I've Been Wondering

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Donn R Arms's picture

Always enjoy Kevin's take on the history of fundamentalism. I think he has evaluated Rice correctly. Humanly speaking, I owe a great debt to John R Rice. My Grandmother was saved at a Rice tent meeting in Waterloo, Iowa.

Donn R Arms

Rob Fall's picture

of "touch not the Lord's anointed" is an acid that corroded the influence of that wing of Fundamentalism.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..

JD Miller's picture

Kevin, thank you for the history lesson.  I was not aware of the Chafer/Rice controversy, but Rice's response helps me to better understand the "revivalist mindset" that comes from a certain segment of fundamentalism and why so much negative baggage comes along with it.  The sad part is that I fear that these revivalistic manipulators (Hyles etal) have done more to turn people off to evangelism than hypercalvanism has.

Jim's picture

I was unaware of Rice's position of:

The core of Rice’s argument was that effective evangelism requires a special, post-conversion anointing or infilling of the Holy Spirit, known as the baptism with the Holy Ghost (Acts. 1:5). This baptism with or in the Spirit is not identical to the baptism by the Spirit, which places believers into the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). Rather, the baptism in the Spirit is an enduement of power for service and especially for soul-winning

DavidO's picture

I'm not sure fools is a fair characterization.  Some people knew/know no other Christianity than the one in which they were converted and/or raised.  It's the "fish don't know they're wet" principle.  And if they take seriously (if apply misguidedly) passages like "Love believes, hopes, endures all," "Be wise as serpents but harmless," "Love covers a multitude of sins," etc, can you imagine intelligent people going the wrong direction?  

Robert Byers's picture

I am frankly flabbergasted to read someone assert that Dr. Rice  "deliberately divorced" the power of the Holy Spirit from sanctification.   That is completely false.  Dr. Rice strongly emphasized sanctification as a necessary pre-requisite for that power.  I heard him teach that in person many times.  It is entirely possible to disagree with Dr. Rice's position on the fullness of the Spirit, and many people do, but it should be done honestly rather than by completely mis-characterizing what he taught.





JD Miller's picture

Robert, I just reread what Dr. Bauder wrote.  Please consider this statement that he made about Rice's position on the Spirit's anointing/infilling:

It is obtained through obedience, pleading with God, and waiting upon Him.

I have seen this view in the revivalist approach before.  I read the biography of Reese Howels and this was very similar to his ideas.  Even though Howels did not use the money he raised for what he said he would do, it was overlooked because of results.  His idea of getting the Spirit's power by pleading, obedience, and waiting is much different than the idea of simply submitting to the Spirit and letting God use us through His power. 

The real problem that I see is that the revivalist approach gives much credit to the man for being able to "get" the Spirit.  I believe the Biblical approach is to give God all the glory for the power, recognizing that He could have used a rock instead of me, but that as I obey and grow in sanctification, I am better able to bring glory to the Lord by not resisting the Spirit's work in my life.

The simple way to say it is to suggest that the one is more of a man centered approach while the other is more of a God centered approach.  That does not mean that those who focus more on man's role are not concerned with sanctification.  Rather it is that the implications of the the teaching can lead to the elevation of the man by thinking that he had reached some special level of sanctification through his own works; therefore, we should overlook the sins he has not yet gotten victory over.

The more Biblical approach is to recognize that since God could use even a rock to cry out, He could use a sinful man and we should thus not excuse the sin for any reason.

Aaron Blumer's picture


Yes, I think these ideas are older than Rice. I don't doubt he did much to popularize them. But wasn't D.L. Moody pretty close in his view of things? I'm unable to cite the particulars, but I seem to recall a pretty strong emphasis from him on the whole special endouement ("anointing"?) with power idea.

... and isn't about 3/5 of it classic holiness movement teaching?


