Tag Archives: John R. Rice

John R. Rice on Tongues

I was more than a little surprised when an SFL reader passed along this excerpt from none other than John R. Rice who says very plainly that he doesn’t rule out tongues as being possible in the modern church.

Yes God May Give the Gifts of the Spirit Today, as He Chooses, Just as in Bible Times

Note that the blessed Holy Spirit gives certain gifts to people for the Lord’s service. Do I believe we can have the power of the Holy Spirit just as in Bible times? I certainly do. Nobody had all these gifts in Bible times and, of course, nobody can have all these gifts now in modern times. But, as far as I know, the New Testament churches were set up the same way, and the Bible teaching was the same, and the practices were the same as we ought to have now.

Yes, I believe in the fullness of the Spirit, an enduement of power from on High. I believe in the gifts of the Spirit as God gives them.

Now, here are some lessons, as you see in verses 8 through 10. What are these gifts of the Spirit in verses 8 through 10? To one, the word of wisdom; to another, the word of knowledge; to another, faith; to another, gifts of healing; to another, the working of miracles; to another, prophecy; to another, discerning of spirits; to another, divers kinds of tongues; and to another, interpretation of tongues — all these nine different gifts of the Spirit are mentioned here. Now, what are these gifts for and what about them?

Well, first of all, as far as I know these gifts are still available today. I do not mean available in the sense that you can ask for whatever you want about these gifts. The Bible never does teach that one can decide for himself what gifts to have. The Spirit divides “to every man severally as he will.”

It is true that the Scripture says, “The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” I take it that that must mean that some of these works of the Holy Spirit can be the property of every Christian but that one cannot necessarily decide for himself, except that all should seek to prophesy.

We are expressly taught to seek to prophesy. That means speak for God, witness for God, in the power of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 1:8 we are told, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me …. ” That part we are taught to seek. We are supposed to “covet earnestly the best gifts,” but we are never taught to covet the gift of tongues.

Now, are these gifts for today? They probably are. You would have to remember that they are not very often manifested even in the New Testament times. There is only one clear-cut case of talking in tongues in the Bible and that is in Acts, chapter 2. There are two other cases where languages are mentioned, but the Bible doesn’t say a gift of languages, and maybe it was and maybe it was not. No one has authority to say it was the miraculous gift of tongues since the Bible doesn’t say so. In the tenth chapter of Acts, in Cornelius’ case, and in the nineteenth chapter of Acts, that of a number of Christians at Ephesus, they talked in foreign languages. So let us just say that it was not very often that people had some of these gifts in Bible times.

John R. Rice,Speaking in Tongues

Now granted, Rice’s definition of “tongues” differs from that of most modern day proponents but I still wonder how many modern fundies would completely break fellowship with old John R. for not being a complete and total cessationist. Apparently, the Sword of the Lord who has published his book manages to ignore his belief in sign gifts just as well as they ignore Spurgeon’s Calvinism.

Cognitive dissonance is a beautiful thing.

The Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family (Review)

Whenever I start to read a book about personal experiences in Baptist Fundamentalism, I tend to approach it with a certain amount of anxiety. The reason for this is twofold: 1) a fear that it will not affirm my own experience and 2) a hope that the book will treat the subject matter with the correct balance of honesty and respectfulness. As a I read The Sword of the Lord by Andrew Himes, I realized that my initial nervousness was completely unfounded.  What I found was a history lesson that was both affirming and accurate but also warm and personal.

The Sword of the Lord is indeed a history book. As one might imagine, it contains the requisite amount of facts, figures and details as the author tells the story of how the ethos of an age and the events of the last two centuries spawned the religious movement that we now know as Baptist Fundamentalism. But through that larger narrative is woven a more personal tale:the story of the Rice family and how its influence shaped the person of John R. Rice (the author’s grandfather) who is, perhaps, more responsible than any other single individual for the shaping of modern fundamentalism.

Opening with a description of the immigration of the Scots-Irish, then continuing to the Civil War,  and then through the Southern Reconstruction and into the modern era, Himes tells the tale of fundamentalism in the South by drawing from his own family history and his own personal experiences as a young man. What emerges is a powerful narrative that puts a personal face on events that may otherwise seem distant. From R.A. Torrey and Billy Sunday to the “Texas Tornado” of J. Frank Norris, and then to John R. Rice, Bob Jones Sr., Billy Graham, and Jerry Falwell, the tale of  Baptist Fundamentalism gives a detailed analysis of  “how we got here” from the roots of historic fundamentalist thought.

Through the book, race plays a large role in Himes’ recounting of Fundamentalist history. Segregationist theology, KKK involvement, blatant racism, and outright hatred were part and parcel of the Southern brand of fundamentalism from which John R. Rice came. His was  a movement often more interested in “saving souls” than the practice of justice or mercy. Himes faces this awful truth with unflinching honesty but also is careful not to try to dismiss any individual as being “just a racist” choosing rather to show this evil in the context of the larger picture of both the movement and the individuals in it.

The story concludes as Andrew Himes gives us a look into the last days of John R. Rice as he stood sorrowing at the divisiveness and rancor within the fundamentalist camps and trying to pull warring factions back together into a common cause. Yet, his pleas for unity ultimately fell on deaf ears as the splits and divisions between the Sword of the Lord, Bob Jones University, Jerry Falwell, and Billy Graham created increased isolation and opened the doors to the fragmented fundamentalist circles that we see in the modern day.

The story of fundamentalism is an amazing tale full of blood and thunder, prophets and liars,  sinners and saints. But Himes gently reminds us that it is the story of real people as well — people like his grandfather, John R. Rice. He paints the picture of a man who was flawed and fallen but a man who loved people and loved his God in the same imperfect and struggling way that is common to all mankind. It is a personal story both tragic and glorious of  Fundamentalism and a family who has journeyed through it.

If you’d like to read it, you can check it out on Amazon.com

I received an advance review copy of this book for free through a generous offer from the author. All of the content of my review, however, is my own. Any disagreements anyone might have with my review will be settled the old-fashioned way: via flame war on the forum