J. Allen Miller, 1866–1935 -- By: Richard E. Allison

Journal: Ashland Theological Journal
Volume: ATJ 15:0 (NA 1982)
Article: J. Allen Miller, 1866–1935
Author: Richard E. Allison


J. Allen Miller, 1866–1935

Richard E. Allison

The spirit and genius of the Brethren, says Dr. J. Allen Miller, are to be found in the life of the community. To appreciate it one must enter it. The reference is not to narrow idiosyncrasies but those “magnificent traits of Christian conduct, the unfaltering devotion to convictions, the honesty and integrity of character and loyalty to the church and the Word of God.”1 This quiet and peaceful lifestyle flowed on as a deep stream of spiritual righteousness. The fraternal fellowship was simple and sincere. These are the traits that improve with the years. This calls for a heroic, self-sacrificing spirit able to live in distinction from the culture with the goal being Christ-like character.

Thus it is that this man more than any other epitomized historic Brethren ideals in the years following the 1883 division.2 He illustrated the tension Brethren have experienced between Spirit and Word, the internal and external, faith and obedience, personal faith and corporate responsibility, the Christ of faith and the Jesus of history.

As Dr. Miller began his term as president of Ashland College, he began by parting the weeds on the campus and kneeling in prayer. He wanted for himself and his students an intelligent and reasonable faith. His Lord was Christ and his book was the Bible and his faith was that of the Brethren.3 The first third of the century has been dominated by his Christocenric faith, scholarship and devotion.

His origins are simple. Born near Rossville, Indiana on August 20, 1866 to a teacher father and a “PK” mother. He followed in the footsteps of his father and began teaching school at seventeen. At eighteen he united with the Brethren Church at Edna Mills, Indiana. Within a few months following baptism he was called to ministry and began preaching.

In 1887 he entered Ashland College graduating four years later with an A.B. degree. While at Ashland he pastored the Glenford, Ohio Brethren Church (1890–92). Following graduation he moved to Elkhart, Indiana where he served the Brethren Church (1891–1894) and attended Hillsdale College. In 1894 he began forty-one years of ministry at Ashland College and Seminary. The church

had prevailed upon him to leave his pastorate and fill the term of the ailing president, S.S. Garst. This he did but resigned two years later to pursue additional studies at Hiram College earning the B.D. degree in 1898. While at Hiram, J. Allen Mille...

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