The Influence of John R. Rice in the SBC

Discussion in 'Baptist History' started by John of Japan, Jun 20, 2013.

  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Over in the Bible Versions forum, Rippon felt I should not include John R. Rice with Machen, Gaussen and Turretin as influential in the area of verbal-plenary inspiration. This led me to think that it might be profitable to start a thread about his influence in the SBC, which as is well known has had a return to an inerrant position.

    First of all, it is widely recognized by historians that JRR had a wide influence in the independent Baptist movement, but was a moderate in that movement. (Remember that over the years there has been a lot of interaction between IFBs and the SBC, especially among moderate IFBs like JRR. I myself have preached in SBC churches.) SBC historian H. Leon MacBeth wrote:

    “Another independent Baptist who helped form the Southwide Baptist Fellowship was John R. Rice. A former Southern Baptist and colleague of J. Frank Norris, Rice founded the Sword of the Lord in Dallas in 1934. Before his death, Rice built it into the most widely circulated fundamentalist paper in America. Through the Sword and various Bible conferences, Rice exerted vast influence and enlisted the aid of a circle of churches, though no new denominational structure resulted. Rice cooperated with most Fundamentalists but joined none. More than half of Rice’s conferences were under the auspices of the Baptist Bible Fellowship, and Jerry Falwell, according to one report, worked closely with Rice in the 1970s.”
    The Baptist Heritage, by H. Leon McBeth (Nahiville: Broadman Press, 1987), p. 767.

    Secondly, JRR had a wide influence in the SBC, and thus in the conservative resurgence. As a sign of his influence in the SBC, note that there have been at least three doctoral dissertations done by SBC scholars concerning John R. Rice:

    Bates, David Keith Jr. “Moving Fundamentalism Toward the Mainstream: John R. Rice and the Reengagement of America’s Religious and Political Cultures.” Kansas State University, Ph. D. dissertation, 2006.
    Finn, Nathan A. “The Development of Baptist Fundamentalism in the South.” Southeast Baptist Theological Seminary, Ph. D. dissertation, 2007.
    Moore, Howard Edgar. “The Emergence of Moderate Fundamentalism: John R. Rice and the Sword of the Lord.” George Washington University, Ph. D. dissertation, 1990.

    I've read the Finn dissertation, which is available in the SEBTS library, but don't have it so I can't quote from it. But Finn makes a good case for Rice influence not only among independent Baptists but in the SBC. I don't have Moore's dissertation, but have read some of it since he gave a copy to each of JRR's daughters, my mother included. Bates shared a file of his dissertation with my brother for his book on fundamentalism, so I've read some of that and am able to share some information.
     
  2. Bob Alkire

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    Not being a SBC member back then, I would have to agree with you. I know W.A. Criswell believed John Rice was greatly used by God and he thought greatly of. Adrian Rogers has spoken highly of him as well as Lee Roberson. I've heard SBC pastors speak lovingly of Dr. Rice from R.G. Lee to Jerry Vine, so there seems to be much truth to what you are saying, John.
     
  3. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Thanks, Bob. I'll be giving more documentation on this thread.
     
  4. Mexdeaf

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    There is no doubt that Dr. Rice had a great deal of influence in the SBC, but most pastors today (IFB and SBC) do not know that. As a matter of fact, it shocks many IFB people today when I tell them that Dr. Rice often printed sermons from SBC preachers (as well as from some other religious groups) in the SoTL back in the day. He also would preach for SBC pastors. I think he also may have had an SBC pastor or two preach at his conferences, seems R.G. Lee did, but I could be very wrong on that.

    I will ever be thankful for the SoTL because my aunt and uncle sent our family a subscription to it back in the 70's and I often read it before I became saved. My mom and dad would throw them on the TV (where the mail went back then) and i would read the kid's and teen columns.

    Then, after becoming a Christian, I was privileged to hear Dr. Rice speak several times at Tennessee Temple University. I still refer to his "Dr. Rice, here is my question" books from time to time.
     
