Against "Secondary Separation"

In 1974, the evangelist John R. Rice wrote a book on separation entitled Come Out or Stay In. Most Baptist fundamentalists are familiar with Ernest Pickering’s book on the same subject, but few are aware that Rice contributed to the discussion. Fewer still are aware he took a dim view of “secondary separation.” In this excerpt,1 Rice states his position plainly:

There is a Bible doctrine of separation. There is not a Bible doctrine of secondary separation. What do we mean?

Define “secondary separation”

The Bible very clearly teaches that we should not give Christian recognition nor Christian fellowship to those who are “unbelievers,” the unconverted, but we should come out and be separate from them (2 Cor 6:14-18). The Christian should not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the way of sinners, not sit in the seat of the scornful (Psalm 1:1). He should “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them,” (Eph 5:11). The Christian should not receive into his house (or pulpit or college or denominational program or even church membership) one who has forsaken the Bible doctrine of separation.

We are also told that sometimes the actions and attitudes of Christians can be so ungodly and wrong that we ought not associate with them. So in 1 Corinthians 5:12 the church at Corinth was commanded not to have fellowship with the nominal Christian if he be “ … a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.” Also, Christians who rail and make divisions and strife cannot well be given warm Christian fellowship, and thus have their sin condemned.

I say, there is the Bible doctrine of “separation.”

But what is called “secondary separation” means not only must the Christian be separated from liberals, modernists, unbelievers, but he is to separate from anybody who does not separate enough from unbelievers. Those who insist on secondary separation say that if a man leaves the denomination because of some modernists in the denomination, then he ought also separate and break all fellowship with others who do not leave the denomination. If a Christian should separate and not take part on a program with a modernist, they say, then one should not appear on the same program with anybody else who has sometimes had some fellowship with the modernists.

Now, if The Sword of the Lord took that viewpoint, it would mean that since there are modernists among Southern Baptists and I cannot support their program, then I ought not publish any sermons by good, Bible-believing men who are still in the Southern Baptist Convention and who, thus, in some sense, may be thought to either support or condone or excuse the denominational program. That we do not believe. Because we may not agree on some matter of affiliation is not a reason necessarily for breaking Christian fellowship.

How we practice scriptural separation

We think that this editor’s position on following Bible rules about separation has been consistent through long years. Years ago when I found that to support the denominational program among Southern Baptists would mean supporting some modernists and some false teaching, I left the Southern Baptist Convention. I was not turned out; as a matter of conviction, I left that which I could not conscientiously support.

I did not break fellowship with born-again Christians, godly, spiritual, good men, among Southern Baptists. I still have had revival campaigns in some Southern Baptist churches. I still used Southern Baptist preachers on Sword of the Lord conference programs. I had Dr. John L. Hill, editorial secretary of the Southern Baptist Sunday School Board, and Dr. R. G. Lee, then pastor of the Bellevue Baptist Church, Memphis, as judges on the Sword of the Lord panel of book club judges. I preached in a revival campaign with famous Southern Baptist singer B. B. McKinney leading the singing, and he and I had some sweet fellowship. He came to my new home and helped dedicate it by having a song and prayer and Scripture in every room.

In The Sword of the Lord I continue to publish sermons by L. R. Scarborough, B. H. Carroll, George W Truett, R. G. Lee, W. A. Criswell, E. J. Daniels, Jesse. M. Hendley, Herschel Ford, and others. I published sermons by Dr. W. B. Riley when he was still in the American Baptist Convention, and I published his departing message when he left the convention. I published sermons by Dr. Bob Shuler when he was pastor of Trinity Methodist Church in Los Angeles, and we published three books of his. These men were noble, godly men who believed the Bible and won souls.

I have felt that they were slow to come to the conclusion that they ought to come out and separate from denominational programs supported by modernists and largely controlled by modernists. I felt free to say so. But I counted these good Christian men as good Christian men and I loved them and said so. I had fellowship with them because we were together on the main things – the great essential fundamentals of the faith.

Through the years we have felt a clear duty to love born-again Christians, people who had a holy devotion to Christ and the Bible and the fundamentals of the Christian faith and who tried to win souls. So we published a sermon on Hell by Colonel Brengle of the Salvation Army and another by Dr. H. C. Morrison. Though we did not agree to their teaching of entire sanctification, we did believe what they preached in those messages.

