November 28, 1978
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Audio Visual Archives
Rudolph: Perhaps we can begin by you telling me about your parents and their vocations, their religious practices, culture, and so forth.
Moody: Well, I was born on California Creek, which is south of Stanford, Texas. I had an uncle who was a well-known leader in breeding saddle horses. And I was born there by accident you might say because my father and mother went out there to take over some of the work after my uncle, who had the aristocratic name of Wellington Moody, died. At that time, I remember, one of the earliest memories of my life is my father and mother helping some of the very sturdy German farmers start a church in a schoolhouse. There was no church there. I can remember, just before I started in the first grade of school, very clearly that they all got together and felt like they ought to have a church. I can remember very definitely that many of them said, “We don’t want to live in a community where there’s not a church.” Since there wasn’t a church there, they started what is now Plainview Baptist Church, which is north of Stanford, Texas. As a matter of fact, where I was born and where I started to school were on the opposite sides of town. South of Stanford is the place where I was born, but then when we came back later to live there again we lived north of Stanford and we started what is today—My parents started along with others what is now the Plainview Baptist Church. That’s the way they felt about church. They didn’t want a community that didn’t have a church. Now, I can remember very vividly my father led the singing and my mother pumped the old organ that you had to pull the stoppers out on and play. That is the general background of all the people there. Most of our neighbors were German people with strange names, like Kahootz and Milstein and Bodeker, names of that sort. They were all what you might call German pietists, and my mother and father had come from that background, but they were not German. My mother came from a Georgia family named Fuller, and as a matter of fact one of my ancestors way back in Civil War days was a man named Richard Fuller, who was a man of some reputation as a preacher in Beaufort, South Carolina. My grandfather came from Macon, Georgia to Texas and they were very devout people. My grandfather was a deacon for many years in a church near Grapevine, Texas. It was actually the Capell Baptist Church where my mother was born. That was her background that she felt like wherever you lived you were supposed to have a church. My father’s people had come as pioneer Texans there. As a matter of fact my great-grandfather, Tom Moody is something of a Texas legend. He was one of the founders of the Texas Rangers. My grandfather, Jim Moody, was a very well-known young man. He, unfortunately, died of cholera at age 33. My memories along that line are very vivid because—on my father’s side—for outside of the church that was started in the schoolhouse, the first church that I can remember is my grandmother’s church. And my great-grandfather, John Simmons—that was another family well-known in early Texas history. So [laughs] I laugh when I think of him because he was such a pious man that I can remember my uncle Ed, his youngest boy, telling me that he was so pious that he would not even spank his children on Sunday, but it sure did make a bad Monday morning. [laughs] This John Simmons was a rather patriarchal figure in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. That’s where Lonesome Dove Baptist Church is. It’s the oldest church in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, founded in 1834, and I don’t know just how long my grandfather was one of the pillars of that church, but he died in 1887, which is the same year—That was my great-grandfather that died in 1887, and my grandfather, Jim Moody died in that year, and my father was born in that year. It was quite an interesting year in the family history because my great-grandfather was an old man and my grandfather was only 33, and a few months after the death of my grandfather, my father was born, 1887. That is sort of the ancestral milieu of my life, and it’s one that is nice to remember.
Rudolph: What exactly was the year that you were born?
Moody: I was born out at Stanford, Texas, south of Stanford, in January 27, 1915. That’s the birthday of Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany. They didn’t know whether to keep me or not because that was the beginning of the first World War. And one of my vivid memories before I went to school was having the German itch and being bathed each night in the creosote dip that they used to dip the cows to get the ticks off. So I can remember that very vividly. In 1915. And when the boys came back in 1918, I can remember that everyone had what we called the German itch. So you’re talking about two places, you see. Stanford, Texas is west of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Outside of the fact that I was born there and went a few weeks to school there, all I can remember is coyotes and tumbleweeds and blowing sand and such pleasant memories as the schoolhouse church that my father and mother helped the neighborhood to start. Really my life was centered around Grapevine, Texas which is just one mile outside the northern entrance to the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. This place, Lonesome Dove, that I mentioned is just about two or three miles out of Grapevine, Texas, but that’s the oldest community in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. In other words, that’s where Dallas-Fort Worth began. Then out of that community, they formed Grapevine and that is really the beginning of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
So my background religiously, the shaping of my early religious impressions was very definitely in the Lonesome Dove Baptist Church. It still exists, and incidentally is a BMA Church today. That’s the Texas name for the Landmark movement. They had a very charismatic preacher in the church, and he was very suspicious of all organization like Sunday school boards and mission boards and so forth. A very good man. A very fine Biblical preacher that I have the most pleasant memories of. As a matter of fact, I have never met a preacher who could hold the attention of an audience any better than he could. But, nevertheless, in those days you had this division, which was really an overflow from Arkansas. The division that was created by the Landmark movement, and this particular church was caught up in the Landmark movement. My mother’s church was not, so they always referred to my mother’s church as the “machine Baptist group.” All of those who cooperated with the Texas Baptist Convention were called “machine Baptists” and the rest of course were the rather independent Landmark-type. Which was very peculiar because the people who started the church, when they first settled there before there was a Texas actually—before there was a republic of Texas—were actually United Baptists, which of course is the old Shubal Stearns tradition from North Carolina. I think they were the result of the union of the separate and the—what’s the other group of Baptists?
Moody: the regular and the separate Baptists. But that’s the tradition that came to Lonesome Dove and started the church. Twenty families came. Most of them came from around—oh, now I forget the name of the place in central North Carolina. Ashborough. They came there and started the church, so it is a little peculiar that they would later become Landmark, for it was really the old Shubal Stearns tradition that caused these people do to what this group of North Carolina Baptists often did—just move into the frontier and be a church themselves. Almost a traveling church, you would call it. That’s how the church got started. Those memories are the things that live on in the tradition there.
Rudolph: What kind of things do you remember studying in church?
Moody: Well, in church, in those young days before I even made a profession of faith, the thing I remember most is just straight Bible preaching. I guess my own style of preaching today is shaped by that more than anything else. I can remember the pastor of the church. It was a man named was Bill Day. His typical sermon was just take a chapter of the Bible, expound it, and apply it. I have seldom met people who knew the contents of the English Bible better than the members of the congregation did. Many of the people of the congregation, like my grandmother, they were dangerous for a preacher to have in the audience if he didn’t know his Bible well because they’d pick up any error that he would make. It was a very Biblical kind of preaching, and a very close knit community. I would say the fellowship of the church and the preaching of the church are very vivid in my memories even before I made a profession of faith. As a matter of fact, my profession of faith was not made there. A thing happened that was really in conflict with conscience with my father. He started working on Sunday at a store, and so my father and mother temporarily dropped out of church on Sundays because of his work on Sunday. So I was taken in a little old Model T Ford by a woman named Ms. Berry to church quite often. She was a teacher of the boys in the Sunday School at Grapevine Baptist Church. That is where I made my profession when I was just twelve, and that is where I was baptized, and that is also where I preached my first revival four years later when I was only sixteen in that church. So I belonged to the Grapevine Church, which was a church that was a part of the Texas Baptist Convention, but my strongest religious influences were perhaps from the BMA church at Lonesome Dove. Those three churches played a big role. We had Capell Baptist Church about three miles east of Grapevine, and then the Lonesome Dove Church which is about three miles west of Grapevine, and these were churches that belonged to different groups. So, actually the church in which I was baptized was the Grapevine church, which usually had Southwestern Seminary students as pastors or recent graduates of Southwestern Seminary. So we were greatly influenced in many ways, I’m sure, by the old Landmark controversy, which is known as—The Landmark movement was known as BMA in Texas.
Rudolph: What about dispensationalism?
Moody: Well dispensationalism didn’t play a large part in my life at that time. As I said it was just straight Biblical preaching and teaching. After I started preaching at sixteen, we moved nearer to Capell, nearer to where my mother grew up, and so we joined that church. When I started preaching at sixteen, it was at the Capell Baptist Church that licensed me and later ordained me to preach. And I became pastor of the church when I was only seventeen. A year after I began to preach, they called me to be pastor of the church. The Southwestern Seminary student had two half-time churches. He developed one of them into a full-time church, so that left the Capell church without a pastor. So I remember the old deacons there in the church having a meeting. Two of them came to me and one of them said that the deacons had met and had decided to ask me to do the preaching until they could do better. [laughs] I remember that very vividly, and one of the deacons in that church was very meaningful to me because he had been the youngest deacon when George W. Truett was called pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas. He was the youngest deacon. He was a very old deacon living out in this little community from Dallas. He had worked on the staff of the Dallas Morning Newsfor several years, so he was a wonderful human being.
As far as dispensationalism is concerned, it is very vivid how that got into my life. A woman and her husband come out to this community. That was a very ordinary thing for the people who worked in town to come out of Dallas and buy them a farm and maybe have somebody working on the farm, but their main income was their job in town. I remember this woman, Mrs. Fred Wolfjun—had an unusual name. It’d be w-o-l-f-j-u-n—She had been a very devout member of the Scofield Memorial Church in Dallas. The Scofield Memorial Church in Dallas was the place where C.I. Scofield did his notes between 1903 and 1909. She was a very devout dispensationalist. As a matter of fact, she would often take—she would invite young people, teenagers like me, into her home for Bible studies. And on occasion, she would take me into Dallas to the Scofield Memorial Church for Bible study, and then it finally developed into I was involved frequently in the so-called radio revival, which was a dispensational broadcast at KRLD at the Adolphus Hotel inDallas over many years. I suppose the first thing like that almost in radio. A man named Hawkins had this. So I got into that. My involvement in dispensationalism was basically after I started preaching, and this woman became a member of the church at Capell, and she was a very major influence in my life at that time. It was in her home that I met some of the best known dispensationalists in the country. Matter of fact, I remember sleeping one night as a teenager with David L. Cooper. He spent the night with her and she had a whole bunch of young people there, and I slept in the bed with David L. Cooper, who was, of course, quite a well known person in dispensational circles from Los Angeles. So that’s how this all came in. In other words my family background, there’s no real pronounced dispensationalism. It’s basically Landmarkism and then just straight, middle of the road, Texas Baptist preaching, which was a long way from dispensationalism because many of the Texas Baptists are very much opposed to the dispensational theology because they were influenced by the postmillennialism of Southwestern Seminary. You see Dr. Truett and Dr. Carroll, people like that, were very strong postmillennialists who believed they were going to bring in the kingdom of God with headquarters in either Dallas or Fort Worth. Because you have to read B.H. Carroll’s Postmillennialismto see that.
