G. C. Brewer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Grover Cleveland Brewer (1884–1956) was among the most famous 20th-century leaders in the Churches of Christ. He was said to be "among the giants of the brotherhood" (Woods 246). "G. C." Brewer was named for U.S. President Grover Cleveland, "G. C." Brewer is generally known by his initials. G. C. Brewer was born in Giles County, Tennessee; he died in Searcy, Arkansas, on June 9, 1956. He was an author, preacher, and teacher, serving on the faculty of Lipscomb University (then known as David Lipscomb University). His persuasive rhetoric and passionate oratory have been noted along with his uncanny ability to define mainstream Church of Christ doctrine in the mid-20th Century. (His brother, Dr. Charles R. Brewer, was also a notable preacher and a teacher at David Lipscomb University, where to this day a bell tower stands in his honor.) G. C. Brewer was no stranger to controversy, challenging Catholicism and Communism directly and debating frequently; yet he also demonstrated a willingness to change his views, especially those regarding the doctrine of grace.

Grace[edit]

According to Leonard Allen (163-64), John Mark Hicks [1], and Richard Hughes (186-87), Brewer's championing of K. C. Moser's book The Way of Salvation (1932) signaled a paradigm shift in the way that people in the Churches of Christ were thinking about grace. Brewer wrote that "Our salvation does not depend upon our perfect adherence to the requirements of law. . . . By making our salvation dependent upon our own perfection, we make void the grace of God" (qtd. in Allen 164). Especially in the 1930s, Foy E. Wallace and Brewer engaged in a longstanding feud over this and other controversial issues, "contending for the faith" at the Abilene Christian College Bible Lectures and in the pages of the Gospel Advocate and other periodicals. Wallace took Moser's book for "denominational error on the gospel plan of salvation" (qtd. in Hicks) whereas Brewer sought to de-emphasize legalism and human works and to promote a theory of God-given "unmerited favor" (Hughes 186).

Non-Institutional Churches[edit]

One facet of their disagreement, more financial than theological, eventually lead to a schism. Wallace and Brewer debated about the propriety of churches funding colleges. Non-institutional Churches of Christ remember Brewer mainly for his unwavering call for congregational support of colleges associated with the Churches of Christ, a position that non-institutional churches reject. (See The churches of Christ (non-institutional) for more about the debate over this issue.) Historian Richard Hughes has characterized Wallace's "fighting style" (176-77, 182-85) in a way that could well describe Brewer's rhetorical aggression.

Politics and Pacifism[edit]

Despite Brewer's clearly stated patriotism, he was also a product of the teachings of James A. Harding and David Lipscomb. At their Nashville Bible School (Lipscomb University), where Brewer enrolled in 1904 after a year at Johnson Bible College,[1] Brewer learned to downplay politics, a lesson he held dear his entire life. Hughes has noted "that shortly before his [Brewer's] death in 1956 he recalled, 'I have never even voted in my life'" (186). Lipscomb had been a lifelong pacifist, even during the Civil War, yet Brewer believed that the threat of Communism was simply too great to ignore. Brewer therefore balanced his disengagement from the ways of the world with his active concerns for the Christian identity of American politics. This balance characterized many of the Churches of Christ in the mid-20th Century. (For the trajectory of Brewer's thoughts, from pacifism during World War I to anti-communism and American nationalism in the 1930s, see the book The churches of Christ by Richard Thomas Hughes, especially pages 123-125.)

Books by G. C. Brewer[edit]

  • Contending For the Faith. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1941.
  • As Touching Those Who Were Once Enlightened. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1946.
  • Forty Years on the Firing Line. Old Paths Book Club, 1948.
  • Foundation Facts and Primary Principles: Being the Restoration Story Related and Re-Examined in a Manner Suited for a Textbook. Kansas City, Mo.: Old Paths Book Club, 1949.
  • A Story of Toil and Tears of Love and Laughter: Being the Autobiography of G. C. Brewer. Murfreesboro, TN: DeHoff Publications, 1957. (Sometimes this is cited simply as "Autobiography of G. C. Brewer.")

Articles and miscellaneous publications[edit]

“Can Churches Scripturally Contribute to Christian Colleges?” Harding University Lectures. Vol. 24. 1947. pg. 109.

"Christ Today: Our Mediator and High Priest." (speech given in February 1938 and reprinted on pages 199-209 of the volume Abilene Christian College Lectures printed by Abilene Christian College Bookstore later in 1938)

“Communism and Its Four Horsemen.” Voice of Freedom. Vol. 22, pg. 10. (See also “Communism and Its Four Horsemen: Atheism, Immorality, Class Hatred, Pacifism." Nashville: Gospel Advocate. n.d.)

“Grace and Law: Legalism and Liberalism” (a series of articles that originally ran in the Gospel Advocate in 1955.) Firm Foundation reprinted some of these articles ([3]) in 1992-93.

"Read this Book," Gospel Advocate 75 (11 May 1933): 434. (Brewer's book review of K. C. Moser's The Way of Salvation [4].)

“Relationship of Christian Education to the Church.” Harding University Lectures. Vol. 24. 1947. pg. 95.

External links[edit]

  • Brewer's The Model Church online [5]
  • Warren Saunders Jones's dissertation, G. C. Brewer: Lecturer, Debater and Preacher. (Wayne State UP, 1960) [6]
  • John Mark Hicks on Brewer's theory of grace [7] (accessed 13 April 2007)
  • John Mark Hicks's intro to K. C. Moser situates Brewer as spokesperson for the strong grace position [8]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Allen, Leonard C. Distant Voices: Discovering a Forgotten Past for a Changing Church. Abilene, TX: ACU Press, 1993. (See especially pages 162-69.)
  • Hughes, Richard T. Reviving the Ancient Faith: The Story of Churches of Christ in America. Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 1996.
  • Lambert, Gussie. In Memoriam. Shreveport, LA: 1988. pages 34, 35.
  • Woods, Guy N. "Brother Goodpasture As I Knew Him." Gospel Advocate Vol. CXIX, No. 16, April 21, 1977. page 246. (Source of the "giants of the brotherhood" phrase cited in the opening lines of this article, Woods's comments are reprinted here [9].)

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Robert E. Hooper, A Distinct People: Churches of Christ in the Twentieth Century (West Monroe, LA: Howard Publishing, 1994), p. 141, ISBN 1-878990-26-8; Thomas H. Olbricht, "Brewer, Grover Cleveland (1884-1956)," Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement, ed. Douglas A. Foster, Paul M. Blowers, Anthony L. Dunnavant, & D. Newell Williams (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 2004), pp. 97-98, ISBN 0-8028-3898-7.