Dr. Robert Sumner passed away in December 2016. The Biblical Evangelist newspaper is no longer being published and the ministry of Biblical Evangelism has ceased operation.

The remaining inventory of his books and gospel tracts was transferred to The Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles and may be ordered here.

Book Reviews
Editorial unless noted


ISLAM EXPOSED by Floyd C. McElveen; Big Mac Publishers, Sylacauga, AL; 35 Pages; $4.95, Paper

The author calls this “Islam 101 and what it means to America. Are we in danger? Are Muslims a threat to our freedom?” We will call it “Islam in a Nutshell.” McElveen studied a dozen major books on Islam and, because he feared the average person might not wade through even one of them, summed up what he felt were their major points in this little booklet. It is pocket/purse size.

We do not give chapter numbers above because the Index instead gives 24 summary headings, some of which are only paragraphs in length – in some cases two to a page. For example, “Myth #1 – Islam is a Peaceful Religion,” “Myth #2 – Sharia Law + Religious Policy” (it has been misrepresented to us as ‘religious’ law, but it is not), “The Hadith,” “Sharia Law,” “Sharia Law in Practice,”  “‘Moderate’ Muslims,” “Dirty Bombs,” “Terrorists Training Camps,” “Educating America,” and three different steps of action folks can take.

Does ‘Islam’ mean peace, as some claim today? No, it means ‘submission’ and those who do not submit are worthy of torture and death says the Qur’an. Examples of how this spells out in real life: Those who reject Islam are “the vilest of creatures” and thus deserve no mercy (Qur’an 98:6). And from Holy War: Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers, smite at their necks.

The author emphasizes the persecution of Christians by Islam, both real and horrible (it is called ‘religious cleansing’). He quotes others to show that of the 1.3 billion or so Muslims worldwide, some ten to fifteen percent “are hard-nosed terrorists, which equates to about 200 million extreme terrorists.” What he says about Muslim terrorist camps right here in America, is shocking indeed. Training in terrorism and killing starts for Muslims in childhood.

All through the exposé, the author’s burden is to reach precious people entrapped in this wicked religion for Christ. McElveen is first, last, and always an evangelist, a true ambassador for Christ.

Obviously, it doesn’t contain the material a big book on the subject would, but it is a valuable primer course. We urge you not only to read the booklet, but to get copies to share with others.

*     *     *     *     *

THE SWORD OF THE LORD: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family, by Andrew Himes; Chiara Press, Seattle, WA; 5 Parts, 28 Chapters, 312 Pages; $15.99, Paper

The author has divided his material into five major sections, the first and last both two brief chapters, with his main thesis in Part II (“Revolution, Slavery, and War,” 6 chapters); Part III (“Launching the Fundamentalist Movement,” 10 chapters; also where the ‘bad’ part starts); Part IV (“Revive Us Again: Fundamentalism in Mid-Century,” 8 chapters).

If ever I wanted to write a favorable review of a book, this is it. On the other hand I must be fair to my readers and evaluate it as honestly as I know how. Some of it will be favorable; some will not. [Editor’s Note: Because of my long association with the Rices, I sent Andy a prepublication copy of this review. He also received critical comments about the book from relatives and friends. This meant that he is making many changes in the final publication, due out May 15. Rather than rewrite the review, I am leaving mine as I wrote it, just making notes like this one in brackets to observe where he has made changes. I do not always know what the changes are, just that some are made.]

In a nutshell, this is how the author, a grandson of the illustrious John R. Rice, founder of The Sword of the Lord and a proficient author, himself evaluates this book: “… my intention is to explore the roots of fundamentalism in America in a critical, thoughtful, and honest way, using the history of my own family of Baptist fundamentalists as a rich source of insights.” He adds it is not intended to be “an exposé of fundamentalism or a polemic against fundamentalism.” And his favorite definition about the movement, which may explain a lot that is found herein, is George Marsden’s “A fundamentalist is an evangelical who is angry about something …”

Fundamentalism began long before John R. Rice and The Sword of the Lord magazine, of course, but Himes limits his major study – after a long examination of his Scotch-Irish ancestry that consumes from one-fourth to nearly one-third of the book – to the era of his famous grandfather. Himes notes ‘fundamentalism’ seems out of favor today and that not many Google searches will bring up the word “fundamentalist” in evangelical publications, referring especially to Falwell’s Journal.

