Bob Jones Sr.: "Billy, if you leave ...all you can amount to would be a poor country Baptist preacher somewhere out in the sticks"

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Alex Guggenheim's picture

BJ Sr.'s prediction:

Quote:
Billy, if you leave and throw your life away at a little country Bible school, the chances are you’ll never be heard of.

At best, all you can amount to would be a poor country Baptist preacher somewhere out in the sticks.

Observation at the blog:

“Given the network of fundamentalism, it was not an unreasonable prediction. But of course it turned out to be quite wrong.”

However, given what the Scriptures teach I would say BJ Sr. demonstrated a contempt for divine providence in his unwarranted prediction which is quite unreasonable for a man allegedly so mature in the faith. What a lesson for every student of the Bible.

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

I understand the modernist-fundamentalist divide.
I understand the fundamentalist-new evangelical divide.
I have trouble understanding the fundamentalist-fundamentalist divide which seems to be where we are at today.

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

I remember in my high school years being told that if I did not go to Bob Jones University, I would not amount to much. I did go to BJU but not for that reason. Then after going to BJU, I was told that I would not amount to much if I did not switch from BJU to another school.

I have not made Time Magazine's top religious leaders yet. If only I would have went to the right school :O

On a more serious note, even the best of men in ministry seem to resort to these abusive and controlling words in dealing with men they say they are concerned about. May the Lord help us to avoid this type of stuff.

Matt Walker's picture

Does anyone know the source of the famous quote? I've heard it. I think I may have read it in Graham's autobiography. I'm not sure there is any source outside of that. Is there a letter or a note that says as much that has been found? I'm not arguing that Graham is lying. I'm not saying Jones didn't say it. I'd just like to know the source of it.

Matt

ChrisS's picture

Having grown up in "the sticks", I sure wish I would have met a "poor country Baptist preacher" when I was younger. I wasn't properly introduced to the Gospel for 35 years, with nothing close to a Baptist church near the town where I grew up. I sure hope there are still men who aspire to be such a preacher, 'cause there are towns out there in those "sticks" with people who need to hear from them.

Jay's picture

Yes, I think it's from Graham's autobiography. I did a paper on BG in college for my Baptist History or Contemporary Theology class, and I remember reading that even back then and going "Wow" in my head.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

JobK's picture

ChrisS wrote:
Having grown up in "the sticks", I sure wish I would have met a "poor country Baptist preacher" when I was younger. I wasn't properly introduced to the Gospel for 35 years, with nothing close to a Baptist church near the town where I grew up. I sure hope there are still men who aspire to be such a preacher, 'cause there are towns out there in those "sticks" with people who need to hear from them.

Solo Christo, Soli Deo Gloria, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Scriptura
http://healtheland.wordpress.com

dan's picture

ChrisS wrote:
Having grown up in "the sticks", I sure wish I would have met a "poor country Baptist preacher" when I was younger. I wasn't properly introduced to the Gospel for 35 years, with nothing close to a Baptist church near the town where I grew up. I sure hope there are still men who aspire to be such a preacher, 'cause there are towns out there in those "sticks" with people who need to hear from them.

Yeah - my first thought was, "what about people in the sticks who need a poor baptist preacher?"

Of course, if your focus is on fame and fortune, you tend to have contempt for such people.

"Despair does not lie in being weary of suffering, but in being weary of joy."
G.K. Chesterton

JG's picture

It's not that I think Bob Jones was infallible or anything. He had as many flaws as anyone. But there's not enough here to know what was really going on.

Just for example, if Billy Graham was being corrected for a bad attitude towards the rules and he was just running away from a tough situation, rather than sticking it out, the "you'll never amount to anything if you do this" might not sound so bad.

It's entirely appropriate to warn someone who suffers from "cut and run syndrome" that they run the risk of wasting the abilities God has given them. In those exact words? Maybe not, but I doubt Billy Graham would have claimed 100% perfect recall of a conversation 40 or more years earlier. He recorded the gist of the statement as he recalled it. Unless the conversation was recorded or someone was taking notes, I doubt anyone except the Lord can really be sure which exact words were used.