We publish messages by Dr. James M. Gray, president of Moody Bible Institute, and Bishop Ryle of England because they were noble, good men of God. We did not publish and did not agree with some of their Episcopalian viewpoints.

We publish many sermons by Charles H. Spurgeon, great soul winner and mighty preacher, though we do not agree with part of his Calvinism. We have published sermons by Dr. Carl McIntire, though we do not agree on sprinkling babies.

Again, let us make our position clear. This editor came out of the Southern Baptist Convention, refusing to support the relatively small number of modernists then in the program, when Dr. Carl McIntire was still in the Northern Presbyterian Church, Dr Bob Jones, Sr., was still in the Methodist Church and Dr. W. B. Riley was still in the Northern Baptist Convention. We were pressing hard against the liberalism in Fuller Seminary and trying to save it for the fundamentals of the faith when Dr Woodbridge was active on the faculty and before he came out.

We made our open break with modernistic leaders and programs when it was a lonely, hard business and not convenient or popular. We helped fundamentalists and gave them a platform and helped them wherever we could. With Dr. H. A. Ironside and Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., we worked actively in the organization of the National Association of Evangelicals. I was on the International Commission of that group when the executive secretary made a strong attack on Dr. Carl McIntire and I immediately resigned. I would not be counted against a godly fundamentalist.

I think that well-informed people all know that my position has been consistent and my voice has been clear in standing against modernism and against association and support of modernists and in defense of fundamental doctrine and fundamental brethren. I have tried to practice Biblical separation.

But I do not find what is called “secondary separation” in the Bible. I did not believe that Dr. W. B. Riley, organizer of the World’s Fundamental Association and fighting consistently for the inspiration of the Bible and the fundamentals of the faith, was a crook one day because he was in the Northern Baptist Convention (now the American Baptist Convention) and that he was a saint the next day after he announced his withdrawal. I think he probably should have come out sooner, but he was a good Christian trying to do right. He loved the Lord and believed the Bible. He was my beloved brother.

On this matter, let me say again as I have said before, I have tried to follow two Scriptures:

I am a companion of them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts (Ps 119:63)

Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations (Rom 14:1).

Notes

1 John R. Rice, Come Out or Stay In (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974) 217 – 221.

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

You have to draw them somewhere, and wherever you draw them there will be some individual cases that make the location of the line look absurd. (It's like the speed limit: why is 60 better than 61? Or the "age of majority": why is 18 better than 17.75?)

I don't remember the historical details now, but I believe there was a falling out between Rice and Bob Jones Jr. and that the degrees of separation were a factor in that. Maybe the primary factor.

AndyE's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I don't remember the historical details now, but I believe there was a falling out between Rice and Bob Jones Jr. and that the degrees of separation were a factor in that. Maybe the primary factor.

I used to have a little booklet, written by BJjr, entitled, "Facts J R Rice will not face" or something similar.  I loaned it to someone years ago and never got it back.  I think "degrees of separation" frames the issue the wrong way. I think you look at passages such as Romans 16:17-18 and ask, is this person or ministry causing divisions and offenses contrary to the apostolic doctrine? If so, then you have to avoid/separate.  The thing causing it may be direct false doctrine, or it could be giving Christian recognition to unbelievers, or it could be something else.  The question is not, how many degrees of separation, but is what this person doing -- will it cause damage to the truth of the gospel, or contribute to the spiritual downfall of others?

David R. Brumbelow's picture

I grew up (and still am) Southern Baptist.  I also grew up with John R. Rice and the Sword of the Lord.  It was a good combination, and it’s good to hear from him again. 

Separation is a difficult and ambiguous issue.  It’s also difficult / impossible to be consistent on separation.  I basically agree with Rice, and praise God for the Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention.  But I also thank God for the many conservatives who stayed in and fought and won the battle.  Rice, even though he was out of the SBC, still had a positive influence in the Conservative Resurgence because of his strong stand for the fundamentals of the faith.  I think most of the leaders in the Conservative Resurgence were subscribers to the Sword of the Lord. 

And thank God for our military on this 75th anniversary of D-Day.  

