The Hafley-Lewis-Bishop Debate

Donald P. Ames
Sandwich, Illinois

During the week of March 9-13, I had the opportunity to attend the debate between Brother Larry Ray Hafley (Plano, Ill.) and Mr. Wm. Lewis (First Apostolic Church, Aurora, Ill). Mr. Lewis is affiliated with the United Pentecostal Church, and this is the second debate in Aurora to be conducted with this group (Belue-Hicks debate a couple years ago being the first). I would like to make a few remarks on the debate in general. The conduct of both debaters and audience was excellent, and it was all a debate should be. The debaters had respect for each other and the audience quietly listened and studied what was said (full house every night). The first three nights were held at the West Side church in Aurora (our thanks to the elders there) and the last two nights at the First Apostolic building also in Aurora. Evidence of the prevailing good will was manifested Friday evening when the Pentecostals volunteered to forgo the instrument and had Brother Littlejohn (W. Side, Aurora) lead both groups at their building in singing together. Such studies cannot help but do well and create interest in more such discussions.

The Godhead

The first two nights were spent discussing the number of persons in the godhead. Brother Hafley affirmed three Monday; Mr. Lewis affirmed only one Tuesday night. Brother Halley had his material well organized and worked well showing both the definition of "person" and the separation of the three. Tuesday evening Mr. Lewis agreed it was only the Son left on the Cross when the Father left him (Matt. 27:46) and he commended his spirit to God {Luke 23:46). However, according to his position, Jesus was merely the physical form the Father had while on earth. Brother Hafley pointed out we now had the two separated; one more and we would have Mr. Lewis converted. Answering "Who is the Me"? (Heb. 10: 5)--the argument Brother Belue used so effectively against Mr. Hicks, who took three different positions on it), Mr. Lewis replied the "Me" was Jesus as the Father, and the body was Jesus as the flesh. He was thus unable to do anything with the "thou" except to say it referred to Jesus as the Creator.

In answer to Brother Hafley's question who the two witnesses were in John 8:16-17, Mr. Lewis contended they were (1) God speaking thru Christ and (2) God speaking 'thru the prophets (Heb. 1:l-2) Brother Hafley quickly pointed out this made not two, but one using two different avenues, and reminded Mr. Lewis John 8:18 answered the question very well.

Mr. Lewis went to Heb. 1: 3 to contend for his one person theory but Brother Harley countered with the argument "Was the image and the person's presence the same in Matt. 22: 207' Mr. Lewis tried to make light of it by answering with Acts 17: 29, but Brother Hafley refused to permit it

According to the Pentecostals, "person" must "necessarily be a visible being" (Mr. Lewis's affirmative outline). Brother Hafley pointed out their trouble in understanding the issue because of this definition, and also that Webster's fourth definition showed a physical form was NOT necessary. Of course it was also pointed out this left them with no person (fleshly form) before Jesus was born (thus all their Old Testament arguments on "one God" were useless) and necessitated a physical body in heaven today.

Baptism Formula

Wednesday evening Mr. Lewis affirmed the name of Jesus must be orally pronounced over a man during the act of baptism. Although they tried to get Brother Hafley into a discussion of what he said (to which he only replied, "I say what I do."), Brother Hafley kept the issue to the fore-"we know they did baptize in the name of Jesus (by his authority), where is the passage showing what they said?" In reply to questions, Mr. Lewis admitted they baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but then denied they said that. Brother Hafley then pointed they did it but refused to say so--at least he said what he did, and again called for the passage where anything at all was SAID. He pointed out the magic was not in the name "Jesus" (many had that name), but in the authority behind it.

He also pointed out Acts 2:38 required both repentance and baptism to be in the name of Jesus, which, according to Mr. Lewis' position, required it to be orally pronounced above a person repenting as well. He then showed the futility of determining when a man was actually repenting.

