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Featured John R. Rice, Bob Jones Jr., and the “Mechanical Dictation” Controversy

Discussion in 'Fundamental Baptist Forum' started by rlvaughn, Jul 27, 2017.

  1. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Not so much for discussion (though some may want to read and discuss it), but this morning I found this journal article and thought some of you might want to read it:

    John R. Rice, Bob Jones Jr., and the “Mechanical Dictation” Controversy, by Nathan A. Finn in The Journal of Baptist Studies 6 (2014).

    From the main page, follow a link to get to the Journal contents.
     
  2. rsr

    rsr <b> 7,000 posts club</b>
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    Interesting article. Wonder what JoJ has to say?
     
  3. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Nathan Finn is an excellent historian, and has done his work. His PhD dissertation was on the rise of Fundamentalism in the South. I am currently in Houston, having just returned from two days of research in the John R. Rice Papers at Southwestern. (Had a wonderful lunch today with Dr. & Mrs. Paige Patterson.) There is much in the archives about the dispute, but too much yet to do to share it right now.

    But that's okay. I lived through it. I was at BJU in the fall of 1971 when the whole thing blew up, with terrible results. It's late tonight so I won't write much, but I will way that in his book on inspiration JRR had two full chapters on why he did not believe in "mechanical" dictation. In fact, SBC theologian Millard Erickson makes exactly that point in his Christian Doctrine.
     
  4. OnlyaSinner

    OnlyaSinner Active Member
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    It's been years since I read "Our God-Breathed Book: The Bible" It gave me an impression of inspiration thru dictation, though I'm not sure if "mechanical" would be the best descriptor. Also, my impression may just be a reader's idea that lies outside of the author's intent.
     
  5. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    This concept of God just using the authors as His robots would not been held by many, would it?
     
  6. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    JRR used the term "dictation" in his book to describe the process of inspiration, based on previous authors on the subject who used that term, such as Louis Gaussen. However, he made it plain that he did not mean "mechanical dictation," pointing out that liberals used that term to mock believers in verbal inspiration. So to JRR the process was not mechanical, but a God/human process that preserved revelation and inerrancy in the very words of Scripture. Unfortunately, perhaps, he pointed out Stuart Custer of BJU as mistaking the terms and siding with liberals in his book Does Inspiration Demand Inerrancy? and Custer and Bob Jones Jr. & III took offense.

    In 1969 JRR sent pre-pub. copies of his book to many theologians, and several evangelical theologians wrote endorsements. However, Custer of BJU did not, and the Bob Jones two opposed the book, not even allowing it to be sold in the BJU bookstore. So that snafu contributed greatly to the split between JRR and BJU, and indeed split fundamentalism.
     
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  7. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    No evangelical holds to that view. That concept is a construct of liberals who mock verbal inspiration.
     
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  8. Squire Robertsson

    Squire Robertsson Administrator
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    I look back on the kerfluffle as two and a half (Jr, and JRR as two, Trey as a half) bull moose going at it.
     
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  9. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    It was a huge kerfuffle at the time.
     
  10. Squire Robertsson

    Squire Robertsson Administrator
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    I know that. Just think of my comment another of the Squire's understatements.
     
  11. TCassidy

    TCassidy Administrator
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    It was also de rigueur for the Joneses, especially when Jr. was in charge, to consider other Christian ministries as "competition" and would nit pick until they could find an issue to condemn the other ministry.

    The did the same thing with John MacArthur over the blood issue. MacArthur stated his position somewhat awkwardly and the Joneses ran away with it claiming MacArthur "denied the blood of Christ" when, of course, he did no such thing. The real issue was that MacArthur had taken over Los Angeles Baptist College and transformed it into The Master's College which the BJ faction feared with take students away from them.

    Of course, the BJ's faction understanding of "secondary separation" was the foundation for most of the conflicts. And, in my opinion, BJ has pretty much slipped off the radar of most of fundamentalism, with the exception of loyal BJ graduates.

    But that is just my opinion. :)

    By the way, I never understood JRR to be advocating mechanical dictation. He was advocating verbal/plenary inspiration. :)
     
  12. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    Sad to say, there are many who claim to be saved who use those views to "mock" Bible believers!
     
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  13. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    I remember that: "much ado about nothing."
    BJU has really shrunk, I've heard. So now they have sports teams again after over 60 years, no doubt to get students.

    Thanks for the input, Doc. You're right on target.
     
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  14. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Got it. :)
     
  15. Squire Robertsson

    Squire Robertsson Administrator
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    To be more accurate, it was a kerfluffle with the use of tactical nuclear weapons.
     
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  16. Salty

    Salty 20,000 Posts Club
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    This is just a bit off OP - but does BJU currently have an "official" view of JRR?
     
  17. Squire Robertsson

    Squire Robertsson Administrator
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    Considering its current trajectory, probably not.
     
  18. HankD

    HankD Well-Known Member
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    I remember, was enrolled at Calvary University (aka Calvary Bible College and Seminary) in the late 60's early 70's which took a firm stand against the "mechanical dictation" theory.

    If JoJ says JRR did not endorse it that's good enough for me :)

    But even if he did, not a big deal IMO in view of the whole doctrine of verbal plenary inspiration.

    HankD
     
  19. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Not that I know of.
     
  20. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Correctamundo.
     
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