Four Years after Parkersburg
Larry R. DeVore
South Bend, Indiana
On the evenings of September 19, 20, 22, and 23rd, 1966, Brother Cecil Willis engaged in a debate with brother Clifton Inman on the issues of institutionalism and sponsoring-church cooperation. This debate took place in Parkersburg, W. Va. and was later published in book form (it is still in print for $4.00). It is also available on tape. I was present for three, evenings of the discussion, and I believe it did much to help me clearly understand the issues involved and to deepen my convictions regarding these controversies.
From this writer's point of view, Brother Willis did a very fine job of defending the truth of God on these issues. Brother Inman did as well as he could, but any man is greatly handicapped when he does not have the truth on his side. However, both men are to be commended for having the courage of their convictions to publicly defend what they believe.
One impressive part of the debate to me was the many detailed charts used by Brother Willis in his speeches. These are reproduced in the book and make the book well worth its price.
One of brother Inman's main arguments was based on Romans 4:15, "where no law is, there is no transgression," which he maintained allowed churches to contribute and work through human institutions to do their work. This of course would be true if there was no raw or pattern or rule to govern how and in what capacity the church is to do its work. Brother Willis very ably showed the fallacy of this argument and presented the New Testament pattern for the work of the church in order that God might be glorified in the church (Eph. 3:21).
Another interesting point was brother Inman's adamant declaration that he was not using "Christian Church arguments," even though on the second night of the discussion he said, "by going to the word of God and finding there is no prohibition against it, then I walk by faith, knowing that since God has not said... uh . . ." And then he stopped and said "That was an inadvertent statement" because he saw where he was headed. This is the same basic argument innovators have been making for one hundred years. It cannot be successfully substantiated by God's word. It is not sound doctrine!
These issues are still very much alive in the brotherhood. Churches are still being disrupted and torn asunder, and peace and unity and fellowship are being swept by the board by digressive teachings and practice! And this will continue as long as brethren prefer their wisdom and human innovations to the simplicity and sound doctrine of Christ.
Let us stand forthrightly for the word of God, speaking as His oracles (I Pet. 4: 11) and let the church be the church, and do its work as God has ordained. God has really only required one thing of us, and every point of doctrine revolves around this; that we OBEY HIS WORD! If we obey God, He has promised to save our souls. What could be more important?
If you don't have THE WILLIS - INMAN DEBATE in your library, be sure to get it. You will profit from the information contained in it.
TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 4, p. 12