For about 200 years it was true to apostolic teaching, but by the mixing of Jewish teaching and paganistic ideas, the church of the beginning was lost. In the early part of the 16th century, Martin Luther broke the shackles and gave to the world the open Bible. Later Calvin advocated the divine sovereignty of God. John Wesley agitated the question of more spirituality in the churches. Around these ideas, great denominations sprang into existence. People began inquiring for the old paths. The churches were weakened and handicapped because they were divided.
Early in the 19th century, there was general unrest among the churches in America. In all denominations could be found those who believed that the followers of Christ should lay aside the traditions of men, and go back to the church described in the New Testament. Among this number were Tom Campbell and his son, Alexander. Father and son were members of the Seceders branch of the Presbyterian Church. They aimed “to take things just as the apostles left them, and stand with evidence on the same ground on which the church stood in the beginning.” They aimed, not to start another church, but to call the church back to the New Testament. They were not reformers, but restorers.
None doubt but what the church described in Acts is the true church of Christ. To restore this church was their work, with others, including Barton W. Stone and Walter Scott, and today the people known simply as Christians number several million.