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Featured John R. Rice, Jack Hyles, and the KJV

Discussion in 'Bible Versions & Translations' started by John of Japan, Jan 4, 2021.

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  1. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    As advertised, this will be a thread about the relationship between independent Baptist megachurch pastor Jack Hyles, and his mentor John R. Rice, and how Hyles strayed completely from the bibliology of John R. Rice. It is intended to be a thread on the history of the KJVO movement, which rightly should come in my timeline of the KJVO movement. However, it is complicated enough that it deserves a thread of its own.

    I have been asked many times about the relationship between Rice (my grandfather) and Hyles. thus, there is a complete chapter on that in my upcoming book on Rice, The Last Revivalist of the 20th Century. It should be published sometime in the next few months. I've finished the final draft, and am now getting corrections back from my editor.

    Many have claimed injury, either ethical or emotional or practical, from Hyles and/or the church he pastored, First Baptist Church of Hammond, IN. While I deeply sympathize with such brethren, and could tell stories myself, this thread is not about that, so please don't get personal here. It is my understanding that the current pastor, Dr. Wilkerson, is pursuing efforts to help such people, and I recommend that they get in touch with him.
     
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  2. Salty

    Salty 20,000 Posts Club
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    John, this sound like it will be a very interesting thread! I am looking forward to it.
    And I trust - all participants will stay on OP!
     
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  3. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    First of all, here is some background. John R. Rice lived and evangelized and pastored in Texas until the 1940's, at which time he moved the family to Wheaton so his six daughters could attend Wheaton College, then the leading fundamentalist school. In 1937 he started The Sword of the Lord, which turned into the leading fundamentalist publication before too long, In the 1940's, he was conducting citywide campaigns with sometimes over 1,000 saved. Then he made the decision, reluctantly believing it to be the will of God but still loving mass evangelism, to change his emphasis to one of promoting revival in a broad sense (personal and corporate) through his paper and through conferences, which came to be called Sword of the Lord conferences on Revival and Soul Winning.

    At that point in his ministry, Rice was always looking for young men who loved soul winning and revival. When he found one such, he would mentor him and promote him through his paper and having him speak in conferences. Billy Graham was one such. Another was Jack Hyles, at that time pastoring a Texas SBC church that he had built up a couple of thousand members, as I recall. In 1957, Hyles was called to pastor the big city church of First Baptist of Hammond, IN. He emphasized soul winning and revival, and caught the attention of Rice, who wrote him in 1958 asking him to preach in a Sword Conference in Taccoa Falls, GA, along with preachers like R. G. Lee, the great SBC evangelism, and Bob Jones, Sr., the great Methodist evangelist who founded Bob Jones U. The fact that Hyles was willing to preach with these men becomes very important later when he narrowed down his separationist position greatly.

    Hyles couldn't believe it, so he called Rice's executive secretary, Viola Walden, to confirm the date. He did preach at that conference, and from then on became a frequent speaker at Sword of the Lord (SOTL) conferences until the death of John R. Rice in 1980. Thus, though he did have some notoriety from pastoring large churches, Rice promoted him on the national stage not only through the conferences, but also through articles in the SOTL and through publishing many of his books. In other words, Rice made Hyles famous and popular on a national level.
     
    #3 John of Japan, Jan 4, 2021
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  4. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Now, Rice had always loved the KJV, and he had always believed that inspiration applied to the original manuscripts of Scripture. Though he eventually published a whole book on inspiration, Our God-Breathed Book, the Bible, Rice wrote as early as in 1943, “When we speak of verbal inspiration we mean that God gave the very words originally to the Bible writers, and as they put them down in the original manuscripts the very words were the words of God.”[1]

    Sometimes Rice referred to other versions such as the ASV, though he opposed liberal versions such as the RSV, and paraphrases such as Williams' or the Living Bible. However, his favorite version was always the KJV, and he wrote, “I constantly use the King James Version. Practically all of my memory work is done in it. Because of its beautiful, stately language and because it is loved by common people everywhere, I find it best to preach and quote from this version, unless some passage is more clear in another version.".[2]

    To the best of everyone's knowledge that knew the men, Hyles followed Rice completely in his bibliology. Until after Rice was dead, Hyles never indicated he had any kind of KJVO position. In fact, in those years when Hyles wrote a book, such as his Let's Study the Revelation (1967), he referred to the original languages as authoritative, correcting the KJV from the Greek even!

    [1] John R. Rice, Twelve Tremendous Themes (Murfreesboro: Sword of the Lord, 1943), 67-68.
    [2] John R. Rice, Dr. Rice, Here Is My Question (Murfreesboro: Sword of the Lord, 1962), 59.
     
