds of trajectories that eventually brought them to their current identity and location within American Protestantism. 

From their beginnings, Disciples have asserted the authority of the Bible for Christian faith and life. The founding Disciples’ consideration of the Bible as canon, as authoritative source, also included an understanding that the Bible contained propositional truth that could be stated in clear and unmistakable terms, such as “God is love” and “Christ died for all.” They also believed it contained a clear roadmap that could be followed in establishing all matters of practice and structure for the church. In essence, early Disciples understood the Bible, especially the New Testament, as the source of the Christian’s faith and as a “constitution” for the church. 

Founders among Disciples, including Thomas and Alexander Campbell, Barton Stone, and Walter Scott, guarded jealously the right of all Christians to approach the Bible and read it for themselves. Higher church authorities and the creeds and confessions of the churches were not needed to dictate the proper meaning. Early Disciples believed that the meaning of the Bible, at least where it counted, was always clear. Their hopes for Christian unity rested on this assumption. When reasonable people read the Bible, these early Disciples asserted, they would reach conclusions with which other reasonable people would find agreement. 

Early Disciples did, however, also recognize that scriptural declarations — even those passages of the Bible connected to a “Thus saith the Lord” — often led to secondary inferences. Inferences were not as clear as declarations. For this reason, the declarations were binding on Christians for faith and practice while most inferences were not. Some inferences, those that seemed “necessary,” were treated differently. When “approved examples” (or “approved precedents”) found in the Bible pointed clearly to practices of early congregations and Christians, they became binding as well. The dismissal of denominational traditions and dependence upon either the propositional word or approved examples of the Bible led to particular emphases within Disciples church life: baptism by immersion for believers, the practice of the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week, a stress on the unity of all who proclaim Jesus as the Christ, confidence that history would culminate in the eschatological triumph of God’s redemption, and a leading role for lay people within congregational life. 

The fact that Alexander Campbell and other early-nineteenth-century Disciples took a propositional approach to the Bible does not imply necessarily that they took an uncritical approach to it. Campbell developed a careful and scholarly hermeneutic. He affirmed the fact that biblical authors often made their own observations and utilized their own experience in communicating ideas found in the Bible. As M. Eugene Boring has pointed out, this allowed Campbell to be discriminating in his reading of the Bible. Not all the words of the Bible were seen to be synonymous with divine revelation. Campbell set forth hermeneutical principles to help readers to make the proper kinds of distinctions between the human character of the book and the divine revelation it contained. 

After the Civil War, Disciples slowly modified their approach to Scripture. Leaders among Disciples, from the 1880s forward, became familiar with a new methodology of biblical interpretation developed in Germany. This new method, known as higher criticism or historical criticism, went beyond the textual criticism so ably practiced by Alexander Campbell. Higher critics addressed larger questions of background, date, authorship, sources, literary characteristics, and other such considerations. Those who utilized higher critical investigation began to challenge traditional assumptions about the Bible. They openly questioned, among other things, the apostolic authorship and historical reliability of the four Gospels. They also emphasized the degree to which culture and the needs of biblical times had colored the expressions and content of the Bible itself. In short, propositions and practices found in the Bible simply were not as authoritative once higher criticism did its work. 

It took a while for Disciples to warm up to the work of the higher critics, but by the 1920s many of them had. Herbert L. Willett, by the time he wrote regularly for the Christian-Evangelist (after 1896), had begun to question Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch and had accepted a new, much later date for the writing of the book of Daniel. Yet Willett’s views of the New Testament were not all that different from those of John W. McGarvey, the chief Disciples opponent of the work of the higher critics. By 1920, however, Willett openly challenged Pauline authorship of the Pastoral Epistles and, over the next decade, moved more solidly toward ratifying the conclusions of the higher critics on other important New Testament interpretations as well. 

Near the opening of the twentieth century, therefore, Disciples leaders revealed their willingness to embrace the developing “liberal” vision of American Protestantism. During these years, Protestants became more interested in examining human experience as a framework for theology. Many shifted their search for the knowledge of God away from propositions and doctrinal systems to their experience of God, both personally and in the world around them. Developments in science contributed to these endeavors. The work of Charles Darwin led Protestants to think differently about both history and revelation. They were more interested in tracing human evolution through history than they were in depending upon a creation story that emphasized human tendencies toward sin. 