That is true. The word is in disrepute, thanks to the media calling every nut from Jim Jones to David Koresh a fundamentalist. Can you blame many today from shunning the term? I still refer to myself as a Fundamentalist, but quite often feel I must explain what I mean by the term.

Speaking of Falwell, we feel Himes errs in thinking “Rice was looking for ways to further promote [Jerry] Falwell as his successor.” As close to a decade before his Homegoing he was still uncertain about whom it should be – to my personal knowledge he asked two different key fundamentalist leaders, both on our board at Biblical Evangelism – if they had suggestions about a successor. He eventually choose his son-in-law, Dr. Walt Handford, to succeed him (an excellent choice in my judgment) – but what happened there has been told elsewhere on these pages in days gone by.

I, personally, found the book very sad. Here is a young man, trained in the Word of God with the very finest of evangelical roots, ending up as a pathetic individual without any apparent foundation on which to stand.

The author tells his readers plainly he is no fundamentalist. His self-description, at the time of his grandfather Rice’s funeral: “… I had left home to attend the University of Wisconsin in Madison. There, I had immediately joined demonstrations against the war in Vietnam and in support of the civil rights movement, thus confirming all of Granddad’s fears that Madison was an incubator of rebels and radicals. While my brother trained to be a missionary to Japan, I trained to be a proletarian revolutionary and overthrow the imperialist bourgeoisie. I had worked in the steel fabrication plants and foundries of Birmingham for several years, organizing strikes, passing out revolutionary literature, and building up my arrest record.”

Describing how he hit bottom, while apparently still in high school, he wrote:

I wrote reams of angry poetry, nihilistic short stories, and pretentious essays. I grew my hair and affected a uniform of baggy sweaters and blue jeans. I smoked Tareytons and worked for Eugene McCarthy’s campaign for president. On Saint Patrick’s Day I got drunk on two pitchers of green beer, smoked several fat brown cigars, came home at midnight, rousted my dad to unlock the kitchen door for me, passed out in the La-Z-Boy recliner in the living room, and then woke up an hour later vomiting all over myself.

That’s really living, right? Sin is so much fun!

But then he added, “I ended up as much a Maoist failure as I had been a Christian failure … Before I graduated from high school, I had lost my faith in the fundamentalist God I had been trained to worship and serve. Now, at the age of 30, I had lost my faith in the secular gods of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and Mao Zedong. I had smashed into a brick wall that was both ideological and theological, and had no idea how to move forward. I was no longer part of the communist movement, and my life no longer had any meaning or direction. I was just beginning to understand that in moving from Christianity to Maoism I had merely traded one form of fundamentalism for another.”

Following that he nearly lost his life in what he admits was a disguised suicide attempt, entering a motorcycle race without any experience (he crashed after 30 yards).

Let me say at the start of the review that this book is interesting, well-written, and shows an abundance of research. It will also make you weep over the misguided conclusions this brilliant young man made as he headed down the irrational rebel trail. He apparently rejects the scientific accuracy of the Bible and endorses higher criticism – at least such is the idea we got in our careful reading of The Sword. We also think he is confused in some of his conclusions of history and the church.

Himes started every chapter like a sermon, with a text – imitating the preacher his grandparents and parents prayed from his birth he would become. Sometimes they are verses from the Bible and sometimes quotes from sermons or other literature. The only requirement seems to be that the passage contain the word ‘sword’! While this is not always true after chapter 11, he followed that style most of the time even then.

He has what I found to be a vexing habit of trying to explain why he thought Rice did certain things, including becoming a national evangelist, moving from Texas to Wheaton, and other major decisions. I think he is right on target on some and whistling in the wind on others, trying to make them fit his own ideas of ecumenism and a social agenda. A favorite expression about his grandfather is “he saw himself as …”

I came to the conclusion, after carefully reading the entire book, that the eyes of Himes are wide open to real and/or imagined faults over the years of fundamentalism and fundamentalists, but seemingly deaf, dumb and blind to the faults, say, of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Civil Rights movement over the same period. He rightly decries the evils of war, but ignores the wickedness that prompted armies to seek to right the wrongs.