H. S. Baptism and Miracles

This debate was the first for both Mr. Lewis and Brother Hafley, and much study went into it on both sides. Raymond Bishop moderated for Mr. Lewis, and Brother Aubrey Belue (formerly with the West Side church in Aurora) moderated for Brother Harley (a big help for both debaters, who also did a good job). As luck would have it, Mr. Lewis' voice was failing from the start, and by Thursday he was unable to continue. This made it necessary for Mr. Bishop to take his place, and since Mr. Bishop had previous experience, the opportunity was extended Brother Halley to let Brother Belue take his place, but Brother Hafley wanted to go ahead-and did a good job. Brother Belue, since he knew Mr. Lewis well, and to have some good natured fun of the situation (privately though), reminding him they were about to discuss miracles and Mr. Lewis was supposed to have a "hot line" to the Lord, so he had an obligation to put it to work. Unfortunately, the Lord failed to hear Mr. Lewis, and Mr. Bishop had to go ahead.

Brother Hafley pointed out the issue was not what God COULD do, but whether or not Holy Spirit baptism and tongues were STILL in effect. Thus Joel 2, Acts 2, etc. as used by Mr. Bishop were not proof of today any more than the fact the church was to be established in the last days (Isa. 2) proved it was still being established today (See Heb. 12:28). The differences between Acts 2 and Acts 10 were also noted, as well as the purpose of the Holy Spirit, the fact it was a promise and not a command, there was only one baptism (they have two--one of water and another of Holy Spirit, both essential, and can be administered separately, per Mr. Bishop). He also pointed out water baptism was still binding today because souls were still being lost (Mark 16:16}, but Holy Spirit baptism was to confirm (Mr. 16:20, Heb. 2:3), and once confirmed its purpose ceased (Gal. 3:15}.

A clear chart on the teaching of John 3:5 showing the water and spirit (I Cor. 12: 13) caused Mr. Bishop concern, and he took the position I Cor. 12:13 referred to administration one time, to the element the next. He also ran into trouble in Acts 8 when he contended the reason they had not received the Holy Spirit was because the order of Acts 1: 8 was not yet fulfilled when Brother Halley pointed out Philip had no business preaching "the name of Jesus" then. Brother Halley also pointed out their confusion in being filled with Spirit and baptism of the Holy Spirit by showing this required three Holy Spirit baptisms: (1) at water baptism (Acts 2:38), (2) laying on of hands (Acts 8) and again later by Paul's Command (Eph. 5:18).

Brother Hafley's affirmative chart on the Holy Spirit was well organized and detailed. It was so effective in presenting the truth Mr. Bishop even commended it--and then totally ignored it for the rest of his speech. Finally, under pressure to answer material presented by Brother Halley in the affirmative, he called for one of the charts, took one look at it, swallowed, and began to tell a story. The chart was never mentioned again. This blunder was well noted by the audience (Mr. Lewis also preferred to leave the charts alone).


Although this was his first debate, we have no apologies for Brother Halley's job. He displayed fine debating ability, and a very quick sense of humor which he used very effectively. Much credit also goes to Brother Aubrey Belue, who came from Becklay, West

Virginia, to assist as Brother Hafley's moderator, and was able to establish such good communication from their joint studying, a card of one or two words could convey an effective argument to be used against the Pentecostals. Also to Brother Lowell Kibler, a member of the Piano congregation and also preaches part-time, for the fine slides he made of Brother Hafley's charts and the able job of projecting them throughout the discussion--too bad he developed such a bad case of "fiat feet" waiting for either Mr. Lewis or Mr. Bishop to reply to one of them.

Much good, I feel, will come from the discussion. Mr. Lewis has expressed a desire to debate for four nights on Holy Spirit baptism and tongues (since his voice failed) later this year in the Piano-Sandwich area, and I believe Mr. Bishop (from Mississippi) will be signing propositions with Brother Belue for a discussion in Mississippi as well. The Pentecostals are still one of the few denominations willing to discuss and defend what they believe the Bible teaches, and much good can come from such discussions, especially when done by such fine gentlemen as these and in such an atmosphere as we had here.

TRUTH MAGAZINE XIV; 34, pp. 11-13

July 9, 1970