Shaver-Hicks Debate

W. Curtis Porter
Monette, Arkansas

A debate between Bro. Glenn L. Shaver of Hammond, Indiana and Bro. Olan Hicks of La Porte, Indiana, was conducted in the church building in La Porte, where Bro. Hicks preaches regularly, on the nights of April 28th and 29th and May 1st and 2nd. The first two nights of the discussion concerned the matter of congregational cooperation such as is characteristic of the Herald of Truth Program in radio evangelism. The last two nights were given to a discussion of benevolence-whether it is Scriptural for churches of Christ to build and maintain benevolent organizations for the care of the needy. Bro. Shaver was opposed to the type of work described in the propositions, and Bro. Hicks was in favor of such.

This was, as I understand, the first debate for each man involved. The discussion was carried on in a Christian attitude, with each man regarding the other as a brother in Christ, while making serious efforts to get before the audience the teaching of the Bible concerning such matters.

Interest was manifested by the audience throughout the discussion, and we are sure much good was accomplished for the cause of truth. I want to be as unbiased as I can about the matter, but it appeared to me that Bro. Hicks made as weak an effort to defend the Herald of Truth arrangement for evangelisin and the use of benevolent organizations, for the work of benevolence as any man I have heard. Actually, I have heard a number of debates on these issues, and I have yet to hear any man make headway in trying to show the Scripturalness of such projects. On the other hand, Bro. Shaver, in his dynamic, rapid-fire manner, presented many Scriptural arguments to show that such arrangements were contrary to the Scriptures, while at the same time showing the way such work was conducted in the first century of the church under the direct instruction of inspired men.

I shall make no effort to give the arguments introduced by the speakers. However, it might be well to state that Bro. Hicks claimed the messengers of the churches who carried the contribution to the brethren at Jerusalem, as in the second Corinthian letter recorded, formed the "in between organization" and were the same in principle as the Benevolent Organization that provides homes for the needy todav. However, in his first speech he had said they served the same purpose as that served by the United States mail system today. This admission ruined his argument for the "benevolent society" for the United States mail system has no control of the money sent by such a medium-they do not direct the spending of it, but merely transport it to its destination. Likewise the messengers did not control or spend the money sent by the churches-their service was simply to "bring" the "liberality" of the giving churches "to Jerusalem." But the benevolent organization that characterizes the work of the homes today is not the same as the United States mail system. The mail service transports the money to some place designated by the benevolent society, and they in turn, control, direct and spend the money.

We know of a number who were not settled on the issues before the discussion began that were led to see that such projects are without any Scriptural authority. Good will certain1y come from such discussions. Bro. Elza Huffard of Chicago moderated for Bro. Hicks; and I served in the same capacity for Bro. Shaver. It would be a fine thing for the brotherhood if a discussion of this kind could be conducted in every city in the nation. We are willing, but we doubt that those who are engaged in such promotions will find it convenient to have many such discussions.

Truth Magazine II:9, p. 19
June 1958