The Hafley- Lewis Debate

Larry R. Hafley
Indianapolis, Indiana

It was my good pleasure to moderate for Larry Ray Halley in his debate with Billy Lewis, who preaches for the First Apostolic Church in Aurora, Illinois. This was an unusual debate in that it covered four nights (November 9-10, 1-13) on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The conduct of brother Hafley and Mr. Lewis was outstanding in every way. Even the audience conducted themselves in a refined, mild manner. With only one outburst the first night, the audience displayed no rudeness or turbulence. A Lutheran preacher interrupted brother Hafley in his second speech, stating that he had experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and that he was wrong in his expression of condemnation of the experience. A point of order was called by this writer and order was restored immediately. The preacher apologized for his conduct.

It was obvious that Mr. Lewis was in trouble during this debate. A second moderator (Mr. Paul Ferguson, graduate of Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill.) was called in to assist Mr. Lewis. The Truth was defended and upheld in a commendable manner by brother Hafley. The brethren at Plano, Illinois were well pleased with the outcome. The debate took place in the Federated Church Building at Sandwich, Illinois. While a review is forthcoming, the following points will be of interest:

1. Mr. Paul Ferguson had publicly stated that no Church of Christ preacher would meet him in debate. Brother Hafley handed him signed propositions during the debate, thus, silencing him.

2. Mr. Ferguson has refused to meet brother Hafley. Instead he challenges me to meet him in discussion on the Godhead and baptismal formula issue. He says: "I am returning your propositions as I indicated to you (in a letter to brother Hafley). I am suggesting that the discussion take place between Mr. Tuten and myself . . . I feel that similar background and experience (an obvious reference to my notes on the Holy Spirit that were sold during the debate) of Mr. Tuten and myself are more nearly similar than yours and mine." I personally enjoyed discussions with Mr. Ferguson before and after each night of the debate. An interesting aspect is that he has also refused to meet Brother Wayne Jackson of Stockton, Calif. in a second debate. I am signing three of the four propositions he mailed to me, with the stipulation that he and I meet only after he fulfills his obligations to Brother Jackson and brother Hafley. It is obvious that he is trying to get the pressure off himself by trying to shift emphasis to Indianapolis, where to my knowledge, no one knows of him. It is apparent that he is running.

Even though Mr. Ferguson is well educated, having taught at Western Apostolic Bible College in Stockton, California for four years and is at the present continuing his education, brother Hafley is capable of handling him should the debate materialize.

I personally was impressed with the entire discussion at Sandwich, Illinois. I think if more brethren could attend more debates like this, they could have demonstrated to them that disputants can disagree without being disagreeable. The stigma that some brethren feel is attached to debates would be removed. It was an honor and a pleasure to moderate for brother Hafley. I hope that I shall have the pleasure to assist brother Hafley in other efforts like this.

January 7, 1971