FLOATING THE MAINSTREAM
Restoration History #12
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Strengths and Weaknesses
- A people of the Book.
- More concerned about what the Bible said than those around us.
- Not pursuing the American dream but seeking the kingdom.
- Evangelistic and growing numerically.
- Cared for the poor and hungry.
- Race relations - still too much a part of Southern culture.
- The reputation that: They think theyre the only ones going to heaven.
- Many disputed more, prayed less, and forced conformity to a narrow view of doctrinal correctness.
The Impact of World War 2
- Post-WW2 decades push church into the mainstream
- Three factors:
- World Missions
- Middle-class acculturation
- In 1946 the Broadway church called a national meeting to discuss missions cooperation.
- The Sponsoring Congregation Plan
- Broadway in Lubbock, Texas, for Germany
- Union Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee, for Japan
- Crescent Hill in Brownfield, Texas, for Italy
Women in Missions
- Sarah Andrews, Japan, 1916 - 1961
- Hettie Lee Ewing, Japan, 1926
- Elizabeth Bernard, China, Hong Kong, 1933-1971
- Irene Johnson-Gatewood, Germany, post-WW2
- Impact of G.I. Bill
- Abilene Christian College, Harding College, David Lipscomb College, Freed-Hardeman College, and Pepperdine College attendance increased.
- Between 1942-1964 eleven new Christian colleges are formed in the U.S.
- Funding came from churches, members, and business leaders.
If You Build it ...
- Attractive buildings are tools for evangelism
- Special programs for all members of the family
- Responded to Baby Boom
- New ministries
- Education, youth, campus
Madison Church of Christ
- You Can March for the Master, Ira North, 1959
- Madisons explosive growth made it the model for church growth techniques in many congregations in the U.S.
- North emphasized one-to-one evangelism
Jule Miller Filmstrips
- A recorded narrative with pictures
- Provided ordinary church members with an attractively-packaged "plan of salvation"
- Herald of Truth began national broadcasting on radio in 1952. Television in 1954.
- Batsell Barrett Baxter joined in 1959 as the speaker.
- Rise of new journalism
- 20th Century Christian
- Power for Today
- Christian Chronicle (1943)
In the Mainstream
- Periodicals, broadcasts, lectureships and workshops created a mainstream identity.
- National recognition and influenced accepted
- Celebrities (such as Pat Boone)
- 1964-1965 New York Worlds Fair Exhibit
Innovation and Change
- Growth meant innovative methods
- Financial cooperation to support
- media evangelism
- para-church institutions (childrens homes, etc.)
- Suspicion: new methods are based on a desire for worldly prestige or attempt to control.
- Individuals might support innovations but not churches.
The Gospel Guardian
- Fanning Yater Tant, editor of The Gospel Guardian:
- Opposed sponsoring congregations
- Used the argument from silence
- Threatened autonomy and non-denominational Christianity
Advocate vs. Guardian
- The debate rhetoric was so strong on both sides that a split took place.
- In 1954, B.C. Goodpasture, editor of the Gospel Advocate, called for a quarantine of the anti-cooperation faction.
- 2,000 congregations (120,000 members) maintained the non-institutional position.
The Winds of Change
- The Church was no longer culturally alienated - it was now mainstream.
- Members were generally more educated and affluent.
- Innovation generated amazing growth and opposition
- A tension for the Restoration movement
- Innovations of an earlier age forgotten
- Innovation to come questioned
- Ambiguous relationship with politics
- Opposed Catholic President (1960)
- Uninvolved in Civil Rights (1964)
- Theology remained rational and issue-oriented (for both groups in split)
- The ancient order of things
- Three-part hermeneutic
- Argument from silence
What do we do when the mainstream goes the wrong way?
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 25 May 2008
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