Skip to main content

About this collection

This collection has two major foci: (1) the history of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and related groups that trace their origins to the Stone-Campbell Movement; and (2) the history of Christian Theological Seminary and its predecessor institutions.

 

Born out of early 19th-century frontier revivalism in the United States, the Movement’s early leadership included former Presbyterians Barton Stone (1772-1844) and Alexander Campbell (1788-1866). They hoped to restore the New Testament church in order to foster Christian unity to make possible the evangelization of the world.

 

By the middle of the 20th century, the Movement had matured into a significant religious group in the United States and the British Commonwealth. Highly organized, ecumenical missions had spread the Movement in Latin America and European colonies in Asia and Africa, where emphasis was placed on evangelism, church-planting, education, and medical work. Yet, significant tensions had developed as leaders adapted the Movement to new intellectual and social contexts. In the 20th century, this movement for Christian unity differentiated into at least three distinct groups in North America: conservative (Churches of Christ), moderate (Christian Churches/Churches of Christ), and liberal (Christian Church [Disciples of Christ]).

 

In Britain and her dominions, most of the Movement’s congregations and other institutions entered into Protestant union churches in the 1960s and 1970s. As movements toward decolonization accelerated, the churches in the Movement’s mission fields did the same. These churches maintain identification with the North American Movement to varying degrees; some have developed ongoing partnerships with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  In some areas, the Movement's more conservative groups continue conventional forms of mission work.

 

Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) traces its history to 1855 with the founding of North Western Christian University in Indianapolis, principally to educate the Movement’s ministers for what was then the frontier. Re-named Butler University in 1877, the school developed into a high-quality liberal arts college by the turn of the 20th century.

 

In addition to Butler, the Movement operated the College of Missions in Indianapolis between 1910 and 1927. Before it merged with Hartford Seminary, the College of Missions trained more than three hundred career missionaries for the flourishing work across the globe.

 

Established by Frederick Doyle Kershner (1875-1953) in 1924, Butler School of Religion (BSR) offered high-quality, graduate theological education for ministry. Post-World War II revivalism accelerated the growth of the Movement and the school, and in 1959 BSR severed its ties to the university to become a free-standing school, re-named Christian Theological Seminary.

 

Since the 1960s, an ecumenically minded, theologically progressive, and social justice-oriented faculty has aligned CTS squarely with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and liberal, mainline Protestantism generally.

 

This collection is maintained by Dr. Scott Seay, Associate Professor of the History of Christianity and Curator of Special Collections at CTS.  He can be reached at sseay@cts.edu or by calling (317) 931-2347.

 

 

 

 
Select the collections to add or remove from your search
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
W
X
Y
Z
 
OK