In one place Himes asks, “How could it be that Martin Luther King, Jr., a fellow Baptist preacher, was a modernist and socialist, not a true Christian?” That is dead easy to answer: not everyone calling himself a Baptist is a true Baptist just as someone calling himself an alien from another planet (and we’ve had them) is not a true alien. As for him being a modernist and not a true Christian, King repudiated at least one of the cardinal, foundational doctrines of the Bible and its Christian faith, the Virgin Birth. End of discussion.

Himes has one full chapter, “Race and Fundamentalism in the South,” which he opens by an incident in his dad’s church with a Negro visitor that apparently triggered his dad getting fired. Then most of the remaining chapter had to do with a 14-year-old white girl nearly a century earlier (1913) who was raped and strangled. The sensational and lurid trial – Himes thinks a black janitor was responsible, but a Jewish manager (whom Himes thinks was innocent and he is probably right on both counts) – was tried and found guilty, but a lynch mob broke into the prison and captured him, then hung him to the nearest tree. We couldn’t figure why Himes put this in his book, unless to prove some southerners hated innocent Jews more than guilty blacks!

Regarding King, Himes repeatedly, or so it seems, puts down his grandfather – and others – for opposing him and giving as the reason that he was black. Well, his skin color wasn’t my reason and I doubt it was for other fundamentalists either. I opposed him because he was a denier of the faith (I read his vicious attack on the Virgin Birth; owned the book, in fact), a boozer, an adulterer (one of the most respected journalists of the time reported both his escapades with women not his wife and Lyndon Baines Johnson’s entertainment listening to taped recordings of his carrying on). I did not feel he should have the respect of good people. I still don’t think so.

[At our office we had our employees work on Martin Luther King Day and gave them a paid day off to observe a “George Washington Carver Memorial” day. Since Carver’s birth date is unknown – he was born a slave – we observed it as a day to honor all blacks, the day the Civil War ended, on April 9.]

Himes even asks, “Why did my granddad preach that God was opposed to integration?” We are not aware that he did. [This has been changed to his granddad being opposed to “the civil rights movement and the struggle against racial segregation.”]

Rice’s main teaching on the issue is found in his booklet, Negro and White: Desegregation, which he described as “Principles and Problems Stated Moderately and Lovingly from the Bible Viewpoint.” He also called it “A Plea for Patience, for Moderation and for Less Agitation and Pressure While Good Men Work Out Problems.” Written before a lot of the conflict and confusion took place, we considered it a sane and moderate look at the problem. Himes did not.

Rice’s first point was “The Races Are Equal Before God and Before the Law,” emphasizing that all races were of “one blood” and pointing out there would be “no distinctions in Heaven on the basis of race and color” since God is “no respecter of persons.” He highlighted the fact that “race hatred is wrong,” no matter whether it was white hating black or black hating white. He pleaded, “We should not mistreat colored people because socialists and communists are interested in the desegregation fight” – and he obviously sincerely believed the latter were the ones behind it.

Because the situation in America was being ruined by agitators trying to move things too fast, Rice felt more time should be taken to accomplish the goals and get the desired results. But that is not claiming God was opposed to integration. In fact, such a thought was nowhere found in the booklet. Rice’s conclusion was, “When I preach the Gospel and get somebody saved, I have done far more good than if I preached on race problems. When I hold a great revival and stir a community for God and get people to be converted and live right, I do far more than if I got a law passed.” And that is the primary difference between grandfather and grandson: one wanted preaching on the subject and laws passed, but the other saw a far greater value in lives changed through redemption in Christ.

