Distinctive Contributions Of Alva J. Mcclain And Grace Theological Seminary To A History Of Dispensationalism -- By: Mark A. Snoeberger

Journal: Detroit Baptist Seminary Journal
Volume: DBSJ 17:1 (NA 2012)
Article: Distinctive Contributions Of Alva J. Mcclain And Grace Theological Seminary To A History Of Dispensationalism
Author: Mark A. Snoeberger


Distinctive Contributions Of Alva J. Mcclain
And Grace Theological Seminary
To A History Of Dispensationalism

Mark A. Snoeberger1

In writing an essay on the distinctive contributions of Alva J. McClain and Grace Theological Seminary to a history of dispensationalism two assumptions must be made: first, that there are sufficient similarities to merit including Grace Seminary in the theological stream of normative dispensationalism; and second that there are enough distinctive emphases and variations and innovations in the dispensationalism of early Grace Seminary to merit a discussion of their distinctive contribution. It should be noted at the outset that this essay is not an attempt to join the chorus of voices intent on fragmenting early dispensationalism in order to justify more radical changes in the system or to otherwise discount traditional dispensationalism. It is true that this essay concentrates on peculiarities of the theology of early Grace Seminary; however, it by no means plans to so magnify these differences as to give the impression that the integrity of dispensationalism is infinitely malleable.

For better than a decade now it has been the penchant of “progressive” dispensationalists, in order to justify their more radical changes to the dispensational system, to minimize the continuity within early dispensationalism and to deny it a univocal voice.2 This essay rejects this trend. That there are differences between the backgrounds, emphases, and constituency of early Grace Seminary and the historically more powerful dispensational voice of Dallas Seminary in that era cannot be denied. However, there was considerable camaraderie between the two as well. Louis S. Bauman (the foremost populist leader of the nascent

Grace Brethren movement and McClain’s self-acknowledged mentor)3 and Lewis Sperry Chafer freely exchanged pulpits in the early 1900s,4 and in the correspondence of Bauman one can find many instances of correspondence between Bauman and Chafer discussing the merits and placement of Brethren students at Dallas Seminary, a clear signal that Bauman and Chafer had similar agendas.5 In one letter to Melvin A. Stuckey dated 17 June 1937, Bauman readily affirms, “Dr. Chafer is a close personal friend of mine.”6 As further evidence for the camaraderie between Chafer and the Brethren is the interesting fact that in 1927 Bauman and Chafer di...

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