April 5: A Modern Day Jonah Story

Someone was recently searching this site for more information about H. McAllister Griffiths. He was well known in the 1930s and 40s, but is largely forgotten now. He served as ecclesiastical counsel for J. Gresham Machen, Roy T. Brumbaugh and several others who were brought to trial in PCUSA church courts for their involvement with the Independent Board for Presbyterian Foreign Missions. Griffiths had been the managing editor of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, then went on to serve with the IBPFM and later as General Secretary for the American Council of Christian Churches [ACCC].

It was while in that latter position that he fell into some difficulties around 1944. The end result was that Griffiths left to avoid dealing with some matters and simply disappeared from the circles of fellowship of which he had been a part. Griffiths may have taken work in Canada for a time before returning to New York City to work in the public relations field. The rest of the story comes by way of a letter found among the papers of Dr. Allan A. MacRae. It is quite a story, and like the story of Jonah, it proves that the Christian may run, but the Lord will still use even His erring children in His greater plan, when and where He will. Dr. MacRae is here writing to the widow of Dr. William H. Chisholm, and in the course of the letter tells this account:

April 5, 1978

Dear Mrs. Chisholm:

Thank you very much for sending me the excerpts from the biographical sketch of your dear husband by Dr. Louis M. Barnes on September 20, 1977. It contained many facts that I had not previously known. Dr. Chisholm was one of the finest Christians I ever met. His messages in our chapel were a tremendous blessing to all of us.

It interested me to read that he had met you through Hall McAllister Griffiths with whom for a time I was very well acquainted. He had a great influence on Dr. Machen. After a time of very valuable activity in our group, interrupted by a few unfortunate lapses, Hall left us and we heard little about him for a number of years. However, I was happy to be told of a letter that he wrote toward the end of his life, mentioning his activity in helping to word resolutions and reports at a business meeting. He said that at the end of the meeting the vice-president of an important corporation had come to him and said: “Would you tell me how to be saved?” He said, “What makes you think that I can tell you how to be saved?” The man answered, “There is something about your attitude that makes me feel that you can.” Hall said that he then explained the way of salvation and the man bowed his head and received Christ as Savior. Later on Hall received a call from the man’s wife who told him that just a week after the meeting her husband had suddenly died of a heart attack. She said that before he died he had rejoiced greatly in his new-found salvation and that as a result of his witness she also had come to know Christ. I was glad to learn that though Satan had diverted Hall’s activities to quite an extent in his latter years, he still retained the most vital things of the Gospel, and was used to some extent to show forth the glory of the Lord, though far less than your dear husband was.

Hall was almost a genius, but was quite undisciplined. It is one of the faults of our present civilization that those with unusual ability are often undisciplined.

I hope that you and Mary are well and that the Lord is blessing. May He give you strength and bless you in all things.

Cordially yours in Christ.

/s/ Allan A. MacRae

Words to Live By:
Never turn loose of the Lord. If you truly belong to Christ, He will never turn loose of you. Draw near to Him day by day. Stay in the Scriptures; be constant in prayer. Make Him your All in All.


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