Louis Bauman - Biography - Long Beach

Long Beach

For the majority of his career, 1913 to 1948, Bauman was pastor of "Fifth and Cherry" First Brethren Church of Long Beach (California). This congregation began in 1911 by a request from Brethren Church member and Long Beach resident Niels C. "Daddy" Nielsen, who wished to have a church of his denomination in his home town. On October 13, 1912 Bauman along with B.P. Stout held an evangelistic tent meeting on the southeast corner of Tenth Street and Walnut Avenue, where seventy-one individuals converted to Christianity and forty-nine expressed interest to become members of a Brethren Church in Long Beach. Bauman fulfilled several evangelistic campaign commitments that winter and returned as pastor on March 2, 1913 as a church building was being built, which was dedicated on July 20 of that year.

This congregation quickly became a hub for missionary activity, the development of young Brethren leadership, and in time what became the "Grace Brethren" movement. Bauman was instrumental in developing young Brethren Church leaders within his theological perspective. Having been in connection with R. A. Torry of the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (BIOLA) Bauman encouraged many young men to attend dispensationalist BIOLA, teach Sunday School classes at Bauman's Long Beach church, then go throughout Brethren congregations and organizations. Alva J. McClain and R. Paul Miller followed this model, and others such as Homer A Kent, Sr. (who went to Ashland College then to dispensationalist Xenia Theological Seminary) followed similar paths.

In this time Bauman became a prolific writer (see Selected Works). He wrote over ten books, contributed regularly to magazines in both the fundamentalist and Brethren perspectives, and spoke at numerous churches and conferences. The majority of Bauman's writings were on end times prophecy, looking at current events of his time and how they may relate to the Bible through the classic dispensationalist perspective. Bauman's method have since been repeated by authors Hal Lindsey of The Late Great Planet Earth fame and Tim LaHaye, co-author of the Left Behind series. Bauman also wrote countless letters, mostly to missionaries encouraging their work and to fellow pastors concerning both personal regards and issues within the Brethren Church.

As the Long Beach church grew in size and influence, it brought the fundamentalism movement into the Brethren Church, creating tension and disagreement among Bauman's group and those who held to traditional Brethren theology and approach. The Brethren Church had rejected classical liberal theology in 1921, in large part by Bauman's influence, with "The Message of the Brethren Ministry," written by J. Allen Miller and Alva J. McClain. However the aggressive approach of fundamentalism conflicted with the drawn out approach of traditional Brethrenism. The fundamentalist desired strongly worded statements of faith, the traditional Brethren stressed non-creedalism. The fundamentalist's classic dispensationalist belief largely disregarded the Sermon on the Mount as a law for an earlier age, while the traditional Brethren statement "the New Testament is our Rule of Faith and Practice" placed a high emphasis on this passage in Matthew 5-7. The fundamentalist were largely Calivinist, the traditional Brethren largely Arminian.

This tension finally erupted in 1936-37 with a growing controversy at Ashland College. Although the school was in the control of the Brethren Church, it was transitioning from a Christian denominational school to a secular school with more regional and less denominational focus. Because of a push to enlarge non-Brethren representation on the board of trustees and establish a "double standard" of conduct for regular college students and pre-seminary college students, Bauman and Charles Ashman, Sr. (1886–1967) resigned from the Ashland College board of trustees on June 1, 1937. The next day, professors Alva J. McClain and Herman Hoyt were fired from Ashland Seminary due to increasing tension between the college group and the seminary group. At a prayer meeting in the home of J.C. Beal that evening Grace Theological Seminary was born, where after prayer Bauman announced "I want to give the first gift to the new school."

In the next two years two groups emerged in the Brethren Church: those sympathetic with Ashland College and those sympathetic with Grace Seminary. Traditional Brethren, in part because of their drawn out approach and in part due to their distaste of fundamentalist theology, sided with Ashland College, while the fundamentalist led by Bauman and McClain, sided with Grace. In 1939, the Grace Seminary group formed the National Fellowship of Brethren Churches.

Read more about this topic:  Louis Bauman, Biography

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