While Himes castigated Rice and others for not standing with King in his Civil Rights efforts (where the aims were, admittedly, for the most part commendable), there is not a word of objection from Himes about the filthy abuses that those in that movement engaged in, such as at Selma (AL). And most of King’s support was, indeed, just as Andy’s grandfather claimed, “… the wholly selfish and political attitude of the NAACP radical leaders, by socialists and communists, by modernist ‘do gooders’ who have no other gospel but questions of race and pacifism and labor unions.”

Mark Driscoll, if he ever sees this book, will be surprised to find that he is a closet fundamentalist (“a fundamentalist in everything but name,” “his theology, which is identical in almost every respect with older fundamentalists … although he adds a twist of Calvinism”). Alas, the language Driscoll uses while in the pulpit causes sailors to blush and some to wonder if he is even a Christian, say nothing of a fundamentalist. As I wrote to a defender of his language, “A foul mouth is NOT biblical. My dad said it was ignorance … done because the speaker was trying to be impressive and didn’t know the English language well enough to express himself forcefully … Driscoll should go back to school and learn proper English.”

[Himes responded, “I agree Driscoll’s language is offensive. However, my point is about his theology, not his language.” However, in my judgment language and theology cannot be separated in the evaluation of a man.]

Himes has obviously been drinking deeply from the wells of men his grandfather would call infidels. He seems to blindly accept what they have written while questioning the conclusions of evangelicals.

He speaks well of amillennialism as the dominant view of the Catholic church and Reformation leaders, but fails to mention that premillennialism was the only view of Christ’s followers for the first several centuries of the church (until the government got into the church with its corruption). And he compounds his error by saying, “British preacher John Nelson Darby concocted a new set of doctrines that became known as premillennialism” Obviously Darby didn’t invent premillennialism. Perhaps Himes was referring to dispensationalism, but Darby didn’t concoct that either, except perhaps in its final form followed by today’s fundamentalists. [Himes changed “new” to “revived an earlier”].

One of his big themes is evolution and he zeroes in several times on the Scopes Trial and William Jennings Bryan’s ending disaster there, just days before he died. He charges Bryan with using “survival of the fittest” to explain Darwinian teaching, then says, “The phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ was, of course, never used by Darwin in any of his writings, and Darwin would likely have been horrified by any such misapplication as Bryan suggested.”

Perhaps so, but the phrase was used by Darwin’s evolutionistic peer, Herbert Spencer (known as a Social Darwinist), and he based his use of the term on his understanding of evolution after reading Darwin’s Origin of the Species. So we don’t think Bryan is worthy of too much censure in the matter.

He also faults Bryan, “The Commoner,” for saying “… the teaching of evolution inevitably led to atheism, and when young people stopped believing in God they often became criminals, psychopaths, and communists.” You mean as Himes himself did? I think the latter proves the former.

In further fairness of Bryan against Himes’ charges, it is important to remember that Bryan, Scofield, Riley and other fundamentalists of that day whom he attacks in this area were overwhelmed by the almost universal and immediate acceptance of Darwin’s theories and were men not scientifically prepared to offer good answers. Himes fails to note that many of the very top scientists today agree with 6-day creation and a late earth.

In fact, for a time evolution-creation debates were popular on college campuses (I even participated in one at Vanderbilt University in Nashville), but no more. Why? Because the evolution professors got ‘whupped’ in almost every debate and they got tired of putting honorable tail between honorable legs and crawling back to their ivory towers of academia. Creationists could no longer find an evolutionist willing to debate them.

He quotes Clarence Darrow’s associate Dudley Malone as making a plea for evolution being taught in the schools by saying, “For God’s sake, let the children have their minds kept open.” This highly amused us because, now that evolution sweeps like a tidal wave through every level of our tax-supported public schools, creationism is denied even a peek through a crack at the door. For the most part, teachers are not allowed to answer the claims of the textbooks or even use the name “God.” Even “intelligent design,” which never mentions the name of any Deity, is a no-no in our public schools. And at any chance of creation being mentioned, evolutionists get up in arms and battle like the Texans at the Alamo. I guess it makes a difference whose foot the shoe is tight on, right? And regarding what they want to “let the children have their minds kept open” about.