Now by the time I went to college at Baylor University—I went to Baylor University—I went to Baylor University simply because I could not afford to go any other place.
Rudolph: What year was that?
Moody: That was in 1933 that I went to Baylor and started preaching in ’31 and in ’33 went to Baylor. By the time I got to Baylor, I perhaps knew almost every note in the Scofield Bible. I could almost draw every chart in Larkin’s Dispensational Truth. As you know, the Scofield Bible, in the edition that had such a great influence probably was1917. That lasted for fifty years before they had any change. Then Larkin’s Dispensational Truth, which was a huge book on charts. He was a cartographer, and when he became a Baptist preacher in Philadelphia, he used all that skill to make these charts that other preachers imitate in these paperbacks they buy today. But actually one knows the Dispensational Truth of Clarence Larkin and the Scofield Reference Bible by Scofield, he doesn’t need to read much of the dispensationalism today because it’s all in there. The only thing Hal Lindsay, for example, gives you is current events. But as far as the system of theology is concerned, that’s where it all happened. So when I went to Baylor University, I was already very much dyed in the wool with dispensationalism. That’s all I knew really of serious Bible study outside of just straight Biblical knowledge such as I heard as a child. But to form a system of theology, I would say I was very definitely influenced by dispensationalism versus postmillennialism when I went to college.
Rudolph: Were there many dispensationalists at Baylor?
Moody: Yes, there were a considerable number of dispensationalists because J. Frank Norris, the leader of fundamentalism in Fort Worth was very much of a dispensationalist in his preaching. So the tension was very great. Part of the tension between Fort Worth seminary, Southwestern Seminary and postmillennialism with dispensationalism was due to the attacks made by J. Frank Norris. So you had what you might call aristocratic dispensationalism in Dallas, and you had the barn storming dispensationalism of J. Frank Norris in Fort Worth, but they were both dispensational in their system. They used to call his type the “feuding, fighting fundamentalism.” But it was dispensational. The dispensationalism and fundamentalism are one in the same for him. But the people at Scofield Memorial Church were often very wealthy, cultured upper class people. They were people of means. They were quite different from Frank Norris’s fundamentalism. But you had a tension there with the postmillennialism of Southwestern Seminary because you had over in Dallas two blocks away from Dr. Truett’s church was Scofield Memorial Church. And of course the strongest church in Fort Worth was J. Frank Norris’s church. This eschatological tension was very great. As a matter of fact, they used to say that if a—of course they called dispensationalism premillennialism. They didn’t make a distinction between premillennialism and dispensationalism. They always said that if you wanted to get ordained in the Texas Baptist Convention in the association, that the first question that would be asked would be, “Are you pre- or post-?” If you said you didn’t know, they’d say, “That’s pre-post-erous.” You had to take sides. As a matter of fact, it was very difficult for people in some places to get ordained if they were premillennial because of the postmillennial domination of Texas Baptist thought. That brings me down to my college days.
Rudolph: When did you first start questioning your dispensational views?
Moody: Oh, much later than that. It’s basically after I got to Southern Seminary many years later. I began to question it basically in studying the scriptures. In other words, that was due to the fact that I learned to study the Bible for myself and didn’t have to depend upon things I read. I would say the greatest influence in my transition from dispensationalism was that I went to Baylor and was greatly influenced by a tremendous Greek teacher who taught me how to read the Greek New Testament. And no doubt my knowledge of Greek had more to do with my breaking away from dispensationalism than any other thing. Now this was a man named Henry Trantham, and I guess I had as many courses under him as any student he ever had. We became lifelong friends. As a matter of fact, over here on the shelf is the textbook in Greek history that Henry Trantham used at Oxford as a student because when he died, his widow wanted me to have it. I was the only student that ever made a grade of 100 under this man who was known as a bone breaker professor because he was a very hard grader. He was proud and so was I that I was the only student who ever made 100 in Greek history. So when he died his widow sent me this copy of this book that he used as a Rhodes Scholar at Christ Church in Oxford. So I cherish that little token of, that little souvenir you might say or momento of him. That’s what happened.
It was an interesting thing when I was at Baylor that the great influences on me were basically the study of geology and the study of Greek. I found my Bible teachers rather milquetoast. Dr. J.B. Tidbull, who of course is a venerable old character at Baylor, not only didn’t mean much to me but I thought he was a little pompous and was very defensive with anybody who disagreed with him. So often as a student I found my student at crossfire with him because of the dispensational questions I would ask him in Bible class. We didn’t click it off too well to be honest about it because of this very thing, and he was a kind of teacher that didn’t tolerate differences. That was quite different with Dr. B.O. Herring, who taught Old Testament and world religions, and I have to mention him for in a personal way, he was a very dear friend. Very, very fatherly to me. In some ways I think one of the most important things I had was under him. I’d never studied world religions at all, and we used this old book The World’s Living Religions by Hume as a textbook. And if for no other reason, I studied diligently that book and got acquainted with all the world’s religions, I’m sure in the later days had a great influence on my life. I have a great warmth of memory; my memory of Dr. B.O. Herring is very warm because he was so kind to me in every way and introduced me to world religions. But as far as the Bible was concerned, I wouldn’t say that the Bible department at Baylor made much of a contribution to me, and yet on the other hand, I was profoundly influenced by the professor of geology and by the professor of Greek, which sounds a little strange. And then, of course, this led me to the place where I had to adjust, I had to relate the scriptures to science because I was also—I don’t mean to be boasting, but I made the highest grade in geology that J.W. Dixon had also. This—I’m talking about historical geology, where you study the history of the earth and all that. So my grade still stands. I think if he hasn’t retired lately, he’s still the head of the department of geology at Baylor University. He had great influence and like Henry Trantham, has been over the years a very dear friend. If I go to Baylor, I might not visit the men in the religion department, but I visit J.W. Dixon in the geology building and I visit, until he died, I visit Henry Trantham. Of course we were so sentimental, we’d cry on one another’s shoulder. He couldn’t introduce me to his class without crying, and it’s hard for me to talk about him without crying because I had, I think, about seven courses under him. And so these were great influences.
When I came here to—I might say another thing that influenced me quite—that is very important in the development of my thinking, was that during the third year that I was at Baylor, I became greatly influenced in Pentecostalism. I was greatly influenced in Pentecostalism, and that of course meant the Assemblies of God. They’d come to the Dallas area and were making quite an impact. I became quite interested. Of course at Dallas Seminary they put a lot of emphasis on what they call the spirit filled life, but of course what you ‘d call Pentecostalism was basically associated with the Assemblies of God. And another man that had a great influence on my life was Albert Ott, who was the founder of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Dallas and later one across the town and later Bethel Temple, which became a very famous Pentecostal church of the Assemblies of God. So in my third year, I had gotten further and further away from the postmillennialism of Baylor’s Bible department, and more and more I was influenced by—See, I can see influence of dispensationalism and fundamentalism even before I got there, and then the Pentecostalism came in. All of these went in as major influences on my life all at the same time. When I talk about fundamentalism, I’m talking about J. Frank Norris and his movement. Dispensationalism, of course, would be basically the Scofield Memorial Church group of people. Culturally very different because the fundamentalists were sort of the rednecks, if you might call them and the dispensationalists were aristocrats, cultured people, often times very cultured people. Like the Bodeckers and people of that sort. But they don’t mean anything, but these were Dallas aristocrats. Then of course the Pentecostal movement hit town and recruited large numbers of people. By town, I mean Dallas. And recruited large numbers of members from the Methodist and Baptist churches. I got interested in that because I had learned enough about my own Baptist history to know that—from my own family history—to know about D.L. Moody. One of the great influences was reading a biography of D.L. Moody, and he tells about his experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit years after he began to preach in Chicago, and I began to pray that this would happen to me, and it did. I remember very definitely, I was about--I think this was--I was about twenty-one when this happened. I remember it was the third year when I was in college and so there was a time which I was inclined to join the Assemblies of God. One of them was experience. The other was the fact that two Assemblies of God preachers were very kind to me. This was Albert Ott, of course that I mentioned and then his successor to Full Gospel Tabernacle, a man named Loren B. Stats [?]. The interesting thing about it was he was the only preacher in town that I knew could sight-read the Greek New Testament. That was a very interesting thing because people didn’t think of people who practiced divine healing and spoke in tongues as being scholars. But Stats was a very fine student of the scriptures. He could easily exegete the Greek New Testament. Albert Ott was just a charismatic commoner who had tremendous influence in Dallas in those days. That was in ’36. I went to Baylor for my third year. I was trying to do all of my four years’ work in three. I went there and dropped out after a few weeks in the first term; I had three terms during the year. I didn’t graduate from Baylor in three years as I had hoped to do because I dropped out. So I went back to Dallas, and then I entered Dallas Seminary for two terms in the spring of ’37. I also became involved again with the radio revival group. I also became involved again with the Pentecostal churches. I well nigh left Southern Baptists under the influence of Albert Ott.
Rudolph: This was Chafer Seminary that you went to?
Moody: Chafer Seminary is Dallas Theological Seminary and that of course is really built upon the Scofield tradition. In other words, out of the Scofield church and the Scofield Bible, the Dallas Seminary was founded. Chafer, until the day he died, departed neither to the right or to the left from the Scofield Bible. It’s all the same. Scofield Church, Dallas Seminary, L. S. Chafer. All of that’s the same. But they had nothing to do with the Pentecostals, see. As a student at Dallas Seminary, I associated with the Pentecostals. I didn’t dare let Dr. Chafer know that I was going down a few blocks to Full Gospel Tabernacle, and hob-knobbing with people like Loren Stats because he might have called me in and expelled me from the seminary. Because he was like Dr. Tidbull; you couldn’t disagree with him on anything. He was a gracious and good old man, in many ways a very wonderful human being, but he didn’t tolerate deviations. And so I remember I used to never report that I had been to Full Gospel Tabernacle which was down the street from the Dallas Seminary. So those were the three influences right there outside of just the plain old pioneer Baptist emphasis on Bible preaching that I had experienced early in my life. The three things that hit me: dispensationalism, fundamentalism, and Pentecostalism—in that order. Now I’m quite sure, and I’d be less than honest if I didn’t say this, that all of these made a great impression on me.
