J. Vernon McGee

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J. Vernon McGee
John Vernon McGee

June 17, 1904
DiedDecember 1, 1988 (aged 84)
Templeton, California, US
Resting placeMountain View Cemetery and Mausoleum Altadena, California
  • Minister; Bible Teacher
  • Founder and teacher of the "Thru the Bible" radio program
Known forWorldwide evangelistic radio
Spouse(s)Ruth Inez Jordan McGee [1]
WebsiteThru the Bible

John Vernon McGee, Th.D., LL.D, (June 17, 1904 – December 1, 1988) was an American ordained Presbyterian minister, pastor, a Bible teacher, a theologian, and a radio minister. [2]


Early years and education[edit]

McGee was born in Hillsboro, Texas,[3] the son of Mrs. Carrie Lingner McGee.[4] His father was an engineer at a cotton mill.[3] Before entering the ministry, Vernon was an official at a bank.[5]

After attending Southwest University,[3] he graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Columbia Theological Seminary[6] and Master of Theology and Doctor of Theology degrees from Dallas Theological Seminary.[3] His ordination into the ministry occurred on June 18, 1933, at the Second Presbyterian Church in Nashville, Tennessee.[4]

McGee's first church was located on a red clay hill in Midway, Georgia. He served Presbyterian churches in Decatur, Georgia; Nashville, Tennessee; and Cleburne, Texas, before he moved with his wife to Pasadena, California, where he accepted the pastorate at the Lincoln Avenue Presbyterian Church.

In 1949, McGee became the pastor of the Church of the Open Door in downtown Los Angeles, where he continued as pastor until 1970. In 1955, McGee had a well-publicized break with the Presbyterian Church, in which he claimed the church's "liberal leadership [had] taken over the machinery of the presbytery with a boldness and ruthlessness that is appalling."[7] After retiring from the pastorate at the Church of the Open Door in 1970, he devoted his remaining years to the Thru the Bible Radio Network. McGee also served as chairman of the Bible department at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles[8] and as a visiting lecturer at Dallas Theological Seminary.

Thru the Bible[edit]

In 1967, he began broadcasting the Thru the Bible Radio Network program. In a systematic study of each book of the Bible, McGee took his listeners from Genesis to Revelation in a two-and-a-half-year "Bible bus trip," as he called it. He had earlier preached a "Through the Bible in a Year" series of sermons, each devoted to one chapter of the Bible, at the Church of the Open Door.[9] After retiring from the pastorate in January, 1970, and realizing that two and a half years was not enough time to teach the whole Bible, McGee completed another study of the entire Bible in a five-year period. Thru the Bible has been translated into over 100 languages and is broadcast on Trans World Radio throughout the world every weekday.

McGee advocated creationism in his Thru the Bible broadcasts.[10]

Beliefs, teachings, and writings[edit]

McGee held the belief that premillennialism (a.k.a. pre-tribulation) is the proper interpretation of Revelation 20:1–3, 7–8, regarding the end times prior to the final judgment. He expressed his disbelief in any validity to the view of Amillennialism, which was the dominant view of the Protestant Reformers and is still held by the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.[11][12] McGee wrote more than 100 books about Bible topics.[3]


McGee continued many speaking engagements after he retired, including throughout a bout of cancer from which he fully recovered. However, a heart problem surgically corrected in 1965 resurfaced, and he died in his chair in 1988.[13] Since his death, the five-year program of Thru the Bible has continued to air on over 800 radio stations in North America, is heard in more than 100 languages, and is broadcast worldwide via radio, shortwave, and the Internet.

An obituary distributed by the Associated Press reported that McGee died of heart failure at a nursing home in Templeton, California, at age 84.[14] His wife, Ruth, died in 1997 after having suffered from dementia for nearly a decade [15].