However, no doubt about it, slavery seems to be one of the major gripes with the author. If anyone takes (or took) the southerners’ position, he was, indeed, worse than an infidel. Never mind that the patriarchs had slaves and that the biblical position was more one about a humane and fair treatment of them, and the idea that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other of America’s founders owned them is immaterial to Himes.

And he forgets that many blacks still approve of segregation, especially for themselves, when it comes to churches. I don’t fault a black for attending an all black church rather than attending my “lily white” one. I give him that freedom of choice. And, I suppose, he is willing to do the same for me. Nonetheless, at the same time, he is welcome at mine.

Regarding his grandfather, Himes says “… it proved to be impossible to acknowledge the consequences of slavery, because to do so would be to admit to his family’s collective participation in a moral crime.” Perhaps Himes knew Rice better as a person, as his grandson (I’m sure he did), but I think I knew his ministry, as his official biographer and longtime coworker, better. And I can assure you that Rice would never have put his family above what he believed to be right. He had among the highest standards of any man I’ve ever been around. [Himes inserted here: and his region’s after ‘family,’ but that does not affect my comments.]

If Christians in bygone eras had slaves – or didn’t oppose the idea even if they didn’t personally have any – they were anathema to Himes. Now it just so happens that we are opposed to slavery. Always have been. But that doesn’t mean that we were somehow evil and wicked if we didn’t go to Selma and march when MLK issued the call or go to Washington for his “I have a dream” speech. Himes saw the problem as primarily a northern/southern problem and if you were a northerner you took his position, but if you were a southerner, you excused/justified putting down blacks.

It just so happens that I was born and raised in New York – and you can’t get much more ‘northern’ than that! It is also true that my early Christian ministry was not southern, but in northern Illinois and southern California. May I also add that in my postgraduate high school year (I graduated at 16 and looked considerably younger, making employment almost impossible, so I went back to school for an additional year – this was all before I was saved), one of my best friends was a black. We hung out together, spent much of our time in a pool hall shooting pool together, shared the same cigarette on occasion and neither thought twice about the other’s skin color. I was anything but a redneck segregationist.

But in the late 1940s I accepted the call to a church “deep in the heart of Texas.” It was a county seat town of six or eight thousand and most of my male members and new converts were roughnecks in the oil fields. It was a highly segregated area with blacks having their own “separate but equal” schools and churches.

Now Himes may think I should have rushed right in, tore the church apart, started a revolution in the community and become a pre-civil rights Martin Luther King. I didn’t! I don’t apologize for it. What I did do was treat blacks with the utmost respect. When we had a missionary from Africa, sometimes I made arrangements for him/her to speak at their church and sometimes I invited them to attend our church during a missionary conference. They did the latter several times, always politely sitting in the back of the church (I guess you would call it “segregation,” but I never requested that; it was their idea).

In addition, I sometimes spoke at their ladies’ missionary society events. We were wonderful friends. Madam President, on occasion, called my wife to say, “We sure does love your husband. He is just like one of us.” Maybe she meant I gobbled down all the brownies the ladies baked that I could get my hands on while they were putting the leftovers in a sack for me to take home. But we got along fabulously together.

This was a decade or two before Martin Luther King and his brand of ‘peaceful’ revolution hit the streets. I do not apologize one whit for my actions. If I had it to do over, I would do it exactly the same way; at least I cannot think of anything I would change. Was I a coward? Perhaps. But I also had more than two brain cells to rub together. I think I acted wisely, discreetly and biblically. I have no apology to make. And, yes, I had a wonderful ministry there for five years or so.

Yet Himes faults Rice for “his failure to criticize the Sherman Riot [he held a revival in Sherman a year after the riot with hundreds saved and started a new church] or to call for racial reconciliation or repentance for racial crimes can be attributed to some basic assumptions he must have made.” But Himes is making “some basic assumptions” of his own. In the first place, he doesn’t know whether Rice did or did not speak about it.

That was several years before Rice had his own voice, The Sword; he was not writing books at that time; and none of us knows much about it other than the crusade results. Since he later preached and published such messages as “America Gets Back Her Scrap Iron,” a strong indictment against what his own country did in helping Japan make bombs and planes to attack China, he may well have addressed the riot issue in Sherman. At least I don’t have any evidence to rule it out.

