In 1934, Rice founded The Sword of the Lord, a bi-weekly publication that grew into an influential fundamentalist Baptist newspaper. At first it was simply the publication of his Dallas church, handed out on the street and delivered door-to-door by Rice's daughters and other Sunday School children. The Sword's circulation grew dramatically. It was thirty thousand in 1940, fifty thousand in 1946, and ninety thousand in 1953, surpassing the circulation of the venerable Moody Monthly. Rice regularly published reports from evangelistic campaigns that became valuable publicity tools for approved revivalists. In 1946, he and other prominent evangelists adopted a code of ethics and a statement of faith to prevent "evangelists from being unduly criticized for commercialism and unethical practices." The same year Bob Jones College conferred on him an honorary Litt. D. degree.
Rice was a Baptist evangelist and pastor and the founding editor of The Sword of the Lord, an influential fundamentalist newspaper.
Rice was born in Cooke County, Texas in 1895, the son of William H. and Sallie Elizabeth La Prade Rice, and the oldest of three brothers. The death of John R. Rice's mother when he was was six years old left a lasting mark on the man.
Rice did not complete his seminary course but in 1923, took a position as the assistant pastor of a Southern Baptist church in Plainview, Texas. The following year he became senior pastor in Shamrock, Texas, an oil boomtown; but in 1926 he left the pastorate for evanglism. Settling in Fort Worth, he became an unofficial associate of the flamboyant and authoritarian fundamentalist J. Frank Norris, pastor of First Baptist Church, who was preparing to leave the Southern Baptist Convention. Rice himself broke with the Southern Baptists in 1927.
During the next few years, Rice held a series of successful revivals in Texas that were promoted by Norris. Rice made converts during his campaigns and then organized the new Christians into at least a half-dozen churches with the name "Fundamentalist Baptist."
In July 1932, Rice held an open-air evangelistic campaign in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas and hundreds made professions of faith. There Rice organized the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Dallas; but instead of moving on, he pastored the church for more than seven years.
Rice believed that the mission of churches was "not to take care of Christians" but to "win souls."
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