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.
About 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. Streiker is a phenomenologist of religion and has been an advisor to members of the U.S. Congress and to the White House. A leading expert on the nature of religious conversion, he is the author, co-author, editor, or contributor to more than twenty books including The Cults are Coming: The Continuing Threat, Mind-Bending: Brainwashing, Cults, and Deprogramming in the '80s and The Gospel Time Bomb: Ultrafundamentalism and the Future of America. Dr. Streiker has been a frequent guest on national television and radio shows, and on hundreds of local radio programs. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, Time, and Newsweek magazines, as well as many other publications in the United States and abroad.