I am a child of the American Restoration Movement. In particular, my faith has been nurtured by the stream of thought in this movement known as the Churches of Christ (a cappella). Growing up in this particular community of faith instilled in me a deep respect and reverence for both God and Scripture. I was taught that the Bible should be our “sole authority on matters of faith and practice”. It was impressed upon me that “the traditions of men” carried no weight in these matters and were the cause of much division and error. As the years passed, I came to realize that our actual practice often fell short of our ideals. While we rejected the traditions of “outsiders”, we created our own traditions that at least seemed to hold as much (if not more) sway with us as Scripture. Further, I found that while “the traditions of men” should not be considered normative and certainly not authoritative, many of these traditions could actually be quite helpful in faith and practice. Even so, I have a great appreciation for the high regard for Scripture that I was taught (and continue to teach) in the Churches of Christ. I’m extremely thankful for my heritage which has located the Bible in the position of authority…governing both my faith and my practice.
The curious thing about Churches of Christ is that generally, we are have become fairly anti-historical. Somewhere along the way, we developed the idea that we were the 1st century church. Some of our church buildings are even adorned with plaques declaring that we were “founded in A.D. 33”! I was in my early 20’s before I ever even heard of the American Restoration Movement. As I began to study it’s history, I was amazed at the fascinating, disappointing/inspiring, depressing/hopeful, tragic/comic, beautiful/ugly, repulsive/engaging story I found. I couldn’t fathom why it was “new information” to me. I couldn’t understand why I mostly had to go to sources from the Independent Christian Church and the Disciples of Christ to learn anything of our shared history. As I dug still further, I ran across a book called Discovering Our Roots: The Ancestry of Churches of Christ by C. Leonard Allen. This book was written from the perspective of my particular tradition and traced our history back to influences long before the American Restoration Movement. I found that we owed quite a bit to the Anabaptist tradition. It is precisely that ancestry that I wish to explore here.
 This relatively small book was published in 1988 by Abilene Christian University Press and was extremely enlightening for me.