The Smith-Christian Debate
A. C. Grider
November 7-12 I was in Oklahoma City moderating in a debate between Brother J. T. Smith and Mr. Carol Christian. Smith resides in Oklahoma City but rather recently moved to Dayton, Ohio. Christian lives in Stillwater, Oklahoma. It was a good debate. Fine order prevailed. Moderator for Mr. Christian was Pat Murphy of Oklahoma City. He was a man and a congenial co-moderator.
Three subjects were discussed with six propositions. Establishment of the church was discussed' for two nights with each man affirming his contention for one night. Smith contended the church was established on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ. Christian contended the church was established during the personal ministry of
Christ. Water baptism consumed two nights with each man affirming one night. Smith insisted baptism was essential to salvation and Christian affirmed that it was not. Then the two men affirmed one night each on the final security of the saints. Smith said a child of God could fall and go to hell. Christian said a child of God could not fall.
It would consume too much space in this paper to review the arguments presented pro and con. Suffice it to say that, in my judgment, J. T. Smith has come up quickly and has become one of the best defenders of the faith among us. Any time any church anywhere finds itself in need of a defender of the faith, go ahead and call J. T. Smith and you will be richly rewarded. Truth will never suffer in his hands.
While Smith remained master of the situation throughout the debate, Mr. Christian amazed us many times with radical statements. For instance, when Smith showed the corner stone (foundation) had to be tried before it could be laid, Christian countered that they did not need a corner stone to build the church. He declared that the corner stone was put in later, after the building was completed! And when Smith showed that the kingdom was to come with power (Mark 9:1), Christian said that was "the kingdom of the transfiguration!"
On the subject of baptism, Smith presented the "baptism passages" and showed the necessity of baptism in each of them. Christian ignored these verses and contended that, since salvation is by faith, baptism could not have anything to do with it.
If Christian was confused on the kingdom and baptism questions, he was doubly confused on the final security question. In answer to one of Smith's questions, Christian said a child of God could not sin. -And in one of his speeches he declared that it was impossible for a child of God to sin. He tried to prove it by I John 3:9. But, in some literature he passed out to the audience, he had this statement: "The question here is not whether a child of God can sin or not. We all know that he can." Thus he was hopelessly confused.
It was a good debate. The truth prevailed. Undoubtedly, much good will come from the discussion. Attendance was not as good as we had hoped it would be. But a good many Baptists attended and some of them were seemingly affected by the truth. I enjoyed association with J. T. Smith (luring the debate. He is a good man and a good debater.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XI: 5, pp. 14-15