After Mark Hamilton and Jeff Childers approached me about co-editing a book that would honor Doug Foster’s life and work, we quickly landed on the book’s angle of exploration. We asked authors to explore the intersection of American Christian history, race relations, and unity or division in the church. These topics are at the center of Doug’s life and work in the academy and church. So we proposed chapter topics that focused on specific eras of American history, all with one central question: how did race relations in that era affect unity or division among Christians?
R&R makes a compelling case that the theological distinctives of Churches of Christ put them in an unusual position vis-à-vis contemporary Christian groups, sometimes allowing them to push the boundaries of segregated society in productive ways, while at other times inhibiting more substantial efforts towards racial justice and, later, reconciliation.
The title of this site carries an implicit ambiguity. Are we talking about a theological method that draws from premises unique to Churches of Christ? Is (a) Church of Christ theology simply the theological product of people formed by and/or concerned with Churches of Christ? How would ‘Churches of Christ’ or ‘theology’ be defined in the first place? Is the concept of (a) Church of Christ theology even coherent given especially our autonomous, if not fractured, ecclesiological state?
Overall, the work is impressive. Young is charitable, fair, and yet critical of his own faith tradition. Visions of Restoration would make for a great participant guide or companion to more comprehensive works.
I was always struck by the persistent claims of Alexander Campbell’s seminal role in shaping the ethos of the churches of the Stone-Campbell Restoration movement. I didn’t doubt the claims—I made them too. But I was a little troubled that it didn’t seem anyone had thoroughly examined and analyzed Campbell’s complex personality at multiple levels. There almost seemed to be a “protective aura” around him, and previous biographies tended more toward hagiographical chronicling than critical analysis.