As for 

I am frankly flabbergasted to read someone assert that Dr. Rice  "deliberately divorced" the power of the Holy Spirit from sanctification

You misread him there. KB's point is that Rice taught that this particular special HS, soul-winning power is distinct from sanctification. He is not saying that Rice taught sanctification was separate from the power of the Spirit. (KB also sited a published source on that point. It's a bit reckless to characterize the observation as dishonest)

TylerR's picture


I have been reading Chafer's True Evangelism. I can understand why Rice was so incensed by the book. Chafer despised "methods" in evangelistic preaching. Consider this small excerpt:

Many serious men have concluded that to send out workers to plead with individuals in a miscellaneous congregation is not only embarrassing to the people thus approached, but is, in the majority of cases, a service which hardens and repels. Forced decisions sometimes follow such appeals. These, they observe, are usually premature and unintelligent decisions; for in such methods there can be no certainty concerning the conviction by the Spirit and no very definite dependence upon His leading. On the other hand, the many who have resisted the personal appeal have been hardened or driven away.

Public methods which embarrass any person or class of persons may be not only useless but intrusive. There is little gained by inviting all Christians in a public gathering to stand, thus forcing all others into a conspicuous position, causing them annoyance and creating an occasion for prejudice. It is not strange that intelligent unsaved people sometimes avoid meetings where these methods are employed. By adopting such a program the evangelist or pastor may be hindering the very work of God which he is attempting to do.

The sincere evangelist who fearlessly judges, before God, every method he employs -- judging them as to their exact value or possible harm in their influence on immortal souls -- will find that many methods in evangelism are more a habit than a necessity, or that they have been employed in an effort to produce visible results, rather than to create a means by which sin-burdened souls may find rest and peace through a personal and intelligent faith in Christ as Saviour.

Finally, consider the difference in the way an "invitation" was done by Chafer. Contrast it with the "methods" frequently employed by fundamentalists of a certain stripe:

The real value of public methods may be secured and many evils avoided if, after explaining the way of life and during a season of silent prayer, the unsaved are asked to accept Christ by a conscious act of the will, directed in definite silent prayer to God. Such a decision may then be greatly strengthened by an immediate public confession of Christ. The vital difference in question is, however, that such are then confessing that they have believed on Christ, rather than making a confession in order that they may be saved. After such an appeal, an opportunity should be made for personal conversation with any who believe they have accepted Christ by faith, or any others who may have honest difficulties. In this conversation the individual's exact understanding of the step may be ascertained and his faith strengthened. Such conversations may be secured early in an after-meeting, or by offering some attractive literature suited to beginners in the Christian life. When it is clear that an intelligent decision has been made, constant confession of Christ as a personal Saviour, should be urged along with the other duties and privileges of the new life.


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?

JD Miller's picture

Tyler, thank you for the Chafer quotes.  I want to get that book.  It sounds like he and I share a very similar view of the invitation.  It is really the difference between preaching and trusting the power of God to work in peoples lives vs preaching and then trusting the power of persuasion.  The power of persuasion can get some people to buy a "Sham Wow" or a Ronco food processor, but it takes the power of God to convert a soul from lost to saved.

JD Miller's picture

Don, thanks for the link.  After seeing that, I figured I'd better order quick before the price went up, but I decided to check with half.com first.  I got my copy for 75 cents plus $3.49 shipping.

Don Johnson's picture

JD Miller wrote:

Don, thanks for the link.  After seeing that, I figured I'd better order quick before the price went up, but I decided to check with half.com first.  I got my copy for 75 cents plus $3.49 shipping.

You saved THOUSANDS today, you ought to go out and treat yourself to something!


Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

jimcarwest's picture

I wholly agree with Chafer's approach to the invitation.  Thanks for citing it.


C. D. Cauthorne Jr.'s picture

Before everyone jumps on the Chafer bandwagon, let us remember that his influential Systematic Theology laid out the Biblical case for "easy-believism." Chafer's school (Dallas Theological Seminary) promoted a repentance-free salvation and led many prominent men down that particular road.

TylerR's picture


I cannot speak for Dallas Seminary, but Chafer certainly did not promote a repentance-free Gospel. He merely made repentance a part of believing. His was a distinction without a difference:

In the foregoing, an attempt has been made to demonstrate that the Biblical doctrine of repentance offers no objection to the truth that salvation is by grace through faith apart from every suggestion of human works or by merit. It is asserted that repentance, which is a change of mind, enters of necessity into the very act of believing on Christ, since one cannot turn to Christ from other objects of confidence without that change of mind. Upwards of 150 texts - including all of the greatest Gospel invitations - limit the human responsibility in salvation to believing or faith. To this simple requirement nothing could be added if the glories of grace are to be preserved. (Chafer, Systematic Theology, 3:378).

