By RoseAnn Benson
Two nineteenth-century men, Alexander Campbell and Joseph Smith, each launched restoration movements in the United States. They vied for seekers and dissatisfied mainstream Christians, which led to conflict in northeastern Ohio. Both were searching for the primordial beginning of Christianity: Campbell looking back to the Christian church described in the New Testament epistles, and Smith looking even further back to the time of Adam and Eve as the first Christians. Campbell took a rational approach to reading the Bible, emphasizing the New Testament, and began by advocating reform among the Baptists. Smith took a revelatory approach to reading the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, and adding new scriptures. This book is a comparison of these two nineteenth-century men and the restoration movements they created with an in-depth examination of what restoration meant to both groups, as well as their beliefs, their interactions with each other, their similarities, their differences, and their unique contributions to Christianity.
This book is being copublished by BYU Press and Abilene Christian University Press.
“RoseAnn Benson has written one of the most important books of our time—crucially important for Mormon studies and Campbell studies, to be sure, but also for American studies more broadly conceived."
—Richard T. Hughes, author, Myths America Lives By
“In this groundbreaking analysis of the life and thought of Alexander Campbell and Joseph Smith, RoseAnn Benson has produced the most extensively researched and deft treatment of these quintessentially American religious leaders to date. Benson’s insider LDS insights, complemented by her careful examination of Campbell materials and consultation with Campbell scholars, make this an important addition to American religious studies.”
—Douglas A. Foster, professor of church history in the Graduate School of Religion and director of the Center for Restoration Studies, Abilene Christian University
“In this book, RoseAnn Benson has competently concluded a study never before attempted. She has set out to compare and contrast divergent visions of restorationism held by Alexander Campbell (1788–1866) and Joseph Smith (1805–44). Campbell was the key leader in the movement for which he preferred the designation Disciples of Christ. Smith was the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
—Thomas H. Olbricht, distinguished professor emeritus of religion, Pepperdine University
“Oftentimes, one’s own cherished beliefs and religious interpretations are best studied in the context of other faiths and traditions. . . . Dr. Benson has written a balanced and compelling comparison between what she calls the ‘revelatory restorationism’ of Joseph Smith and the ‘reasoned restorationism’ of Alexander Campbell. Considering the fact that both religious movements began in America and that one of Mormonism’s best known early leaders—Sidney Rigdon—came out of the Campbellite movement, this book is timely and most informative. Readers from both the Latter-day Saint and the various Disciples of Christ movements will find much to commend in this competent, highly readable study.”
—Richard E. Bennett, professor of church history and doctrine, Brigham Young University
“This book has helped to lay out the issues, the controversies, the points of conflict, and the areas of agreement between two indigenous American faiths involved in the religion-making enterprise. This study provides a story within the story. It is a story as old as the earth but as current as today’s news: it is the story of humanity’s quest for truth and understanding. This book certainly contributes to that noble quest.”
—Robert L. Millet, professor emeritus of ancient scripture and coordinator of Religious Outreach, Brigham Young University
“Congratulations to RoseAnn Benson and the Religious Studies Center for the publication of this long-awaited comparison of early Campbellism and Mormonism. For many converts to Mormonism in the Kirtland period, Alexander Campbell’s movement had provided their first exposure to restorationism. And some, like Sidney Rigdon, may never have fully made the transition to Joseph Smith’s revelatory approach. Benson’s book will provide a much-needed foundation for further study of the influences of Campbellism on early Latter-day Saints.”
—Noel B. Reynolds, professor emeritus of political science, Brigham Young University