Smith's Friends

Overview

Lowell Streiker, a longtime expert on free church movements and cults, examines a vital and growing free church movement—an impressive movement that is yet largely unknown. Founded in Norway more than 90 years ago, it is a church without membership rolls, clergy, central administration, tithing, or even a name. Outsiders call them Smith's Friends after their founder, Johan Oscar Smith. On a worldwide basis, some 30,000 people participate in more than 200 churches in 50 ...

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Overview

Lowell Streiker, a longtime expert on free church movements and cults, examines a vital and growing free church movement—an impressive movement that is yet largely unknown. Founded in Norway more than 90 years ago, it is a church without membership rolls, clergy, central administration, tithing, or even a name. Outsiders call them Smith's Friends after their founder, Johan Oscar Smith. On a worldwide basis, some 30,000 people participate in more than 200 churches in 50 countries.

As a phenomenologist of religion, Streiker attempts to be descriptive, analytic, and constructively critical. In order to set Smith's Friends in historical, social, and religious perspectives, he first examines their similarities to and differences from earlier Norwegian revival movements. He then provides a detailed phenomenological report on Smith's Friends, based on field study in America and Europe. He examines their worship, hymnody, theology, and their everyday way of life. As a friendly critic, Streiker entertains the hope that Smith's Friends will come out of their small-church shell and actively engage Christendom and the world. If they do, Streiker believes we would all be better impressed by the influence of this extremely positive force for spiritual renewal. Streiker's examination presents an important study for scholars of religion, sociologists, psychologists, historians, and the general public concerned with modern religious life.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
A minister in the United Church of Christ and a fierce anti-cult warrior during the 1980s, Steiker reports from his extensive interaction with a network of small Bible fellowships, both in Norway where it began and in the US and several European countries where it now has a presence. He addresses such matters as Christianity in Norway, spiritual ancestors of Smith's Friends, personal reactions and recommendations, and whether the movement comprises a cult. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknew.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

LOWELL D. STREIKER holds a Ph.D in religion from Princeton University and is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction
Author's Preface
Ch. 1 The Church without a Name 1
Ch. 2 Christianity in Norway 9
Ch. 3 About Smith's Friends 17
Ch. 4 Spiritual Ancestors of Smith's Friends 85
Ch. 5 Personal Reactions and Recommendations 111
Ch. 6 What Is a Cult? 137
Ch. 7 Is Smith's Friends a Sect? 161
Ch. 8 The Anti-Cult Cult 177
Ch. 9 Summary and Conclusions 207
Epilogue 219
Bibliography 225
Index 231
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