Himes goes after Rice’s friend W. B. Riley for anti-Semitic statements – and he did make several dumb ones – but Himes makes no mention about his later apologies for what he said, especially his endorsement of auto manufacturer Henry Ford’s Protocols of Zion.

One of his basic criticisms of his grandfather relates to his silence on the KKK and other issues of the sort. Why? First of all, Himes admits, because “his concentrated and only objective was to win souls to Jesus so they could be saved from a fiery eternity in the pit of a literal Hell.” And what was wrong with that? Of the two – eternity in Hell or freedom to use the same rest room with whites – wasn’t the former vastly more important? Yet nowhere in the volume do we recall Himes castigating men like Martin Luther King or Jesse Jackson for not trying to win souls and keep them out of an eternal Hell. Isn’t sauce for the goose good for the gander?

Speaking of being saved, Himes said of his own youth, “Once I was saved I would always be saved and could never be lost no matter what I did or how I failed.” While that is correct Baptist doctrine, it has to do with “once I was saved,” not “once I made a profession.” Regarding the latter the Word of God says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (I John 2:19). There is no security for unsaved professors of Christ.

The wealth of Billy Sunday, which he mentions several times, seems to trouble Himes greatly. However, he offers no proof for that wealth (“raking in cash by the truckload” “Sunday had damaged his reputation and lost most of his effectiveness because of his unfortunate attraction to money”) yet Grandfather Rice rose in Sunday’s defense time after time on this issue, calling it – and doing a good job of proving it – totally erroneous.

I am a poor one to defend Billy’s honor, but I was a guest of his wife, Nell “Ma” Sunday, in his home at Winona Lake (IN) after Sunday’s death. I saw no sign of opulence whatsoever. It was a very modest bungalow on a modest street in a very modest neighborhood. None of the trappings in or around the house indicated an aura of wealth.

He also faults Sunday for rejecting the social gospel and insisting man’s only hope was a regenerating experience through Jesus Christ. Put us down on Sunday’s side in this matter. The social gospel takes man directly to Hell.

While he repeatedly castigates his grandfather and others for “name calling” (about modernists, as infidels), he is not above the same. For example, he refers to Thomas “T. T.” Martin – a useful man of God who organized “the Blue Mountain Evangelists,” a widely used group of gospel singers and traveling evangelists – as “an overheated preacher.” We have no idea why. Yet Himes’ biggest objection was calling liberals “infidels,” even though Grandfather Rice explained that the word meant “unbelievers” – and those liberals did not believe Bible teaching about God, His person or His work. In our judgment, it was correct terminology.

Putting down the idea of liberalism in the SBC – he says his grandfather’s view was “a certain weakness in exposing and opposing modernism at all costs” – while SBC leaders “were a bit more interested in dialogue than confrontation.” The latter was certainly true and it didn’t work – as it never does – until the SBC finally became entrenched in liberalism, from their schools down. It was only as certain leaders used confrontation that the situation became better.

While he correctly notes that Norris/Rice et al failed to expel modernists from the Southern Baptist Convention (admitting there weren’t all that many in that day), they later succeeded big time in the latter part of the 20th century – with Bill Powell (the unsung hero in the matter), Adrian Rogers, O. S. Hawkins, Bailey Smith, Charles Stanley and others leading the way.

Talking about modernism produced what to me was one of the most amazing statements by Himes in the book. Referring to his grandfather’s decision to enroll at the University of Chicago, a very liberal institution, to seek a master’s degree in education, he concludes, “The very fact that he was feeling a strong pull away from the rigid orthodoxy [Himes changed to just “rigidity”] of the small churches in Texas where he had gown up, and the narrow cultural horizons of the Deep South.”

As his official biographer I can assure Himes that such an idea couldn’t have been further from Rice’s mind. A more logical conclusion, knowing Rice, was his desire to have a degree from a highly prestigious and accredited school to help him in his educational career, which he was pursuing at the time. No doubt he was confident in his own ability to answer any infidelity thrown at him by his professors at a liberal school.