On its face, as a stand-alone statement, it's not very impressive, but we don't know the context, do we?

Fortunately, we don't really have any obligation to know the context and make judgments as to how good or bad a statement like that is. We have enough to do watching our own words and encouraging those around us to speak appropriately.

Matt Walker's picture

I wonder if you (Alex) read Graham's autobiography. I did, and as I recall he shows a great deal of contempt for Jones Sr. while also (surprisingly) showing some affection for Jones Jr. That's not what I expected. As this particular quote is published so often it seems to me to be fair to ask where it came from. If it is only from Graham's memory without any corroboration, then Graham's veracity comes into play. Remember that he was still a teenager when this is suppposed to have happened. I know that teenagers have selective hearing (I think that's what my dad called it). To so accurately quote word-for-word a statement like that seems difficult to believe, especially with the passing of so many years. We give Graham the benefit of the doubt because (1) Jones Sr. is not around to substantiate or refute it, and (2) because of what he became (if you appreciate the overall scope of Billy Graham's ministry).

I think that JG's argument is valid.

Moreover, I'm not sure it's such a good thing to be writing books like Graham's autobiography and quoting people who are dead and cannot defend themselves. That sounds more like gossip than anything.

Matt

Larry's picture

Moderator

Matt,

Check Dan Turner's Standing Without Apology. I think he documents it as being in a letter, but I may be mistaken.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Matt Walker wrote:
I wonder if you (Alex) read Graham's autobiography. I did, and as I recall he shows a great deal of contempt for Jones Sr. while also (surprisingly) showing some affection for Jones Jr.
I did and have given it as a gift to someone as well but that is irrelevant to the issue. But I do see where BJ Sr. demonstrated contempt for the providence of God in his poor comments to Graham, but hey, let's not discuss that, right?

Matt Walker wrote:
That's not what I expected. As this particular quote is published so often it seems to me to be fair to ask where it came from. If it is only from Graham's memory without any corroboration, then Graham's veracity comes into play. Remember that he was still a teenager when this is suppposed to have happened. I know that teenagers have selective hearing (I think that's what my dad called it).
So you recall your dad teaching you that teenagers have selective hearing but somehow at a more impressionable moment, in fact a pivotal one, you question Graham's ability to recall what he was told by BJ Sr? Priceless.

Matt Walker wrote:
To so accurately quote word-for-word a statement like that seems difficult to believe, especially with the passing of so many years. We give Graham the benefit of the doubt because (1) Jones Sr. is not around to substantiate or refute it, and (2) because of what he became (if you appreciate the overall scope of Billy Graham's ministry).
No we give Graham the benefit of the doubt because he has not demonstrated himself to be a liar and after over 50 years of ministry, whether one agrees with his views and practices, he has demonstrated the kind of integrity that far surpasses the lack of accountability by the Jones.

Matt Walker wrote:
I think that JG's argument is valid.
JG's argument is based in the objection that the context was not given, but it was, hence it remains invalid.

Matt Walker wrote:
Moreover, I'm not sure it's such a good thing to be writing books like Graham's autobiography and quoting people who are dead and cannot defend themselves. That sounds more like gossip than anything. Matt
Well by all means when there is nothing left we should moralize about something that frankly has not violated any moral standard. History is not always flattering. Too bad for Bob Jones Sr. on this occasion. Billy Graham no doubt could have recalled the event in much more unflattering terms but he did not, he demonstrated grace.

Hey but don't let me stop you from rushing to research "Standing Without Apology" in your stated concern for corroboration.

Dan Burrell's picture

A stunning statement in private by Bob Jones, Senior was to be followed up by an even more stunning statement by Junior. There was obviously something simmering beneath the surface with Graham and the Jones.

From Time Magazine around 1966....

Bob Jones Jr. denounced Graham as a false teacher who "is doing more harm to the cause of Jesus Christ than any living man."

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,941981,00.html#ixzz1Luo...

