A Report On The Dobbs-Smelser Debate

David Pratte
Fort Wayne Indiana

Since "Buster" Dobbs is now co-owner of the Firm Foundation, the recent Dobbs-Smelser debate in Ft. Wayne has taken on greater significance than we originally anticipated. The propositions were uniquely worded statements on the issues of sponsoring churches and church-supported benevolent institution.

We are convinced that Dobbs' arguments will be a problem for many of the brethren he associates with who seek to avoid extreme liberalism. He consistently affirmed, for example, that all local congregations could scripturally send all their money to the elders of one church, and that one eldership could then oversee all the money in evangelism (which he defined to include edifying the members). Likewise in benevolence, all congregations could send all their funds to one board of directors to oversee all the churches' benevolent work. The only thing he said would prevent this would be the judgment of the elders - but no scriptural limits would be violated. The end result, of course, would be that the local elders in the sending churches oversee nothing but the collecting of funds!

Another interesting development was the way Dobbs continually twisted the meaning of words like "money," 66 contribute," and "home" in order to justify his practice. In all these matters, Dale Smelser did an excellent job of defending the truth and exposing error.

Dale used a number of new charts, and his manner of approaching the argumentation was unique. This, plus the uniqueness of the wording of the propositions, make this debate especially useful. Copies of all Dale's charts are available, including many valuable charts on arguments that are commonly discussed on these issues but which were not used in this debate because the arguments were never introduced. Also available are tape recordings of the debate. Anyone interested in charts or tapes should contact: David Pratte, 7021 Omaha Ct., Ft. Wayne, Indiana 46804.

Guardian of Truth XXVII: 19, p. 584
October 6, 1983