Protestant theologians spoke of how Christian witness shifted and changed through time. They stressed a dynamic Christianity. Sterile forms of theological orthodoxy, for these Protestants, quickly lost their relevancy. Instead, they studied religion using a variety of tools, including those provided by the developing fields of sociology and psychology. The comparative study of religion emerged as a field, and some Protestants entertained the possibility that God might be as active in other world religions as in Christianity. 

During this fifty-year period (1870-1920), American Protestantism became interested in the social application of Christian theology. By 1920 the Social Gospel movement, growing out of the Christocentric liberalism that flourished among Protestants, had reached full bloom. Disciples joined the movement late, but joined it nonetheless. Disciples translated the movement primarily into efforts to build the kingdom of God on earth. From their beginnings, Disciples possessed a theological vision that gave wide significance to eschatology. Generally, with some exceptions, Disciples held to a postmillennial kind of optimism that history was moving toward the kingdom of God. With Alexander Campbell, the initiative for that move always remained with God. By the 1920s Disciples had shifted more of the initiative into human hands. 

Interestingly, Disciples embraced Christocentric liberalism to its fullest extent just as the movement began to give way, among other Protestants, to the neo-orthodoxy found in the theologies of Karl Barth and Reinhold Niebuhr. From the 1920s through the 1940s, Disciples mission leadership stressed human goodness over sin and shared an optimistic belief that Christian actions could overcome human need and contribute to the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth. Above all, these thinkers featured Christ as the center of their theology by lifting up the relevance of his life both as model and source for the ethical and religious life of all humanity. For them, Christ-centered beliefs about reality were verified by the practical results of Christian experience. The holocaust, World War II, and the dropping of atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima eventually burst this bubble of optimistic postmillennialism among Disciples and served to chasten other aspects of their liberalism. 

Disciples did not share all the assumptions of emergent Protestant liberalism at the beginning of the twentieth century. Many Disciples did not share any of them. But the social context of these shifts in American religious experience provided the background for the controversies that flowed in Disciples life through much of the century. Regardless of the potential for controversy, some Disciples leaders affirmed the conclusions of the higher critics and abandoned a propositional approach to the Bible. As Boring’s research has shown, over time a chasm developed between the views of Disciples biblical scholars and common understandings of how the Bible works and functions within the life of the church itself. Today’s Disciples continue to struggle with how to affirm both the authority of the Bible and the conclusions of the higher critics. Lay people among Disciples are especially unclear about what scholarly biblical interpretation really means for the life of the church. 

The context of “modern” movements within American Protestantism at the end of the nineteenth century challenged Disciples on several other fronts. Armed with a new appreciation for the diversity of the gospel message in different times and circumstances, some late-nineteenth-century Disciples expressed a more open appraisal of the work of other denominations. For many Disciples, openness to denominational cooperation emerged from pragmatic circumstances more than from theological reflection. There was so much to accomplish in world mission. Exposure to missionary leaders from other denominations led Archibald McLean, president of the Foreign Christian Missionary Society, to an understanding that these were well-meaning Christian people. Perhaps together, through cooperation, they could get the job done more quickly. For a few other Disciples, a conscientious and historical approach to both theology and biblical interpretation led them to doubt that any group of Christians, even the ancient Christians, could truly capture the divine message in its entirety. The Disciples’ energetic commitment to restore early Christian faith and practice began to wane while their desire for ecumenical cooperation increased. 

As the nineteenth century gave way to the twentieth century, Disciples understood that their own work in missions was, perhaps, not all that different from the work of others. This attitude affected Disciples mission work both at home and abroad. By the early 1900s, leadership of both the Christian Woman’s Board of Missions and the Foreign Christian Missionary Society worked cooperatively with other denominations on the mission field. Comity agreements dividing the mission territory among the denominations became common. While Disciples leadership viewed such cooperation as essential in the daunting task of world mission, conservative Disciples interpreted such actions as an abandonment of Disciples commitments and responsibilities. 