  5. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Thanks for the testimony!

    In particular, JRR would print sermons in the SOTL from SBC stalwarts W. A. Criswell, R. G. Lee and Hyman Appelman, all three being friends of his.

    Lee Roberson would also have SBC preachers in as you remember I'm sure. We heard "Payday Someday" by R. G. Lee, "God's Three Deadlines" by J. Harold Smith. We also heard Bob Harrington, the "Chaplain of Bourbon Street."
     
  6. John of Japan

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    At this juncture, let me point out that JRR had a genuine, close friendship with a number of influential SBC leaders. First of all, he liked to tell the story about when W. A. Criswell as a boy of twelve heard JRR preach in a tent revival and was called to preach. Afterwards the boy approached the evangelist and said, “When I grow up I’m going to go to Baylor University and get a Baylor belt buckle like you have.” (I’ve heard JRR tell this story a number of times.)

    Criswell wrote on the occasion of JRR’s funeral: “The friendship of Dr. Rice to me has always been precious. I have had a moving affection for him through all the years since I was a small boy. Dr. Rice believed in the things that I believe in. He preached the Gospel that I try to preach. He believed in the inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures. He believed in all the great truths that are revealed to us in the Bible. And he was evangelistic and sought to win people to Christ. In all of those great areas of doctrinal commitment, my heart has always been committed, and I’ve tried to exhibit them, present them, preach them in my own ministry. May God bless and sanctify the memory of Dr. Rice to all the millions who knew and loved him now and forever” (The Captain of Our Team, by Viola Walden, p. 510).
     
    #6 John of Japan, Jun 20, 2013
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  7. Tom Bryant

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    I think he has a growing influence because of the independents like me who have become SBC. We are more moderate than the current leaders of the SOTL, but maybe more "fundamental" than a large number of SBC. That has no empirical evidence but my opinion.
     
  8. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    I'm sure that's part of it, Tom. But JRR has long had an influence outside of the independents. My brother tells in his book about doing civil rights work in the South and staying with a black Baptist pastor. Sitting in his study, Andrew was amazed to see many of JRR's books and said, "That's my grandfather." The pastor said, "I love that man. He's been such a blessing to me!"
     
  9. John of Japan

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    Southern Baptist Jewish evangelist Hyman Appelman also wrote on the occasion of JRR’s funeral: “Dr. John came into my life—our paths crossed—in 1930, when I entered a seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and Dr. Rice and, of course, his family were living right there on Seminary Hill. Since then, thank God with all my soul, our paths crossed again and again. Not often enough to please me, but then he’s been busy and I’ve been busy. His Holy-Spirit-inspired counsels to me—and I’d ask them from him by phone, by letter, in person—have helped me enormously all along the way. First, in my work as a pastor—we were pastors together in Dallas for a little—then in the years of my evangelism. He was my ideal in many ways. His very presence stirred my soul. His works-filled life was and shall continue to be a source of challenging motivation to my life” (ibid, 511).
     
  10. BaptistJG

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    Not a big fan of the sbc as something to be over churches (love each church though dont get me wrong!), but I did want to chime in that I have a ton of respect for John R Rice, I love the books and articles that i have read and sermons i have watched of his. In his sermon about prayer he says "you little pharisee" like 20 times. I have started saying it, gets some good laughs between the pastor and I.

    Just a little John Rice love to add is all..

    im gone!
     
  11. Revmitchell

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    If you think the SBC is over churches you know nothing about it.
     
  12. BaptistJG

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    Im sorry if Im wrong and speaking out of turn
    More than happy to learn how the SBC works and clear up any ignorance I have. feel free to pm me anytime.

    ciao.
     
    #12 BaptistJG, Jun 22, 2013
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  13. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Thanks for the John Rice love!

    I'll not be discussing what kind of Baptist is best in this thread, etc., but am just trying to set out the straight facts on JRR and the SBC.
     
