The Primitive Church in the Modern World is a welcome companion volume to The American Quest for the Primitive Church, an important anthology published by Richard T. Hughes in 1988. The first volume brought together fifteen remarkable essays on a theme that had too often been neglected by scholars of American religion: the search within American Protestantism for a restoration of the ancient gospel. While not necessarily agreeing on what the restoration might consist of, the various Protestant movements were nearly all characterized by elements of restorationism, or primitivism. For LDS readers, the 1988 volume provided a valuable historical setting for the emergence of their own religion, which emphasizes the restoration of ancient truths and authority.
This new anthology explores the subject of how primitivism applies in modem times. It contains noteworthy essays by distinguished scholars of American religion, as well as an important introduction by Hughes. As Hughes explains, restorationist believers tend “to define their most fundamental values and commitments by the ancient norms of the Christian faith, however perceived, and only then—if at all—by the norms of modernity or modernization. In other words, genuine primitivists judge the modem world by the standards of the ancient faith, not the other way around.”