David R. Brumbelow

Don Johnson's picture

when a certain prominent evangelist started including modernists and resigned from his board, he took his name off the Sword masthead and spoke out against him

Rice didn't practice secondary separation in exactly the same way as others, but he did practice it regardless of his rhetoric.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

RajeshG's picture

2 Chronicles 19:1-3 

1 And Jehoshaphat the king of Judah returned to his house in peace to Jerusalem.

2 And Jehu the son of Hanani the seer went out to meet him, and said to king Jehoshaphat, Shouldest thou help the ungodly, and love them that hate the Lord? therefore is wrath upon thee from before the Lord.

3 Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.

Although Jehoshaphat was a godly believer overall, he made a wicked alliance with king Ahab (2 Chron. 18). After he had done so (2 Chron. 19:1), the prophet Jehu reproved him for his ungodly alliance and even declared that God’s wrath was on Jehoshaphat for his doing so (2 Chron. 19:2).

It is worth noting that in his rebuke of Jehoshaphat, Jehu also did acknowledge that there were good things in Jehoshaphat (2 Chron. 19:3).

This passage instructs us that we are to speak out against other believers who enter into ungodly alliances with evil people.

Joel Tetreau's picture

I agree with Don Johnson.... (I'm sure Don is as amused by that statement as I am - it's fun to agree with Don here... we don't always agree.... Smile )

Like Don ... It's clear to me John R. Rice did practice a kind of separation from other ecclesiastical leaders if/when their approach was too different in his view. 

I'll let Don speak to what degree he agreed/disagreed with Rice.

Actually I love much of what Rice was trying to do. Their was so much second and third and fourth level mud-throwing - my guess is Rice was tired of it... sick of it. I don't blame him a bit. I've be shocked over the years to find out how wide Rice was appreciated in other corners of the Evangelical tent. 

In one sense it's hard to compare today with then. Sure there are some things that are similar but the evangelical - fundamentalist divide and inter-relationship vs. non-relationship is so very much changed... it's almost a different ecclesiastical planet... at least in my view. 

My guess is many of us in the IFCA world would be less inclined to separate as often as Dr. Bob Jr. would have been in those days... and maybe a bit more than Rice was in those days.... but that's just my perspective.

Please don't tag anyone else with that.... 

Straight Ahead!

Joel Tetreau

Dr. Joel Tetreau serves as Senior Pastor, Southeast Valley Bible Church (sevbc.org); Regional Coordinator for IBL West (iblministry.com), Board Member & friend for several different ministries;

John Rice Himes's picture

A friend of mine noticed this thread and wrote me about it, so I thought I'd share the results of some surprising research I've done for a book I'm writing about John R. Rice. Almost two years ago I did research in the "John R. Rice Papers" at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where Dr. and Mrs. Dr. Paige Patterson were my kind hosts for lunch, and we talked about Rice and the conservative resurgence. Before that my son and I went down to Wheaton and did some research in the archives there. (Kudos to their great archivist.)

First of all, I learned that the break between Rice and Graham was far more complicated than I knew. It started in 1955 rather than 1957 as I thought. Until that time, the two men were close friends, with Graham actually asking Rice to mentor him in a letter from early in that year. (There had already been mentoring going on, beginning in 1948.) Graham had been asked to join the SOTL cooperating board probably in 1954, and he did so. 

In 1955-1956 several things happened to complicate the friendship. (1) Graham had his Scotland Crusade early in 1955, during which time he hung out with and asked for help from noted liberal John Sutherland Bonnell (something fundamentalists did not know at the time). Rice visited the campaign, and gushed about it in the SOTL, while Graham deeply appreciated that visit, calling Rice "my old friend." (See his autobiography, Just As I Am, 253.)

(2) Graham wrote Rice attacking Bob Jones, Sr., Rice's dearest friend (12/14/55 letter). Rice wrote back, gently chiding him for believing hearsay reports rather than going directly (12/7/55 letter).

(3) Graham wrote The Baptist Standard (4/7/56), organ of the Texas Baptist Convention, agreeing wholeheartedly with everything the TBC was doing, including storehouse tithing, an issue Rice was very strong against. Rice wrote Graham then, chiding him and asking him if he still agreed with the masthead of the SOTL, which said, "An Independent Christian Weekly, Standing for the Verbal Inspiration of the Bible, the Deity of Christ, His Blood Atonement, Salvation by Faith, New Testament Soul Winning and the Premillenial Return of Christ. Opposes Modernism, Worldliness and Formalism.” (For more on this incident, see the Farley Butler dissertation, "Billy Graham and the End of Evangelical Unity.")