One of the key passages for Himes against fundamentalists in his book is Mark 12:29-31, “And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”

His repeated quotes of this truth are always based on the theme of “love” for God and “love” for neighbor, which are true sentiments, but he ignores the fact that this practical command is based on a theological statement: the doctrine of God and the Trinity (two names for God are there in the original Deuteronomy statement, one singular and one plural, which has confused the thinking of Jews and other non-Trinitarians for centuries – yea, millenniums)! Social gospelers and higher critics ignore – yea deny – this truth, of course.

Nor is ‘love’ to be translated as ‘support.’ While we are to love our neighbor, we are not to support him/her in ungodliness and opposition to God and His Word. No good Christian, for example, could approve of what happened at Selma no matter how much he supported blacks.

Himes speaks of the controversy between his grandfather and Billy Graham, fairly and honestly noting the friendship and camaraderie they had in the beginning. As for the split, not surprisingly, he takes Graham’s side. However, he says that after the break, “Within 12 months The Sword of the Lord had received a barrelful of protest mail from subscribers disgruntled over the paper’s criticism of Billy Graham, and the Sword’s subscribers had declined by over a third from 106,000 to 66,000.” While that was true, it had bounced back to almost 300,000 by the early 1970s, as he notes later in the book.

Like many others who have misread the United States Constitution Himes sees a wall of separation between faith and government. That revered document, however, only says the government is to stay out of religion, not the other way around. In fact, for 100 or 150 years after its inauguration, preachers used their pulpits to endorse or denounce political candidates and political laws. That is a matter of history; it has been thus since the nation was founded in 1776, although it has been abused greatly of late. [Himes says I misunderstood him, that he “is in agreement that people of faith should bring their religion into the public square.” I came to my conclusion by what he said in the last half of chapter 24.]

And Himes confuses the biblical doctrine of separation (which has to do with matters of faith) with social and political matters (where men of different faiths can work shoulder-to-shoulder to bring about change). To him it appears they are one and the same; they are not, of course, and men who could not stand on new-ager Glenn Beck’s religious hallelujah program platform with arms entwined, could still work together to overthrow abortion laws.

As noted earlier, Himes offers documentation for almost every statement. That didn’t keep me from questioning a number of quotes attributed to Rice, however, and often when I questioned anything and went to the end notes (alas, hidden in the back of the book, “go hunt” fashion), it was attributed to Howard Edgar Moore and his Ph.D. dissertation, “The Emergence of Moderate Fundamentalism: John R. Rice and The Sword of the Lord” or some other source I was not familiar with and could not identify as friend or foe. In fact, Himes invariably uses what I would call ‘hostile’ biographers instead of quoting ‘friendly’ ones, although the title of this one by Moore suggests it might have been friendly.

Strangely, the first time he quotes Moore the latter says Rice received a check for $25 from his Uncle George, but when Himes quotes it the amount has been devalued to $20. While $20 was the right amount, it doesn’t say much for the scholarship of Moore. In another case, he quotes Moore: “When a local Baptist pastor named J. A. Ellis held a ‘mixed bathing party’ for the Baptist Young People’s Union, Rice denounced him by name from the pulpit.” The page number for that documentation was incorrect; there was nothing there or on the pages before or after.

When referencing J. Frank Norris, for example, instead of the six or eight or more friendly biographies – including the men that knew him best – Himes uses the one by Barry Hankins, God’s Rascal: J. Frank Norris & the beginnings of southern fundamentalism.

Himes even suggests Sinclair Lewis used Billy Sunday as his model for Elmer Gantry, a fictional evangelist that was “… a consummate hypocrite and fraud. He steals, lies, drinks, and cheats, all the while preaching against sin.” You may recall David Stokes suggested Lewis used J. Frank Norris as the model. Those in the know, however, as I pointed out in the review of Stokes’ book, insist he had no model, that it was a composite of a number of villains – an eclectic model if you please, based on no one living.

