Rohrer on McClain

Rohrer2 I finished Norman Rohrer’s book on Dr. Alva J. McClain last night, and I remembered my assessment of this biography: disappointing.

I found it disappointing because Rohrer spent large portions of the book on items that weren’t as salient to McClain’s life as other aspects that could have been included.

Rohrer did cover the controversy between McClain and Ashland College. That part is pretty good, and deserves a separate post.

One of my main complaints is that Rohrer detailed McClain’s involvement in the Ashland struggle and the subsequent founding of Grace Theological Seminary but absolutely nothing else about other issues that GTS had to deal with, particularly the rise and development of new evangelicalism in the late 1940s, early 1950s.

I’m not riding a hobby horse here, but it is a matter of historical record that when new evangelicalism arose most Christian colleges, seminaries, and fellowships either accepted it wholesale or considerably softened their fundamentalism. And I know from anecdotes Dr. McCune shared in classes and chapel while I was at Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary that McClain and other Grace men had plenty to say about the rising new evangelicalism.

Some verification is required, but judging from the book’s date of publication (1986), the fact that GTS was at that time undergoing a paradigm shift may have affected what wasn’t mentioned in this biography of its founder (note this Wikipedia article, particularly the first paragraph under “Beliefs”).

We’ll see.


  1. Hi Jim–sorry for the delay on your comment. I was away from my desk and my moderation queue didn’t allow publication of comments with two or more links (to prevent spam), which yours had. I’ve corrected that!

    I’m not sure what you’re referring to–the articles you link to refer to McClain’s separation from Ashland and the subsequent founding of Grace Seminary, and tied to that the split in the Brethren Church. I said that I appreciated Rohrer’s account of this.

    I’m very aware of McClain’s views and practice of both personal and ecclesiastical separation; that’s what’s got me wondering why nothing in the biography was said about McClain’s response to new evangelicalism, which dealt with that very issue.

    Do you have knowledge concerning this that would shed light on the subject for me?

    BTW, the articles you link to look helpful; I came across some works by McClain late yesterday that I’ll add to the links you provided as helpful resources.

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