What Some Have Said About Debates

Jimmy Thomas
Columbia, Tennessee

"There are many persons who are very much opposed to religious controversies, and who tell us that they only engender strife and hard feelings, that they are not productive of any good; but I never shared in this opinion. I believe it is untrue  wholly untrue. Indeed, truth cannot be arrived at by any other means than by investigation or controversy, and all those great truths in philosophy, in general science, in theology, and in political economy, that we hold so dear, have been reached only through the instrumentality of controversy. It has been by this means, and this alone, that all the great truths now universally admitted in all these departments of human knowledge have been settled and established upon their firm basis. Truth has nothing to lose by investigation. The more you examine truth the more beautiful and bright it will appear. The more you examine into the foundations of truth, the more will its immutability be made manifest; and he who has truth for his object never fears the test of controversy  he never shuns the most rigid investigation into the grounds of his faith."

G. W. Hughey, Methodist, 1868

"One of the best ways to investigate a subject is for those who are divided in sentiment on it to enter into a kind and courteous discussion with each one anxious to know the truth and walk in the light. One thing that always brings a cause into contempt is to be afraid of earnest and frank discussion of the claims of that cause....

"No church that stifles discussion and investigation can become strong in the Lord and the strength of His might."

H. Leo Boles, Gospel Advocate, 1931

"Those who oppose the right kind of religious debating are either weak in the faith; afraid of their own position; afraid of the consequences of standing for the truth; or they are uninformed on the particular question under discussion."

James D. Bales

"In an earlier day, men of great conviction and strength of character were not at all averse to a fair and impartial investigation of their claims in honorable public discussion. They then truly believed what they preached believed that the scriptures sustained them in their positionsand they were not afraid to allow their teaching to pass under the bright light of investigation. When challenged, they immediately rushed forward in quick defense thereof, anxious and determined to sustain themselves fully before the bar of public opinion.

"In recent years however, there has been a decisive change in such matters. Those whose doctrines cannot stand the test of examination whose positions are false and of human originand need only to be brought to the light to be exposed, have long since learned that it is fatal to their cause to allow a public examination of their teaching, and they now refuse to have anything to do with such discussion. When invited to do so, they heave a deep sigh, fetch a heavy groan, fall back on a pretended dignity, and piously assert that it is wrong to debate....

"No, friends, it is not wrong to debate. Always remember that only false teachers feverishly endeavoring to avoid exposure seek to evade such discussions. (Emp. mine, J. T.) Those who hold to, and believe in, the truth are every willing and ready to be put to the test."

GUY N. Woods, 1944

"Who ever knew the truth put to the worse by free and open encounter?"


"There can be no improvement without controversy"....

" . . . Truth and liberty, both religious and political, are the first fruits of well directed controversy."

Alexander Camphell, The Millenial Harbinger, 1830

"Are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy?  Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched?  It is an insult to our citizens to question whether they are rational beings or not, and blasphemy against religion to suppose it cannot stand the test of truth and reason. If . . . (a certain controversial book) be false in its facts, disprove them; if false in its reasoning, refute it. But . . . let us freely hear both sides, if we choose."

Thomas Jefferson, Statesmant

"Christianity itself was born in controversy and has flourished during periods of tremendous opposition. And the enlightened mind does not shun a discussion of controversial issues. Soft minds do."

Don Morris

"Debate thy cause with thy neighbor himself."

Solomon, Proverbs 25:9

" earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."

Jude 3

TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 3, pp. 8-9 December 1965