[end of side one of CA 2126]
Now then what happened was. Where was I? I got to Dallas Seminary, and I found they were just too straight laced. I’d gone too far. While I was at Baylor, I read H. Wheeler Robinson’s books on the Old Testament, and I saw higher criticism made sense to me, Biblical criticism made sense to me. Well, they didn’t tolerate that anywhere, not even Baylor. You had to say it in a low whisper about Biblical criticism. But I learned about Biblical criticism by going to the library and seeing those books by H. Wheeler Robinson and reading them. The other thing I did was, under Henry Trantham’s influence as a Greek teacher, I read most of A.T. Robertson’s six volumes on word pictures in the New Testament. So when I left Baylor, my education in theology had been basically by reading Wheeler Robinson and A.T. Robertson. [laughs] That’s interesting. Robinson and Robertson, and yet neither of my Bible teachers bothered to read those people. Well, Dr. Herring might have read Robertson’s on occasion. So if you asked where I learned, developed my view on the Bible, it was at Baylor, but not because of the Bible department. It was reading on the side. You see what I’m saying?
Moody: So when I got to Dallas Seminary and they required me to sign a statement saying I agreed with everything they taught before I enrolled as a student, well, I thought I did until I stayed one term there and found out this place was like living in a jail for me. Because here I’d had geology, and they were teaching 4004 BC for the creation of the world. Lands alive. I’d just made the highest grade in Baylor in historical geology under J.W. Dixon. Shoo. Here I was caught, really caught at this point. So I decided that I would go to that strange school that I had seen on the fly leaves of Robertson’s book. I never will forget. I used to look at it. Archibald Thomas Robertson, Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky. It sort of developed an aura. This must be, of course because Dr. Herring had his degree in Old Testament from here. He referred with great emotion to Dr. Bob. So he had a lot to do with me having a very high opinion of Robertson, but basically because I had three years of Greek you see, and I was reading these along the line as I studied Greek. In the spring of that year, as soon as my two terms were over at Dallas. By the way I had two courses at the same time. I had Chafer two hours a day. I had first year theology and second year theology under Chafer, so when I got here in Southern Seminary I’d had more theology than they offered in systematic theology. But I studied with him, and again if I may say so, my grade—and my transcript and my grade down here in the office at this seminary will show that my transcript will show 100 in systematic theology under L.S. Chafer. I learned my geology. It’s interesting that my highest grades were in Greek history, geology, and dispensational theology. [laughs] In those courses I made--the only other grade I made any way next to that, in this seminary, historical theology was a 99. But my perfect grades in school were in those areas, which will throw a lot of light on things. I went at it with zeal—the learning of Greek, the learning of geology, and the learning of the dispensational system which was quite a mess, you see.
When I came here to this seminary, I hitchhiked to the New Orleans Convention to the Southern Baptist Convention at New Orleans in 1937 and then I hitchhiked from that convention, up by the way of McComb, Mississippi, Tuscalusca, Alabama, Birmingham, Alabama to Franklin, Kentucky and there I caught a strawberry truck. Is it Franklin, Kentucky or Franklin, Tennessee? I’ve forgotten now. It’s right on the border there. I caught a strawberry truck here to Louisville. I remember arriving in Louisville before daybreak on this strawberry truck because he was trying to get to Indianapolis by break of day because they were fresh strawberries. The old fellow said, “Oh, I know where the Baptist seminary is. I’m a Baptist deacon myself.” I don’t remember his name. He put me out at the WMU Training School down on Broadway. I soon found out it wasn’t Southern Baptist Theological Seminary because it was a place where the girls were training in those days. Tony the florist down here on Broadway was open. He was open early in the morning, and I asked him where the Baptist seminary was. I said this fellow had let me out and said that was the Baptist seminary. He laughed and said, “You can’t get in there. You’re a man. That’s barred to men. Won’t be long until a bus will come and take you, and I’ll put you on that bus and I’ll tell you where to get off. You go out to Grinstead Drive and you tell the first bus that runs in the morning to let you off at the Baptist seminary and he’ll let you off.” Because they had a bus that came up Grinstead Drive in those days. So I did.
I’ll always remember arriving here at the seminary, right after the Southern Baptist Convention I arrived at Southern Seminary. It was just the break of day. I saw two people. One was the boy delivering papers early in the morning. Then I walked through Mullins Hall and I saw a fellow that looked just like Little Abner to me, and it was right out in the middle of campus here in front of what is now the library. I remember he stuck his hand out. I’ve never seen a more handsome man, and he looked just like Little Abner, stuck his hand out and said, “My name is Clarence Jordan.” And I told him my name and I told him what I wanted. I said, “I want to see if I can get a room here in Mullins Hall to stay. I understand that you have rooms here during the summer that you’ll let people have even though school is not going on.” I remember he said, “That’s right, but you’ll have to wait to get a key. But you come over here and eat breakfast with my wife and me and after breakfast, you go back over to Norton Hall and walk down the hall there until you find the man that talks with a foreign accent named Hugh Peterson. You ask him for a key and he’ll give you a room.” Well, I’ll always remember that. It was when I met Hugh Peterson, and I remember sure enough he talked with that New Zealand accent. He gave me a key and told me to go down and register for that room with Mr. Allen, as he called him. T.R. Allen. And so I met what were later to be two of my dear friends over the years: Hugh Peterson and of course Clarence Jordan. Do you know who Clarence Jordan was? Well, Clarence Jordan, Hugh Peterson, and T.R. Allen were destined to be good friends for many years. I stayed here and this was right after the flood. They used to say that I was part of the drift left by the flood. The flood that flooded Louisville in 1937. And I worked for Sears and Roebuck that summer.
I was really wondering what I was to do. I wasn’t really sure I wanted to come here, so toward the end of the summer I gave up my job at Sears and Roebuck and I went up to Detroit to visit Frank Norris’s church, the Temple Baptist Church. He had two churches, one in Fort Worth and the other in Detroit. He was making a bit splurge in Detroit in those days. I went up to Detroit and visited there. That was towards the end of his life, but nevertheless I still had this attachment to this tradition. Then I went to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago from there, hitchhiking it all the way. Then I went up to the Northwestern School founded by William B. Riley and in Minneapolis. I look back on it and see why go to those places. I’d heard of them all those years. I wanted to see what these places were all about.
Then I went back down to Texas, but I had already decided what I was going to do before I left. Matter of fact, I should have told you that the reason I resigned my job at Sears and Roebuck, which was a very pleasant experience. They put me on automobile accessories and let me sell on commission. Sometimes I made more than anybody in Sears and Roebuck [laughs] because I could sell these things to the big truckers that would come in for the interstate commerce commission sale. Anyway, I had a good job as far as making money was concerned in 1937. But I remember that I kept wondering what I wanted to do with my life because I felt a little uprooted. I closed the door over there in Mullins Hall one day and locked it with a vow that I was going to stay in that room until I knew what the Lord’s will was for me. This ended with a very profound religious experience of clarification in my mind. It was like my head was swimming on my shoulders when I started. Everything was real clear that the Lord wanted me to be here, and even though it sounds strange to some people to say it this way I even felt I’d spend most of my life here when I left that room that day. That this was the place the Lord wanted me to spend my life. That’s why I took off to kind of my last fling with the fundamentalists. [laughs] To go to Detroit and Moody Bible Institute in Minneapolis. Go back. As they used to say, I went down and got my Scofield Bible and my extra shirt and came back. So in ’37, I entered here in the seminary.
Rudolph: Let’s step back to Baylor for a minute. What was your means of finance while you were there?
Moody: Well, there were several things about when I was at Baylor. First of all, I went on two scholarships. I had an academic scholarship and an athletic scholarship. In high school I had been an athlete. Particularly, I had achieved some recognition as a track star in Dallas. I set the record in the 100 yard dash that stood for several years. So Baylor gave me an athletic scholarship and then I also had an academic scholarship because they gave me, because I had graduated at the top of my class. So I didn’t have any tuition problems. I got a church the first year I was there. When I first got to Waco, Texas I washed dishes to support myself but soon got a church. That supported me. Then the second and third year I was there, I had a very fine country church called Woodberry, which is near Hillsboro, Texas. I had a wonderful experience being pastor of that church. So that was my source of income. As a matter of fact, my parents never put any money into my education from the time I left home until this day. But the good Lord opened doors like that. I might say, this is just a side thing, but the old Latin teacher at Baylor had a lot to do with my academic scholarship. He recruited me, actually. He met me at Woodlake Encampment in north Texas and we sat down one day on a bench. When we got through, he pulled out a card and said, “Now you go see president Neve down at Baylor and just give him that card and he’ll know what it means.” [laughs] All I know is this, that it sure did open the doors. And so I got to Baylor, and this man was a fabulous Latin teacher called Ducky Pool. He’d retired, but he was still working as a recruiter for Baylor. So I guess if he’d been there, Latin would’ve been my language, but when I got there, Greek became my language.
Rudolph: What was the attitude of people in Baylor and people you knew towards Southern Seminary?
Moody: Well, the only seminary graduate they had on the faculty of the Bible department was Dr. B.O. Herring, who really thought that Louisville was a Mt. Zion. He remembered Dr. Sampey and people like that with great affection. So the attitude toward Louisville seminary was very good. Dr. Tidbull was not a seminary educated man. I think that explains some of his defensiveness. He was not as well equipped. Dr. Herring, I remember very distinctly, was very good at just reading the Hebrew Bible.
Rudolph: How about your family? What was their attitude?
Moody: Towards what?
Rudolph:Towards coming to Southern Seminary.
Moody: Oh, they—By this time—See, I’d been on my own legs almost since I was a twelve year old boy. They didn’t even support me in my teenage years. Then I became pastor of the church at seventeen and from that time on, by this time, by the time I left home to go to Baylor, they looked upon me as a person who could paddle his own canoe. So there was no opposition whatsoever. They didn’t see how on earth that a farm boy like someone coming off the farm could go to the university and get an education. But I did. But they were not obstructionist to it. They were just pious people who thought well I could be a good preacher and never go to college, never go to seminary. But I went on with their approval, of course. But they looked upon me as someone who could make his own decision. By the time I was seventeen years, my parents recognized me as someone who could make his own decisions. And I did. But there was never any conflict whatsoever with them.