These trends on the mission field were accompanied by a commitment among Disciples leaders, whether for pragmatic or theological reasons, to participate in the “federation” of American churches and international churches. Even though Disciples had no formal structure or ability to recognize their own status as a “denomination,” they managed to join other founding denominations in the establishment of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ (FCC) by 1908. Again, more conservative Disciples viewed such activities as an abandonment of the historic plea of Disciples to call Christians out of denominations and back to the simple gospel. With the formation of the United Christian Missionary Society in 1919, these ecumenical trends among Disciples continued despite setbacks caused by divisive internal battles, marked especially by the lengthy controversy over open membership, the practice of admitting into the membership of the churches Christians who had not received believers’ immersion. 

Disciples were present at the creation of both the World Council of Churches (1948) and the National Council of Churches of Christ (1950). Many Disciples (including Edgar DeWitt Jones, Roy G. Ross, J. Irwin Miller, and Joan Brown Campbell) have served the National Council of Churches in leadership capacities. Disciples joined the Consultation on Church Union (COCU) near its beginnings in 1960, and have seen it through to its current manifestation as Churches Uniting in Christ (CUIC). Paul Crow (COCU) and Michael Kinnamon (CUIC) have provided executive leadership for these organizations. Participation in ecumenical circles marked Disciples life throughout the twentieth century. 

New methods of biblical interpretation and increasing ecumenical involvement did not stand alone as controversial elements in Disciples life near the end of the nineteenth century. D. Newell Williams’s study (1985) of the evolution of Disciples ministry outlines other tensions that had emerged. After 1870 congregations began to shift the practice of ministry away from the leadership of local elders, often uncompensated, toward a model of settled ministry, where ordained ministers who were college-educated were called to congregational leadership from outside the local community. This transition in Disciples church life led to serious tensions both within individual congregations and within the Movement itself. By the 1920s the work of elders had been further reduced by the development of the “functional plan” of ministry. The goal of the plan was to reduce the power a small group of elders held in many congregations by creating committees that spread the work of the church throughout the membership. By the mid-1940s, elders had assumed a self-conscious identity as “lay” leadership and the office of “ordained minister” had fully emerged. 

During the first half of the twentieth century, regional oversight of congregational ministry became more prominent. Most areas of Disciples work employed evangelists during this period. Cooperative efforts among the area’s congregations financed their work. The work of these evangelists slowly began to include oversight of ministers within the area. By 1939 the annual Disciples convention recommended that each region of Disciples life develop an ordination council that would meet whenever congregations recommended ordination for a ministerial candidate. Even though a majority of congregations initially ignored this recommendation, Disciples slowly shifted authority for ordination from the congregational to the regional level of the church’s life. Churchwide policies for ordination were developed by 1971 and have served Disciples, allowing for various amendments, since that time. 

As the role of “minister” developed, an accompanying expectation for ministerial education appeared. A study of Disciples ministry conducted by Mark Chaves showed that, by 1909, 95 percent of the ministers of Disciples largest congregations had earned a college degree from a Disciples institution, but only 5 percent possessed a seminary degree. By 1985, 81 percent had degrees from Disciples colleges and 97 percent possessed seminary degrees. 

A second study, conducted by Edwin Becker in the late 1980s, revealed that, by 1920, 105 Disciples ministers had received the seminary degree from the divinity school at Yale University, and 48 more had received the degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School. By 1940, 183 more Disciples had received degrees from Yale, while 25 more had graduated from Chicago. In addition, 48 Disciples had earned Ph.D. degrees from the divinity schools at Yale (12) and Chicago (36) by 1940. Graduates from these ecumenical programs contributed to shaping notions of ministry among Disciples in more inclusive directions. Though women were ordained among Disciples as early as the late 1880s, they have struggled to achieve equality in ministry. Today, women ministers serve approximately 25 percent of all recognized congregations among Disciples and serve in key leadership roles throughout the denomination. 

D. Duane Cummins has shown the priority Disciples have placed on education. Between 1870 and 1899 alone, Disciples founded 83 institutions of higher learning. Part of this enthusiasm, no doubt, can be attributed to emerging theological differences among Disciples and the attempt to “school” the future properly. But it is also true that ministers believed in the importance of education for the future of the church. Aided by financial backing provided by their local communities, Disciples founded colleges wherever they could, 209 colleges and universities in the 150 years between 1836 and 1986. 

