The Past Isn’T What It Used To Be
The Reformation of Tradition, edited by Ronald E. Osborn (Bethany Press, 1963, 336 pp., $6), and Christians Only, by James Deforest Murch (Standard, 1962, 393 pp. $6), are reviewed by Robert Oldham Fife, professor of history and philosophy, Milligan College, Milligan College, Tennessee.

In a significant fashion these two works symbolize the nature of the crisis which presently confronts the Disciples of Christ.

The Reformation of Tradition is the first of a projected series of three volumes containing the reports of the “Panel of Scholars,” a group organized in 1956 under the auspices of the United Christian Missionary Society and the Board of Higher Education of Disciples of Christ. General editor of the series is W. B. Blakemore, dean of Disciples Divinity House and associate dean of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, University of Chicago.

Christians Only is a history of the “Restoration Movement,” out of which sprang the Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) and Churches of Christ. James DeForest Murch is widely known both among the Disciples of Christ and in interchurch circles. In the latter sphere he has served as editor of United Evangelical Action and as managing editor of CHRISTIANITY TODAY.

The basic thesis of The Reformation of Tradition is that the traditional plea of the Disciples to “restore the New Testament Church” has been invalidated by biblical criticism and the events of history. That “tradition” therefore needs “reformation.”

The basic thesis of Christians Only is that the concept of “restoration” is most definitely valid, although it is penitently confessed that the “restoration” has not been fulfilled by the people who have pled for it. The task, therefore, is not to “reform” ...

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