R. RICE'S REPLY TO DR. DAVID OTIS FULLER ON THE KJV
with an introduction and analysis by Bob L. Ross
It has been about thirty years (1975-2005) since Dr. John R. Rice (1895-1980) published his letter to Dr. David Otis Fuller in The Sword of the Lord, expressing his difference concerning Fuller's perspective on the King James Bible. Dr. Rice used the KJV and had a very high regard for it, but he was not in the mold of the phantasmagoria which was spawned in the latter half of the 1900's, referred to as "King James Onlyism." We stock and sell many of Dr. Rice's writings, and many of them present his attitude about the KJV and other translations; he took a stand against KJVOism and those who promoted it in its early stages. He opposed the views of Fuller, Peter Ruckman, E. L. Bynum and their followers.
The letter to the late Dr. Fuller, author of a couple of books which helped in developing KJVOism (Which Bible? and True or False?), was published in the November 28, 1975 issue of The Sword of the Lord, on pages 3 and 12, and it would have probably been buried there forever had we not called attention to it a few years ago. But in the summer of 1996, after watching the drift of the Sword toward the ditch of "King James Onlyism," I thought it was time that somebody at least should point out the departures being made from the original Sword's position under Dr. Rice when it had the "fire" in its masthead artwork.
Dr. Rice's successor, the late Dr. Curtis Hutson, did away with the "fire" [who knows why], and Hutson also was one of the first to take the rabbit path to "KJVOism." Along with Jack Hyles, Hutson jumped-on the Gail Riplinger bandwagon, and reportedly bought and mailed a thousand copies of Riplinger's book to preachers affiliated with the Sword. Hyles said he read but "did not understand" the book by Riplinger (Rev. 2:20), but I have no idea if Hutson understood it or not. I hope Hutson did not understand it, for I would hate to know that he understood and endorsed the contents. If Dr. Rice were alive today, he would be unwelcome by the preachers who are promoting Riplinger's book, such as Hyles, Wally Beebe, Bill Grady, Donald Waite, Texe Marrs, Peter Ruckman, Larry Phillips and others.
After Hutson's death, Hyles announced a Pastors School for March 18-21, 1996 at which he would, in effect, beatify the King James Bible and indict, convict, and sentence all other versions. He called it "The Trial of the Century!" He also decided that Mrs. Riplinger should be elevated to "Doctor;" and since he had years ago given a similar "degree" to Dr. Rice's horse, named MacArthur, I suppose Hyles figured that if a horse deserved such a degree, it would not be below his standards to give one to Mrs. Riplinger. He even made some facetitious remark about ordaining her to preach, and he might as well have done so, since she has been speaking at a number of alleged "Bible believing" churches and conferences where they give lip-service to the KJV but disregard what it teaches about women usurping public ministry (Rev. 2:20).
Dr. Rice must have been doing the proverbial act of "rolling over in his grave" as he witnessed Hutson and Hyles, two of his choice proteges, engage themselves in these shenanigans. At the Sword, finally, Hyles was evidently bridled from buying space for those outlandish full-page ads in the Sword, such as the one where he and some other men are shown in military uniforms with a tank, and Hyles is referred to as "Our General" (Sword, May 31, 1996, page 22). Sometime later, Hyles was no longer on the Board of the Sword.
Back in 1975, with his position on the KJV and other Bibles, Dr. Rice would have been branded by the current KJVOs as a "New Ager" on the basis of the modern standards of some professed defenders of the King James Bible. In fact, Ruckman's magazine has branded Dr. Rice a "Bible corrector" in a headline in the Bible Believers Bulletin (July 1996, p. 20). The article was written by Larry Vance, a mechanic who is alleged to be the "theologian" at Ruckman's Babel Asylum known as the Pensacola Bible Institute. I understand that Vance's chief responsibility at the school is to teach against what he calls "Calvinism." He apparently has nothing better to do with his time.
Back in 1975, when David Otis Fuller was championing the cause of much of the thinking which was current in the early development of the KJVO movement, Dr. Rice replied to Dr. Fuller and made it clear-and-plain what he thought about the "silly and thoughtless" people who were "strong on loud talk and very light on scholarship," which has long been one of the most impressive attributes of KJVOs. A few significant excerpts from his letter follow --
”I am distressed to receive many letters from ignorant fellows who can hardly write, who never finished high school, writing in burning words about the hypocrisy of St. Augustine and the Roman Catholics, and so on. . . And a fearful result has come in the minds of many people. They think the King James Version is inspired and that inspiration in the Bible has to mean perfection in our language. Multiplied thousands of these people are in waters over their heads, dealing with matters about which they have only a faint surface understanding. For thousands of these, if anybody shows that one word in the King James Version is not the best word, then you have proved that the Bible isn't true, we have no verbally inspired Bible and you can throw it out in the streets and the modernists are right! You would be surprised at the silly and thoughtless, yet violent letters, I get from such people. . .
And now to have many, many common and rather ignorant people - more women than men -- writing that Westcott and Hort, St. Augustine, any Catholic who had any part in the translation, anybody who now raises a question about the proper wording of some passage in the King James, are perverts or modernists or hypocrites or ignorant fools (much of the language which they got from Dr. ________*), is a sorry business, and you and I will be answerable to God if we develop that kind of attitude among common Christians. . .
I do not want to grow a generation of Christians, who, if you show them that the word "Easter" in Acts 12:4 of the King James Version is not the proper translation but it ought to be "passover," as is true, will decide that we have no Bible, there is no authority in the Bible. To have anybody making such weighty decisions on an immature judgment about a word or two is not right, and I do not want to put a burden on common people that they must assume a scholarship they do not have, in order to understand the Bible. . .
If you mean the differences between the American Standard Version and the King James Version is "the most important question that you or I could ever deal with," then I do not agree with that. I think the differences are minor. Far more important is whether or not the Bible itself is the Word of God. And to have ignorant people jumping to conclusions and railing about this matter which they could not possibly know much about, is a good way to ruin their influence and their happiness and with many people to bring discredit on the Bible itself, it seems to me. “ (End of quote).
[* The "Dr." in Rice's letter is presumed to refer to Dr. Peter S. Ruckman of Pensacola, Florida who has worked hard at developing a "Don Rickles" comedic style of language, such as referring to Dr. Rice as a "good, godly, dedicated, sweet old soul winning liar" and to B. H. Carroll as "Satan in the raw." See The Last Grenade, pages 84, 275. In reading Ruckman, one soon becomes immune to his efforts to "shell shock" with terminology of this sort, and one looks behind the comedic insults to discern his heterodoxical thinking. I have often said Ruckman missed his calling . . . he could have probably made it big as a standup comic. In fact, reading his Full Cup autobiography or hearing him preach on demonology is almost as entertaining as a Three Stooges video.]
At the time he wrote this letter, Dr. Rice perhaps did not know that David Otis Fuller had used a very large portion of materials in his Which Bible? book which he borrowed from Benjamin Wilkinson, a Seventh Day Adventist who objected to the English Revised Version because it had translated some words which threatened erroneous views of Adventists concerning hell. In fact, the Publisher of the book [Robert Kregel] personally told me more than once that if he had he known that Fuller was using the writings of an Adventist, he would have "never published Fuller's book." Thanks to the diligent research of Gary Hudson and Doug Kutilek of Baptist Biblical Heritage magazine (Vol. I, No. 2, Summer 1990), the facts about Fuller's use of Wilkinson and how he concealed Wilkinson's affiliation with Adventism were brought to light.