Book Review: Torn Asunder

Torn Asunder (cover)I recently finished reading Torn Asunder: The Civil War and the 1906 Division of the Disciples by Ben Brewster. The book is about the history of the Restoration Movement leading up to the officially recognized division between the Disciples of Christ and the churches of Christ in 1906. But the author took an interesting approach by looking at how the Civil War impacted this division. An excerpt from the book is below:

Yet, the Civil War still loomed large over the division of the Disciples. The widening ideological gap between North and South was seen in a variety of social and sectional issues. The North, which had come through the war in relatively good condition, began its ascent up the ladder of progress. This spilled over into the realm of religion. Northern Disciples were desirous of improvements and progress in their methods. The Southern Disciples, undergoing the massive reconstruction efforts, were nowhere near the abilities of Northern industry. Southern Disciples attempted to hold onto a simple religious faith, showcased in a strict interpretation of the Bible.

No one can dispute that there were a variety of issues concerning the splintering of the Disciples. These issues are significant because the philosophical background to the arguments over issues like pacifism and slavery was the same philosophical background behind the arguments about missionary societies and instrumental music in worship. Interestingly, the developing philosophies, formed in drastically different social settings, were seen in Southerners embracing a literal interpretation of the Bible while certain segments in the North progressed in the other direction.

It is unlikely that the Disciples would have been spared division if the Civil War had never taken place. The division seemed inevitable. What the Civil War did was make it a reality sooner than expected” (Torn Asunder: The Civil War and the 1906 Division of the Disciples, p. 111-112).

When we think of the division between the Disciples of Christ and the churches of Christ, there are two primary issues that played a central role in the split – the missionary society and instrumental music in worship to God. While the author does not deny the significance of these issues, he does a good job in presenting the case that the differing opinions among brethren about the Civil War may have brought about the division sooner than it might have otherwise occurred.

The book focuses a lot on David Lipscomb because of his strong influence among Christians in the South. After reading this book, I have gained a greater understanding of and respect for him.

If you are interested in Restoration History, I would certainly recommend this book.

This book is available at Amazon.com – Torn Asunder: The Civil War and the 1906 Division of the Disciples (affiliate link)


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