Tuesday, November 8, 2011

John R. Rice and the Sword of the Lord; Part 1

And they cried, “The sword of the LORD and of Gideon!” -Judges 7:20

Some of my earliest memories are of the magazine, Sword of the Lord, arriving in the mail and of my preacher dad poring over it. He often used some of the material in his sermons. As I grew a little older we would practically fight over who got to look it over first.

Some of my early convictions and beliefs were formed from articles in the Sword. We, however, also felt free to disagree with it, and did that as well.

Dr. John R. Rice was the founder and editor of the Sword of the Lord, founding it in the 1930s. Rice was a Southern Baptist preacher who eventually left the SBC to become an independent Baptist or a Fundamentalist. Rice never hesitated to reveal cases of liberalism in the SBC.

John R. Rice (1895-1980) was educated at Decatur Baptist College (now Dallas Baptist University), Baylor University, University of Chicago, and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He authored over 200 books and pamphlets. He was an evangelist and a personal soul-winner.

Some would subscribe, get mad at an article, cancel their subscription, then later give in and subscribe again. I recall one preacher who must have done that a half dozen times!

Many credit John R. Rice with having significant influence, though indirect, in the Conservative Resurgence in the SBC. Most every conservative SBC leader had subscribed to the Sword of the Lord through the years. Such conservative leaders include Adrian Rogers, Jerry Vines, Paige Patterson.

Since 1980 the Sword of the Lord has changed in some directions and is not what it used to be. Some years ago one of John R. Rice’s daughters wrote an open letter expressing the dismay of many at the way the Sword had changed. For example, the Sword of the Lord is now King James Only, a position never taken by Rice or his close associate Robert L. Sumner. Today the Sword is more separated from Southern Baptists. Rice used to often feature Southern Baptists authors, past and present.

Next article:
John R. Rice and the Sword of the Lord; Part 2

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, November 8, AD 2011.

Other Articles:

Brief History of SBC Conservative Resurgence

Deacons - Basic Baptist Doctrines
Ancient Wine and the Bible

Find other articles in lower right hand margin.


  1. David, thanks for your blog post! I am a grandson of John R. Rice, and you may be interested in checking out the book I published earlier this year through Chiara Press: "The Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family." Go to: http://swordofthelordbook.com/

  2. David, my dad also subscribed to The Sword, and followed JRR. I'm glad to see men of God like you still carrying the torch of the simple tried & true gospel message, like your dad did. I miss men of God like that. Modernism is so prevalent today, with quickly changing worship formats. Our church, www.willowbrook.org, a great church, has 1 traditional hymns only service, followed by 2 blended contemporary services. Check our stats, and I would venture to say we're baptising many. Our pastor staff is mostly from Texas.

  3. Andrew,
    Thanks for stopping by. I have your book. I've skimmed it, but plan to soon read it through. And, of course, being a grandson of John R. Rice, you are a part of royalty.
    David R. Brumbelow

    PS - Sorry I'm so slow getting back to you. I've been busy with my new book, been to the annual SBTC, had surgery... But I think I'm going to survive.

  4. Barry,
    Good to hear from you. Glad you're serving as a "foreign missionary" in Alabama :-).

    John R. Rice had an influence on many. Most all conservative Baptists can find the Sword of the Lord and John R. Rice somewhere in their background. I hope all readers will check out Rice's associate, Dr. R. L. Sumner and the biblicalevangelist.org; and subscribe.
    David R. Brumbelow


What do you think?