October 24, 2017

Letters of Interest

By Leslie Diestelkamp

In the May, 1957 issue of TRUTH magazine, the following words were included in an article by me: "It is the
view of this writer that it is time that somebody affirmed that the church, from its treasury, is scripturally
authorized to care for the world's needy to the extent of its ability. I shall be glad to deny this affirmation in
written discussion in this magazine, and shall further gladly affirm that the church, from its treasury is
scripturally authorized, in the field of benevolence, only to care for needy brethren (saints)." The following
exchange of correspondence is self-explanatory. This includes all of my correspondence with brother Woods
except for one letter in which brother Woods only indicated his inability to answer immediately and asked for
time to allow for his reply.


-- Leslie Diestelkamp


August 15, 1957


Dear Brother Diestelkamp,


Lately a copy of an article by you, entitled, "Forced Conclusions," has been forwarded to me, in which I
note an offer on your part to engage in a written debate to be carried in your paper on whether the church
sustains any obligation in the field of benevolence toward those not members of the body of Christ.


I think I might be interested in such a discussion with you, provided there are no hidden conditions, and
an equitable arrangement, touching length and number of articles may be agreed on. If you are disposed to do
what you offer to do in this article, please advise me, together with what length of articles you have in mind,
and number, and perhaps we can get together in the matter.


Faithfully yours


GUY N. WOODS (signed)


August 19, 1957


Dear Brother Woods,


Your letter of August 15, reached me after a little delay because I was away at a meeting. It was received
with appreciation, and I am very grateful that you have expressed interest in a written discussion to be carried
in TRUTH magazine. I believe such a discussion would satisfy a need that has been keenly felt by many
brethren, and has been often expressed to me.


Your offer has been discussed with brother Vinson, and he seems happy about it and he has agreed to write
a letter to each of us stating briefly the conditions which he would require if the matter is to be published. Let
us hone that such conditions will be acceptable to both of us. Certainly, as far as I am concerned, there will
be no "hidden conditions."


Brother Vinson has also agreed to submit suggestions as to the length of the articles, the number of such,
and the necessary deadlines which he will require of each writer.


I shall inclose two identical sheets containing my suggestions for propositions, with my signature affixed
on both sheets. I hope the propositions meet with your approval, and that they are signed by You and that one
of them is returned to me soon. Note that the propositions are in almost the exact language of the article which
you have on "Forced Conclusions," and that they do carry the exact meaning of the offer therein.


With best personal regards to you,


Sincerely,


LESLIE DIESTELKAMP (signed)


PROPOSITIONS FOR DEBATE


The Scriptures teach that the church, from its treasury, is authorized to care for the world's need to the
extent of its ability.


I affirm: _____________________


I deny. LESLIE DIESTELKAMP (signed)


The scriptures teach that the church, from its treasury, is authorized, in the field of benevolence, only to
care for needy saints (brethren).


I affirm LESLIE DIESTELKAMP (signed)


I deny _____________________


It is understood that the above propositions are to be discussed in TRUTH magazine in accord with
whatever conditions the editor thereof imposes, which conditions are to be mutually suitable to both
participants.


August 28, 1957


Dear Brother Diestelkamp:


I am now with sufficient leisure to negotiate in regard to a written debate in TRUTH Magazine; and I offer
the following suggestions:


(1) The proposition you offer for me to affirm is objectionable because of the phrase, "to the extent of its
ability." This would allow quibbling, and raise the question of whether benevolent responsibility would exclude
obligations in the fields of evangelism and edification. I suggest therefore, that in view of your challenge, you
affirm your proposition #2, and I will deny. I am accordingly signing it, Obviously, the very negation of it
would require me to offer affirmative material, which I will do.


(2) 1 would also suggest that 4 articles each at the indicated length of 71/2 double spaced pica typewritten
pages would be sufficient.


(3) Of course I concur heartily in every statement regarding the spirit in which the discussion should be
conducted, the necessity of excluding everything involving one's honesty, sincerity, etc. Were I to participate,
the purpose would be for presentation of what I regard as the truth, and this only.


(4) As to copy-writing the material. I am perfectly willing for you to have exclusive publication rights in
so far as magazine or religious paper publication is concerned; bu t, there is no more reason why I should
assign the undivided half interest in the discussion to you, than that I should ask for, and obtain the same from
you. I would suggest that in the event of further publication, this be open for negotiation. This to me appears
nothing more than right.


If the foregoing amendments to your proposal are acceptable to you and to Brother Vinson, you may regard
the details as settled, and submit to me Your first affirmative article. In view of the fact that I am constantly
engaged in meetings. and often without Opportunity for leisurely writing, it will not always be possible for me
to reply immediately on receipt of your article. However, with a month's leeway, I'll do my best to meet your
deadline provided you'll get your articles to me as early as Possible. Advise me at once your decision in the
matter.


You may always address me with little delay through my Memphis address as above. This leaves me in
a fine debate in Sikeston, Mo., with Dr. D. N. Jackson, Baptist.


Faithfully yours


GUY N. WOODS (signed)


Aug. 30, 1957 Dear brother Woods,


Your letter of Aug. 28 came to me yesterday and I am very grateful for your promptness in expediting the
matter about a debate in TRUTH maga7ine. However, this last letter came as a surprise and disappointment
in that you decline to affirm the propositions which had prompted you to respond to the challenge I had issued.
The challenge to which you responded said, "It is the view of this writer that it is time that somebody affirmed
that the church, from its treasury, is scripturally authorized to care for the world's needy to the extent of its
ability. I shall gladly deny such affirmation in written discussion in this magazine, and shall gladly further
affirm that the church, from its treasury is scripturally authorized with regard to benevolence, only to care for
needy b r e h r e n (saints)." My proposed affirmation is in harmony with my belief and that which I teach.
Surely you will also affirm what you believe on this matter and what you teach.


For so long we have heard the complaint that those who hold similar positions to that which I hold will not
affirm - that they will only deny. Frankly I have little patience with anyone who will not affirm his beliefs and
practices. I think if I were asking you to affirm while I only deny you would have little patience with me, too.


You state that your objection is to the phrase, "to the extent of its ability." You further say, "I suggest that
in view of your challenge, you affirm your proposition #2 and I will deny." But that was not my challenge. My
challenge was for someone to affirm, and then I would likewise affirm. It is exactly as though someone would
ask you to affirm your practice on music in worship, while they only deny your affirmation and decline to
affirm their use of mechanical instruments. You wouldn't like that! You know that under such circumstances
the whole issue would not be as readily and as completely discussed.


I'm returning the proposition which you signed with the hope you will re-consider and sign the affirmation
too, or, that you will phrase one to suit yourself that does declare your beliefs and practices.


Sincerely,


LESLIE DIESTELKAMP (signed)


September 10, 1957


Dear Brother Diestelkamp:


Your letter of August 80, came to me in due time, but I am just now with sufficient leisure to reply.


I have not the slightest objection to affirming what I believe relative to the responsibility of the church
toward the needy, but my point was that in a written debate there is little point in both writers affirming,
inasmuch as both sides are before the readers in the same issue. However, inasmuch as you insist, I will affirm
the following proposition:


"The scriptures teach that the church, from its treasury, is authorized to provide funds for the care of
needy, deserving people not members of the church."


I have typed this onto the sheet containing the other proposition, and am enclosing it. If this is acceptable,
you may do likewise, and return the other copy to me.


There are two or three other considerations which have arisen:


(1) In view of the fact that both of us are to affirm, and debate, it you contemplate publishing the should be
longer than four articles. I suggest three affirmatives of the length suggested in Bro. Vinson's first letter to me.


(2) Since the setting of the price for such a book is arbitrary, and in which I would have no voice, I suggest
you give me 15% of all copies printed. It is assumed that you will sell it at 40% above cost. This will still be
less than half your share.


(3) I would expect Bro. Vinson to sign a contract that on completion of the articles he would immediately
publish it in book form, if I am to agree to a copyright.


One other matter: Since writing you last, an agreement has been reached with Roy Cogdill, regarding a
debate to be held in Birmingham, Ala., Nov. 18-23. 1 shall not have time to begin the debate until after that
debate has been conducted. (I might be able to supply one affirmative for the January issue of your paper,
before that time, though I am not sure of this. Would you be able to get the first issue of the debate into your
paper for January if in your hands by Dec. 1 ?


The foregoing are the terms on which I am willing to conduct the debate. You may advise me at your
convenience. Please take the matter tip with Bro. Vinson because there is no point in my corresponding with
both of you.


Faithfully yours


GUY N. WOODS (signed)


Sept. 13, 1957


Dear brother Woods,


Your letter of Sept. 10 reached me yesterday. The affirmation you signed does not meet with my approval
for this reason: It would permit quibbling throughout all of your affirmations regarding the care of little
children left destitute at the death of Christian parents. I do not mean that you would spend your time thus
quibbling, but the proposition would permit it. Your affirmation should require you to defend the common
practice of using funds from church treasuries to support any and/or all people of the world to whatever extent
it may choose.


I shall inclose another pair of propositions for your consideration. Notice that proposition No. 1 does not
imply that the benevolence is to be for people of the world only, but it does Point up that such People are to
be included if the church is able to do so.


Brother Vinson will also write You and his letter and mine will Probably be mailed together. Very best
regards to you.


Sincerely,


LESLIE DIESTELKAMP (signed)


Proposition No. 1


The scriptures teach that the church, from its treasury, is authorized to provide funds for the care of any
needy, deserving people of the world (as opposed to needy saints-brethren).


I affirm _____________________


I deny LESLIE DIESTELKAMP (signed) Proposition No. 2


The scriptures teach that the church, from its treasury is authorized in the field of benevolence, only to care
for needy saints (brethren).


I affirm LESLIE DIESTELKAMP (signed)


I deny _____________________


It is understood that the above propositions are to be discussed in TRUTH magazine in accord with
whatever conditions the editor may impose, which conditions are to be mutually suitable to both participants.


September 26, 1957


Dear Brother Vinson.


I believe I have set forth a fair and equitable arrangement for the proposed debate, and I am unwilling to
digress from it. Unless you definitely intend to publish it, I am not interested. Should you publish it, it would
be necessary for you to hold type as it runs in your magazine; and, with the uncertainty you exhibit, it appears
to me that there is little likelihood that you intend to publish it in booklet form.


Further, I have stated clearly and fully the position I hold -- and the great majority of the brotherhood --
relative to the obligation of the church toward those not members. it is Obvious that brother Diestelkamp is
seared already. I, of course, will affirm only what I believe; and he should not ask me to do otherwise. He is
well aware of what I believe in the matter; and, his effort to avoid difficulty later is manifest.


Unless, therefore, You are willing to proceed on the equitable basis already outlined, there is no need to
pursue the matter further.


Faithfully Yours


GUY N. WOODS (signed)


October 30, 1957


Dear brother Woods,


My last letter to you was written Sept. 13, 1 think, and I regret that you have not at least shown the
courtesy to reply. Brother Vinson did read a letter over the phone - long distance - which you had written to
him, and if I discerned it correctly you imply the proposed debate with me is "off" because I am scared. Frankly
if it were a matter of contest between you and me I would be frightened and would not be ashamed nor
embarrassed about it. Since it was to be an investigation of trut1h, the perfect revelation of which we both
possess with equality, I am still eager to have you affirm the proposition to which you first responded and, in
turn I shall gladly make my affirmation therein.


As a final effort to arrange a discussion of this issue. I suggest that we discuss it without propositions. I
shall be glad to write two articles, both of which you may review, one at a time (one article and its review in
one issue of TRUTH magazine) and then if you will write two articles setting forth your beliefs on the matter
of the church, from its treasury supporting those of the world as she may choose, I shall reply to them. Other
conditions which bad been arranged as to publication could prevail.


The October magazine, which is now in the mail, carried some announcement of possibilities of the
discussion. The November issue is in the printers hands now. In it we promised a full explanation in the
December issue. That issue must be in the printer's hands in two weeks. If you are disposed to discuss this
matter with me under such circumstances as mentioned above, or in accord with my latest propositions (or the
first ones either), I ,:hall be happy to hear from you immediately so we can make proper disposition of the
announcements we have promised our readers.


Sincerely,


LESLIE DIESTELKAMP (signed)


Nov. 2, 1957


Dear Brother Diestelkamp:


I am distressed that you thought my failure to address a letter directly to you was a show of lack of
courtesy. I assure you I meant no reflection on you whatsoever. Brother Vinson was designating the conditions,
even to the point of declaring, as I remember, that the proposition and arrangement were not acceptable to him;
so, I thought if he were the one to make the arrangements, I should deal with him rather than you.


You seem to labor under the impression that I offered to affirm some proposition which you originally
published. In this you are in error. I merely accepted an invitation to debate the issue with the expectation that
we would then work out the details. I am perfectly willing for you to affirm your proposition, but I must insist
that if I am to debate, I be allowed to affirm my belief and practice in the matter; and this I offered to do. One
simple question will settle the matter: Do you admit or deny the proposition which I offered to affirm? If you
admit it, there is no issue, and we cannot debate. If you deny it, why not sign it? ALSO, BRO. Vinson has not
met the terms relative to the publication of the discussion. I will not accept an arrangement for a proposed
publication of the debate, and leave it with you to decide AFTER the discussion whether to publish it or not.


You surely do not want me to affirm a proposition which does not adequately set forth my belief and
practice, do you?


Faithfully yours


GUY N. WOODS (signed)


Nov. 6, 1957


Dear brother Woods,


Your prompt reply to my last letter is appreciated. It was forwarded to me here and received today.


You ask, "Do you admit or deny the proposition which I offered to affirm?" I shall neither admit nor deny
it as you worded it. To be more specific, I shall not deny that funds from the church treasury may be used to
care for some (certain) children who, naturally, are not members of the church. However, I will gladly deny
that such funds may be used to care for any non-members, even for any children, even though they may be
altogether objects of charity and deserving of help from proper sources.


Now I ask you: Do you admit or deny that the church from its treasury may provide funds to care for
anybody who is deserving of help? Do you admit or deny that such funds may be used to care for needy,
deserving denominational people; for displaced persons, in case of war; for the beggar who appeals to the
church for help but who is not a child of God? Do you admit or deny that the church from its treasury may
provide funds to "do good unto all men"?


I have no desire to get you to affirm what You do not believe. Neither do I desire to dodge the issue
regarding the care of little children left destitute, whose parents are or were Christians. However, I do not
intend to be involved in a discussion of this issue only. I simply want assurance, in your affirmation, that you
will try to justify the practice of providing funds to care for anyone who is truly in need, and in accord with
the desires of the church. If you do not believe this there is no issue and your response to my challenge in
TRUTH magazine is not understandable to me, If you do believe this I'd surely like to have you state in your
affirmative proposition.


As regards publishing the debate in book form after it runs in the magazine, I assure you that such can be
done. Frankly I think your demand that it be done is unnecessary to say the least, but if you insist such can be
accomplished. I shall be happy to hear from you again soon, and hope we can get an agreement arranged soon
so we can announce such in the December issue, copy for which must be in within about a week.


Sincerely,


LESLIE DIESTELKAMP (signed)


November 11, 1967


Dear Brother Diestelkamp,


There seems little point in pursuing this correspondence any farther Your affirmative necessitates the view
that the church is obligated only to its members. I believe that it extends to all who are in need when the means
are available, willing to allow me to affirm what I believe. You are involved in a palpable inconsistency, to
begin with. you affirm that the church is obligated only to it" members, i.e. needy saints, then allege you will
not deny that children of such people are also objects of the church's care. Either these children are members
of the church also, or else you are in an illogical position.


It is apparent that you recognize that your premises cannot justify your conclusion, and you should not
have offered to debate. Also, 1 have made it very clear that the conditions relative to the publication of the
debate must be made a part of the agreement. You appear to desire to side track this. I am, therefore, not
interested further.


Where men have strong convictions and a definite conception of their position, they have no difficulty in
formulating a proposition. You want to believe and teach that the church is obligated only to its own members.
Yet, you do not have the nerve to accept the consequences. Hence, you have "crawfished" relative to the debate.
I do not blame you. You have my position clearly in mind. Yet, you will not allow me to affirm it.


You have my permission to publish this correspondence, only if all of it is published.


Faithfully yours


GUY N. WOODS (signed)


Nov. 15, 1957


Dear brother Woods,


Your letter came today. I am sorry that you say, "I am, therefore, not interested further." I had still hoped
that the discussion would be conducted, especially in view of the fact that this issue has never, to my
knowledge, been thus discussed.


You say, "Your affirmative necessitates the view that the church is obligated only to its members, I believe
that it extends to all who are in need when the means are available yet you are unwilling to allow me to affirm
what I believe." Allow me to comment on that, considering the latter part of the sentence first. I begged you
to affirm that the church could care for any people of the world. You steadfastly refused, yet in this letter which
is supposed to close the matter, you say you believe the church may care for "all who are in need." Why
wouldn't you put such a statement in your proposition ? Why did you refuse to sign a proposition which I
submitted which actually stated this belief of yours almost exactly as you state it in that last letter?


Regarding my affirmation: I believe the church is authorized to do only that for which we can find a New
Testament command, an approved New Testament example, or a necessary inference drawn from a command
or an example. I find no such authority for the church engaging in benevolent work among those not included
in the terms "saints" (1 Cor. 15:1) or "brethren" (Ac. 11:29). The needs of "brethren" would not be supplied
as long as the children of such brethren are in want. Nobody supposed that when relief was sent to brethren
in Judea that the "brother" was to require his children to starve while he ate. Whatever was the necessity of the
child was the necessity of the "brother." The New Testament described those who received help from the church
as "saints" or "brethren." I shall content myself with the language of the New Testament. That is sufficient for
me. Whatever is included in Ac. 11:29 and I Cor. 16:1, 1 have included in my affirmation. My language in this
instance at least, is Bible language. Now why don't you find some Bible language to express your belief and
practice? One good reason is evident -there is no such Bible expression! No command, example or necessary
inference can be supplied from the New Testament to support your belief and practice as expressed in this last
letter. If you think there is, write an article and send it in and we will certainly print it.


You say we desire to side track an agreement about publishing the debate in book form. We protested your
demands regarding the percentage of books you would get free, because we felt it exorbitant. However, we did
agree to meet your demands even if it did seem unjust and perhaps an unwise financial commitment.


Near the end of your letter you say, "You have my position clearly in mind. Yet you will not allow me to
affirm it." I think I do have your position in mind, for in that same letter you state your belief just as I have
always thought it to be since we started this correspondence. You say that the obligation of the church extends
to all who are in need. That's what I thought you believed, and that's exactly what the propositions which I
submitted said. I begged you to affirm such, but you won't, evidently because you want to limit your
affirmation to a discussion of children left destitute whose parents were Christians. Again I say I shall be glad
to deal with that, but that is not all of the issue, nor is it even the real issue, as your statements of belief in this
last letter so clearly shows.


Evidently this correspondence will be printed. Even so, I still urge you to write, setting forth what you
believe to be proof of what you said in your last letter that you believe. If you do not choose to do so, I still
hope some other brother will, for it is certain that your statement expresses the belief and practice of many
brethren and many churches.


May the Lord bless your every effort in behalf of truth and righteousness.


Sincerely,


LESLIE DIESTELKAMP (signed)

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