October 24, 2017

Shaver-Hicks Debate

By W. Curtis Porter

A debate between Bro. Glenn L. Shaver of Hammond, Indiana and Bro. Olan Hicks of La Porte, Indiana,
was conducted in the church building in La Porte, where Bro. Hicks preaches regularly, on the nights of April
28th and 29th and May 1st and 2nd. The first two nights of the discussion concerned the matter of
congregational cooperation such as is characteristic of the Herald of Truth Program in radio evangelism. The
last two nights were given to a discussion of benevolence-whether it is Scriptural for churches of Christ to build
and maintain benevolent organizations for the care of the needy. Bro. Shaver was opposed to the type of work
described in the propositions, and Bro. Hicks was in favor of such.


This was, as I understand, the first debate for each man involved. The discussion was carried on in a
Christian attitude, with each man regarding the other as a brother in Christ, while making serious efforts to get
before the audience the teaching of the Bible concerning such matters.


Interest was manifested by the audience throughout the discussion, and we are sure much good was
accomplished for the cause of truth. I want to be as unbiased as I can about the matter, but it appeared to me
that Bro. Hicks made as weak an effort to defend the Herald of Truth arrangement for evangelisin and the use
of benevolent organizations, for the work of benevolence as any man I have heard. Actually, I have heard a
number of debates on these issues, and I have yet to hear any man make headway in trying to show the
Scripturalness of such projects. On the other hand, Bro. Shaver, in his dynamic, rapid-fire manner, presented
many Scriptural arguments to show that such arrangements were contrary to the Scriptures, while at the same
time showing the way such work was conducted in the first century of the church under the direct instruction
of inspired men.


I shall make no effort to give the arguments introduced by the speakers. However, it might be well to state
that Bro. Hicks claimed the messengers of the churches who carried the contribution to the brethren at
Jerusalem, as in the second Corinthian letter recorded, formed the "in between organization" and were the same
in principle as the Benevolent Organization that provides homes for the needy todav. However, in his first
speech he had said they served the same purpose as that served by the United States mail system today. This
admission ruined his argument for the "benevolent society" for the United States mail system has no control
of the money sent by such a medium-they do not direct the spending of it, but merely transport it to its
destination. Likewise the messengers did not control or spend the money sent by the churches-their service was
simply to "bring" the "liberality" of the giving churches "to Jerusalem." But the benevolent organization that
characterizes the work of the homes today is not the same as the United States mail system. The mail service
transports the money to some place designated by the benevolent society, and they in turn, control, direct and
spend the money.


We know of a number who were not settled on the issues before the discussion began that were led to see
that such projects are without any Scriptural authority. Good will certain1y come from such discussions. Bro.
Elza Huffard of Chicago moderated for Bro. Hicks; and I served in the same capacity for Bro. Shaver. It would
be a fine thing for the brotherhood if a discussion of this kind could be conducted in every city in the nation.
We are willing, but we doubt that those who are engaged in such promotions will find it convenient to have
many such discussions.


Truth Magazine II:9, p. 19
June 1958

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