I'll write more when I can, but I'm having a medical procedure tomorrow, and then my sisters are coming to visit.

"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31).

John Rice Himes's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

when a certain prominent evangelist started including modernists and resigned from his board, he took his name off the Sword masthead and spoke out against him

Rice didn't practice secondary separation in exactly the same way as others, but he did practice it regardless of his rhetoric.

Rice asked Graham if he still could agree with the SOTL masthead. Writing that he could not, Graham asked to b removed from the cooperating board. (He was not on the board of directors). Then Rice did go public concerning the 1957 New York Crusade, but did not speak out against Graham himself, only his new direction.

I don't consider this break to be secondary separation on the part of Rice, though you may disagree. Hopefully next week I can share excerpts from letters between the two men from the John R. Rice Papers at Southwestern. The two men remained friends, and kept in touch. I have heard Rice pray for Graham, something he did every day. Graham and his wife sent a huge, round flower display to John R. Rice's funeral in 1981. (They were in Europe at the time.)

"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31).

Don Johnson's picture

John Rice Himes wrote:

I don't consider this break to be secondary separation on the part of Rice, though you may disagree. 

John, I know you have way more insight into this than I do. I made my remarks in light of comments I read recently in a couple of books on the whole era, the Billy Graham issue, the rise of new evangelicalism, etc. The people I was reading are not as close to Dr. Rice as you are of course.

I will say that I don't think your grandfather would have joined Graham on a platform again after these things happened, would he? Though he cared for Billy, prayed for him, etc, there was a rift of some kind in terms of ministry cooperation. For many this is the definition of so-called "secondary separation" - for them, the only legit separation is breaking ties with unbelievers, primary separation. According to some, it is wrong to break off ties in any way with other Christians, so a break with Graham is considered by them secondary separation.

I should add, I for one would be very interested in any further information you would care to share on that point of history.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Rob Fall's picture

the kerfuffle wasn't over how JRR dealt with Billy Graham. It was over his dealings with those still inside the SBC and the Convention itself.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

John Rice Himes's picture

Hi, everyone. Thank you for the comments. My sisters have been here since Wed and just left, so tomorrow I should be able to interact with everyone. There were some very revealing letters in the "John R. Rice Papers" that will give light to the history.

"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31).

John Rice Himes's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

 

John Rice Himes wrote:

 

I don't consider this break to be secondary separation on the part of Rice, though you may disagree. 

John, I know you have way more insight into this than I do. I made my remarks in light of comments I read recently in a couple of books on the whole era, the Billy Graham issue, the rise of new evangelicalism, etc. The people I was reading are not as close to Dr. Rice as you are of course.

I will say that I don't think your grandfather would have joined Graham on a platform again after these things happened, would he? Though he cared for Billy, prayed for him, etc, there was a rift of some kind in terms of ministry cooperation. For many this is the definition of so-called "secondary separation" - for them, the only legit separation is breaking ties with unbelievers, primary separation. According to some, it is wrong to break off ties in any way with other Christians, so a break with Graham is considered by them secondary separation.

I should add, I for one would be very interested in any further information you would care to share on that point of history.

I'm curious as to the sources you are reading about that era. I'm wondering if they have access to primary historical accounts or are simply speculating. Checking the histories of fundamentalism by Rolland McCune, David Beale, Joel Carpenter (negative ag. JRR), and George Dollar (I only have the 1st ed.), I find no such speculation. 

For the record, I do believe that JRR would have sat on a platform with BG even after 1957. Here is what I base this on. While being a primary voice against liberalism in the SBC (see Paige Patterson, “Theological Drift," Southwestern Journal of Theology, Volume 54 Number 2), JRR continued to keep close ties with SBC conservative leaders such as W. A. Criswell. (In fact,  one attack against JRR by Bob Jones, Jr., in the 1971-1972 split, was that JRR hobnobbed with SBC preachers, using their sermons in the SOTL.) Now, remembering that BG was a Southern Baptist, I see no reason based on secondary separation why JRR would not sit on a platform with him well after the 1957 crusade.

