Born: Feb­ru­a­ry 27, 1871, Rock Creek, Ohio.

Died: Au­gust 22, 1952, Se­at­tle, Wash­ing­ton.

Buried: Spark­man Hill­crest Me­mor­i­al Park, Dall­as, Tex­as.



Lewis was the son of Tho­mas and Lo­mi­ra Cha­fer, and wife of El­la Lo­raine Case (mar­ried 1896). His fa­ther, a par­son, died from tu­ber­cu­lo­sis when Lew­is was 11 years old, and his mo­ther sup­port­ed the fa­mi­ly by teach­ing school and keep­ing board­ers in the fa­mi­ly home.

Chafer at­tend­ed the Rock Creek Pub­lic School as a young boy, and the New Lyme In­st­it­ution in New Lyme, Ohio (1885–88). Here he dis­co­vered a tal­ent for mu­sic and choir.

He went on to stu­dy at Ober­lin Col­lege (1889–91), where he met his wife El­la. After mar­riage, they formed a tra­vel­ing ev­an­gel­is­tic mu­sic min­is­try, with him sing­ing or preach­ing and her play­ing the or­gan.

Lewis was or­dained in 1900 by a Coun­cil of Con­gre­ga­tion­al Min­is­ters in the First Con­gre­ga­tion­al Church in Buf­fa­lo. In 1903, he was an ev­an­gel­ist in the Pres­by­te­ry of Troy in Mas­sa­chu­setts, and be­came as­so­ci­at­ed with the min­is­try of Cy­rus Sco­field, who be­came his men­tor.

Dur­ing this per­i­od, Cha­fer be­gan writ­ing and de­vel­op­ing his the­o­lo­gy. He taught Bi­ble class­es and mu­sic at the Mount Her­mon School for Boys (1906–10).

He joined the Or­ange Pres­by­tery in 1912 due to the in­creas­ing in­flu­ence of his min­is­try in the south. He aid­ed Sco­field in es­tab­lish­ing the Penn­syl­van­ia School of the Bi­ble in 1913. From 1923–25, he served as gen­er­al sec­re­ta­ry of the Cen­tral Am­er­i­can Mis­sion.

When Sco­field died in 1921, Cha­fer moved to Dal­las, Tex­as, to pas­tor the First Con­gre­ga­tion­al Church of Dal­las where Sco­field had min­is­tered. In 1924, Cha­fer and his friend Will­iam Hen­ry Grif­fith Tho­mas real­ized their vi­sion of a sim­ple, Bi­ble teach­ing the­o­lo­gic­al se­min­a­ry and foun­ded Dal­las The­o­lo­gic­al Se­mi­na­ry (orig­in­al­ly the Ev­an­ge­li­cal The­o­lo­gic­al Col­lege). Cha­fer served as pre­si­dent of the se­min­a­ry and pro­fess­or of Sys­tem­a­tic The­ol­o­gy from 1924 un­til his death.

He died with friends while at a con­ference in Se­at­tle, Wash­ing­ton.

Chafer’s works in­clude: