Dr. John R. Rice and The King James Version

A while back Bob posted on the KJVO Debate Blog about John R. Rice and The King James Version. (Here is a brief bio of Rice.)

Many an independent fundamental Baptist (IFB) is King James only. Most IFBs respect that old-time evangelist of The Sword of the Lord fame, John R. Rice. What some IFBs don’t know is that he was against KJV-onlyism.

Here is a link to a scan of a March 30, 1979 issue of The Sword of the Lord which includes an article by Rice entitled “Some Questions for King James Fans“. I think his questions are still pertinent to the debate today, what about you?

[HT: The Unauthorized Version]

For more on Rice and the KJV issue, see this article by Bob Ross.

Many extreme Fundamentalists still hold Dr. Rice in very high esteem. I’ll not fault them for doing so. Few, however, are bold enough to admit that their hero was not King James Only, and that he did use other translations of the Bible.

There is at least one church that does so, because, on this particular church website we see the following:

Dr. John R. Rice used other versions of the Bible. He also believed in the Gap Theory. Not only this but associated with heretics, and with other denominations that teach “damnable heresies.”

Whatever else may be said about the stance of Amazing Grace Baptist Church, at least they are honest in their portrayal of Rice as being one who was NOT KJVO.

Laurence Vance quotes Rice, saying:

John R. Rice recommended the ASV in his 1969 book on the Bible and claimed that the ASV “corrects some mistakes in the King James Version.”

And again:

In Rice’s book Our God-Breathed Book–The Bible, he faults the RSV for being a liberal translation while at the same time praising the ASV.

D.A. Waite, one of the champions of King James Onlyism said:

Dr. John R. Rice stated: “The differences in the translations are so minor, so insignificant, that we can be sure not a single doctrine, not a single statement of fact, not a single command or exhoratation, has been missed in our translations.” (meaning the English Revised Version of 1881 or the American Standard Ver- sion of 1901)

John R. Rice was one of the stalwarts of Fundamentalism back in the time when Fundamentalism was at its heights. The fact that he was a Fundamentalist and not King James Version Only should cause today’s Fundamentalists to consider the fact that KJVO’ism is not one of the Fundamentals of the Christian faith.

12 comments for “Dr. John R. Rice and The King James Version

  1. Michael Shanlian
    June 24, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    I attended Midwestern Baptist College from 1972-76. The founder Dr. Tom Malone was a good friend and preached around the country with John R. Rice. I had the opportunity to meet John R. Rice and I was also close to Dr. Malone. My wife worked as his secretary at Emmanuel Baptist Church. I can collaborate the fact that both of these men were KJVO in the way it is taught today. Without Dr. Malone Midwestern has become a KJVO institution along with many of its alumni. Dr. Malone used the KJV and in his later years defended the KJV against some of the more liberal modern translations. To my knowledge he did not believe that a Christian had to read the KJV to be saved and did not label non-KJVO's as heretics like many of the radical KJVO proponents today. Doc Malone was a very intelligent man and had two earned doctorates, a ThD. in theology from Bob Jones and a PhD. from Wayne State University in Detroit. He loved the KJV but also realized that no translation in any language other than the original original languages could be 100% accurate in translating every ancient word into modern syntax without some discrepancies and disagreements among grammatical theological scholars.

    It is one thing to for an individual to prefer the KJV but another when they denigrate every other version and those who use them. We should discuss and debate these discrepancies but never attack the intelligence or character of those who disagree with us. We are to worship and honor the God of the Bible not the Bible!

  2. Michael Shanlian
    June 24, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Correction in my post. I can cllaborate the fact that neither one of these men were KJVO as it is taught today.

  3. June 24, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Michael,
    Thanks for your comments, and thanks for participating here. I appreciate your input in many ways.

  4. June 24, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Thanks Michael. Someone else also mentioned that originally Midwestern Baptist College did not stand for the KJB exclusively. This matches what I've heard of Jack Hyles and Hyles-Anderson College too. Back when the NKJV was being produced, there was a buzz on campus that Hyles had been asked to be on the review board. He was going to accept that, until he heard Falwell was on it too, then he soured on the idea. It was only later in the 1980s, I believe, that Hyles became KJV Only. Dr. Rice died in 1980 and his influence kept many from KJV Onlyism, I would think.

    Great post, Jason. Thanks.

  5. June 25, 2010 at 5:33 am

    It is interesting that Dr. Curtis Hutson, John R. Rice's successor, was on the North American Overview Committee for the NKJV. It wasn't until the current president of SOL that the editor of the paper became strictly KJVO.

    What is sad, for me, in this discussion, is that the whole thing underlies the primary problem with Fundamentalism – shallowness and inbreading. During the 1950s, there was only 1 viable alternative to the KJV and that was the RSV. The RSV had some liberal tendancies and so conservative pastors warned their flocks against using it, in favor of the old standard. As fundamentalism secluded itself from the mainstream more and more, and isolated itself from education, newer generations of pastors did not have the depth of education (or discernment) to evaluate the newer translations and simply looked back on the precedent (or 'traditions') of their heros in the prior generations. Burning the NASB today is not the same as railing against the RSV translation of Isaiah 7:14 was in the 1950s. As more and more pastors become Bible Institute and watered down Bible college trained, they no longer have the ability to reason critically. Many of them are only trained to parrot the traditions they have been handed.