I once had a college professor corner me and tell me that he would follow me for my entire ministry giving me bad recommendations and that "no man in America will ever hire you" because I accidentally signed up for two ministries that met at the same time as a freshman "poor country boy" who was the first in his family to ever attend college. I had to drop one and the intimidation was long and hard when I chose this guy's ministry to drop. I called my dad feeling that my ministry potential was ruined forever and he just laughed and told me to let the Lord take care of it all.

Abusing one's position to manipulate and intimidate are hardly virtuous methods for leaders in ministry.

Dan Burrell Cornelius, NC Visit my Blog "Whirled Views" @ www.danburrell.com

Don Johnson's picture

Dan, I'll not debate Dr Bob's statement with you, but, on the whole, would you say that Billy Graham was a net plus or a net minus to the cause of Christ? Would the Christian church be better off if Billy had stuck to farming in North Carolina?

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Dan Burrell's picture

Don...I will leave that up to the Judgment Day to be revealed and would suggest that you do the same.

Dan

Dan Burrell Cornelius, NC Visit my Blog "Whirled Views" @ www.danburrell.com

Don Johnson's picture

Dr. Bob Jr. for his statements?

Apparently Billy Graham is exempt from judgement, but not Dr. Bob Jr?

So if I must refrain from judging, assessing, discerning, evaluating Billy Graham, I would suggest that you do the same for Dr. Bob Jr.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

JG's picture

Alex Guggenheim wrote:
Billy Graham gave us the context, you are ignoring it. Your appeal to not believing Bob Jones Sr. was not infallible (i.e. God) is no valid appeal at all. Your prejudice is not disguised by this.

A rather ignorant statement.

1. Graham gave us the part of the context that he remembered and from the perception that he remembered it by.
2. I have no pro-Bob Jones prejudice. The man was dead long before I knew anything about him. I had the opportunity to hear his son preach and teach a few times. I don't see any reason to make my assessment of his son's qualities public. I had the opportunity to learn that there was much good but also some bad in how they decided to run their school. But I never knew anything about the man, really.

If as suggested the statement was in a letter, that still doesn't tell us the personal context of what led to the letter. It would tell us more about Bob Jones, though, because in a letter you have the time to pick and choose your words and reflect on what they convey, no matter what the context. If you don't consider your words carefully, you at least reveal pride or carelessness.

Not that it matters, Alex. You are free to judge as you see fit, in regard to both Bob Jones Sr and me. It doesn't gain you or me anything that you do, but it doesn't really damage me in any way, nor does it seem likely to have much impact on Dr. Jones any more. Smile

Dan Burrell's picture

Don....you will not bait me into a mindless exchange when everyone who reads this board knows that you will reflexively defend all things Bob Jones. I think the statements speak for themselves. Everyone is free to draw their own conclusions.

Dan Burrell Cornelius, NC Visit my Blog "Whirled Views" @ www.danburrell.com

Don Johnson's picture

Dan Burrell wrote:
Don....you will not bait me into a mindless exchange when everyone who reads this board knows that you will reflexively defend all things Bob Jones. I think the statements speak for themselves. Everyone is free to draw their own conclusions.

Dan, I am not trying to draw you into an argument. Just trying to get you to see that you are being inconsistent.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Dan Burrell's picture

I'm not being inconsistent at all. You have no idea what I feel about Billy Graham. I was thinking about something last night however as I live in the Charlotte Metro region -- home of BGEA and within 2 hours of BJU.

In the four churches where I've served as a pastor in the last 28 years, I'm guessing conservatively that I've had at least 30 people who were active in those churches who specifically trace their salvation to an intersection with a Billy Graham crusade or TV broadcast. The number I've had tell me that they trusted Christ as a result of a Bob Jones evangelistic outreach. Zero.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, if you ask 10 people on the street what they think of Billy Graham, I'm estimating that 7 out of 10 would say something positive. The other 3 would spout pure unmitigated venom because they hate the Gospel and thus hate Graham. None of them would say a word about his "associations". None. He is judged purely on the Gospel and his evangelistic ministry and his public reputation as it relates to his role as an evangelist.

