Pacifism in the Churches of Christ : 1866-1945.

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Collins, Johnnie
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Middle Tennessee State University
This dissertation is a study of the influence of pacifism in the Churches of Christ from 1866 to 1945. The twentieth century Churches of Christ are the spiritual descendants of the indigenous American Restoration Movement of the nineteenth century. Many first generation leaders of the Churches of Christ were adamantly opposed both to war and political involvement. By 1945, a majority of leaders of this church accepted a "just war" position and the beliefs of conservative religious nationalism. The purpose of this study is to determine the common position of pacifism in the Churches of Christ.
The primary sources of data for this study are the religious periodicals of the Churches of Christ. The strict autonomy of each congregation of the Churches of Christ precludes any formal statement of belief for the membership as a whole. The position of the church's leadership on pacifism is revealed primarily through published writings of individual leaders. In addition, other traditional avenues of research were used.
The findings of this research show that pacifism always exerted a slighter influence on the general membership of the Churches of Christ than on its leaders. Moreover, pacifist influence waned during the superpatriotism of World War I. During World War II, the acceptance of the "just war" position and freedom of choice for the individual ended any major pacifist influence. The growth of the Churches of Christ numerically and economically is another explanation of the moderation of the sectarian anti-government pacifist stand of the pioneer generation of leaders. Also, the influence of religious nationalism was a factor in the decline of separatist and pacifist beliefs.