Jenkins-Waters Debate

R. L. Craig
Crane, Texas

During the week of November 7th, a public debate was conducted between Jess Jenkins and Ervin Waters on the subjects of containers, classes and women teachers. Jenkins works with the West Ridge church in Odessa, Texas, and Waters works with the Clements St. church of that same city. Even though the Crescent Park church of Odessa had nothing at all to do with the debate, they graciously allowed their building to be used because of inadequate facilities at both the above mentioned places.

Brothers Waters was in the affirmative on one drinking vessel Monday night and also affirmed the sinfulness of classes and women teachers Friday night. Brother Jenkins affirmed the scripturalness of more than one container Tuesday night and the scripturalness of classes and women teachers in SOME of those classes on Thursday night. This writer assisted Brother Jenkins and Ronnie Wade was at brother Waters' table.

I have never had a part in a debate, as participant or moderator that was conducted on any higher plane. Both disputants acted like Christians and gentlemen even though they had no written agreement to that effect. In fact, I have never seen the sense in any such agreement because men will act like they want to regardless of any stated conditions. And no matter how ugly a fellow gets in debate, he will never admit that he acted like anything other than a Christian and a gentleman.

I am not attempting a review of the debate in this paper. I hardly think that is necessary. Certainly I believe that the truth, as presented by Brother Jenkins, prevailed. He approached his subject in a little different manner from any I have heard or read. He jumped the gun on Waters and claimed for himself to be a one-cup advocate just as he was a one bread, one table, one kingdom advocate. He pointed out with force, that the one cup the Bible presents is not a physical drinking vessel, but the fruit of the vine which is a communion of the blood of Christ and of which every child of God on earth participates. He pointed out that the container or containers are incidental just as a wooden table or plate for bread is incidental, but all are scriptural by virtue of generic authority.

Like all anti-class brethren, brother Waters would hardly discuss classes at all but immediately went to women teachers and tried to make the entire debate center around whether a woman can teach a man and to what extent, which, actually, has nothing whatsoever to do with the proposition under consideration. Once again Brother Jenkins showed that by generic authority we could use any method of teaching we might choose such as radio, debate, pulpit preaching, classes, etc., as long as those methods did not violate any God-given principle. Waters never did attempt to show where classes violated any principle. Jenkins took his prohibition of women teaching away with an exegesis of 1 Tim. 2:11-12 that I have never heard in debate before and after one attempt, Waters never mentioned it again.

Also, to the credit of brother Waters, he took a very strong and forthright stand against all types of institutionalism that are now pervading God's churches.

All in all, I believe that good was done. Truth was upheld. Between 300 and 400 showed that interest in Bible discussion is not dead and it was abundantly demonstrated by both Brother Jenkins and Brother Waters that brethren can come together and discuss their differences in a dignified and orderly manner. Lets have more of it and perhaps we can eliminate some of our differences.

March 1967