Patheos Watermark

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The origins of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) lie in the United States' Second Great Awakening of the early 19th century, when reformers from Kentucky, Virginia, and Pennsylvania began actively working for the union of the Christian churches.


Inspired by American revolutionary ideals of egalitarianism and religious freedom, the Restoration Movement emerged from the revival activities of Presbyterian Thomas Campbell (1763-1854), his son Alexander (1788-1866), Methodist James O'Kelly (1757-1826), Baptist Abner Jones (1772-1841), and Presbyterian Barton Stone (1772-1844).


The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was founded in 1832 through a merger of Restorationist groups led by Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone. Unable to choose between the names "Christians" and "Disciples of Christ," they adopted both names.


The Disciples teach that only the New Testament scriptures lead to salvation. An early source of agreement among the Restorationists was the belief that the Bible alone should be the basis for Christian faith and practice.

Historical Perspectives

Scholarship concerning the Disciples has been interested in church's role in history and in the insight that its key documents can shed on 19th-century America. Recent scholarship has been concerned with the question of interfaith dialogue.