Possible Instrumental Music Debate

Cecil Willis
Marion, Indiana

Recently I have been engaged in a correspondence with J. Charles Dailey (a Christian Church preacher, though he does not like the term "Christian Church) of Vancouver, Washington in regard to a possible written exchange to be carried in both TRUTH MAGAZINE and the paper which Brother Dailey edits called THE PATTERN.

Brother Dailey writes that he has offered to engage us in a debate since January. I only recently heard about his offer. So I hasten to accept his invitation. Yet Brother Dailey writes to excuse himself from personal participation in the debate on the grounds that he "has what someone else might consider a heavy schedule of writing and teaching..." If it will help his feelings any, I will compare schedules with him!

He said that he could not engage in a debate "for several months." I also would have a little trouble arranging for one without considerable advance notice. So his "several months" interval will be acceptable to me. Now I suggest that he name the month he had in mind.

One group of those brethren who use instrumental music reportedly has been anxious for a debate. I first heard that Tom Burgess, who wrote DOCUMENTS ON INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC, wanted to debate some of us. So I called him by long distance telephone in order to initiate the making of the arrangements for such a debate. However, he said that he had not been particularly anxious for a debate himself. In fact, he said it was the publisher of his book who had offered his (Burgess') service for a debate.

Brother Dailey now writes me that he "did devote about a year of editorial work to a definitive statement of our position on instrumental music entitled DOCUMENTS ON INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC by Tom Burgess." Dailey also says that "The book affirms that it (i. e. mechanical instrumental music --- CW) is a command of God."

Since Brother Dailey worked a year editorially on this "definitive" book on instrumental music, it is a little difficult to see why he needs "several months" to get ready to defend their practice. But I am willing to give him "several months" to get ready. I just insist that he soon tell us which month it will be.

Brother Dailey has been (reportedly) making a good bit of noise in his paper THE PATTERN about a debate with "anti-instrumental" people. I therefore respectfully insist that Brother Dailey, who worked a year editorially on the book containing a "definitive statement of our position," either debate or shut up. If he wants a debate, I can tell him where to get one. If he does not want one, he should not act like he does. Now unless he backs out, he has one debate nearly arranged.

I think Brother Dailey would be the logical man to defend this position that "it (i. e. mechanical instrumental music---CW} is a command of God." As soon as he indicates his willingness to participate, we can get on with the selection of a place and a mutually acceptable date. He has my address, and I insist that he begin negotiations to arrange the debate particulars, and that he let us know what month he will be available.

If Brother Dailey should be unwilling to defend his practice and his teaching, then Tom Burgess (author of DOCUMENTS ON INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC) will be an acceptable alternate. But only alter Brother Dailey has indicated his unwillingness to participate. Better still, perhaps we can have one debate with Brother Dailey in Washington and another one with Tom Burgess, who lives nearby at Mooresville, Indiana.

This matter is now a part of the public record. If these brethren really want a debate or a series of debates, they can have them. If I am an unacceptable opponent for any reason, I will be glad to secure someone whom they will approve.

This concept that mechanical instrumental music is a commandment of God needs public exploration. For a century these "instrumental brethren" have been maintaining that the instrument is an "expediency''; now it is a "command of God." Its time they attempt publicly to defend their practice and teaching.

Brother Dailey has written me at least twice. He had offered room for a 700 word article in his paper opposing the instrument. But he tells me now that the offer was only good until November, and he has all the issues until November filled. I offered to carry a written discussion in Truth Magazine, if they would carry it also in one of their papers:

When arrangements have been made for the debate, we will certainly keep you posted. After so much clatter from Dailey and Burgess, one of them is going to defend their teaching and practice -- or tell the public why they will not. Watch for later developments.


November 13, 1969