If I were to ask the same 10 people what they think of Bob Joneses, probably two of them would say "who?". The remaining eight (because BJU is relatively well known in these parts) would give a one-word answer -- "Racists". Sad, but an accurate reality in this neck of the woods.

Fair or not to Bob Jones, ignorant or not of the dangers of ecumenicism, I find this interesting and I do not believe that I am exaggerating or misstating what I would find to make a point.

I'm more in line with Franklin Graham than Billy Graham and my public identity -- a part from those who view me askance from the far right of fundamentalism -- would probably be more frequently associated with Bob Jones' brand of fundamentalism than Billy Graham's brand of Evangelicalism (though I would not consider either an enemy, nor want to be identified as in either of their orbits). However, if we leave the fundy plantation from time to time and consider the broader impact of these two ministries -- could we not agree that God has used BG more than Dr. Bob, Sr. anticipated and that truly, Dr. Bob, Jr. was way off on some sort of rhetorical tangent when he declared him to be "doing more harm to the cause of Christ than any living man"?

Billy Graham should be held accountable for his words and his associations as should the Bob Jones's (and the Dan Burrell's and everyone else). Peter certainly was. Yet, God sovereignly chooses to use us for His glory and the good of others. Any time we get into the game of comparison and competition with the family of God, we cross a line. Disagreeing on non-doctrinal issues does not need to make us adversaries. It may simply make us in disagreement. Would any here suggest that Graham is actually some sort of agent of Satan? Should we not rejoice that God chooses to use us in spite of ourselves? Paul seemed to have a keen appreciation for that.

Any way....I guess I did get drawn in. My bad. Probably all I did was harden opinions and stir up unnecessary feathers.

Dan Burrell Cornelius, NC Visit my Blog "Whirled Views" @ www.danburrell.com

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

FWIW, there's another way to read BJ's advice to BG.... the "you'll never amount to much if you leave" advice. Consider this: BJ saw that BG had a great deal of leadership potential and realized that backwoods obscurity would not be the best use of his abilities.
(Of course the leaving part just has to do with what he saw as the value of the school he founded. Anybody who doesn't feel that way about the school he founded should, well, unfound it.)

I say this as a guy who ministers in (very) small town Wisconsin. There's no shame in "the sticks" if this is where you belong, but there is shame in it if it isn't so... it's not a simple matter of whether to pursue "fame and fortune," but employing your skills where they are going to be best used. But even that isn't the whole story because "best used" can be very hard to determine in the long run. Sometimes the real impact of a man's ministry comes a generation later or is not seen at all in the earthly eyeballs way.

As somebody put it, there are no small places, only small people.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Don Johnson wrote:
Dan, I'll not debate Dr Bob's statement with you, but, on the whole, would you say that Billy Graham was a net plus or a net minus to the cause of Christ? Would the Christian church be better off if Billy had stuck to farming in North Carolina?

I can't speak for the church in general, but for me personally, I'm thankful that through Billy Graham, Christ was preached. My dad was saved when Billy Graham preached in Viet Nam during the war. When he came home, we tried about every kind of church there was until we got a visit from a local independent fundamental Methodist preacher. Had we not started at that church, maybe I would have never accepted Christ as my savior. God used all of those events in my family's life, Billy Graham included.

I certainly won't defend all of Billy Graham's false doctrine, associations, with unbelievers, etc., but I stand with Paul when I say "notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice."

Dave Barnhart

Don Johnson's picture

No, certainly I rejoice in the gospel he preached and the souls that were saved.

But that isn't the question I asked. I asked if Billy's ministry was a net plus or a net minus for the cause of Christ, since Dan brought up Dr. Bob Jr's criticism of Billy in those terms.

The response was interesting.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Jim's picture

Quote:
I asked if Billy's ministry was a net plus or a net minus for the cause of Christ

  • God will judge this
  • If one says "yes" (how could he know?) some could say ... he's a BG supporter
  • If one says "no" .... other way
  • Same would be with this question: "Who has contributed more to the cause of Christ: BG or BJ Sr?"
Don Johnson's picture

Jim,

I am not so interested in finding out who is on who's side. I am attempting to point out that people are quite willing to be judgemental when it comes to the Joneses, but its "hands off" for Billy. That's inconsistent and highly selective.

