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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

More on McClain

Earlier, I posted some things about grace, quoting about and from Alva J McClain. Last night, I finished reading "A Saint in Glory Stands." (My wife is worried about my descent into nerdhood. I didn't tell her my next read is, "Doctrinal Treatise--Old German Baptist Brethren.")

Near the end of the book (p 120), the author states (speaking of McClain):
He embraced moderately the Calvinist TULIP (Total depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible grace, and the Perseverance of the saints) but did not believe in eternal securityat the expense of holy living. He called for a balance between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. He embraced a balanced dispensationalist view of the Bible, but believed a difference had to be made between Israel and the Church.

Maybe it's wishful thinking, but it seems that the biography lays out a Calvinism similar to John Piper's (God's sovereignty should be emphasized, as we call upon people to repent and trust Christ), while having a dispensationalism similar to John MacArthur's (Israel and the Church are different, but the book stressed pre-millennial views more than pre-tribulational).

Of course, McClain went to Antioch College (1917), so who really knows?


  • At 9:29 AM, Blogger Keith said…

    I suspect McClain was slightly more moderate concerning "Calvinism" than John Piper, and slightly stronger on "dispensationalism" than John MacArthur. McClain was a theologian more committed to biblical teaching than theological system.

    Overall, however, I think your evaluation and desire are sound. So glad you are reading this stuff.


  • At 9:42 AM, Blogger Darby Livingston said…

    "He called for a balance between divine sovereignty and human responsibility."

    Do you think such a "balance" is what McClain had? Or do you think he fully embraced both Divine sovereignty and human responsibility? Is the primary goal of theology to balance concepts?

  • At 10:23 AM, Blogger danny2 said…


    i also grabbed "standing firm on grace alone" and mcclain's "christian theology outlines" so hopefully i'll get a better understanding of him over time. i'm enjoying his romans commentary as well.

    like calvin, i think what makes a great systematic theologian, is the committment to biblical teaching. i need to reread "the greatness of the kingdom" but when i last read it, i remember being dumbfounded by the number of references from all over the Scripture that McClain quoted.


    i'm going to go out on a limb and take a guess. honestly, keith would be able to answer this much better.

    i'm going to say that by balance, the author means that mcclain sought to embrace both. he saw the need to acknowledge God's sovereignty in ways that "ashland brethren" had not been, yet, the "grace movement" was very marked by a missions emphasis...thus showing he did not embrace some form of hyper-calvinism (heresy) and neglect our duty to call men to repentance.

  • At 11:39 AM, Blogger Noel said…

    I missed the broadcast. Anyway to hear it still?

  • At 8:42 PM, Blogger Keith said…

    Yes, guys . . . "balance" is not often a helpful theological word. What McClain did, and we should do, is fully embrace both. As another example, "speaking the truth in love" does not mean we are to be 50% truthful and 50% loving in order to be balanced - rather, we fully embrace both.

  • At 9:26 PM, Blogger Noel said…

    This comment has been removed by the author.


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