Who Said Debates Do No Good?

Cecil Willis
Marion, Indiana

In spite of the plain fact that Christians are commanded to "contend for the faith," and the equally obvious fact that New Testament preachers as well as the apostles and even Jesus himself were repeatedly engaged in religious debate, there are still a few among us who mouth the little ditty that "debates do no good."

Generally these are people who have never attended even one good debate. Frequently the "debates do no good" cliché is but a repetition of something one has heard said by a denominational preacher, or by one of the innovationists among us. Quite obviously, a debate does not do any good for the cause of the man in error. Certainly he would not believe in debate, for the same reason (as someone has said) that a hornless cow does not believe in hooking.

Debates are conducted as frequently in the Philippines today as they were here a century ago. In a letter received by me just three days ago from a Filipino preacher, there was a report concerning four debates held in February and March in the Manila area.

There is a denomination in the Philippines which wears the name "Church of Christ," but which was started by an ex-Christian Church preacher, Felix Manalo. This group claims that Manalo was an angel sent from above. On March 11, 1971 Brother Carlos Azcarraga met one of the Manaloites at Pasay City, a suburb of Manila. Brother Tibayan, the able preacher at Pasay, was out of the city at the time. Seven obeyed the gospel as a result of this debate.

Eight days later, Brother Azearraga debated again with the Manaloites in his own city -- Infanta, Quezon, not far from Manila. The debate was held in the town plaza in Infanta. This was Brother Azearraga's 28th debate with the Manaloites. This sect has enormously expensive buildings, even surpassing in grandeur those of the Roman Catholic church. They claim to have two thousand preachers and four million members in the Philippines. They are a very aggressive sect in propagating their error.

The debate in Infanta town plaza lasted six hours and forty-five minutes. A local radio newscaster reported that 3400 attended the debate. The next morning after the debate, seventeen were baptized into Christ.

Now, who says debates do not do any good? Well, whoever so says not only contradicts facts, but also contradicts the commandment of Jesus Christ through His apostles, and thereby indicts the conduct of Jesus Himself.

June 17, 1971