You cannot read Chafer's soteriology and come away with the concept of easy-believism. Read Chapter 20 in his soteriology for more on his views of the terms of salvation.

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?

Rob Fall's picture

It's been pointed out to me by a friend.  Chafer's book was first published in 1911-1919 .  As Dr. Rice was born in 1895, he was between 16 and 24 in the period.  So, the discussions Dr. Rice had with Moody Press in the late 40s was about Moody's reprinting of the work.

My friend wrote one reason for Dr. Rice's opposition was Chafer's position on the work of an evangelist as commonly understood.  My friend quoted

“The evangelist of the Scriptures is, without question, the messenger to the unevangelized, preparing the way for the pastor and teacher in his more constant ministry in the church. The evangelist, therefore, finds his fullest divine mission as a pioneer missionary to the hitherto unevangelized” (Chafer, 6).


Hoping to shed more light than heat..

josh p's picture

The charge of Chafer's "easy believism" is the normal ad hominem. He did not teach that just as Ryrie does not. 

C. D. Cauthorne Jr.'s picture

"To impose a need to surrender the life to God as an added condition of salvation is most unreasonable.  God's call to the unsaved is never said to be unto the Lordship of Christ; it is unto His saving grace.  . . . The error of imposing Christ's Lordship upon the unsaved is disastrous even though they are not able intelligently to resent it or to remind the preacher of the fact that he, in calling upon them to dedicate their lives, is demanding of them what they have no ability to produce.  . . . The most subtle, self-satisfying form of works of merit is, after all, found to be an engaging feature in this practice of applying to unbelievers the Lordship of Christ.  . . . Such notions are only human adjustments to God and resemble in no way the terms of divine adjustment, which first condemns man and rejects his supposed merit, and then offers a perfect and eternal salvation to the helpless sinner on no other terms than that he believe on Christ as his Savior.  . . . If the importance of attention to this wide difference between the saved and the unsaved is not appreciated and respected by the preacher, the fault is nearly unpardonable since the results may easily hinder the salvation of many souls.  Next to sound doctrine itself, no more important obligation rests on the preacher than that of preaching the Lordship of Christ to Christians exclusively, and the Saviorhood of Christ to those who are unsaved."  (Chafer, Systematic Theology, 3:385-387) 

C. D. Cauthorne Jr.'s picture

Chafer's concluding thoughts in his Systematic Theology, Vol. 3:

"In the preceding pages it is also pointed out that the New Testament declares directly and without complication in at least 150 passages that men are saved upon the sole principle of faith; and, in this connection, it has been demonstrated that it is not a matter of believing and repenting, of believing and confessing Christ, of believing and being baptized, of believing and surrender to God, of believing and confessing sin, or of believing and pleading with God for salvation, but it is believing alone." (Chafer, Systematic Theology, 3:392,393)

Each of us can draw our own conclusions as to whether or not such a teaching led to modern-day "easy-believism."  Chafer does not believe that there is any connection between salvation and the decision to turn from one's sin or to make Christ the Lord of one's life.

josh p's picture

So you don't believe in depravity? That is what Chafer is talking about. That has nothing to do with "easy believism". 

Mark_Smith's picture

in any way except in minute by minute decisions to choose to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and the commands of the Word of God. Making Jesus Lord isn't a one time decision. Turning from sin isn't a one time decision...it is life. I do it better some times and not so good at others.



TylerR's picture


It's a rainy day and I'm killing time until I have to go off to work. Thought I'd share this excerpt from Chafer's True Evangelism, where he continues his relentless attack against "methods" in evengelistic preaching;

It is also clear that the transcendent undertaking of salvation is wholly a work of God, since its every phase depends upon a power that surpasses the whole range of human strength. Because of this, the condition of salvation is reasonable, which demands only an attitude of expectation toward God. In preparation for this, the blinded and self sufficient person must not only be so wrought upon that he will want to be saved ; but he must see his utter helplessness apart from the power of God and the sacrifice of the Cross, and this, in spite of the blinding and opposition of Satan who energizes him (Eph. ii. 2). Who is sufficient for these things ? Surely not the eloquent preacher or the pleading evangelist! God alone is sufficient ; and He has fully provided for the necessary preparation of mind and heart in the all-important conviction of the Spirit (p. 66-67).

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?