Friday, November 07, 2008

Floyd Mallott - part 1 of 3

Floyd Mallott (1897-1971) served the Church of the Brethren as a missionary, pastor, teacher, and author. He was born near the Deshler, Ohio congregation where he was baptized at the age of 13. He graduated from Manchester College in 1917 and after a year of teaching high school, taught at Blue Ridge College from 1918-1920. He attended Bethany Bible School and the University of Chicago. He was married to Ruth Blocker in 1921 and their son was born in 1922. The Mallotts served as Missionaries in Nigeria from 1924 to 1927.

After returning to the USA, he became professor of church history and Old Testament at Bethany Biblical Seminary at the age of 30. He taught at Bethany for 35 years until his retirement in 1962. He was a beloved and colorful teacher, characterized by his great enthusiasm, delightful mannerisms, skilled storytelling, and reputed absentmindedness.

Dale Brown, in an interpretive essay about Mallott, wrote in Brethren Life and Thought: "There is another gift which made him a great teacher. He was a great storyteller. ... Mallott told stories to illuminate insights in reference to personalities, movements, and basic doctrines.
The contemporary Jewish sage, Elie Wiesel, has suggested that God made us because he loves stories. Here we can note that Floyd Mallott told stories because he loved God."

One of Mallott's often ree-told stories is of the Dunker couple who first climbed into their Model T Ford and started down the highway. It was not long before the broadbrim hat flew off, then the bonnet, followed by the remainder of the distinctive attire, them many of their peculiar practices, and finally the non-resistant peace testimony.

Mallott loved the history and traditions of the church and frequently interpreted Brethren ordinances. From 1939 to 1942, Mallott edited Schwartzenau, the first scholarly periodical in Brethren circles. In the lead article of the July 1939 issue, Rufus Bowman, President of Bethany Biblical Seminary, explains the choosing of the name:

This is a sacred name in Brethren history. The different bodies of Brethren people all go back to "Schwarzenau." The backward look is valuable for at Schwarzenau we see the great principles that bind us together. The name wins us because of the spirit of those eight pious souls who met on the banks of the Eder. Schwarzenau was the official birthday of Brethren history. The name has become a symbol for the great first principles upon which our Church was founded: the New Testament as our rule of faith and practice, the ordinances as a means of grace, no exercise of force in religion, religious freedom even at the cost of suffering, the simple spiritual life, peace according to the spirit and teachings of Jesus.

...Dr. Floyd E. Mallott, head of the Church History department of Bethany Biblical Seminary is a man who believes in the destiny of the Church of the Brethren and loves her traditions. For the last few years, Dr. Mallott with a few of his companions has been dreaming dreams of the creation of a Journal of Dunker History for the preservation of historical dataHe loved the history of the church and its traditions.

Upon his retirement in 1962, Mallott moved to Southern Ohio and surprised many by his decision to be re-baptized into the Bear Creek congregation of the Old German Baptist Church. That will be our focus tomorrow.

Source: The Brethren Encyclopedia
Dale Brown, "Floyd Mallott" in Brethren Life and Thought, Spring 1980