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  5. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    So John Rice was KJVP, but other was staunch KJVO?
     
  6. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Yes to JRR, but with Hyles it depends on the specific time of his ministry. Stay tuned.
     
  7. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Now, until Rice's death, the two men were good friends. Not only did Rice mentor Hyles and raise him to national prominence, Hyles one day asked Rice to be his father figure. Hyles' own father had been an abusive drunkard, and Hyles looked up to Rice greatly, and was quite thankful for the mentoring. Here is how the official biographer, the daughter of Hyles, puts it:

    "As they took one trip together, Dad confidentially asked Dr. Rice this question: “Could I be your adopted son? I promise I will not be presumptuous should your answer be ‘yes.’” Dr. Rice agreed, and thus began one of the great preaching partnerships of all time. From that time forward, Dr. Rice became like a father to my dad, and Dad never forgot to honor him on Father’s Day."[1]
    [1] Cindy Hyles Schaap, The Fundamental Man (Hammond: Hyles Publications, 1998), 174.

    For his part, Hyles wrote about Rice, "John R. Rice was of the stature of a Charles Haddon Spurgeon or a Dwight Lyman Moody. In fact, I believe he was of the stature of the Apostle Paul."[2]
    [2] Jack Hyles, Fundamentalism in My Lifetime (Hammond: Hyles Publications, 2002), 131.

    In the late 1970's, not long before Rice's death, a crack appeared in the relationship. There is no need to tell the whole tale here, but you can read it in my upcoming book. In a series of letters preserved at Southwestern BTS in the "John R. Rice Papers," Rice rebuked Hyles for not being careful of the facts in his sermon illustrations sometimes. Hyles wrote an exceedingly (note my adverb) humble reply. But the crack was there. It did not get any deeper, though, before Rice died in December of 1980, and Hyles was one of the many fundamentalists who had part in the victorious funeral of Rice. (Even Billy Graham, in Europe with his wife at the time, sent a huge wreath.)

    However, all was not well. According to the authorized biography, Hyles had been hiding something from Rice.
     
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  8. Salty

    Salty 20,000 Posts Club
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    When can we pre-order the book?
     
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  9. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    The publisher is brand new, a ministry arm of our church. So that will probably not be an option for this book.
     
  10. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    So Hyles changed his mind over time, and ended up extreme KJVO?
     
  11. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Keep reading. ;)
     
  12. Jerome

    Jerome Well-Known Member
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    Hyles's pastorate at FBC Hammond began in 1959.

    and what about this, January 1958 Sword of the Lord Conference at Miller Road Baptist Church:

    Garland Daily News, Garland, Texas, January 17, 1958, p. 2

    hyles.JPG
     
  13. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Well, the years I gave are from the "official biography" by his daughter, so I don't know what to tell you. No doubt there are other errors in the book.

    As for the newspaper clip, it doesn't contradict the narrative I gave, since it was the same year. When a preacher had a SOTL conference, they were often one of the speakers. The incident I referred to was an invitation from Rice to Hyles to preach in some else's church in a SOTL conference.
     
    #13 John of Japan, Jan 5, 2021
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  14. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    Before going on, here are some quotes from an article by Rice in the SOTL of 3/30/79, "Some Questions for King James Fans." This is the year before Rice's death, and it shows his view of inspiration and translation had not changed during his 60 some years of ministry. (See my above entry on his view in the 1940's.)

    "We love the King James Bible. We use it in all our sermons, our books and pamphlets published in millions of copies, in the weekly SWORD OF THE LORD. We recommend it as best for daily use. We have memorized some thirty chapters and thousands of other verses in it...."

    "But there are people who fanatically insist that the King James Version was perfectly translated with no errors; if there is a single error in the translation we have no trustworthy Bible. They say God is obligated to have such a perfectly translated Bible which is exactly true to every word of the original autographs. They are wrong, foolishly and perhaps ignorantly wrong, and they are often guilty of railing and unchristian talk and foolish, slanderous statements."

    "Where in the Bible does God guarantee that any translator of the Bible, anyone who copies the Bible, anyone who preached the Bible, or anyone who teaches the Bible, will be infallibly correct? (paragraph) There is no such Scripture. The doctrine of infallibility of the translation in the King James is not a Bible doctrine; it is a manmade scheme by some partly ignorant and some partly influenced by bad motives. But unless you can answer this question, don't write me about it, nor approach anybody else about it."

    "It is a sad thing that those in some heresy often err greatly in matters of righteousness also. They write mean letters; they make slanderous charges; they ignorantly jump to conclusions about people; they have suspicions and innuendoes. No, if a man is a good enough Christian to be right on the matter of inspiration, he ought to be a good enough Christian to control his tongue. The Bible says plainly: 'Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.' -- Prov. 22:24, 25."
     
