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A Defender Of The Faith


      Alexander Russell Main believed that the greatest task to which a man could devote his strength and ability is found in the Christian church. It was his aim to make clear and simple to young and to old the facts of the gospel. As writer and teacher he sought to unfold the way of life and salvation in Christ. There was an unerring purpose in his life, and he refused to be drawn from it. While others were influenced by the fashions of thought for the day, he pressed on steadfastly with the mission of making the facts of the New Testament clear. His consistent loyalty to Christ and his persistent efforts contributed a great deal to the growth of churches of Christ in Australia.

      In Youth

      Born in Scotland in 1876, he came to Australia as a lad and settled with his people in the Drummond district in Victoria. Stephen Cheek had gathered and formed a group of brethren into a church in Drummond, and into that fellowship A. R. Main was received. It was there that A. B. Maston met and recognised him as a youth with promise. Arrangements were made for him to go to Melbourne in 1894 to study while serving at the Austral Printing and Publishing Co. "The Australian Christian" was first published in 1898, under the editorship of A.B. Maston, and in the first number Mr. Main began to contribute weekly studies for Sunday schools. About that time he began to assist the church at Hawthorn, Victoria, where he served as preacher for two years.

      Full-time Preacher

      Toward the end of 1900, Mr. Main was invited to go to Brisbane as preacher of the church. Before leaving Victoria he married Miss V. Somerville on October 30, 1900. While in the Northern State he compiled and wrote the Queensland section of the "Jubilee History of the Churches of Christ in Australasia." He served as president of the Queensland conference during 1903. Returning to Victoria, he accepted the call to serve as preacher of the church at Footscray, where he continued until 1905, and at the Victorian conference of that year preached the conference sermon.

      Student and Teacher

      During these years Mr. Main revealed that he possessed teaching ability. He was a lecturer at the Australian Bible College, and in April, 1907, three months after the establishment of the College of the Bible, he was invited to assist the principal, H.G. Harward, as lecturer. At the commencement of the second half-year term he began to teach. While teaching part-time Mr. Main continued his studies at the Melbourne University, where he gained distinction and won the Hastie Scholarship in the School of Philosophy. When H.G. Harward resigned from the college, A.R. Main was appointed principal as from January 1, 1911. From small beginnings, and under great difficulties, he built up the institution until it became a recognised training college of high repute. This vital work of the brotherhood was guided by his wise judgment and sound teaching until the end of 1938.


      For many years the readers of "The Australian Christian" had been helped by the articles by A.R. Main and by his weekly page in the interests of Christian Endeavor. His effective teaching in these contributions marked him out as the most suitable leader in Australia to carry on the very able editorial work of F.G. Dunn. So at the death of Mr. Dunn, A. R. Main was appointed editor and commenced this work on October 8, 1914. For 27 years he watched over the interests of the paper and guided the thought of the churches on vital themes. It was his aim to exalt Christ, to declare the facts of the gospel, and to present "news" rather than "views" to readers. Many have testified that they have been helped a great deal by his editorial work. Because of his association with the church paper, brethren from all over Australia sought his advice on problems of the Christian life, and this involved a great amount of research and correspondence.

      Brotherhood Leader

      Besides being president of Queensland and Victorian conferences, he was honored by being elected president of the Federal Conference held in Melbourne in October, 1924. He was in constant demand as a speaker at brotherhood rallies. As a mark of appreciation of his long years of service, he was appointed the Australian delegate to represent his brethren at the world convention of churches of Christ held at Leicester, England, in 1935. At that gathering he spoke on the subject "The Place and Power of Christian Journalism." Proceeding to U.S.A., where he delivered lectures, the Butler University, Indianapolis, conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity in recognition of his outstanding services.

      Closing Years

      Having regained some of his strength after his retirement from the Glen his college, A.B. Main responded to the invitation to assist churches in N.S.W. establish a State college. Believing he could, out of his long experience, help the brethren start their college on sound lines, he proceeded to N.S.W. at the end of 1941. Already there is proof of the good work he began so well. He was so anxious to be of service that he had planned to help in various ways in the coming year. He was actually on his way to assist the churches in Queensland when he was called home to join Mrs. Main and the great throng in the presence of the Lord. He died at 11.45 a.m. on October 13, at Sydney. Services were conducted in the

      Chatswood chapel and also in the Northern Suburbs Crematorium by F.A. Youens. At the former Mr. A. Brooke, Chaplain-General, represented the church at Gardiner, Victoria, where Mr. Main had spent many happy years as an elder. Others taking part included H.J. Patterson, principal of Woolwich Bible College, and Ethelbert Davis, president of N.S.W. conference.

      A.R. Main served the churches willingly and unselfishly. His great i deal was to serve Christ and to win men into the kingdom of God. His record is a memorial that will not be soon forgotten. He has built his life into the brotherhood to which he was so devoted. It was his prayer that many rise up and advance the work of the Restoration Movement, so that the cause he loved may continue to glorify Christ.


      Let us love and read and study the scriptures, and make them the guide of our life. Let us preach the word. It is the strength of our movement. God meant the scriptures to furnish the man of God completely unto every good work. No human dogma, or creed, or philosophy can do for us what the Book of God will do.--A. R. Main.

      The Christian-Evangelist, Feb. 19, 1942, p. 213.

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