McGee was inducted into the National Religious Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1989.[16]

Education and areas of service[edit]

Table 1: Education
Degree Year Institution
Bachelor of Arts (A.B.) 1930 Southwestern (Memphis, TN)
Bachelor of Divinity (B.Div.) 1933 Columbia Theological Seminary
Master of Theology (Th.M.) 1937 Dallas Theological Seminary
Doctor of Theology (Th.D.) 1940 Dallas Theological Seminary
Table 2: Pastorates
Years Congregation Location Denomination
19??-19?? ?? Cleveland, Texas Presbyterian
1932-1933 Midway Presbyterian Church Decatur, Georgia Presbyterian[17][18]
1930-1933 Westminster Presbyterian Church Decatur, Georgia Presbyterian
1933-1936 Second Presbyterian Church Nashville, Tennessee Presbyterian
May 3, 1936-October 3, 1940 First Presbyterian Church Cleburne, Texas Presbyterian
1940-1948 Lincoln Avenue Presbyterian Church Pasadena, California Presbyterian
1949-1970 Church of the Open Door Los Angeles, California non-denominational
Table 3: Radio Ministries
Years Program Location
1941-19?? The Open Bible Hour Pasadena, California
19??-1967 High Noon Bible Class Pasadena, California
1967–Present Thru the Bible Pasadena, California

Additional areas of service:

  • Head of the English Bible Department at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (a.k.a. Biola University)
  • Visiting lecturer at Dallas Theological Seminary
  • In 1962 he co-founded and taught at the Los Angeles Bible Training School (a.k.a. LABTS)[19]


  1. ^ "Dr. J. Vernon McGee".
  2. ^ "Job 26:7—28:28 - Thru the Bible with Dr. J. Vernon McGee".
  3. ^ a b c d e "Rev. J. Vernon McGee, 84; Pioneer Radio Evangelist". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. December 4, 1988. p. 43. Retrieved June 23, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  4. ^ a b "Ordination Services". The Tennessean. Tennessee, Nashville. June 18, 1933. p. 8. Retrieved June 22, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  5. ^ "McGee Will Speak at Brotherhood". The Daily News-Journal. Tennessee, Murfreesboro. March 31, 1936. p. 4. Retrieved June 22, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  6. ^ "J. Sprole Lyons Heads Decatur School Body". The Atlanta Constitution. Georgia, Atlanta. May 11, 1933. p. 15. Retrieved June 22, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  7. ^ "Rev. J. Vernon McGee, 84; Pioneer Radio Evangelist".
  8. ^ "Family Night to Be Rally Feature". The San Bernardino County Sun. California, San Bernardino. September 4, 1948. p. 11. Retrieved June 22, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  9. ^ "Bible Series Services to Run for Year". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. September 16, 1950. p. 15. Retrieved June 22, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  10. ^ McIver, Thomas Allen. (1989). Creationism: Intellectual Origins, Cultural Context, and Theoretical Diversity. University of California, Los Angeles.
  11. ^ "Thru the Bible Q&A with McGee".
  12. ^ "Through the Bible:Genesis through Revleation".
  13. ^ "Dr. J. Vernon McGee". Thru the Bible.
  14. ^ "California evangelist J. Vernon McGee dies". Honolulu Star-Bulletin. Hawaii, Honolulu. Associated Press. December 5, 1988. p. 26. Retrieved June 23, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  15. ^ "A Marathon of Loss".
  16. ^ "NRB Hall of Fame". NRB. National Religious Broadcasters. Archived from the original on 6 November 2015. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  17. ^ "Midway Presbyterian". The Atlanta Constitution. Georgia, Atlanta. March 5, 1932. p. 20. Retrieved June 22, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  18. ^ "News of the Churches". The Atlanta Constitution. Georgia, Atlanta. May 6, 1933. p. 11. Retrieved June 22, 2018 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  19. ^ "Los Angeles Bible Training School about page".

Delgado, Berta (2004). "A voice from the heavens". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved 2008-08-07.

External links[edit]