Rudolph: Tell me about your influences on you here at seminary.
Moody: That’s what I was coming to a while ago. Here the first year at seminary, naturally, things clicked off quite well. The Old Testament and New Testament courses were just the standard courses, but I suppose the most outstanding thing was I got Dr. Davis to let me take second year Greek first year I was here because I could sight read the Greek New Testament at that time and I didn’t want to go through baby Greek again. It was quite an interesting thing which accounted for the relationship between me and some—me and particularly Dr. McDowell. Dr. Davis, you had to know his personality. He was a big, booming fellow. He didn’t want me to take junior Greek. [mocking] “Don’t think you can keep up with those students.” I said, “Dr. Davis, I believe I can do it if you’ll give me a chance.” So he said, “Alright. I’ll let you go in there, but if you can’t keep up you’ll have to go back and take baby Greek.” That’s the way he talked. So he tipped off E.A. McDowell, who taught junior Greek and told him to see whether that fellow knows any Greek or not. One of the first days—It was the first week of school, and he stood me up and had me sight—More or less, if you’ve had baby Greek you ought to be able to sight read the Greek New Testament on some level. So he stood me up—I’ll never forget the third chapter of Philippians. You know it’s a passage that has a lot of words that Paul doesn’t use a lot because he’s talking, you know he starts off, “Beware the dogs.” And all that. So he stood me up and I read the entire third chapter of Philippians in Greek for him, translated it. But I didn’t dare tell him that I had committed that chapter to memory before I had come to seminary. [laughs]
Anyway, what happened in my first year, I was sort of known, there was a lot of talk because I topped the class in Greek. They had what they call the sharp shooters, and I was the sharp shooter. They’d always have the three top grades every—In those days they’d call out on every test who the sharp shooters were, that’s what they called them, and I remember so well that I was usually, I think every time, I was the sharp shooter and Bob Pratt, my closest friend, was next and a fellow named Red Ihley from Georgia. We usually were the sharp shooters in class. So my first year here, it was very pleasant. Of course naturally that helped my ego and everything, that Dr. Davis didn’t know for sure that I could keep up and when the year was out I made the highest grade in the Greek class here. But the real thing that happened here was my second year.
In those days, you had a choice between Christianity and current thought and comparative religion under Dr. W.O. Carver. So I took the Christianity and current thought because I’d had a course in missions at Dallas Seminary. That was one of the greatest things that ever happened in my life because, you see, Dr. Carver was using I can remember the most important thing that he was using was that book right up there on the shelf by W.M. Horton, Walter Marshall Horton, called Contemporary English Theology, which had just been written to tell what was going on in English theology and that’s the book that talks about William Temple, John Oman, F.R. Tennant. Big guns. I mean the big guns of philosophical theology. I got into that class with Dr. Carver, and I got fascinated, particularly with William Temple who to this day is a great influence on my—much of my thought goes back to William Temple, philosophically speaking. And then John Oman and F.R. Tennant. All of those people influenced me greatly. The thing I remember about Dr. Carver was, we sort of had a division of opinion because Horton also wrote a book called Contemporary Continental Theology. But Dr. Carver didn’t like Barth and Brunner and people like that at all. He thought they were just neo-fundamentalists. Dr. Carver would say anything but a fundamentalist. In other words, he’d fought too many battles and he believed in evolution and he believed in higher criticism and things like that. He’d fight a buzz saw on that subject. To begin with, he thought Barth and Brunner were just a bunch of fundamentalists; he didn’t have anything for them. I never will forget he caught me reading Emil Brunner’s Mediator one day in the library. I can remember the disappointed look on his face. He thought all his work on me had been in vain. Of course, before he died, he learned to appreciate Emil Brunner, too.
But, anyway, the thing that Carver did for me more than anything else was he helped me to put together scripture and science. Because he was an evolutionist and fought many a battle on it. He helped me to see that I could accept modern science. He didn’t have to do much because I was ripe. I needed some help. He helped me to stick with the Bible and accept modern science more than any other person. And then he taught me to think philosophically. I’d not done much. I’d studied science; I had good scientific roots. I’d had many courses in science that I haven’t even mentioned. Science was a fascination for me. I’d had scripture, but nobody told me how to put it together. Carver gave me a philosophical theology, particularly William Temple’s great Nature, Man and God book which made a great impression on my life. And so, therefore, that is my great debt. And from that year on until the day he died, our relationship became more and more intimate. Our pulse—I can almost say for fifteen years before he died, when his pulse beat mine beat. But it was very pleasant because he came to appreciate the man I wrote my doctoral dissertation on, Emil Brunner. Before Dr. Carver died, he became very fond of Emil Brunner. But you see, in those days it was known as neo-orthodox, and even the very word neo-orthodoxy turned him on. Because anything orthodox meant fundamentalism, Landmarkism, dispensationalism for which he had nothing but distaste. Now that was an advantage to me. Dr. Carver never went through this. The only thing he knew about fundamentalism and dispensationalism and Landmarkism was that he didn’t like them. Of course he knew a lot about them. He’d fought too many battles with those people. He was what you might call a salty old liberal in many ways. I had come through these, but I always saw it as an advantage because when the dispensationalist throws his ball I know how it’s going to curve, and when the fundamentalist throws his ball I know how it’s going to curve. I consider this something valuable to me. But it would have been unfortunate if I’d just learned these fundamental—learned fundamentalism and Landmarkism and dispensationalism and stayed there. Lord forbid. But Dr. Carver got me out of it. Out of these straight jackets, basically because he helped me to see, to think philosophically.
Rudolph: Did you go straight into the graduate program?
Moody: Well, I went back after three years here. I left Baylor as I said a while ago without a degree. So I went through three years here without a college degree. I remember Dr. Carver said, “You need to go back and get your degree.” And Dr. Peterson said it, too. So I went back to Baylor in 1940-’41 to get my BA degree. That is when I had my first controversy on apostasy. I went out to Mexia, Texas to be interim pastor for a year, you might say. I already was pastor, but they understood that I was only going to stay one year and finish my degree and come back to Louisville. That’s when I got involved in a controversy on apostasy because I preached a series of sermons from the book of Hebrews and used A.T. Robertson’s word pictures and became convinced that this old Landmark idea of the security of the believer just didn’t jive with what that said. That was when the storm broke. So when I came back here in 1941, oh man, I had letters of protest. Dr. Sampey got a letter warning him about that dangerous student they had up there that believed in apostasy. That’s quite a story. So ’41 to ’44 I worked here in great tranquility, with great profit. I’ll tell you W.O. Carver was taking my brains and pulling them this way and just as wide as he could pull it and up like that. He opened my mind and let some fresh air in. What I mean by that is he had me reading some—Well, some of the toughest books on my shelf right now, I read under W.O. Carver.
Rudolph: He was your supervisor when…?
Moody: I started with him and finished with Cornell Goerner because Dr. Carver retired, but I started, yes. I was the last student ever to register under Dr. Carver for graduate work. So when ’44 comes around and I haven’t quite finished my research on Emil Brunner, which is interesting you see that I should be writing on Emil Brunner, and then I was recommended to a Kemp [?] fellowship by the National Council of Religion and Higher Education and was planning to go to Yale University to study on that scholarship, the Kemp Fellowship. But the president of Union Seminary, Henry P. Van Dusen right out of the blue sky wrote me a letter. I don’t know what the background of it was or anything. Said if I’d change my plans and come to Union that they’d give me a job as a teaching instructor in theology with him and Professor Tillich, which was quite another thing. So ’44 and ’45 I was at Union Seminary and I was Paul Tillich’s assistant and very involved with him throughout the year. We became friends to this day. In other words, I would say along with J.W. Dixon and Henry Trantham in Baylor and W.O. Carver, the next great person to shape my life and my theological thinking would be Paul Tillich, who of course….
Rudolph: In what sort of ways?
Moody: Well, first of all I had a streak of mysticism in me to begin with, and W.O. Carver had deepened this. Many people overlook the fact that Paul Tillich was quite a mystic, and so this greatly appealed to me. I helped him you see as his assistant, not only in systematic theology but in the history of Christian thought. Tillich, of course, when he teaches the history of Christian thought, it’s not like anybody else because he was more interested in these people like Meister Eckhart and Jakob Burma—These mystics that I’d never studied. As a matter of fact, I was assistant for him and Van Dusen. Van Dusen taught introductory history of Christian thought and Paul Tillich taught advanced history of Christian thought. You’d be surprised how different the course were. Because Van Dusen just went through the old A.C. McGifford books, which was just plain old Protestant liberalism in the interests, you see selectivity. I got in Paul Tillich’s, man alive, he began to talk about some of those rogues I’d never heard of. It was great. It was very helpful because I was so deeply involved in it. I had to help the students. Tillich was abominable in his language. I had to help the students know what the fellow was talking about.
It was a great year, and then at the end of the year right out of the blue sky again—It was just like Van Dusen writing that letter asking me to come to Union—right out of the blue sky, a letter comes from Dr. Fuller who has become President here because you see Dr. Sampey had gone off the scene. I couldn’t believe it. I thought when I went to Union Seminary, the bridges were burned. I’d never be able to cross the Ohio again. And here was a letter saying that they wanted to offer me a job to come back and take some of the load off of Dr. Carver. Well, really it was then Dr. Goerner, but it was a class that Carver had taught me which they called Christianity and current thought at that time. And also to teach historical theology. So I came here to take--One of the two courses that meant most to me in the seminary, I was asked to come back and teach. Christianity and current thought, which Dr. Carver used to teach and the historical theology which Dr. Tribble taught. I guess I’m the only person who ever started teaching in the seminary with advanced courses. That was my—See, I’d made my highest grades in those areas here at the seminary. I’d gone to Union in that area, so I was really on the front burner to teach the history of theology and Christianity and current thought. And then I also supplemented my salary by teaching the history of philosophy at the University of Louisville. That’s the way I got started here in ’45, so I was just teaching straight history of philosophy at the University of Louisville. History of Christian thought here and Christianity and current thought here in the seminary in ’45. So that is when I started teaching.
