I was musing on how valuable free ebooks are. It’s just immensely helpful to have the online resources we have today.
Years ago, I tried to learn about the history of the Restoration Movement — since neither my home church nor David Lipscomb College taught me any of it. And it was nearly impossible to get solid material.
Nowadays, you can read primary-source documents for no charge at several online locations. By far, the most valuable is Hans Rollman’s “Restoration Movement Pages.” And there are many other valuable websites.
So I thought I’d compile a list of the most useful materials from Barton W. Stone up until today, which is now available here as Restoration Voices. This page can be easily found via the tab at the top of the page and under the “Pages” links to the left.
Restoration Voices does not even begin to include all the material at the Restoration Movement Pages, but it includes quite a bit of material not found there. At present I have selections from —
- Barton W. Stone
- Thomas Campbell
- Walter Scott
- Alexander Campbell
- Robert Richardson
- Isaac Errett
- G. C. Brewer
- K. C. Moser
- Reuel Lemmons
- Carl Ketcherside
- Leroy Garrett
- Cecil Hook
- Rubel Shelly
- Danny Corbitt
If you know of any other materials that ought to be listed here, let me know. I’m sure I’ve overlooked some important materials.
If you’re not familiar with the authors, most are discussed in A Theological History of the Restoration Movement.
You’ll notice that I’ve focused on authors who make up much of the heritage of the more progressive Churches of Christ. I’ve usually also omitted most blog material, figuring that’s already indexed at the Progressive Church of Christ blogs page.
Cecil Hook’s “Freedom’s Ring” site continues to be down, having been hacked for the second time in less than a year. Offers have been made to help restore the site, but it remains down. Fortunately, the site has been mirrored by the Wayback Machine archive site (see actual photo to the left), and so I’ve been able to link to Br. Hook’s materials there.
Finding writings by Reuel Lemmons in the Internet has proved a major challenge. He was editor of the Firm Foundation during the 1960s and 1970s, transformed from a traditionalist to a progressive, was a major influence on Churches west of the Mississippi, and was fired when Buster Dobbs bought the periodical. The Firm Foundation has lost nearly all its influence since then, but I’m sure still holds the copyrights to most of his writings.
Nearly all I’ve been able to find has been some quotations, most by Leroy Garrett — but these are great quotations!
I have the same problem with G. C. Brewer and K. C. Moser. I think much of their writings were in the Firm Foundation and Gospel Advocate, neither of which have published electronic archives. Most major periodicals now post archives online — for the ad revenue and to increase traffic to their websites. Oh, well …
And I’d love, love, love to have Rubel Shelly’s I Just Want to Be a Christian and Moser’s The Gist of Romans in electronic form, as well as many other important books, but the copyright laws make this quite impossible.
I think that nowadays a book will have dramatically greater influence in the Churches of Christ through online publication, since there are so few Church of Christ bookstores and so few of our members read Church-related print publications in which books might be advertised. The Internet has much, much broader reach than the publishing houses. And there are no progressive print periodicals of any reach.
And yet, even if a book is available for free download, people will buy the print copies as well. Some people just prefer to have a book in their hands.
You know, some of these books that are 10 years or more old will remain under copyright for decades, but they are surely not selling enough copies to justify keeping them off the Internet. There’s no good reason for the publishers not to make the books available for free download (as I have). They’d likely make more by posting ads at the download site than they’d ever make by hoarding old titles that cost as much to store as can be realized from sales. And they’d probably sell more hard copies as a new generation of readers becomes familiar with the important books of past years.
So, anyway, if you get a chance to talk to someone with a Church of Christ publishing house, urge them to post their old materials on the Internet. And if you know of any useful materials that out to be listed at Restoration Voices, post a comment with the link.