August 20, 2017

The Willis-Inman Debate

By O. C. Birdwell, Jr.

Several months back brother Cecil Willis met brother Clifton Inman in debate at Parkersburg, West Virginia and later at Dayton, Ohio. The first discussion (the Parkersburg debate) is now in print. There was much interest in the oral discussion, and I join with many others in expressing appreciation to Brother Willis for making the debate available in book form.

I had the privilege of attending both debates, and can wholeheartedly endorse the book to you as one of the finest defenses of truth on the subject that can be made. During the first debate several mentioned the one-sided nature of the discussion and 'expressed the opinion that brother Inman was unprepared and was not an able man. At that time I had not given the matter much consideration and freely admit that this was my first thought. Now, after some time has passed, and after having reflected more objectively on the discussion, I believe my first impulse and opinion on Inman's effort in the discussion was erroneous.

Brother Inman has preached and debated for years. He is an able writer and is the publisher of a religious journal that is well known in the Ohio valley. That he is well acquainted with the institutional and sponsoring church issues and had at his finger tips most of the information that has been written on the subjects, no one doubts. Brother Willis stated in the beginning of the Parkersburg debate that Inman would be his selection for the most representative man of the liberal persuasion in the Ohio valley. Brother Inman is obviously an able man.

If this is correct, then the next question must be an obvious one. Why did he make such a poor defense for his cause? A number of reasons might could be given but I think of three in short order. First, he was defending error in opposition to truth. This is always bad, but it is especially dangerous and even fatal if the truth is being presented by Cecil Willis. That brother Willis is wholly dedicated to the proclamation of truth and the defense of truth is known by all who know him well. He is disciplined in his study and able in his presentation. When he has truth on his side, an opponent cannot stand the pressure. This, it seems, was overlooked by some when we first considered the discussion. Second, brother Inman seemed too honest to use all the sophistry that has been used in other such discussions. Third, a complete defense of the "Herald of Truth," with all the ramifications, was reluctantly made by brother Inman. When one has a false position to start with and then gives forth an uncertain sound, as he did on the "Herald of Truth" proposition, one may readily expect a poor showing.

Now, back to what I started out to say. The debate is ready for shipment. A vast amount of up-to-date material is in the book. You should put an order for your copy in the mail today. If you have friends or relatives who might read it, order two or more and pass them around. It cannot help but do good. Send orders to: Truth Magazine Book Store, Box 14182, Louisville, Ky. 40214. The price for the book is $4.00.

Just before you send in your $4.00 for the debate, I want to say this. What I have said about Brother Willis and the debate was unsolicited by Brother Willis. In fact, he may not even agree with me'! Also, lest one conclude that brother Willis is making money on this debate, I will share with you what I happen to know. He has placed himself under quite a financial strain, which to some would be a burden, in order to make the book available. He will be fortunate to ever get the money back he has invested. In spite of this, he has printed the book, and the main favor will be to yourself if you buy it!

June 1968