Rudolph: Now when did you go to Germany?
Moody: Well, I’d go a little further with this. I don’t know how much further you want me to go on with this. I could pick it up some another time. What happened was that after two years, Dr. Harold Tribble was invited to be president of Andover-Newton Theological Seminary, and the most incredible thing was here they were left with two people to teach everything in the department—me and Dr. Carver, who was brought in to teach seminar. All he taught was seminar. Believe it or not, there was a time when I taught Old Testament theology in the fall, New Testament Theology in the spring, historical theology in the fall, philosophy of religion in the spring—that’s Christianity and current thought, same thing, what Dr. Rust teaches now—and systematic theology. I taught five of them. I was teaching everything until Dr. Rust came to teach Old Testament theology and Dr. Ward came to teach New Testament theology and then Dr. Price came later to teach historical theology. But there was a time when, man, I was the works. Dr. Fuller called me in and said, “We need to expand this department. Now you can have anything you want.” That was a wonderful way to go at it. Said, “Choose your subject.” I said, “I’ll take systematic theology.” He laughed and said, “Why did you accept it so quickly?” I said, “Well you can teach anything in systematic theology. That way I’m not cut off from anything. What we need to do is get someone for Old Testament theology and someone for New Testament theology, somebody in historical theology.” And so that’s how it all got started. I had my choice. I could have taught any one of five course here in the seminary at that time. That was the happy way.
Now you asked me a question about Germany. It looked like for a while that I was going to teach Biblical theology, so I asked Dr. Fuller if I could go. I had learned about Walter Eichrodt in Old Testament theology in my reading. I wanted to go to Basel in ’48 to see this fabulous man who was known as the greatest Old Testament theologian in the world, so he gave me some money and in the summer of ’48 I went to Basel. But what had happened was, in ’46 I believe it was, Emil Brunner was here on the campus and he read what I had done on him as a thesis. He invited me to come to Zurich to study with him. So I went over to Switzerland. During this year, the summer of ’48, I lived with Brunner and listened to him lecture from seven to nine every morning. Then I’d catch the train and go over to Basel at lunchtime, actually, and here Karl Barth from four to six in the afternoon. But I became interested in two men who to this day are still very dear friends and had great influence on my life. I learned that not only was there an outstanding Old Testament theologian, but an outstanding New Testament Theologian in Basel. The New Testament theologian was Oscar Cullman. So I went over there to hear Barth, but when I got through the men who attracted my attention more than any were Eichrodtand Cullman. And to this day—They’re both alive still—To this day, these are two of the friends. When I came back in ’48, well, I found my contact with Karl Barth and Emil Brunner great, but if you want to understand me, I think you’ll have to……
[end of CA 2126]
Rudolph: The last time you talked about the errors of dispensationalism and in your writings you talk a lot about the errors of dispensationalism. What are some of the positive aspects you see of your background, dispensationalist background?
Moody: The only positive contribution of dispensationalism would be that it’s built on the older interpretation known as salvation history which I regard basically as really the biblical view of history. The Bible would express it in terms of promise and fulfillment. Of course the term “salvation history” was coined by the great German pietist Bengel. The best expression of that today would be in the writings of a man like Oscar Cullman, and when Cullman published his book Christ in Time, many dispensationalists thought he was one of them. But he, of course, did not go in for their deviations. Their deviations are those odd things such as believing in a pretribulation rapture, for which there is not one scrap of New Testament evidence for. It’s all based upon a claim that was made by a Scottish lassie named Margaret Macdonald, who in the 1830s said the Lord revealed to her that the church would not go through the tribulation. Well, that’s the key doctrine of dispensationalism. It is so sensitive that you well nigh cannot be in the fellowship of the dispensationalist if you do not accept this aberration of Margaret Macdonald, which has no scriptural support whatsoever. Because every time the New Testament speaks of the gathering of the saints at the coming of Christ, it’s after the tribulation and not before. I have reference, make reference of course to Mark 13, Matthew 24, and 2 Thessalonians 2, which are the only passages that talk about how the second coming of Christ and the gathering of the saints is related to the tribulation, and all three of them say that it’s after and not before. So that’s the basic aberration or deviation, I would say, of dispensationalism. Now of course in carrying out the idea of salvation history, they worked out the scheme of seven dispensations from which the term comes that distinguishes them from what are called historical premillennialists. I consider myself a historical premillennialist, but this is a dispensational premillennialist. Many people in this country do not even know the difference. If I say to someone I’m premillennial but not dispensational, they think it’s doubletalk because they think the only way you can be a premillennialist is to be a dispensationalist. Well, the premillennialist means before the kingdom of God is realized on earth, Jesus Christ will come; after the tribulation and before the reign of God is fully realized on earth. I would very stoutly defend this point of view which is a view that’s been taught all through the history of the church. Now that is why the term historical premillennialist is used. And there is of course the other thing about dispensationalism, the eight covenants, which is almost a comical belief. If you look at the Scofield reference Bible with its note on Hebrews chapter 8, it says first covenant, second covenant—Hebrews 8 says first covenant, second covenant and old covenant and new covenant. And our footnote says the first and second equals eight. That’s what I call dispensational math. First and second equals eight. It shows just how—That will illustrate basically what I mean when I say deviations. I mean deviations from salvation history, which I would maintain. So these deviations really took place in the nineteenth and especially the twentieth century after the publication of the Scofield reference bible in 1909 and 1917 and the charts of Clarence Larkin in 1918. Tons and tons of these books are supposed to have great insight, like Hal Lindsay. Not an original idea in it. The only thing it’s doing, Hal Lindsay, is current events. But not any—the system is basically the same. You even have the Rapture Reference Bible that you can buy today, not a thing in it. It’s the dispensational system. Or the Ryrie Study Bible that’s been published by Moody Bible Institute recently; it’s nothing but dispensationalism put in Ryrie’s terms, but the system is all the same. We’ll soon have the Criswell Reference Bible which will be exactly the same. And we’ll have a jolly good time again. And it’s interesting that two of three of those Bibles I just mentioned come out of Dallas, exactly where the Scofield reference Bible was first compiled. Does this answer your question?
Rudolph: Yes. How much in contact were the dispensationalists in Dallas with other dispensationalists, like in Los Angeles and Chicago, like the Moody Bible Institute? How much in contact were they with other dispensationalists? Were they….
Moody: Oh, within a short time all of these would come to Dallas seminary, or school for the old memorial church. In my high school days…See, I knew Scofield church and Dallas Seminary before I ever went to college. That’s…Basically it was in my high school days that I learned the whole dispensational system. I would say that by the time I entered college I could give you almost any note in the Scofield Bible. I could draw any chart in dispensational truth by Larkin. I went to Baylor University and was amazed at those poor old benighted postmillennialists in the Bible Department who didn’t even know how to draw Larkin’s charts. And I must say, as I said before, they didn’t make much contribution to me in the study of the Bible. As a matter of fact, I felt hostility from Dr. Tidwell because I would irritate him with these dispensational questions. By the time I got here to the seminary in 1937, I was beginning to see, as a result of my own study of the New Testament, that many of the things in Scofield reference Bible were untenable. As I said to you before, it was basically my study of the New Testament not the influence of someone, some teacher. As a matter of fact, there wasn’t a teacher here in this seminary that really majored in eschatology. I suspect in theology we would never spend more than a week on eschatology. In New Testament you’d never spend more than a week on the book of Revelation. I would say there was an eschatological eclipse here at this seminary when I came as a student. I was the first person ever to teach a whole course on eschatology, and not until I had started teaching a course on eschatology was there ever a course taught on the book of Revelation. Dr. McDowell, who took the amillennial position, did teach a course in Revelation here. I’m not sure yet whether he taught it to offset my teachings or not. [laughs] But it is interesting he started teaching his course on the book of Revelation, which was later published as the Message and Meaning of the Book of Revelation, and that is a very extreme amillennial view, or perhaps you should call it realized eschatology view because he says we’re living in the millennium. Well, I’m not an amillennialist. But you see we have an interesting split in Southern Baptist life today. There have been six commentaries published by Broadman Press on Revelation. All six are amillennial. None of them are, certainly, dispensational—no dispensational commentaries—and no premillennial commentary, which shows a strange situation when you have people like W.A. Criswell who never deviates from the dispensational system and pastors the largest Baptist church in the Southern Baptist Convention, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and perhaps represents at least half of Southern Baptists. So Southern Baptists could have a nice little rift on millennialism. You have the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention gingerly trying to avoid such an issue. It’s because anybody that knows the situation in Southern Baptist life would know that we’d split right down the middle. It seems to me that we ought to be constructive and try to find common ground. I think common ground is a New Testament, and I don’t think dispensationalism and amillennialism are really sticking with the New Testament. I would say of my view in Southern Baptist life, it was a minority view. I would get great amens on that, but half of the amens would be dispensational amens. The other half would be amillennial amens. [laughs]
Rudolph: The next question was about your marriage. I forgot to ask you last time about the events surrounding your marriage.
Moody: Well, I met my wife in New Testament class here in seminary. She was born and reared in Louisville. Her people were sort of pioneer German immigrants to this country, and when I married her I became kin to about half of what they call German Town here in the city of Louisville. [laughs] Schnitzelburg they call it. As a matter of fact, my wife's great-grandfather built St. John’s Evangelical Church down here as a thank offering to God, a donkoffering to God, because he’d come to this country and made a considerable amount of money with brick. When you see Louisville bricks around here, bricks with the name “Louisville” on it, it goes back to a man named Frank Ernst. He is the man who gave the brick for this landmark church. Oh, I shouldn’t have used that term. That’s a theological term. But this old St. John’s Evangelical Church on Market Street. See the cornerstone written in German. That’s my wife’s background. They were what you would call German pietist, and that’s the stream of thought that Johann Bengel came from that I mentioned. You go to Tubingen today and look across the river from the university, there’s a Bengel house. Well, that is where the students stay who hold to the Swabian pietist theological position, which I would have a great deal of affinity to. But Bengel has sometimes been called the father of the scientific study of the Greek New Testament. See he’s not just a...when you mention Bengel as in salvation history, he coined a German term heilgeschicte. But when you mention him, you’re not just mentioning some second rate scholar. Go to the library, and you will find that his commentary on the New Testament is still a book of fresh insight. It’s called Gnomon. G-n-o-m-o-n. Gnomon. But it’s over in the library. You’d be surprised to look at it. That’s what I’m talking about when I talk about salvation history, with which I’d have great sympathy. Here in this seminary, Dr. Rust would be very much a representative of that kind of thinking. Of course his thought and my thought are basically the same. It might surprise people that an Englishman and a Texan would find themselves basically agreeing in theology. Of course with people like Cullman in Old Testament and scholars like Eichrodt and Von Rad. They’re all in this stream. You see this is a great stream of thought in German thinking. Practically all the Old Testament scholars today of great reputation in Germany come from this stream of thought. People don’t think of the two greatest Old Testament theologians of the last generation being salvation history men. All of the theology of hope you hear about today in Jurgen Moltmann and Pannenberg, Wolfhart Pannenberg. They basically are the children of these Old Testament scholars, and some New Testament scholars like Hanz Von Campenhausen of Heidelberg and then the best known, Yonkin Aramius [?] of Gerdelegan are all in this stream of thought. So when I tell you that these people in Germany are people who influenced me a lot, that doesn’t mean a shift in thinking. It means that they are congenial to the kind of thinking which I have come to see as satisfactory for my own faith.