Today, Disciples claim affiliation with seventeen colleges and universities, fourteen of them related through an explicit covenant with the denomination. These schools are diverse, with vast numbers of students coming from religious affiliations other than Disciples. Four theological seminaries (Brite Divinity School, Christian Theological Seminary, Lexington Theological Seminary, and Phillips Theological Seminary) are associated with Disciples. Similarly, each of these schools is ecumenical in orientation, possessing very diverse communities of students, faculty, and board members. In addition, Disciples maintain support for three “foundation houses” located at the University of Chicago, at Vanderbilt University, and in Claremont, California. These houses support Disciples students attending to master’s or doctoral work in non-Disciples institutions. 

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, largely as a result of their ecumenical commitments and emerging theological awareness, Disciples engaged in organized studies of both their theological and organizational lives. On the theological side of their self-examination, the United Christian Missionary Society (UCMS) and the Council on Christian Unity cosponsored a Commission on the Theology of Mission that met from 1958 to 1962. In addition, Willard Wickizer (UCMS) and Harlie L. Smith (Board of Higher Education) gathered a group of Disciples pastors and scholars and charged them with the task of reexamining the beliefs and doctrines of the Disciples. The essays from this latter group were published in 1963 as a three-volume series under the title The Panel of Scholars Reports. 

On the organizational side, a committee chaired by Wickizer recommended in 1960 that the International Convention appoint a commission charged with preparing a proposal for the restructure of the church’s organization. The next year, the Los Angeles International Convention elected 125 members to serve three-year terms on a new Commission on Brotherhood Restructure. In 1968, at the conclusion of the process, Disciples reorganized their polity and, for the first time, officially recognized their status as one of the denominations in America. They adopted a theology of covenant to govern the relations of congregational, regional, and general “manifestations” of the church, abandoning, at least theologically, the pattern of completely autonomous congregations and agencies. 

With the conclusion of this process, known generally as “Restructure,” the Disciples adopted their current name, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The name change, which changed the plural “Christian Churches” to the singular “Christian Church,” resulted from a growing theological commitment to a broader notion of the church and its work. When understood in the context of the denomination, the word “church” signifies the recognition that congregations and regional and general units have covenanted together with one another to form one church body, complete with an acceptance of responsibilities implied by such a relationship. When understood in the context of the universal church, the parenthetical phrase “Disciples of Christ” is meant to signify the recognition that Disciples of Christ do not constitute the whole church. Rather, they understand themselves to be but one partial and fragmentary expression of the church, a group longing for the time when all Christians might find more tangible ways to express the theological reality of the church’s unity.

Ironically, the Disciples’ move toward Restructure actually led to the second formal division suffered by Disciples in their brief history. Though Disciples have stressed Christian unity from their origins, they have suffered two significant schisms. During the second and third generations of Disciples life, the Movement’s rapid growth led to unforeseen polity considerations, especially those associated with organization, authority, and order. Differences in how to handle these considerations rapidly surfaced. Various factions espoused different aspects of the Disciples’ plea: some lifted up the need to restore early church practice, while others proclaimed unity as the prime objective of the Movement. Those known today as Disciples defended the latter, while more conservative members of the Movement held out for the former. 

In 1906, in a split caused by both theological and, as David Edwin Harrell has so clearly shown, sociological developments after the Civil War, Disciples lost around 160,000 members as the Churches of Christ claimed a separate identity. This split did not resolve the differences among Disciples. Disagreements about baptism, biblical interpretation, and the structure of missionary societies continued to heat up. The open membership controversy, surfacing shortly after the establishment of the United Christian Missionary Society in 1919, kept the temperature at the boiling point for well over a decade. Finally, nearly half a century later, in response to Disciples Restructure, approximately 750,000 Christians in about 3,500 congregations withdrew from Disciples life and formed the Christian Churches/Churches of Christ. 

As of 2001, Disciples of Christ reported just over 807,000 total members. These members were dispersed in approximately 3,743 congregations. The states of Texas, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, and Ohio contain about one-third of all Disciples. Since the 1960s, the membership of Disciples, like other moderate Protestant denominations, has suffered a considerable decline. An important study funded by the Lilly Endowment (published in 1991 and edited by D. Newell Williams) examined the relation of Disciples to American culture between 1880 and 1989. Essays in this study indicated that the numerical decline of Disciples has been due, in large part, to their failure to keep and to attract younger adults, particularly those born near the end of the “baby boom” generation. 