So, what happened that he did not do so, if he were willing? First of all, from then on BG insisted that mainline liberals be included in his campaigns, including liberal pastors being on the committeees. To cooperate with these efforts, JRR would have had to cooperate with liberals himself, something he would not do. He was death on liberalism. So, JRR would not cooperate with liberals, and thus it would have been very difficult for him to sit on a platform with Graham, who insisted on liberal cooperation.

Again, after the open dispute on the 1957 BG NY Crusade, there occurred a letter writing campaign with 100s of letters by Bob Jones, Jr., and others on the fundamentalist side, and J. Nelson Bell (BG's father-in-law) on the New Evangelical side. I have not examined the letters by Jones, but have read a few in the BG Archives at Wheaton by Bell, and they could be nasty. I highly respect Bell for his work as a Presbyterian missionary in China, but he went way too far in defending his son-in-law. The letter writing campaigns by both sides poisoned the well, making it impossible for JRR to cooperate with BG, and vice versa.

For further information, in 1959 JRR was invited to Japan to speak to the missionaries under the auspices of the Evangelical Missionary Association of Japan. 

I hope this helps. Thanks for the interaction.

"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31).

Don Johnson's picture

I'm mostly basing my point on my reading of McCune. Too bad he recently passed, maybe he could clarify my thinking here!

On p. 53 of Promise Unfulfiled, after describing the break with Graham over support of the Cooperative Program, McCune says:

"A public rift between Rice and Graham developed. Graham resigned from Rice's board, his name was removed from the masthead of the Sword, and Rice wrote a number of articles that were anti-new evangelical and anti-inclusivist. For all practical purposes, the Sword turned anti-Billy Graham as well, although Rice tried to give the impression that he was not against Graham personally nor his crusade message of salvation in Jesus Christ alone. Butler observed correctly that when Billy Graham broke with John R. Rice over supporting the Cooperative Program, 'Graham severed his last tie with separatist fundamentalism.' This was far more than a personal thing. 'Graham would emerge as the chief public spokesman of the new evangelicalism, and the division of conservative evangelicalism that would follow.'"

The quotes from Butler come from Farley P. Butler, "Billy Graham and the End of Evangelical Unity," p. 160.

There is also a footnote to this on the same page which reads:

"This distinction by Rice that he would not separate from Graham because the evangelist was a Christian and winning souls eventually led to the controversy within the fundamentalist camp in the 1960s of 'degrees' of separation. Rice felt that he was not separating from Graham technically, but from modernists in his inclusivist campaigns. Rice's position on ecclesiastical separation was that one should only separate from modernists, cultists, and infidels (ie 1st degree separation), not from fellow Christians who do not separate from modernists (2nd degree separation)."

Hopefully I have avoided typos!

So all of that agrees with what you are saying, but the thing is for all practical purposes, Rice was separated from Graham. That's the point I guess I am making. I think perhaps Rice wasn't thinking this through completely, but that in effect, he would not join with Graham in any of Grahams endeavors going forward. 

I think all of the harder line fundamentalists would have been willing to renew relationships with a Graham who saw the error of his ways and repudiated his compromises. So I don't think their views were really all that different from Rice's.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

John Rice Himes's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

I'm mostly basing my point on my reading of McCune. Too bad he recently passed, maybe he could clarify my thinking here!

On p. 53 of Promise Unfulfiled, after describing the break with Graham over support of the Cooperative Program, McCune says:

"A public rift between Rice and Graham developed. Graham resigned from Rice's board, his name was removed from the masthead of the Sword, and Rice wrote a number of articles that were anti-new evangelical and anti-inclusivist. For all practical purposes, the Sword turned anti-Billy Graham as well, although Rice tried to give the impression that he was not against Graham personally nor his crusade message of salvation in Jesus Christ alone. Butler observed correctly that when Billy Graham broke with John R. Rice over supporting the Cooperative Program, 'Graham severed his last tie with separatist fundamentalism.' This was far more than a personal thing. 'Graham would emerge as the chief public spokesman of the new evangelicalism, and the division of conservative evangelicalism that would follow.'"

The quotes from Butler come from Farley P. Butler, "Billy Graham and the End of Evangelical Unity," p. 160.