Rudolph: Tell me about your Oxford studies.
Moody: Well, I went to Oxford because I had the feeling that I was getting somewhat too Germanic. You see, I had attended three German universities. I’d gone to Zurich and studied with Emil Brunner and to Basel and studied with Karl Barth—both these of course in Switzerland--and then to Heidelberg where I came to know Von Rad and Hanz Von Campenhausen. It just dawned upon me that maybe I should balance myself a little bit with exposure to British theology, and the opportunity came for me to go to Oxford for two years. This was one of the most constructive things I ever did, and I would regard myself more of an Anglican in theology than I would a Lutheran or a Calvinist. My reason for saying that is basically I take the general revelation of God in creation and human conscience as very seriously, as you will see when you read my theology notes. This is something that Lutheranism and Calvinism and Barth and Brunner would shy off from. Both Brunner and--Barth especially would basically deny what I call general revelation, and Emil Brunner would give it only of a negative value. I would say there’s positive value in general revelation. So much so that a person can by being receptive to the voice of God in the created order, can actually know God through the created order. Like Wordsworth would say, I felt a presence that disturbed me, the joy of elevated thought. And that is basically the contribution of a man like W.O. Carver here. He would be very much in sympathy with people like William Temple. Of course he was the one who led me into the study of some of these great British thinkers like Temple and Tennant and Oman and I would say even Charles Gore, what you might call the standard Anglo-Catholic thinkers of the Church of England. So I had a reason for going to Oxford. As a matter of fact it was quite a surprise in 1961 when I arrived in Oxford and they found a Southern Baptist who knew Charles Gore backward and forward. They wanted to know where on earth did you learn about Charles Gore? And I said, Southern Baptist Seminary. See, the writings of Charles Gore were deeply appreciated by W.O. Carver. Of course he was a generation before Temple. Dr. Carver, as my teacher, would perhaps at the time when he had a great influence on me and he woke up people of that type would be very--His number one man would be William Temple. I don’t know of anything of William Temple today that I care to reject. In other words, what you have here is a blending of philosophical theology with Biblical theology. I regard Temple’s philosophical theology congenial with what I would call Biblical theology. Of course much of the Biblical theology is rooted in some of the British thinkers. For example, Wheeler Robinson--who greatly influenced Dr. Rust--and H.H. Rowley. You must put them in this group. I think I owe a great debt to both of them. I think I told you before, when I was a student in Baylor, I used to sort of sneak around and read Wheeler Robinson because I wasn’t getting much out of the Bible classes. Wheeler Robinson is the man who opened up the historical study of the Old Testament to me, and he would be basically be along the line of the people I’ve mentioned in Germany like Von Rad, Eichrodt and Von Rad. So there’s no cleavage here whatsoever. Wheeler Robinson was a genius, himself. He simply soaked himself in the Old Testament scriptures, and in my opinion one of the most significant men of the twentieth century. His understanding of the Old Testament was really far ahead of the Germans in many ways. See, after all, Wheeler Robinson was writing a lot of these things before Eichrodt and Von Rad ever put pen to the…and this is something that you must keep in mind if you’re going to understand Dr. Rust, for he was a student of Wheeler Robinson. That had something to do with me going to Oxford, for he was the one who moved the Regents Park College from London to Oxford. When I went to Oxford I went to Regents Park College. I’m trying to make these connections, and I don’t want to give the impression that I was jumping from thing to thing. I had a very definite theological reason for going to Oxford. One is the influence of Carver, who had introduced me to Gore, who of course founded Pusey House in Oxford, which is the great Anglo-Catholic library there. The other was that I had read the writings of Wheeler Robinson. The two years at Oxford were very congenial years for me. I think still it’s the greatest place to think out your own theology of anywhere on earth because with fifty-four colleges around there, there is somebody around there who is an expert on everything. [laughs] You can find an expert on anything at Oxford, and so if you get interested in something all you do is go out and have tea and ask who knows about this and they tell you about some fellow in one of the colleges there who spent twenty-five years studying this problem. It’s a great place to go.
Rudolph: Tell me about your ecumenical involvement. Did this represent a change from your earlier years?
Moody: No. I would say because of my deep belief going back to the Scofield Reference Bible in the one body of Christ. Which is basically you must remember dispensationalism is highly interdenominational. Conservative but interdenominational and would greatly emphasize the one body of Christ. If I have too much of a distaste for Landmarkism it is because they deny that the church is the one body of Christ. I regard Landmarkism as a very definite deviation from the New Testament. How anyone can claim to believe the New Testament and deny the one body of Christ. As one fellow said to me when I wrote my first book on Christ and the church, which is on Ephesians. He said I shouldn’t harp on the idea of the one body of Christ because it can’t be found anywhere except in I Corinthians, Romans, Colossians, and Ephesians. If I do express distaste for Landmarkism, it is because it is almost hypocritical to say that they believe in verbal inspiration and deny the most fundamental teaching of the apostle Paul, in my judgement. I don’t think you can understand the apostle Paul if you don’t know what he means by the one body of Christ because it’s not just the church, but Paul’s Christology, his view of the Christian life, his ethics, anywhere you let down in Paul it’s conditioned by this one thing: that the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ continues in the church, his body. In other words, when Paul calls the church the body of Christ, he means it. He’s not just talking so to speak about the body of Christ. He means that Jesus Christ continues to work in human history through those who are united to Him by faith. If I talk like I really believe this, you’re getting me straight. That is why it is absolutely impossible for me to be a Landmarker. Of course all their other ideas like Baptist succession, which is Baptist mythology, tracing us through the worst heretics in history, and alien immersion, and closed communion, and pulpit affiliation. All those issues don’t make any sense unless you…In other words, I’m trying to say that landmarkism is a fundamental heresy. That’s putting it in a harsh way. But I think that these people who are always thinking that the church is nothing but a little gathered church, is what I call the town hall view of the church. It came out of New England, and how these people don’t know the difference in New England and the New Testament. J. R. Graves brought this idea down into the Southern Baptist Convention out of Vermont. Unless we say it in a caustic way and confront them with it, they’re not going to realize that their tradition that they have swallowed that came out of New England is a deviation from the New Testament in a most fundamental sense. I guess you get the idea that I am not a Landmarker. Of course some of this is from W.O. Carver, too, who had a perfect distaste for it, for it flogged the seminary for the first hundred years of its existence practically. I mean this seminary was flogged by the Landmark tradition. Dr. Carver, of course, was the chief target for many years of the Landmarkers. It caused the Whitsitt controversy, of course, because Whitsitt denied the second article of the faith, Baptist Succession, which no Baptist historian—I don’t know of any Baptist historian today who would disagree with Whitsitt on Baptist history. But you know the Landmarkers trace us through such motley heretics as the Paulicians and the Catharians and even worse people than these people.
