Date of Award:

5-2019

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Arts (MA)

Department:

History

Advisor/Chair:

Kyle Bulthuis

Co-Advisor/Chair:

Angela Diaz

Third Advisor:

Norm Jones

Abstract

Historical research involving the schism within the German Baptist Brethren Church in the 1880s has only been found within broad, general histories of the church. The explanations given by historians relating to the cause of the split have previously centered on individuals and the church publications between 1850 and 1883, and on contemporaries who argued among themselves about whether to adopt practices common among surrounding American religions and society. No known project has focused directly on the content within the publications as it relates to the way these brethren used the Bible and other religious and spiritual rhetoric to substantiate their arguments on either side.

My research focussed on the Brethren periodicals during the decades between roughly 1850 and 1880. I selected four of the most prominent papers of the period: the Gospel Visitor, the Christian Family Companion, the Vindicator, and the Progressive Christian. Each of these periodicals contained arguments for or against adopting practices not previously accepted within the church. Within their pages I found that every argument, for or against a particular practice, was based on scriptural interpretation, or other religious commentary used to persuade readers.

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