There is also a footnote to this on the same page which reads:

"This distinction by Rice that he would not separate from Graham because the evangelist was a Christian and winning souls eventually led to the controversy within the fundamentalist camp in the 1960s of 'degrees' of separation. Rice felt that he was not separating from Graham technically, but from modernists in his inclusivist campaigns. Rice's position on ecclesiastical separation was that one should only separate from modernists, cultists, and infidels (ie 1st degree separation), not from fellow Christians who do not separate from modernists (2nd degree separation)."

Hopefully I have avoided typos!

So all of that agrees with what you are saying, but the thing is for all practical purposes, Rice was separated from Graham. That's the point I guess I am making. I think perhaps Rice wasn't thinking this through completely, but that in effect, he would not join with Graham in any of Grahams endeavors going forward. 

I think all of the harder line fundamentalists would have been willing to renew relationships with a Graham who saw the error of his ways and repudiated his compromises. So I don't think their views were really all that different from Rice's.

Aha. I see your point here. I did not see the footnote in McCune on that page. 

Unfortunately for McCune's good work, the John R. Rice Papers were not available when he wrote this in 2005. It was not till after that when the Rice sisters donated the papers. I first saw them on furlough probably in 2012 at Southeastern BTS when they were being collated by Dr. Nathan Finn. Interestingly enough, being collated in the same room were the letters of Francis Shaeffer! The Rice Papers were then transported to their final home at Southwestern BTS at the insistence of Paige Patterson. (Or so I've been told by a SEBTS prof; but Rice was a student at Southwestern, so I'm sure them being there was the wish of the family.) Side note: the little house JRR built for his family is just off campus at SWBTS. The seminary tried to buy it but the asking price was prohibitive. My mother was saved in a room in that house.

At any rate, in these archives are a letter from Graham apologizing for his article in the Baptist Standard that McCune referred to. Graham wrote, "If I had known that you were involved in a battle in Texas, I would certainly have consulted you before writing the letter to Dr. James. I would not do anything in the world to hurt yiou or hinder the work you feel God has called you to do" (Graham to Rice, 4/17/56). So, contra Butler as quoted by McCune, Graham did not "cut his last tie with fundamentalism" at that point. In November of that year, George Wilson of the Graham team wrote on official stationary asking if JRR would mind if they printed in tract form an article on BG and storehouse tithing printed in the SOTL of June 8. There was also a letter from JRR to BG on 4/26/56 suggesting that Graham could clear everything up by an article in the SOTL. (Unfortunately, I don't have the answering letter.)

As you say, all of this ended up in a state of separation between JRR and BG. Judging from the correspondence I've been doing research in, neither side wanted it. Nevertheless, it happened. But as I said, the letter writing campaigns by both fundamentalists and New Evangelicals (with neither JRR nor BG) participating, did great damage and widened the split. Graham refers to his father-in-law writing these letters in his autobiography, Just As I Am, but that is at home and I can't quote from it just now.

Some examples from the BG Archives at Wheaton College: Bell wrote Charles Cook on 4/8/57, "The fundamentalism which he [Jones, Jr.] represents in America seems devoid of Christian love and seems to feed on bitterness and attacks on Christian brothers if they do not agree in every particular" (Box 10). In a letter to Allen Scoggin on 1/27/58 (Box 10), Bell compares JRR to a "polecat" (skunk). On p. 2 of the same letter, Bell says, "These men with the spirit of the Pharisees of old will have much to answer for." There are others in the files, but these should show how the well was being poisoned in 1957 so that the break between Fundamentalism and New Evangelicalism was irrevocable. Call it separation, but the separation was just as strong on the New Evangelical side as on the Fundamentalist side. So whether or not JRR would have preached with BG after 1957 is only speculation.

"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31).

Don Johnson's picture

John Rice Himes wrote:

 

There are others in the files, but these should show how the well was being poisoned in 1957 so that the break between Fundamentalism and New Evangelicalism was irrevocable. Call it separation, but the separation was just as strong on the New Evangelical side as on the Fundamentalist side. So whether or not JRR would have preached with BG after 1957 is only speculation.

Thanks for those quotes. It is interesting and a sad commentary. I've heard that Nelson Bell fed the flames of the battling in those days. Graham, as I recall from Just As I Am, had an agenda to change the course of evangelicalism, so probably things would have fallen out pretty much the way they have anyway. But there were firebrands on both sides who heated things up to be sure.