Anyway, that’s….Go ahead with your other questions. I tend to want to elaborate on these points, but I’ve said these before. You won’t understand me if you do not realize that even though I come from a denomination that was born in the cradle of Calvinism, I’ve kicked the slats out of the cradle. Even though I had my first religious experience in a Landmark church, I repudiate Landmarkism. There’s a reason for this. It deviates from the New Testament. Now you’re beginning to see why the learning of Greek and the love for Robertson have a lot to do with this, therefore I had to move out of the Landmark tradition because it deviated from the New Testament in my judgment. I had to move away from the dispensational tradition because it deviated from the New Testament. On many other things, I think if you do not understand the tremendous impact made upon me by the fact that I could read the Greek New Testament for myself before I came to seminary, and that I had already read the six volumes by A.T. Robertson before I ever enrolled as a student here. You say, “Why?” It’s not that I ran off and got some philosophical system that fits my fancy. It’s because I have been faithful to the scriptures as best I knew how. If I’m not faithful to the scriptures, I’m willing for someone to point out where I am not faithful to the scriptures. Because I basically consider myself a Biblical theologian. I do not feel like—That sounds like I am a fundamentalist. Well, I guess I do, in a way, believe all five fundamentals. That’s a funny thing. You’re always running around, talking about the five fundamentals. I think that many of the things they call fundamentals are secondary beliefs. I don’t put them where they put them, the foundation, because the foundation to me is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and not what they call the fundamentals. Of course the fundamentals are basically the five points where they differ with the modernists, with the liberals, you see. And so it becomes an eccentric theology because practically every one of the fundamentals—well not every one because the death and resurrection of Christ would be one of the fundamentals—but the way they emphasize it sort of made an eccentric theology. It majored on minors sometimes. One, for example to say that the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, well that’s a fundamental. I believe in it, myself. The fact that it’s mentioned in two gospels and that’s it, doesn’t make it one of the central things in the New Testament. You could be a Christian and preach Mark and John, and not Luke and Matthew. You could be a Christian and preach Paul, who never mentions virgin birth, you see. You see what I’m saying to people and they want to clobber you. They think you’re a heretic. They think you’re denying it. You can read what I’ve said on the virgin birth. Yes, I believe that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, but to make it the fundamental thing. I would say that a person could be a pretty good Christian who never heard of the virgin birth. That’s what I mean by the fundamentalism. But you see their key doctrine is verbal inspiration, and so the long day of Joshua is just as important in Joshua, to them, as the resurrection of Jesus from the dead in the gospel of John. They have a flat Bible. Joshua is just as important as John to them because everything is verbal inspiration. They believe in the virgin birth, but many of them…For example, I don’t even like to use the term virgin birth. I’ve used the term, through the years, “miraculous conception,” because the miracle didn’t take place when Jesus was born. It was when Jesus was conceived. Raymond Brown, the Roman Catholic, says virginal conception in a beautiful lecture which he gave right here on this campus. Well, that’s exactly the way that I put it. Notice what I said a while ago conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. But what a lot of people mean by the virgin birth, I don’t believe at all. Pious Catholics don’t even think that Mary’s womb was open when Jesus was born. Like old Jerome said, He went through the wall of Mary’s womb like He went through the wall of Joseph’s tomb. I think that’s a heresy. They call that perpetual virginity. Actually the very term virgin birth is distasteful to me. I created a furor years ago when I introduced the term miraculous conception. If you read what I say in the Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible under the heading virgin birth, because they asked me to write the article on it, it’s interesting that on the virgin birth I wrote it in the first edition of the Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Now they have the supplementary volume. The supplementary article is written by Raymond Brown, the Roman Catholic. As far as I know, we don’t deviate one iota. As a matter of fact, what he says just supplements what I said, and of course since then he’s written that masterful book called The Birth of the Messiah. Have you seen it? Tremendous work that’s just come out called The Birth of the Messiah by Raymond Brown. It’s a great comfort to me to find out, here’s a Roman Catholic with whom I basically agree not only there but in many other places. Matter of fact, I could get along with Raymond Brown a lot easier than I could with some Southern Baptists on the Bible because I think he sticks with the Bible more than they do. I’m talking about Southern Baptists who think they hold the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. I just add this so that you understand it. When I pick up the Jerusalem Bible or the Jerome Biblical Commentary, despite the name Jerome, I would say ninety-eight percent of the time, I agree with those two books. They’re done by Roman Catholics because when Roman Catholics go back to the scripture and I try to go back to the scripture, we come pretty close together. That’s where the problem is today. Scripture versus tradition for them, for me. And so the hot water I get into in the Southern Baptist Convention is almost always when I’m expounding the scriptures. Sometimes just quoting it gets you in trouble. They say it’s Bible but not Baptist because you’ve got creeping creedalism in the Southern Baptist Convention. It wants you to take some tradition that they’ve written a little creed about. For example, I regard the Baptist Faith and Message very much like a student called it when he first read it. He called it a “Hobbes-podge” because about two-thirds of it look like sermons Dr. Hobbes preached in the First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City. It actually is not as good as the 1925 confession. We’ve got people today like the Baptist Faith and Message Fellowship that want to make a creed out of that. Well, if I had time to go through it, I could show you flaw after flaw after flaw in the Baptist Faith and Message. It’s a hastily put together thing to try to put out a fire. Basically the one that Ralph Elliot set, but I set part of it too. And so, to me that’s very distasteful, this creedalism. Greek New Testament, yes. Creeds, no.
[end of side 1, CA 2127]
Rudolph: This is similar. Dr. Shurden talks about the stat poles of […] theology. What would you say are the cornerstones of theology?
Moody: Well, it’s very easy. The Bible. But I take very seriously historical theology, which I taught of course five years here in the seminary. I take, there are many theologians in the church like Irenaeus and the Greek fathers or Tertullian and the Latin fathers, that I identify with very much. But I have great appreciation for St. Thomas Aquinas. I think a lot of people don’t realize what a treasure house St. Thomas really is. I’m not sure but what I don’t agree with St. Thomas more than I do Martin Luther because St. Thomas made place for reason and revelation in nature—for what he called natural theology, that I call general revelation. Not exactly the same, but basically that you could know God by reason and that philosophy is not the enemy of faith. Luther spouted out that philosophy was sort of a putzfrau, a charwoman, or like a character in a comedy. He was as wrong on that as when he jumped on Copernicus for saying the earth turns on its axis. In other words, there are just a lot of things about Martin Luther that are made of clay, and that’s one of them. I would say that St. Thomas’s head is clearer than Luther’s head is sometimes when I read them. [laughs] So I’m no enemy of philosophy, particularly Aristotle. I would say there are problems that arise, but I think we have to deal with philosophy and science. That’s why I’m not a fundamentalist because I basically accept modern science. I have an appreciation particularly for existentialist philosophy. But I would also appreciate the three main currents of philosophy today: process philosophy, existentialism, and analytical philosophy. I would say that the one that I would feel most congenial with would be existentialism. I could regard myself as a Christian existentialist. I don’t feel like I have to swear every time I say philosophy. We used to have a professor at the seminary that felt like he had to snort out both his nostrils when he said philosophy. Well I don’t feel that way at all.
Rudolph: Is there anything that you…One of the primary changes you’ve made since your seminary training, you’ve become more conservative, more liberal, or about the same? Or on what points have you changed?
Moody: I would say, I wouldn’t say change as much as growth. I, despite the fact that many people might think I’ve made radical changes, I don’t regard my changes as radical. Certainly a conservative view of the Bible until, well by the time I got to the seminary I was studying the Bible in the light of Biblical criticism. I think I used Biblical criticism as much as anybody in the seminary, every form of it—textual, higher criticism what they call textual criticism, higher criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism. I used all of it. Some people think I go into form criticism too much because I find too many hymns in the New Testament. They say I’ve got hymn-o-mania. Well that’s form criticism because I take basically John A.T. Robinson’s view that most of the New Testament writings are much earlier. That most of them are before the year 70 AD. One of the interesting things about it is this Protestant bias that certain books of the Bible and they got to place them late in the first century or in the second century. See, Tyndale put them at the end of the Bible. You know I and II Peter, Jude, James, the three letters of John and Revelation. Why did they put them at the end of the Bible? Because Luther wanted five of them out of the New Testament. Luther didn’t want James and Hebrews, that awful book you see that gets me in trouble so much. James and Hebrews, Jude, II Peter and Revelation, Luther wanted out of the Bible. Read the Jerome Biblical Commentary sometimeand the section by Raymond Brown called “The Canon Within the Canon”, and you’ll understand why Tyndale—You know, one of the most fundamentalist organizations, presses today called the Tyndale Press—Tyndale put the books at the end of his New Testament. The whole history of Protestantism has tended to put these books either late in the first century or clear into the second century. Why? It’s basically theological bias, and that’s why they were so shocked when John Robinson wrote his book called, Redating the New Testament. That’s why it’s good to confront Catholic scholars, because they’re not afraid of I and II Peter. They’re not afraid of James and Hebrews. [laughs] They may be a little afraid of Revelation, but they’re certainly not afraid of I and II Peter because the Popes usually give you as a momento when you visit—Well it was that way under Paul VI—If you met him, he might give you a beautiful little leather bound copy of I and II Peter because you happen to be there at St. Peter’s in Rome.
Rudolph: What were the nature of the changes or the growth or the different….?
Moody: What? Here in this seminary, I would say that it was reaching the place where I could assimilate science and philosophy along with Biblical theology. I’ve always had my first loyalty to the scriptures, but with W.O. Carver who helped me to see I that I didn’t have to make a choice between scripture and science like the fundamentalists want to make it. Or scripture and philosophy. That’s why I feel so warmly towards him. I found out I could agree with scripture and science, scripture and philosophy. That, I would not say change, but I think that’s definite forward, definitely growth. Because the trunk of my tree has not been removed. The trunk is always a Biblical trunk, but the fact that he helped me to be fearless in relating it to science and philosophy was a great step forward. See? Now naturally when I went to Switzerland in 1948 and studied with Emil Brunner and Karl Barth, I think there was a sort of weaning period there. I had written a doctoral dissertation on Brunner. Brunner himself said I knew more about his writings than any man alive. That’s in writing, so I can quote it. But anyway, it was basically on their narrow view that I felt like I had to go into business for myself, so to speak. The fact that Barth denied general revelation, that Brunner, I would say, devalued it; the only thing that general revelation did was make you accountable for your sins and no opportunity to be saved at all in Brunner. I would say that when I came back and over five years’ time I taught Old Testament theology five years and New Testament theology for five years—one of them in the fall and the other in the spring—and assimilated the impact that Walter Eichrodt made on me, that Oscar Cullman made on me, that I was definitely seeing that Barth and Brunner was not always Bible like some people think, you know. They get their one theologian, and if you want to know what they believe they have to look and see what Karl Barth says on it. I’m not that kind, so I had to get weaned away from the influence of Barth and Brunner basically on the study of the Bible, which again has a lot to do with me later. That was ‘57-’58 I went to Heidelberg. I went there and one of the main things I did when I was in Heidelberg was write many of the articles, several of the articles of the Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. I’m the only Southern Baptist in the Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. I wrote most of those articles in Heidelberg. At the same time I was listening to these magnificent men: Von Rad and Von Campenhausen. We always called them the Two Vons. You know, v-o-n. It’s pronounced “fon” in German. Von Rad means the wheel. Rad means wheel. We always affectionately referred to him as the wheel. And Von Campenhausen. They were the great dynamos in Heidelberg. One of them taught New Testament; the other told Old Testament. I say that over and over. Don’t forget that even as late as ‘57-’58, and then ‘61-’62 I went to Oxford on my next sabbatical leave. And I would say that my position has been fairly settled. What in Oxford? I suppose the thing in Oxford that I learned to assimilate more than anything else was the—and this sounds strange to a lot of people—it would be spirituality, the feeling of a disciplined life of prayer and the fact that I don’t panic when someone gets charismatic. The charismatics don’t scare me off. We’ve got Southern Baptists who will have apoplexy when someone speaks in tongues in their presence. When I got to Oxford and found out that doesn’t bother anybody after all the Wesleys started over there at Lincoln College. They didn’t speak in tongues, but they sure did put a lot of emphasis on the charismatic and found brilliant Oxford students who talked in tongues and found the bishop of Oxford ordained a boy who came from the Assemblies of God. It didn’t scare him at all. But to get back to Southern Baptist life, if someone speaks in tongues you get clobbered. I would say in a broad sense, if you know what the Anglo-Catholics mean by spirituality. Now that’s not a super sanctimonious term. That’s definitely a term with which I think we ought to assimilate ourselves. They call it the formation in the Christian life. You’ve got to discipline your life in prayer and worship so that you daily walk with God and don’t just have spasmodic experiences with God. This to me is the greatness of Oxford. It’s not exclusive. They’ve got an old saying there, “We make room for everybody.” And some queer birds are there. [laughs] They’ve got everything from atheists to charismatics at Oxford, but it’s a great place to balance yourself because no one is going to squelch you. You can find some little nook somewhere where you can be at home in Oxford. So that’s the great contribution there. It’s a comprehensiveness, the inclusiveness of things. For example, world religions—You’ll see Zaner at All Souls. His study of world religions had a lot to do with my feeling that, well if I find a Jew or a Muslim or a Buddhist who’s had an authentic experience with God, I don’t have to wreck my theology to believe that fellow’s met God. That’s part of general revelation that we share. But Zaner at All Souls, Oxford is one of the great authorities of the world on mysticism and world religions, and he had a….his book Mysticismhad a great influence on me while I was at Oxford. All this was congenial; it goes into other things. Remember way back when I was a student at Baylor, way back in those days, Pentecostalism had an influence on me through the Assemblies of God. So when I was at Oxford, I didn’t have to break with my brothers of the Assemblies of God to be a Christian, to be a Baptist, or to be whatever I am. I don’t know what you call me. Nevertheless I don’t feel like I’ve got to shun the Catholic or shun the charismatic. I think that the words I’d like to use are, I’m not an exclusivist. In other words, you can swing on the chandelier and shout hallelujah if you want to. I’ll still try to accept you as my brother and hope when you hit the floor after you swing on the chandelier for a while that you’ll walk straight and you’ll be a person manifesting the fruit of the spirit in your life. Or you may be a great intellectual, and there are many of them in Oxford University. You may be a great intellectual and you may feel like you have to empirically justify everything that you believe. Well I not only accept that, but I admire it. I admire tough minded people. That’s not new. See, W.O. Carver was as tough as he could be. I mean tough mindedness. He would tackle any theological problem, and that’s why Oxford was so great to me. I’ve had no reactions against Oxford. [laughs]
Rudolph: When you mentioned World Religions and general revelation, would you affirm a possibility of salvation for…?
