Here’s what I’m currently working on (May 2016):
1. I recently submitted an essay recounting the early years of the Stone-Campbell churches in Birmingham to Restoration Quarterly. It has been accepted for publication, under the title “‘The Center and Stronghold of Our Cause’: Early Stone-Campbell History in Birmingham, Alabama, 1874–1908.” I don’t yet know in what issue it will appear. Watch this space.
My Birmingham research continues and I am always happy to talk about the Birmingham churches. If you, or anyone you know, has access to source material or ephemera of any kind (bulletins, directories, sermon manuscripts, congregational record books, etc.) — no matter how insignificant it might seem — please contact me at ccotten [at] hotmail dot com or cottencr [at] gmail dot com.
2. Research on the Nashville book continues as well. I and my co-laborers on this project will again appear at Lipscomb University’s Summer Celebration in July. I will be presenting a paper on Preston Taylor (1849–1931), a prominent leader among the African-American churches in Nashville around the turn of the century.
Below you will find a selection of papers and sundry other items. Your comments on any of these pieces are welcome.
“A Relentless Warfare Against the Inventions and Devices of Man”: John T. Lewis and the Churches of Christ in Birmingham, Alabama, 1907–1967 (PDF). As most of you know, I wrote a master’s thesis while at Lipscomb on the life and theology of John T. Lewis. Here it is.
Bhamwiki is a Wikipedia-style resource for all things Birmingham. I signed up to be a contributor a while back, with the intent of providing entries related to the history of the Christian Churches and the Churches of Christ in Birmingham. Here are links to my first few entries: biographical sketches of Col. J. J. Jolly (1838–1881), the founder of First Christian Church; R. W. Van Hook (1856–1893), First Christian’s first pastor; and O. P. Spiegel (1866–1947), well-known Alabama progressive and one-time student of T. B. Larimore.
“For the Glory of God and the Benefit of Mankind”: The Emergence of the Nashville Establishment, 1900–1950. This is the text of a talk I gave at the 2013 Lipscomb University Summer Celebration. As mentioned above, it is part of a collaboration with John Mark Hicks, Mac Ice, and Jeremy Sweets on the history of the Churches of Christ in Nashville.
An Exegesis of 1 Cor 11.2-16. I wrote this paper for my Corinthians class during the summer of 2007. My argument is two-pronged: Paul commands the wearing of the veil for women not as a matter of local custom or culture, but based upon the tradition he has received from the apostles and upon the universal practice of all the churches. Therefore it is not a matter that can be flippantly dispensed with in our own day. Secondly, it is precisely the head covering (according to 1 Cor 11.10) that gives women the authority or privilege (Grk. exousia) to pray and prophesy in the assembly.
Churches of Christ in East Nashville: Their Rise and Decline in the Twentieth Century. In the summer of 2008, I wrote and delivered this paper as part of the Disciples of Christ Historical Society’s Ketcherside Scholars program. It brings together two of my enduring interests, local history and Stone-Campbell history. But I especially value the time that went into it because of the insight it gave me into the spiritual lives of my grandparents, as well as the churches in which I was raised.
Table Presidency in the Churches of Christ: A Historical and Theological Examination. This paper, written for Dr. John Mark Hicks’ Systematic Theology course, attempts to answer the questions, “Who presides at the Lord’s Table and why?” I was first pushed to examine this topic after coming across frequent references in Disciple literature about elders presiding at the Table. That is certainly not the case in Churches of Christ, where almost any baptized male can preside or otherwise serve at the Table. This paper attempts to sort out the historical, scriptural, and systematic issues behind these questions.
Review of John Mark Hicks’ “The Struggle for the Soul of Churches of Christ (1897-1907).” This is a review of an article in which Hicks sets out most succinctly the Tennessee-Texas-Indiana paradigm that he has formulated for understanding the theological history of Churches of Christ at the turn of the 20th century. Overall I am very sympathetic to this understanding, although I do raise a couple of (fairly minor) quibbles in this piece.
Understanding Non-Institutional Churches of Christ: Some Suggestions for First Reads. A guest post on fellow blogger Mac Ice’s eScriptorium blog. In an occasional series called “First Reads” he has taken specific areas of Stone-Campbell history and offered an annotated set of readings that are essential for understanding the area under consideration. He graciously invited me to contribute a post on non-institutional Churches of Christ.