This is a guest blog from Dr. Todd Lewis, Senior Processor and Project Manager for the James D. Bales Papers in Special Collections, University of Arkansas Libraries. 

James D. Bales (1915-1995) was a professor of Bible and theology at Harding College in Searcy, Arkansas, for almost forty years.  A prolific writer with more than forty books to his credit, he was best known as an anti-Communist polemicist.

Bales was also a dedicated member of the Church of Christ who regarded himself as a defender of the faith, which in his mind had a distinctly fundamentalist flavor.

Bales portrait

James D. Bales, longtime professor at Harding College, prolific writer, and tireless advocate of conservative, anti-Communist positions in 1962. From the James D. Bales Papers (MC1256, in process).

He fearlessly and ferociously pitted his views against those of atheists, evolutionists, and scientists.  These included Albert Einstein, with whom he corresponded in the 1950s.  On one occasion Bales asked the eminent scientist what his religious views were.  Einstein responded in this fashion.

Letter from Albert Einstein to James D. Bales, a conservative theologian and professor at Harding College in Searcy, Arkansas, June 4, 1952. Einstein responded directly to Bales’ asking him about his views on God and religion. Note the handwritten signature as well as the embossed address from Einstein’s home in Princeton, New Jersey.


Einstein enclosure

An enclosure included by Albert Einstein with his personalized response to James D. Bales. The enclosure has three paragraphs of text Einstein had previously used to explain his views on a “personal God” and the human situation. Einstein in 1952 described himself as a “religious unbeliever.”

The processing of the James D. Bales Papers was funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). The substantial collections is scheduled to be opened to the public in October 2017. The Bales Papers represents the latest major collection at the University of Arkansas Libraries Special Collections documenting conservative political ad religious beliefs in Arkansas and surrounding region, complementing the department’s extensive records on the political, social, and cultural history of Arkansas and the state’s connection to the world.