Moody: Yes. That’s what I’ve been saying. Certainly. How can you read Martin Buber and think he was lost?
Rudolph: Well I agree with you but I….
Moody: The I and thou. If Martin Buber is wrong with the I and thou, Emil Brunner shouldn’t use it so much. Half of Emil Brunner’s theology is written on the basis of Martin Buber. The best of Brunner is from Buber. In 1937, when he gave his old auspetri [?] lectures, “Truth is Encounter”, he called it himself his breakthrough, his durchbruchen. You can take the theology of Emil Brunner and divide it into two divisions: when he was riding piggyback on Kant and when he was riding piggyback on Buber. The best in Brunner is Buber, not Kant. Up until 1937, Brunner had a Kantian metaphysic, a Kantian philosophy. I don’t have time to go through it, but my thesis traces it. I say it. He read my thesis. If you think my thesis here in the seminary is not true to Brunner, ask Brunner. He read it, and it was on the basis of reading my thesis that he asked me to come live with him and introduced me to the University of Zurich as here’s an American that knows more about my theology than I do. [laughs] That was a very kind thing to say, but that expressed our relation one to another. But you see, I went on beyond what I think Brunner ever did. Brunner was getting to be an old man when I got to know him in ’37, and I was there, basically I studied Brunner ’37 to ’47 and then in ’48 I went to live with him. Well, he was getting up in years by that time, so I think he would have come along further than he went had he not gone to Japan and had a physical breakdown, and so on like that. I have a warm feeling for Emil Brunner, but I feel I’ve gone far beyond what he contributed to me.
Rudolph: The last main section was, I want you to tell me about the most prominent controversies in the Southern Baptist Convention.
Moody: Well I’ve been having controversies in the Southern Baptist Convention ever since 1941 when I preached a series of sermons on the book of Hebrews and came to believe that you can’t explain the book of Hebrews without recognizing the possibility of apostasy for the immature. I could go into that, but that’s about as old as 1941. If you want to see the whole story, read Clark Youngblood’s thesis, which has just been finished, which is not even submitted yet, but it’s typed. Clark Youngblood’s thesis traces the whole history. That was the first time I got into hot water. Then I got into it again on the same subject in 1961 in Oklahoma when I was teaching Colossians, and where it says in Colossians 1:23 that Christ will present us to the Father provided we continue in the faith. When I just quoted that passage, continue in the faith, one fellow came up like a buffalo blowing water and said, “You mean to imply that we may not continue in the faith?” I said, “That’s what Paul meant, and that’s what Jesus said. Some believe for a while and in the time of temptation fall away.” Well, the fat was in the fire. That was a day to remember because for about three hours that afternoon we sat under the trees under benches out on old B.U.’s campus and read scripture. Basically it was just having, brother so and so will you read this scripture? What do you say when you preach on that? Well, most of them were good natured and said, “I don’t preach on those texts.” Finally, we got to I John 5:16 where it says there is a sin unto death. I asked a man to read it, and he was so nervous he couldn’t read it, and his wife read it. I said, “What do you say when you preach on it?” Well, he didn’t say a word. He didn’t answer my question He just spouted out, “This, brother, may be Bible, but it’s not Baptist.” We’d read about fifteen or twenty passages by that time. “This may be Bible, but it’s not Baptist.” He jumped up in a rage and went over and tried to get John Raley to drive me off campus. Well, I dinner with John Raley that night, and he told me all about it and thought it was funny. I didn’t know that he was going to go to Oklahoma City next week, or soon afterward, and get a group of preachers who’d never heard me—not a one of them had ever heard me—to pass a resolution against me.
Rudolph: It passed?
Moody: Oh, yeah, sure. I sat right here in this room and they sent a resolution to the board of trustees and the president. I sat right here and a committee of the board of trustees heard me on it. I had a heresy trial right in this room on that point, and I don’t—My view today on that point is basically what it was in 1941, and I came to that belief in 1941 reading A.T. Robertson. I preached a series of sermons in Hebrews. I’d learned to read the Greek New Testament. See, I’d had six years of Greek by that time, so when I got to the place, I believed it. I got in trouble, but you see that’s that tradition stuff. The fact that the book of Hebrews says, “Beware brothers lest there be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief in falling away from the living God.” There’s an old story about Robertson talking about Hebrews one day. One of the students asked him, “Dr. Robertson, do you think I could to that?” Dr. Robertson stuttered and said, “Brother, I wouldn’t try it.” [laughs] He just thought you better not try it; you might be able to do it. Because you got the people who didn’t think you could apostasize if you tried real hard. [laughs]
Rudolph: What other controversies besides on apostasy have…?
Moody: Oh, well. There wouldn’t be any one like that. That’s been the one that’s been the thorn in my flesh over the years. I’ve had controversies of course with those who are anti-charismatic because I don’t feel obligated to clobber the charismatics. Ever since, oh I would say ever since 1937 when I became very friendly to the Assemblies of God churches, particularly Albert Ott, people like that and Loren Stats in Dallas. I’ve never felt like I could break fellowship with Pentecostals. Consequently, some of my colleagues right here in the seminary and I just can’t even discuss the charismatic movement because they feel so violently against it. I’m sorry, but some of the most lovely students I have had over the last several years have been charismatic, and I cannot repudiate them. I would say over my openness to the charismatics, which you will see in my book Spirit of the Living God. I’m very cordial. I’m towards the charismatics just like I am towards the dispensationalists. I won’t break fellowship with them if they don’t break fellowship with me, but I am a lot more sympathetic with the charismatics than I am the dispensationalists. [laughs] Unfortunately, they’re usually the same; most charismatics are dispensationalists. Well, not now. It’s interesting that the charismatic movement has come to agree very much with the position that I would hold on eschatology, and George Ladd would hold. It’s quite an interesting thing that the charismatics have fairly well embraced this viewpoint of eschatology which I hold. That would be the second thing I would say. Then of course I’ve always had controversy with the Landmarkers on the one body of Christ. That’s almost as old as apostasy. Ever since I’ve been here in this seminary, since W.O. Carver became my teacher, and I became so convinced that deviation from believing in the church as one body of Christ is wrong and should be repudiated. You had to fight Kentucky Landmarkers off your back, and not only Kentucky Landmarkers, but particularly Landmarkers of the southwest where Graves’ influence was so tremendous. I would say the apostasy controversy, the body of Christ controversy—Notice all these are Biblical terms I’m using.—and the charismatic controversy—That is also a Biblical term. The charismata, I Corinthians 12. I would say it’s in the realms basically of salvation, and the Holy Spirit, and eschatology where the controversies have gone on all through the years. Simply because we got large groups of Southern Baptists who think the word falling away, despite the fact that there’s something on this in every book of the New Testament except Philemon, they think this is terrible. Falling away of course is a term in Hebrews. Apostasy. I use the word apostasy like Hebrews 3:12 uses it. Apostani is the term there, falling away from the living God. Those would be the areas. Of course I often upset people when I get on the doctrine of creation and man because I think you can believe in scientific astronomy and scientific geology and anthropology and still be a Christian. Well of course naturally that gets them all upset because they still think the world was created in 4004 BC. After all, it’s at the top of the Scofield Bible, 4004 BC, so you got to hold to it. Like old Henry Morris today, he gets liberal at times and says the world may possibly be as old as ten thousand, but it’s perhaps no older than six. He’s very liberal to grant this. And it makes me sort of feel a little funny knowing that--having had geology as my major science—knowing that I’m sitting on a Devonian knob here that’s a quarter of a billion years old. It sort of makes me feel a little funny to be teaching that the world is six thousand years old while I’m sitting on top of a Devonian knob here at this seminary that’s a half billion years old. So really, the science and scripture would be something that would be, that makes them a little nervous. As a matter of fact, some of the conservatives they just wish they weren’t as afraid of science, like I am. See, I’m not afraid. But they’re afraid that they give up the Bible. See, that’s the point. [I am] afraid that this undermines scripture, and I do believe before God and all the brethren that I do believe the Bible more than they do. I just don’t think that the acceptance of modern science would undermine my belief in the Bible.