Alva J. McClain
1888 – 1968
Alva J. McClain, the founder and first president of Grace Theological Seminary and Grace College, was born in Iowa and grew up in Sunnyside, Washington. Shortly after his marriage to Josephine Gingrich in 1911, he and his wife were saved under the preaching of Dr. L. S. Bauman. He had been attending the University of Washington, but removed to Los Angeles where he attended the Bible Institute of Los Angeles and sat under the teaching of R. A. Torrey. Upon graduating from BIOLA he enrolled in Xenia theological Seminary and completed work for the B.D. and Th.M. degrees.
He was called to the First Brethren Church of Philadelphia where he served from 1918-23. During that pastorate he taught at Philadelphia School of the Bible. Because of ill health he resigned and removed to California where he finished his work for the A.B. degree at Occidental College, graduating as valedictorian. Later, he was awarded the honorary degree of LL.D. at Bob Jones University and the D.D. degree from BIOLA.
In 1925 and 1926 he served as professor of Bible at Ashland College. In 1927-29 he taught Christian Theology at BIOLA. In 1930 the first graduate school of theology in The Brethren Church was organized at Ashland College under his leadership; he served as its first Academic Dean and Professor of Christian Theology from 1937-62.
Dr. McClain authored many short treatises, but will be remembered for his monumental work on Christian Theology, The Greatness of the Kingdom, one of seven vo