And please note, the thread started with the mention of Dr Bob Sr's comments to BG as BG remembered them... then Dan brought up Dr Bob Jr. Why?

I don't think your last question is one we can safely answer, I agree. And Dr Bob Jr's statement uses superlative language, so as such is debatable.

But I think that a lot of the weakness and failure of evangelicalism can be laid at the feet of Graham and his cohorts for bringing in the compromises with liberalism and worldliness as they did. Whether he is the person singly most responsible, it is undeniable that the evangelical approach from the 1950s on has his fingerprints all over it.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

RPittman's picture

I wonder where there's any sense of objectivity among educated gentleman? And to think that I have defended SI and its posters against those accusing it of bias.

One only needs to read the threads a little to quickly see that some posters always polarize to one side or the other. The is a noticeable trend to defend CE's and denigrate Fundamentalists.

My take on the quotation under discussion is this: Dr. Bob was trying to keep Billy from quitting and giving up. He was evidently discouraged, as often happens to college students, and Dr. Bob was telling him that quitters don't amount to much. It seems that BG was looking for an easier way out than continuing to face the academic rigor of BJC. I've done a similar thing to what Dr. Bob was apparently doing here. When students wanted to drop a hard course or find an easier school, I would advise sticking to the task. It's a character-building matter. One of Dr. Bob's famous quotes was, "Finish the job!" It was sound advice and wisdom of the era.

It is reasonable to question the accuracy of the quote especially after fifty years. Like much in history, it is not exactly as it is told because our memory fades and plays us false, our recall is selective and biased, and the context cannot be precisely recreated. Thus, all the wise commentators on this item are simply blowing smoke because they apparently have failed to weigh in the factors of memory recall and personal viewpoint.

Memory is not stored as a single unit in the brain. Rather it is broken apart and connected with various associations for reassembling upon recall. With the changing associations of life experiences and thoughts, memories are altered so that upon their reconstruction the memory may differ from the original incident. A large period of time between recall and the original storing results in greater distortion than one frequently recalled and reinforced through associations. Even though BG may not be known as a liar, his recall of an incident this insignificant so long ago is suspect. Furthermore, we are all subject to recall memories in a favorable light to ourselves. BG is subject to all of the human procivilities just like the rest of us.

Finally, we don't know the context. Any thinking person knows that much meaning of language comes from the immediate context of physical presence, tone of voice, and body language. Why is it so difficult to communicate subtle nuances through digital communication? Why do we need LOL, JK, emoticons, etc.? So, how can we sit fifty years later and accurately judge the context and connotations of a quoted statement with questionable accuracy?

RPittman's picture

Dan Burrell wrote:
I'm not being inconsistent at all.

Any way....I guess I did get drawn in. My bad. Probably all I did was harden opinions and stir up unnecessary feathers.

Yeah, Dan, you need to balance things a little more. There's no question where your bias lies. We, including myself, need to temper our prejudices with things from the other side. Perhaps you could find something nice to say about Dr. Bob, Sr. Did you know him or is it all hearsay?

RPittman's picture

Dan Burrell wrote:
A stunning statement in private by Bob Jones, Senior was to be followed up by an even more stunning statement by Junior. There was obviously something simmering beneath the surface with Graham and the Jones.

From Time Magazine around 1966....

Bob Jones Jr. denounced Graham as a false teacher who "is doing more harm to the cause of Jesus Christ than any living man."

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,941981,00.html#ixzz1Luo...

Dan, do you know there was something personal between Graham and the Jones, or is this simply your guess? Regarding Dr. Bob, Jr.'s statement, I think he was referring to Graham's ecumenicism as being the precursor paving the way for Antichrist. It seems that Graham said something in a similar vein when he once said that a certain WCC meeting was going to elect the Antichrist. Thus, BG was once part of the same ethos.

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