  6. Michael Shanlian
    June 25, 2010 at 6:02 am

    Amen! I was in that camp for many years. Twenty years ago I went to help a Dallas grad start a church. He mentored and inspired me to break away from my legalistic and anti-intellectual world view. I just recently finished my Masters degree from Liberty Theoligical Seminary at age 56 and have been accepted by SATS (South African Theological Seminary) into their D.Th program. It is sad when I speak to the current Administration at Midwestern. They have a condescending and critical attitude about any Seminary or Bible college that allows critical thinking or challenges their narrow theological views. I am so grateful for this blog that exposes the brain washing tatics of many Ultra Fundamentalists who naively believe they are the only remaining arbiters of truth!

  7. June 25, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    It is interesting that Dr. Curtis Hutson, John R. Rice’s successor, was on the North American Overview Committee for the NKJV. It wasn’t until the current president of SOL that the editor of the paper became strictly KJVO.nnWhat is sad, for me, in this discussion, is that the whole thing underlies the primary problem with Fundamentalism – shallowness and inbreading. During the 1950s, there was only 1 viable alternative to the KJV and that was the RSV. The RSV had some liberal tendancies and so conservative pastors warned their flocks against using it, in favor of the old standard. As fundamentalism secluded itself from the mainstream more and more, and isolated itself from education, newer generations of pastors did not have the depth of education (or discernment) to evaluate the newer translations and simply looked back on the precedent (or ‘traditions’) of their heros in the prior generations. Burning the NASB today is not the same as railing against the RSV translation of Isaiah 7:14 was in the 1950s. As more and more pastors become Bible Institute and watered down Bible college trained, they no longer have the ability to reason critically. Many of them are only trained to parrot the traditions they have been handed.

  8. Michael Shanlian
    June 25, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Amen! I was in that camp for many years. Twenty years ago I went to help a Dallas grad start a church. He mentored and inspired me to break away from my legalistic and anti-intellectual world view. I just recently finished my Masters degree from Liberty Theoligical Seminary at age 56 and have been accepted by SATS (South African Theological Seminary) into their D.Th program. It is sad when I speak to the current Administration at Midwestern. They have a condescending and critical attitude about any Seminary or Bible college that allows critical thinking or challenges their narrow theological views. I am so grateful for this blog that exposes the brain washing tatics of many Ultra Fundamentalists who naively believe they are the only remaining arbiters of truth!

  9. Tim
    August 27, 2010 at 3:22 am

    I agree except the primary problem being inbreading…a little off the mark or tongue in cheek…not sure which one here

  10. August 31, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Tim -nnI hope you understand that by ‘inbreeding’, I’m not making a personal slander. Rather, some folks refer to IFBs as ‘inbreeding’ in the sense that IFBs don’t receive any theological training outside their own self made Bible colleges and institutes. Their ‘scholars’ have doctorates conferred upon them by other churches, etc., so they never grow or interact with other ideas. We are all sharpened by adversity/challenge/etc, but in many cases, an IFB education is more an indoctrination into the traditions of IFB movement, rather than an education. Any pastor with a modestly big church will have a PhD conferred upon him by the Bible college operating under some other church within his movement – this makes him a scholar? That is what I meant by ‘inbreeding’ – I don’t mean to appear to be defaming, slandering, or blaspheming any of the good IFB folks by any means.

  11. Jeffbaity
    September 6, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Many of the current defenders of the KJVO position do not know what they believe, only what they have been told by other preachers. It’s amazing how men are willing to allow other men’s convictions to guide them as their polar star. It also amazes me how far many f the leaders are willing to go in order to keep the peace. Many do not agree with the right turn of fundamentalism, but they will not publicly say so for fear of being called out, or branded as opposed to the KJV. I have never seen so many lions in the pulpit who turn into lambs in the real world. Rather than stand against the extremes (like Ruckman, and his allies) they beat their drums about the KJV and make the extremists think they are on their side too. This veiled hypocrisy is nauseating to me.rnrnThe attempt to redefine the fundamentalist movement is being done in the name of preserving the “old paths”, but the fundamentalism of today is not the fundamentalism of the late 70′s. There is a new wave, that calls itself “old.” If John Rice were alive today, he would not be able to preach with the men who claim to be his heirs.

  12. September 8, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Jeff,nThanks for the comment. Our blogging is a little slow right now, but we do hope that our efforts here will be helpful in showing what true Fundamentalists should believe. The Bible is important, and we love the KJV. On the other hand, we cannot truthfully deny the Word of God in other translations. Neither do we see separation over English translations as helpful.nPlease return and talk with us. We would appreciate your input.

Leave a Reply