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Monday, July 16, 2007

Locution Confusion--Part 6

As I've been trying to establish, words may change over time. We may become loose with a definition, or slang usage may taint its original intent. Other words may become obsolete with their lack of use. However, the obsolete words tend to preserve their meaning longer. We've examined the words in the title Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches to see if this plays out. I suggested that the words go from most clear to least clear in the following order:

Brethren, Fellowship, Churches, Grace

My suggestion is that with its frequent use (in and out of religious discussion), the word grace may have connotations not originallly intended. In the comment section of that post, Dr Peppo rightfully asked, "Are there any historical documents to shed light on what the founders of the Fellowship may have meant by "Grace?"

Great question my baby-sprinkling-friend.

Consider the following statements about McClain, offered by others...

While the Brethren movement was a Pietist-Anabaptist movement reacting to what had become the deadness of the Reformation, it is not to be forgotten that the Brethren were heirs, or "stepchildren" of the Reformation. The doctrinal emphases of the Reformers were shared by the Brethren to such a degree that there was little debate. The deity and authority of Jesus Christ (sola Christus), the inspiration and infallibility of the Bible (sola Scriptura), the doctrines of grace (sola gratia), justification by faith alone (sola fidei), the power of the Holy Spirit working for God's glory (soli Deo Gloria)--all of these appear without question or hesitation in the Brethren Movement.--Keith Shearer, "Childlike Faith" p8
It was the renewal of the Reformed doctrines of grace in the teaching emphasis of Alva J McClain (1888-1968) that marked the Grace Movement among the Brethren. Historically speaking, the Grace Brethren are theologically both Reformed and Brethren--a unique and happy combination indeed.--Keith Shearer, "Childlike Faith" p10
The Grace Movement, now the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches, arose as the next phase of the Brethren movement, largely because of a "difference in how to view God's grace and the nature of salvation." Alva J McClain, the first president of Grace Theological Seminary, "emphasized the believer's assurance of salvation, the believer's security, the premillennial, personal return of Christ for His Church, and the outlines on the brilliant arguments of the Apostle Paul in The Epistle of Paul to the Romans on law and grace.--Keith Shearer, "Childlike Faith" p11
But tensions under the surface of The Brethren Church were increasing. On one side there was a growing movement, particularly under the teaching of Dr. McClain, that wanted to identify Brethrenism with a more Calvinistic, premillennial, fundamentalism. The Progressives had moved into mainstream evangelicalism at a time when dispensationalism and fundamentalism were growing movements on the American scene. These movements had a deep impact on many of the Brethren pastors and leaders, particularly through a series of strong pastors in the First Brethren Church of Philadelphia where McClain himself had pastored.--David Plaster, "Finding our Focus" p97

These are observations of McClain, but did McClain say anything himself? to be continued...


  • At 6:23 AM, Blogger Brad said…

    Very, very interesting. Keep it coming.

    And FYI, we pour at our church: lots and lots and lots of water.


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