Believers’ Churches have their origin in the Radical Reformation of the sixteenth century. Over the past 450 years, the movement has included the Brethren, Mennonites, Hutterites, various types of Baptists, and the Restoration Movement.
The Believers’ Churches together have been characterized by a strong personal faith in Christ, a call to discipleship and Christian activism, a high view of the authority of Scripture, and profession of faith in believers’ baptism. The Believers’ Churches have represented their beliefs in various ecumenical settings, missionary gatherings, and theological conversations. In the late 1950s, representatives of the several Believers’ Churches began to meet in a series of conferences to explore their common views on doctrine, history, and ethics. Topics at the conferences have included baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the nature of the church, and religious voluntarism.
In 2016, the 17th Believers’ Church Conference was held at Acadia University and sponsored by Acadia Divinity College. The theme was ‘The Tendency Toward Separationism Among the Believers’ Churches’. This volume includes the papers presented at the conference and examines the theme from an immediate post-Reformation perspective, with analyses provided by leading historians, theologians, and social science specialists.
Foreword by James M. Stayer
Part I: Principles and Types
1. Hoc enim est novam ecclesiam construere: The Making of New Churches in Western Christianity, 1400-1600 / Martin Rothkegel
2. The Genetic Separationist Trait Among the Baptists / William H. Brackney
3. Born Again, Coming Again, and Going Out: The Significance of Believer’s Baptism and Eschatology on Anabaptist Dissent / Colin Godwin
4. Unifiers to Come-Outers: The Journey of the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement / Douglas A. Foster
5. “Without Spot or Wrinkle”: The Tendency toward Separation in the Mennonite Tradition … and a Vision for a “Rhizomic” Church / John D. Roth
Part II: The Principle Applied and Expanded
6. “Holy Living and Holy Dying”: The Response of Some British Baptist Women to “Come Out” from the World / Karen Smith
7. Making Room to Serve: Separation as a Strategy among African-American Baptists / David Emmanuel Goatley
8. Union Overtures by Maritime Baptists and Disciples of Christ, 1903-1908 / Russell Prime
9. Promiscuous Picnics: Newfoundland Pentecostalism as a “Come-Outer” Tradition / Allison S. MacGregor
Part III: The Principle Writ Large
10. The Curse of Cults and the Scourge of Sects: Or a Come-Outing of New Religious Movements? / Eileen Barker
11. The Past and Future of the Believers Church Conferences / Teun van der Leer
Appendix: 17th Believers’ Church Conference Findings Summary
Endorsements and Reviews
As a corollary to the 500th anniversary of the Radical Reformation, here is a collection of fresh and scholarly essays that carefully underscores General and Particular Baptists, Black Baptists, Mennonites, Hutterites, Pentecostals, and other Restorationist movements. Taking their cue from the great Brethren historian, Donald Durnbaugh, this nonsectarian volume elucidates the meaning of the Believers’ Church tradition.
Chris Chun, Professor of Church History and Director of Jonathan Edwards Center, Gateway Seminary
Since the Reformation, Evangelical Christians have been asked: Why do your churches proliferate? Isn’t separation a sign of division? Or does separation mask a deep unity? The excellent historical, theological, and social essays herein offer profound answers to these important questions. Every Christian thought leader should read this timely treasure from the Believers’ Church Tradition, but especially scholars who are Baptist, Mennonite, Church of Christ, Brethren, Pentecostal, or Free Church.
Malcolm B. Yarnell III, Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Southwestern Seminary
I am grateful to Dr Brackney for capturing the major themes of that specific group of congregations known as Believers’ Churches. The reader will be informed and inspired by the deeply held biblical and theological convictions of those leaders of this movement in the immediate post-reformation period. The breadth of contributors and academic disciplines represented add to the value and weight of this book.
Harry Gardner, President, Acadia Divinity College, Dean of Theology, Acadia University