Indiana Disciples of Christ and the modernist-fundamentalist controversy, 1919-1930

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Siebenaler, David P.
Glen, John M., 1953-
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Thesis (M.A.)
Department of History
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Like many mainline Protestant denominations, the Disciples of Christ in Indiana experienced discord and schism during the 1920s as a result of the modernistfundamentalist controversies. Although many historians accentuate the role of doctrinal disputes, recent scholarship suggests the importance of social and cultural factors. This study shows that the strife between modernist and fundamentalist Disciples in Indiana encapsulates a larger cultural rift in American society that had been growing since the latter part of the nineteenth century. Using the rhetoric of "cooperation," modernist Disciple leaders of the statewide Disciples of Christ organization tried to implement a more centralized church structure that would enable them to pursue a progressive agenda. Fundamentalist Disciple ministers and laypersons regarded such efforts as an infringement on their local autonomy, and their widespread involvement in the 1920s Ku Klux Klan was symptomatic of their anxiety over modernizing forces within their churches and throughout American culture.