EDITORIAL -- The Joliet Debate

Cecil Willis
Marion, Indiana

On July 8th and 9th Brother Larry Hafley and Brother Gordon Brewer engaged one another in debate at Joliet, Illinois. The proposition discussed was: "The Scripture teach that it is a sin for any congregation to help the Rockford congregation which is responsible for the Illinois Exhibit Evangelism program." The issue was that of the sponsoring church. Seventy churches in Illinois work through the elders of the Rockford church in supporting the "State Fair Exhibit Evangelism."

I shall make no attempt here to review the argumentation. Suffice it to say that the truth admirably was upheld. Brother Hafley opposed the sponsoring church concept. Brethren Brewer and Hafley previously had met in a one day debate on the institutional issues on March 7th at Plano, Illinois.

The faithful Joliet church at 103 Margaret Street invited the debate. The attendance was not great, with 145 present the first night, and 100 in attendance on Friday night. There was not one single untoward incident to occur during the debate. It has been my observation that most of those who object to debates because so many unchristian incidents occur never have attended any debates. Nearly every debate that I have attended has been nearly perfect insofar as audience conduct was concerned. Both brethren in the debate conducted themselves in a becoming way as a Christian. No points of order had to be called.

Brother Gordon Brewer is one of the last remnants of a vanishing breed. He is one of the last liberal preachers who will defend what he preaches, and who will attempt to find his practice in the Bible. Of course, in finding a sponsoring church in the Bible, he was as hopelessly lost as a Guy N. Woods, a Tom Warren, or a goose in a rainstorm. He floundered as much as a fellow hunting a black cat at midnight. But at least he tried, and that is more than can be said for many hundreds of other liberal preachers.

I nearly felt sorry for this false teacher. The first night he showed up without even the encouragement of his own moderator. So far as I know, the first night the only persons there who agreed with Brother Brewer were his wife, and a lady who came with his wife. Even the Rockford, Illinois church did not attend, though he was defending their practice. They should have gratefully supported him, since he was attempting to do what they lack the manliness or fortitude to do. Brother Brewer is a personable and pleasant man, and I appreciated his composure even in the face of great pressure.

This was young Brother Hafley's tenth debate. He was well prepared. Those who know him know that he is an Able and articulate speaker. He had anticipated every argument Brother Brewer made, and was therefore able to reply to each argument by usage of a carefully prepared chart. Brother Hafley did the work of a faithful gospel preacher in exposing error and defending truth in a most commendable way.

A host of faithful preachers attended the debate, among them being Ray Ferris, Gordon Pennock, George Pennock, W. C. Hinton, Billy Murrell, Dorval McClister, Mike Grushon, Wesley Dawson, Don Ames, Bruce Taylor, Don Cleek, Lowell Kibler, Tommy Hagewood, Billy Boyd, and possibly others whose names I cannot now recall. Brother Brewer's moderator, Brother Glenn Martin of Libertyville, Illinois, was present the second night. I think one other liberal preacher attended one night. If there were other liberals or liberal sympathizers present, I failed to meet them. It seems that liberal brethren have lost their taste for debate. Some of them have even decided that they do not now believe in debate. An even stalwart like Guy N. Woods seems suddenly to have withdrawn from the platform.

It was a good debate, and the distinction between truth and error was clearly shown. Brother Brewer stated that he thought such debates did good, and so perhaps the church in Streator where he preaches, or more appropriately, the 20th Street church in Rockford will invite such a debate in order that "more good" (?) might be done for their cause. Brother Hafley stands ready, and should he be elsewhere engaged, at least a dozen men present at the Joliet debate would gladly "stand in" for him. But I would guess you need not begin packing your suitcase to attend a Streator or Rockford debate. My opinion is that Brother Gordon Brewer has had all the debating he wants for a while. If you were absent, you missed an interesting debate.

TRUTH MAGAZINE, XV: 38, p. 3-4
August 5, 1971