Not all Disciples congregations have declined in membership. Many ethnic congregations have experienced rapid growth. Haitian Disciples in New York, Korean Disciples in California, and Hispanic Disciples in the Southern portions of the country have all seen strong growth. Three of the five largest congregations among Disciples at the front end of the twenty-first century are predominantly African American, and these congregations continue rapid growth. Though Hispanic and Asian Disciples are considerably fewer in number than African American Disciples, their growth in the last few decades has also been impressive. 

Hispanic Disciples formed a National Hispanic and Bilingual Fellowship in 1981. In 2003 Hispanic Disciples could boast of approximately 123 congregations, about 50 of which had been developed within the last two years (about 6,000 participating Hispanic Disciples members). Central Florida saw the largest concentration of growth. In 1975 there were no Hispanic congregations in Florida; by 2003 there were six congregations in central Florida alone attracting over 1,500 people every Sunday. A full one-third of all Disciples in Florida in 2003 were Hispanics. 

Asian Disciples began organizing in the late 1970s with the development of the Fellowship of Asian American Disciples. By 1996 the organization became known as the North American Pacific Asian Disciples (NAPAD) and had assumed a prominent place in the life of the denomination. There were approximately 80 NAPAD congregations in 2003, 58 of them Korean (about 3,500 members). The remaining congregations consist mostly of Filipino, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Indonesian, Laotian, and Samoan churches (another approximately 1,000 members). In addition, there are a number of Asian and Pacific Islanders who are members of Disciples congregations not directly affiliated with NAPAD. 

African American Disciples possess a history of association that goes all the way back to the beginning of Disciples life. Their separate organizational life began in 1917 when Preston Taylor led black Disciples in founding the National Christian Missionary Convention. They found it necessary to organize the separate, but cooperating, convention because they knew there were no possibilities of whites sharing leadership in their near future. Until 1960 African American Disciples had separate agencies and programs in most areas of church life. By 1969 Disciples merged the National Christian Missionary Convention and the newly established Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In 1970 black Disciples formed the National Convocation of the Christian Church, which has, since that time, met every other year to discuss their special concerns. Some of the more significant growth among contemporary Disciples has occurred within African American congregations. In 2003 there were approximately 435 African American Disciples congregations containing approximately 61,000 participating members. 

The denominational study edited by Williams suggested that contemporary Disciples have been plagued by a gap between the theological and moral views of Disciples ministers and those of the active members of their congregations. Ministers tend to be more liberal in their approach to theology than is true of the active members of Disciples congregations. Williams suggested that this gap has been sustained through the Disciples’ inability “to engage in serious and sustained dialogue regarding the issues that divide [them].” Disciples, through the twentieth century, like many other moderately inclined denominational traditions, have had a difficult time communicating a clear identity, one that articulates a distinctively Christian norm for judging theological statements and moral action. 

Disciples logo- a red chalice with a white cross on the top left of the chalice.
The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) uses the red chalice as a representative image because they welcome everyone to the Lord’s Table to partake in Communion.

A shift in the relationship between so-called “mainstream” Protestantism and American culture has also contributed to a loss of membership in these denominational traditions. American culture has become significantly more pluralistic. By the end of the 1960s, the fragmentation of Protestantism and the increased diversity of America’s religions have led to a popular concern that public life in America find expression free of Protestant or even Christian associations. Protestant traditions no longer benefit from close connections between values traditionally associated with them and American culture. In addition, American religious culture has moved into a period of “post-denominationalism,” where denominational identification is often eschewed by large numbers of Americans. Disciples have been slow to adjust to these realities and, like other mainstream groups, have continued to lose membership. 

In spite of declining membership, Disciples have sought to maintain a significant ministerial presence in the United States and beyond. At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the National Benevolent Association (NBA) for Disciples operated 87 facilities in 22 states, with at least 17 more under development or construction. The NBA served nearly 30,000 people in the year 2000 through its residential and community-based social programs. 