Are you still serving in Japan? Just wondering. I think we corresponded privately a few years back when I was reading your brother's book.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

John Rice Himes's picture

Don Johnson wrote:

 

John Rice Himes wrote:

 

There are others in the files, but these should show how the well was being poisoned in 1957 so that the break between Fundamentalism and New Evangelicalism was irrevocable. Call it separation, but the separation was just as strong on the New Evangelical side as on the Fundamentalist side. So whether or not JRR would have preached with BG after 1957 is only speculation.

 

 

Thanks for those quotes. It is interesting and a sad commentary. I've heard that Nelson Bell fed the flames of the battling in those days. Graham, as I recall from Just As I Am, had an agenda to change the course of evangelicalism, so probably things would have fallen out pretty much the way they have anyway. But there were firebrands on both sides who heated things up to be sure.

Are you still serving in Japan? Just wondering. I think we corresponded privately a few years back when I was reading your brother's book.

Just in case you don't have them, here are great, scholarly books on the New Evangelical direction: The New Evangelical Theology, by Millard Erickson (1968, NE side), and Neo-Evangelicalism, by Robert P. Lightner (1965, Fundamentalist side). Both are available used on Amazon.

We retired from Japan five years ago, and I teach Bible, Greek, missions, Bible translation, etc. here at Baptist College of Ministry. My son, who has a Ph.D. from Southeastern under Greek scholar David Alan Black, teaches with me, and that is a huge blessing. Thanks for asking!

"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31).

John Rice Himes's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

You have to draw them somewhere, and wherever you draw them there will be some individual cases that make the location of the line look absurd. (It's like the speed limit: why is 60 better than 61? Or the "age of majority": why is 18 better than 17.75?)

I don't remember the historical details now, but I believe there was a falling out between Rice and Bob Jones Jr. and that the degrees of separation were a factor in that. Maybe the primary factor.

I had always thought that the two great issues in that split were the degrees of separation, as you say, and the definition of verbal inspiration (and I was at BJU in those days). However, in the JRR Papers is a letter from JRR to Bob Jones, Jr., dated Sept. 20, 1971. It was in answer to a previous letter from Jones in which Jones questioned the status of the relationship. While expressing hope that the friendship would continue, Rice wrote that he would no longer be promoting BJU, and would no longer go there to preach. There were four reasons given: (1) the separation issue; (2) the definition of inspiration; (3) the fact that Jones did not believe revival to be possible any more; (4) the formalism in worship espoused by Jones, something Rice strongly opposed.

"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31).

John Rice Himes's picture

Rob Fall wrote:

the kerfuffle wasn't over how JRR dealt with Billy Graham. It was over his dealings with those still inside the SBC and the Convention itself.

That was a big part of it.

"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31).

John Rice Himes's picture

AndyE wrote:

 

Aaron Blumer wrote:
I don't remember the historical details now, but I believe there was a falling out between Rice and Bob Jones Jr. and that the degrees of separation were a factor in that. Maybe the primary factor.

 

I used to have a little booklet, written by BJjr, entitled, "Facts J R Rice will not face" or something similar.  I loaned it to someone years ago and never got it back.  I think "degrees of separation" frames the issue the wrong way. I think you look at passages such as Romans 16:17-18 and ask, is this person or ministry causing divisions and offenses contrary to the apostolic doctrine? If so, then you have to avoid/separate.  The thing causing it may be direct false doctrine, or it could be giving Christian recognition to unbelievers, or it could be something else.  The question is not, how many degrees of separation, but is what this person doing -- will it cause damage to the truth of the gospel, or contribute to the spiritual downfall of others?

I found that booklet on Amazon and bought it for my research. Jones makes some strong points, but they are overshadowed by his harsh rhetoric and rumor-spreading.

 I think you have a valid point here. The disputes under discussion on this thread usually took place concerning the so-called "universal church," though they were not necessarily framed that way. However, I tend to be more of a local church man, and think that such things as the definition of "heretic" (division-causer), church cooperation in a local setting, etc., are more important than cooperation or separation in an institutional setting.

"Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Cor. 10:31).

TylerR's picture

Editor

In a week or so, I'll post another short excerpt from Rice's book about secondary separation. For more than that, everyone will have to buy the book!

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and an Investigations Manager with a Washington State agency. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

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