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The Restoration Movement originated on the American frontier in a period of religious enthusiasm and ferment at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The first leaders of the movement deplored the numerous divisions in the church and urged the unity of all Christians through a restoration of New Testament Christianity. The Protestant Reformation had gone astray, they felt, and the various denominations must be directed back to primitive Christianity. They believed that this would be possible if everyone would wear the name "Christian" and return to the Biblical pattern of the New Testament church in doctrine, worship, and practice. Those two ideas - the restoration of New Testament Christianity and the reunion of all Christians - became a distinctive plea and unceasingly, "in season and out of season," the Christians penetrated the frontier with their appeal. They called their efforts the "Restoration Movement" or the "Current Reformation," and they saw themselves as participants in a movement within the existing churches aimed at eliminating all sectarian divisions. This is the story of a courageous generation of Christians who migrated to Oregon Territory on the torturous Oregon Trail. Not all of them survived the journey. but those who did arrived with well-thumbed Bibles and a stubborn determination to hold fast the name Christian and to plant what they called "Bible Christianity" in "the wilds of Oregon." To a great extent they were successful. "We now outnumber in the American population any of the sects." claimed Amos Harvey in 1848, "and if we only live up to our high profession. Oregon will soon become as noted for the religion of Jesus Christ. as it already is for its ever-verdant pastures, its grand and varied scenery. and its mild and healthy climate."

Publication Date



College Press Publishing Company


Joplin, MO


Arts and Humanities | Christianity | Religion


Revised and Enlarged edition.

Christians on the Oregon Trail: Churches of Christ and Christian Churches in Early Oregon, 1842-1882

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Christianity Commons