a brief interlude

In between Christmas posts, I want to direct your attention to a post by my friend Mac Ice.  On Friday, he posted a brief article on ‘carnal warfare’ from the pen of James A. Allen in the August 1942 issue of the Apostolic Times.  Mac prefaces the piece with some biographical information.  I have only to add that my grandparents were well acquainted with Bro. Allen in the last years of his life when all of them were members of the Duke Street church in Nashville.

Duke Street, founded in 1905, was one of a wave of churches established in East Nashville along the trolley car lines around the turn of the century.  In the disputes of the 1950s, it fell down on the non-institutional side of the split.  Allen was a member at Duke Street and was doing some preaching for the congregation by the early 1950s.  He remained there until his death in 1967.

As Mac mentions, Allen was a long time presence at the South College Street/Lindsley Avenue church in South Nashville — in the years before Ira North arrived to become the minister in the late 1940s — and was the editor of the Gospel Advocate in the late 1920s.  Men of his sort, though, would not survive the new era of boosterism and institutionalization (read: secularization) that arrived after World War II.  The Ira Norths and Jim Allens of the CofC universe had little in common: North was the novus homo in mainline Churches of Christ in the 1950s — a relentless promoter, publicist, and booster who ascended to great heights of power and influence in local politics and led the Madison Church of Christ (a mega-church before its time) for some three decades; Allen, on the other hand, probably knew by the early 50s that the time for men like himself had ended in mainline Churches of Christ.  The last years of his life, after he ceased publication of the Apostolic Times, were spent serving in a small, obscure church in a working-class neighborhood in Northeast Nashville, a world away from the Nashville Church of Christ Establishment of the 1950s and 1960s.

The differences say a lot about what Churches of Christ would become in the decades to follow.

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4 responses to “a brief interlude

  1. Nice sketch! I’m going to check a little more on James Allen.

  2. James the Brother

    James “Jimmy” Allen use to visit the Church of Christ where I attended as a kid. I remember him mostly being on TV several Sunday nights debating a Baptist minister with the question being who died first, Jesus or the thief on the cross?

    Is this a Church of Christ turned Orthodox website??

    • Hi James,

      We may be thinking of different men. James A. Allen was the editor of the Gospel Advocate in the late 1920s and died in 1967. He never appeared on television to my knowledge (in fact, he had to cease publication of the Apostolic Times by the early 1950s due to health issues.

      The other Allen — Jimmy Allen (I don’t know if there’s any relation) — was a professor at Harding University and popular revival preacher for a number of years. He may be the man you’re thinking of.

      And, no, I’m not Orthodox. I have a number of friends who have converted in recent years or who are sympathizers. I follow a number of Orthodox blogs, primarily because I think they address the secularization of American Christianity more forcefully and effectively than anyone else I know of — and that includes anyone in CofC circles. On top of that, I have a keen interest in patristic theology. But I’m still a member of a Church of Christ.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Pingback: On the “Nashville Establishment” | Anastasis

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