Being able to interpret different primary and secondary sources is an integral part of understanding history. Historiography is the study of writing history by doing just so, and compiling those sources into a study or narrative.

All of the written literature pertaining to the history of the Church of God movement, including this very online exhibit, is created by interpreting primary and secondary sources. Most of these sources can be found in an archive or library. Because primary and secondary sources require interpretation, many people have used the same sources but have come to different conclusions. 

James Earl Massey and Rufus Burrow are two examples of this within the Church of God movement. Over the last half century, Massey and Burrow have used documents pertaining to Black and white relations in the Church of God, but have each engaged the documents in ways that brought them to different conclusions.

In 2005, James Earl Massey published African Americans and the Church of God: Aspects of a Social History. This was the capstone of his research on the subject of African American involvement within the Church of God movement, and constitutes an updating of his 1957 book on the same subject. Rufus Burrow, in a critical response to Massey’s work, published Making Good the Claim: Holiness and Visible Unity in the Church of God Reformation movement in 2016. Both books are based on similar research, but with different perspectives.

To glean a more in depth overview of the two books, go on to the following pages to learn more.