While only minor, obviously, Himes puts (sic) after his grandfather’s reference to Wisconsin University (instead of the University of Wisconsin), but he himself makes his share of blunders. Let me count some of the ways:

1. He refers to the “Bible Baptist College” in Springfield (twice, counting the Index. It is the Baptist Bible College).

2. He speaks of the Book of the Revelations more than once, putting an ‘s’ on the title, an inexcusable blunder for most Bible students.

3. When he speaks of his grandfather’s crusade in Binghamton (NY) he said it was to be “sponsored by the Fundamental Baptist Association in Binghamton.” No, it was to be sponsored by one local church, Grace Baptist Church, pastored by Rev. Fred R. Hawley. However, such a revival broke out they were forced to lengthen their cords and strengthen their stakes, renting a local theater (at $1,000 per month in pre-World War II days!), at which time they invited churches of a number of denominations to join – and they did.

[Himes said he corrected each point above.]

4. Himes also speaks of his grandfather’s “… attempt to revisit the extraordinary mass campaigns of Charles Spurgeon and Charles G. Finney” [Himes changed “campaigns” to “meetings”] saying Rice himself said it (he does not document this), but while Finney was a revivalist, Spurgeon was strictly a pastor who never held “mass campaigns” as far as we know. We can, perhaps, excuse Himes for putting these words in his grandfather’s mouth, because while Spurgeon never held mass campaigns, the enormous crowds he welcomed to his church were, indeed, “massive” crowds.

5. He lists J. Gresham Machen as one who “was originally from the south.” Actually, he was born and raised in Maryland, which is farther north than Lincoln’s Springfield (IL). Maryland even remained with the Union during the Civil War.

6. He claims that R. A. Torrey, one of the co-editors of The Fundamentals, said a Christian could “believe thoroughly in the absolute authority of the Bible and still be an evolutionist of a certain type.” What “type” is not explained. We immediately checked the source of that quote and found it was that well-known Torrey authority Edward J. Larson (who?) in his Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial, published well over 70 years after the Scopes Trial and about the same length of time after Torrey’s death (three years after Scopes).

Actually, Torrey was dead set against evolution although, likeother evangelicals of the day, he felt he had to come up with an explanation – for him it was the gap theory, totally discredited today. During the trial, the best evolutionary argument Clarence Darrow could produce was the Piltdown man – the rage of the evolutionists at the time, but later proved to be a fake and a fraud.

He could have added that A. C. Dixon, “once expressed his willingness to accept natural selection theory ‘if proved,’” which isn’t saying much. As noted earlier, fundamentalists at this stage of the game knew little about evolutionary claims or how to rebut them.

There are no pictures other than the cover which features a barely distinguishable John R. Rice astride his horse, MacArthur, with grandmother Lloys (whom the author loved devotedly – she was indeed an outstanding Christian woman) standing alongside. Also pictured is another man with a heavy beard, which may have been his great-grandfather Will Rice, of whom he speaks often, but not too kindly. The author himself is pictured (sans long hair) on the back cover.

As a footnote to this review, let me mention that earlier we read the statement he prepared for his father’s funeral, “On the death of my father and the nature of love.” We thought it was so good (and timely) we contemplated requesting permission to print it in The Biblical Evangelist, but never did.

I do not remember the author much from my days at Wheaton (I was usually out in meetings, but I’m confident my children probably do) and my recollection is mostly to recall him as “an angry young man.” He was living at home when I conducted meetings for his father and the Faith Baptist Church at Racine, but I don’t recall him attending a single service.

Himes closed his book by asking in the final chapter about whether the members of the Rice clan had changed their views. His own response was, “My aunts and uncles generally haven’t shifted their beliefs in the essential doctrines that defined the fundamentalist movement …” (emphasis added). We don’t think they have changed any in the area of essential doctrines, although they have probably grown in matters of race. Haven’t we all? Hopefully! [Himes deleted “generally”]

Sadly, there is no mention of the ‘rebel’ coming to the “end of the rebel trail,” although he is obviously not the rebel he started out to be. Pray that there may be full restoration to his fundamentalist roots – or at least to biblical evangelicalism.