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  15. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    he was definitely neither KJVO or that translations are inspired!
     
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  16. rlvaughn

    rlvaughn Well-Known Member
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    Hopefully not to stray too far from your theme, but Jack Hyles pastored here in East Texas, including our county seat town -- all before my time. So that has been an interest to me, which caused me to research that a bit. Jack Hyles’s pastorates in East Texas were Marris Chapel Baptist Church (aka Morris Chapel) of Bogata, Texas; Grange Hall Baptist Church in Marshall, Texas; and Southside Baptist Church of Henderson, Texas. The latter two still exist as Southern Baptist churches. I am not sure about the first. He also attended East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas.
     
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  17. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    The standard position of fundamentalists before 1970 was that inspiration applied to the original manuscripts, and by extension, it was the Bible in the original languages that was authoritative. Translations, even the KJV, were not considered to be the final authority for the Christian. Translations could have errors.

    John R. Rice never changed his position an iota. Here is what he wrote in 1975: “The fundamentalist position is that God gave the very words of Scripture in the original manuscripts. That is, literally ‘verbal inspiration,’ word-for-word inspiration.”"
    John R. Rice, I Am a Fundamentalist, 79.

    Concerning Peter Ruckman, Rice considered him to be "a nut," a phrase he used to refer to preachers who went off the deep end on some issue or doctrine. He used it for a certain missionary to Japan named Timothy who went off the deep end in several areas. I was once at a church on deputation where the pastor told me Timothy had just been there. Timothy showed the pastor a letter from Rice saying, "Dear Tim: I have instructed my secretaries not to open anything from you. However, there is a new girl who did not know that and opened your last letter to me. You are still a nut. Sincerely, John R. Rice."

    The title of one chapter in the book quoted above was, “Be a Fundamentalist, But Not a Nut.” Rice wrote there, “When a Peter Ruckman sets out to say that only he and a few others in the world are right on the matter of manuscript evidence for the Bible and says that in the King James Version the translation itself was inspired of God and is without error…, and that all are modernists or hypocrites or ignorant who do not agree that the King James Version—even the translation—is inspired perfectly, then we know that that arrogant attitude, that calling of good men by bad names, shows the man cannot be trusted in doctrine.”
    Rice, I Am a Fundamentalist, 74.
     
    #17 John of Japan, Jan 6, 2021
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  18. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    The ultimate authority then should be the Hebrew and Greek texts themselves, correct?
     
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  19. John of Japan

    John of Japan Well-Known Member
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    The question then must be asked, at what point did Jack Hyles become KJVO?

    Contrary to the above, according to Hyles, he had always held the same position on the inspiration of the KJV, but did not reveal his position to Rice out of respect. He said in a lecture from the 1980's I believe, which was made into a book in 2002, “There were two or three things with which I did not agree with Dr. Rice, but I never told him.” One of those doctrines was that the KJV was an inspired translation which should never be changed or corrected.
    Hyles, Fundamentalism in My Lifetime, 152.

    I've already said that in the 1960's Hyles believed in quoting the original Greek as the authority even when it differed from the KJV. But according to the book I just quoted from, Hyles hid his KJVO beliefs from Rice as long as they preached together. At what point did Hyles change? I don't know, but probably some time in the 1970's. But then after Rice's death, there came a time when Hyles decided (for whatever reason) to go public with his KJVO views.

    In the official biography, the daughter of Hyles wrote, "In retrospect, my husband Jack and I have calculated that my father’s strong stand for the King James Bible began just before this attack. Dad began receiving different versions of the Bible in the mail regularly, and he grew tired of seeing men tamper with God’s Word and then making money from it. Dad decided to take a bold public stand about what he had always believed. It had become necessary for him to speak out for the King James Bible and against changing the Word of God.
    Cindy Schaap Hyles, The Fundamental Man, 333-334.

    The "attack" referred to here was the public accusation in 1988 that Hyles had a mistress. That's a whole big subject on its own, and I'm not going to get into it here. It would take a whole thread on its own.

    Thus, after the death of Rice, Hyles took a position directly opposed to his ostensible father figure, best friend, and mentor. One scholar said, “Hyles made the sole use of the King James Version a new fundamental of the faith, effectively rejecting Rice’s model of fundamentalism.”
    Matthew Lee Lyon, “John R. Rice and Evangelism: An Essential Mark of Independent Baptist Fundamentalism” (PhD diss., Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2019), 32.
     
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  20. Yeshua1

    Yeshua1 Well-Known Member
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    looks like He might have been guilty of having "dirty white lies", eh?
    How would Dr Rice have reacted if he had come clean?
     
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