Disciples have also participated meaningfully in theological dialogues that have accompanied their responsibilities in various ecumenical organizations. The General Assembly of Disciples affirmed both the Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry document published by the Faith and Order Commission of the World Council of Churches in 1982 and the COCU Consensus document published in 1984. These theological documents worked toward theological consensus and led Disciples, throughout the 1980s, to produce documents of their own related to authority, baptism, ministry, and the Lord’s Supper, among other topics. In 1987, for example, the General Assembly affirmed a “Word to the Church on Baptism,” produced by the Disciples Commission on Theology (related to the Disciples Council on Christian Unity). This document recognized formally that infant baptism is a legitimate form of baptism and also endorsed the ecumenical view that baptism is to be administered only once. 

Perhaps the most important ecumenical development in recent years for Disciples has been their “ecumenical partnership” with the United Church of Christ (UCC). After years of investigating full union between the two churches, they entered a partnership in 1985 that reached “full communion” by 1989. Both churches maintain their separate existence as denominations, but share in ministry and mission together, with full recognition of one another’s members and ministers. This partnership helped to shape Churches Uniting in Christ (CUIC), the proposal that brought nine denominations, Disciples and the United Church of Christ among them, into partnership in Christian mission with one another in January of 2002. 

The clearest example of the joint efforts in ministry Disciples and the United Church of Christ have undertaken together is the creation of the Common Global Ministries Board (CGMB) that began functioning in 1996. The CGMB is composed of twenty members named by each of the two denominations and six other members named from partner churches around the world. The board has responsibility for oversight of all mission activities for both Disciples and the United Church of Christ. The board supports the work of ministry among the 2.7 million indigenous Christians who call themselves Disciples across the world. In addition, the board continues to work closely with the united churches (all of which have historical connections to Disciples or UCC mission work over the past 100-plus years) located in Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Philippines, Northern India, Jamaica, Britain, South Africa, China, and other parts of the world. 

Under the leadership of former General Minister and President Richard Hamm, Disciples created a “2020 vision” for the denomination, referring to goals they want to accomplish by the year 2020. The core values of this vision identify three marks for the faithful church: true community, a deep Christian spirituality, and a passion for justice. In order to move toward this vision, Disciples have implemented several initiatives. 

They have entered a “process of discernment” to address the place of gay and lesbian persons in the life of the church and other important issues they face as a community. Disciples have also set goals for leadership development, the revitalization of existing congregations, and the establishment of new congregations. In addition, Disciples are working to increase the significance of their work among Hispanics, African Americans, and Asians to bring percentages of their ethnic membership more closely into line with percentages in the general population. In these ways, Disciples hope to stem the tide of decline, give way to growth, and live out the mission of “a faithful church” as they approach the year 2020. 

M. Eugene Boring, Disciples and the Bible: A History of Disciples Biblical Interpretation in North America (1997) • D. Duane Cummins, The Disciples Colleges: A History (1987) • Anthony L. Dunnavant, Restructure: Four Historical Ideals in the Campbell-Stone Movement and the Development of the Polity of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (1993) • Robert L. Friedly and D. Duane Cummins, The Search for Identity: Disciples of Christ — The Restructure Years (1987) • Richard L. Hamm, 2020 Vision for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (2001) • David E. Harrell, The Social Sources of Division in the Disciples of Christ, 1865-1900 (1973; repr. ed. 2003) • Kenneth Lawrence, ed., Classic Themes of Disciples Theology: Rethinking the Traditional Affirmations of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (1986) • The Renewal of Church: The Panel of Scholars Reports, 3 vols. (1963) • Kenneth L. Teegarden, We Call Ourselves Disciples (1975) • Mark G. Toulouse, Joined in Discipleship: The Shaping of Contemporary Disciples Identity (1997) • D. Newell Williams, Ministry Among Disciples: Past, Present, and Future (1985) • D. Newell Williams, ed., A Case Study of Mainstream Protestantism: The Disciples’ Relation to American Culture, 1880-1989 (1991). 

Mark G. Toulouse

This entry, written by Mark G. Toulouse, was originally published in The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement (Edited by Douglas A. Foster, Paul M. Blowers, Anthony L. Dunnavant, and D. Newell Williams; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004), pages 178-183. Republished with permission.