  14. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    There were at least two other SBC leaders influenced by JRR. My only caveat here is that neither of them were directly involved in the SBC's conservative resurgence.

    First of all, early in Billy Graham's ministry, John R. Rice was a mentor to him. They became good friends, and JRR helped along Graham's ministry by following it and sharing the blessings in the Sword of the Lord. For example, my brother writes in his book, "The two men meet within the first year the two of them lived in Wheaton. They quickly formed a friendship. John R. rice quickly became a mentor for the younger man. Graham was inspired by Rice's citywide revival campaigns and became an avid reader of The Sword of the Lord" (The Sword of the Lord, Andrew Himes, p. 204). Andrew later writes on p. 222 about a visit by our grandparents to the Graham home in Montreat, NC, and how he was jealous that someone had given the Graham kids an ice cream soda fountain! I was too young to remember this, about 3 at the time.

    Graham says about his landmark campaign in Scotland in 1954: "Or like the cabby who was led to Christ by my old friend Dr. John R. Rice, editor of The Sword of the Lord newspaper. Rice had enthusiastically participated in the Crusade for a week after an American businessman gave him an airplane ticket to fly over. When he got back, he described his Scotland visit in The Sword as 'seven miracle days'" (Just As I Am, by Graham, p. 253).

    Sadly, JRR and Graham parted company in 1957 at the time of the Graham NYC crusade because Graham went under the auspices of the NYC ministerial association, which included liberals. Note: JRR did not actually separate from Graham, but Graham withdrew from the Sword board because he could no longer agree with the masthead, which said the paper opposed "modernism and worldliness."

    In later years the two had little to do with each other, but the feeling of friendship never disappeared. At the time of the JRR funeral in 1980, Graham and his wife were in Europe. But as I wandered around among the many flower arrangements friends had sent, I came across a huge round wreath sent by Dr. and Mrs. Graham.
     
    #14 John of Japan, Jun 23, 2013
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  15. menageriekeeper

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    This is sort of off the topic a little John, but I wanted to share and this seems to be as good a place as any.

    I had to do a paper for one of my classes this past term. The topic was "Religious Rhetoric During the Civil Rights Movement". I had intended to stick with politicians uses of religion during the era but got sidetracked into how the religious leaders of the day were handling the issue. I often get sidetracked. :D

    Long story short, I hadn't known of the connection between Criswall and Graham before I started my research. I had known there was a connection between Graham and your grandfather. Your brother's book helped me out greatly in describing the relationship between the three of them and in the different ways each dealt with the issues of civil rights and desegregation. Made an A on that paper. :)
     
  16. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    Way to go on that paper! :thumbs:

    To my brother's credit, he did an incredible amount of research for that book, and also some deep thinking. Along the way the book had a complete rewrite, so that the final product was nothing like the first--much better in fact. Right now he's writing his autobiography, which will be extremely interesting, taking him from high school rebel to Maoist to civil rights leader in the South to NY taxi driver to editor of the Microsoft developer's journal to philanthropist and filmmaker, and a lot in between.
     
  17. menageriekeeper

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    Thanks John.

    Let us know when the new one is published. It does sound quite interesting.
     
  18. Earth Wind and Fire

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    Jesus I know.....Paul I'm familiar with.....even Billy Graham, but who is John R. Rice?:confused:
     
    #18 Earth Wind and Fire, Jun 23, 2013
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  19. Winman

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    I was a huge fan of John R. Rice back in the 70s and 80s, I had a subscription to Sword of the Lord for years. I think I must have ordered many dozens of his pamphlets, and used to buy salvation tracts from SoL as well.

    I loved John R. Rice, I was always impressed with his great love and concern for the lost, that came through in everything he wrote. It was very easy to tell he was an extremely kind person as well.
     
  20. John of Japan

    John of Japan
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    He was a very gracious man in person to his family, friends and workers. But he was a very competitive person in games like 42 dominos and Rook. I've been rebuked for playing too slow. :eek: :laugh:
     

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