Report on the Belue-Childress Debate (1)
This is a report on the debate between brother Aubrey Belue, who preaches in Griffith, Indiana, and Mr. J. D. Childress, from Pensacola, Florida, who preaches for the United Pentecostal Church. The debate was held September the fifth through the eighth. The first two nights of the discussion were held in Griffith, Indiana, in the building now owned by the brethren there. The last two nights were in Portage, Indiana, in the United Pentecostal Church building. The question of the Holy Spirit and miraculous divine healing was discussed the first two nights; the Godhead question came under consideration the last two nights.
The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
The First Night. --Brother Belue affirmed the following proposition:
The Scriptures teach that Holy Ghost baptism, as administered on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, together with the signs and miracles done by the apostles and disciples, as recorded in the New Testament, ceased on or before the beginning of the second century.
The affirmative speech was mimeographed and handed out to the audience before the discussion began. This made it impossible for Mr. Childress to lead the audience away from the main issue. Brother Belue's definitions of the terms of the proposition were clearly and concisely formulated. For instance:
WHAT IS NOT THE ISSUE:
1. Holy Ghost baptism--I believe in the fact of it as much as he does.
2. Speaking in tongues--I believe it has been done, as he does.
3. The existence of miracles--I believe in them.
4. Divine healing--I believe that all healing is divine; it is a question of miraculous divine healing in our DAY!
5. Whether or not God has power--I believe he can do anything.
Thus, we are not disagreed over whether these things existed, but whether they continue til now. It is not a question of whether God heals, but whether he does it by natural means--or by means of miracle.
Mr. Childress, on the other hand, either deliberately or ignorantly charged that brother Belue forfeited the debate by agreeing with what he taught. But, when a point of order was called in order to correct the false charge, Mr. Childress admitted that he was misrepresenting brother Belue (This point of order held him tight throughout the discussion!). What he would have given for the affirmative not to be mimeographed and in the hands of the audience! All that was left for him to do was either to follow it point by point or else completely ignore it. He chose to do the latter!
The Second Night.--Mr. Childress affirmed the proposition:
The Scriptures teach that Holy Ghost baptism is administered today to all Christian believers in the same manner as on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, and that the signs and miracles done by the apostles and disciples as recorded in the New Testament, are to continue throughout the gospel dispensation or Christian age.
Actually, he had no affirmative speech. He used a chart on the measures of the Spirit that brother Belue had introduced previously and labored the first point on the chart regarding the two instances of Holy Ghost baptism in the New Testament--Acts 2 and 10.
A Victory for TruthThe United Pentecostal Church teaches that there are two baptisms in force today-- water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ and Holy Ghost baptism. Two charts answered this contention in such a way that there could be no quibble offered by Mr. Childress. One chart was used to demonstrate that the Bible speaks of many baptisms (Heb. 6:1,2): (1) the baptism in the cloud and sea (1 Cor. 10:1-3); (2) John's baptism (Mt. 3:10-12; Acts 19:1-5); (3) the baptism of suffering (Mk. 10:38, 39); (4) Holy Spirit baptism (Acts 1:5); (5) the baptism of fire (Mt. 3:10-12); and (6) the baptism of the Great Commission (Mt. 28: 19). Another chart on Ephesians 4:5 showed that only one of these six baptisms could be binding today:
Mr. Childress avoided this argument as long as possible, and the only attempt he ever made to answer it was insignificant. It proved to be a great victory for the truth.
Turning an Argument Around
During the course of the debate, Mr. Childress argued that I Corinthians 12:13 teaches Holy Spirit baptism. Brother Belue turned the argument on him effectively. The baptism of I Corinthians 12:13 puts one into the body of Christ. Thus, it is the same baptism as that of Romans 6:3, 4 which puts one into Christ. If one is in the body of Christ, he is in Christ! But the baptism of Romans 6:3,4 involves a burial in and resurrection out of the element mentioned. Of course, this is parallel to the eighth chapter of Acts which teaches that one goes "down into" the water and comes "up out of" the water. But, according to Mr. Childress, the element in which we are buried into Christ is the Holy Spirit. So if he ever had the Spirit he doesn't have it now; because he was buried in it and raised up out of it. One does not remain in the element in which we are buried into Christ!
An Amusing Incident
While debating the question of the duration of miracles, an interesting thing happened. Mr. Childress could not escape the fact that his proposition affirmed the duration of "the signs and miracles done by the apostles." Realizing the dilemma imposed by his own proposition, which would affirm his ability to raise the dead, he attempted to limit the miracles in force today to those of Mark 16:17,18. So brother Belue decided to put him to the test! He proposed to bring some poison the second night of the discussion in order to see whether or not Mr. Childress had enough faith to drink it. After all, didn't Mark record that "if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them."What if Mr. Childress did drink the poison and it killed him? This raised the problem of the legality of such an action. Brother Belue consulted a lawyer about the matter. He said that such would be a criminal offence--"aiding or abetting suicide," he called it. The maximum sentence could be as high as ten to twenty years in prison!
Funny? Yes, indeed! But there is a sobering thought just here. Remember, if you offer someone a deadly poison and he is ignorant enough to drink it in order to prove his point, twenty years is a long time to serve just because you wanted to win an argument. Needless to say, brother Belue didn't bring the fuming nitric acid, although he did get the point across to the audience by relating his conversation with the lawyer. Besides, there was a cripple brother in the audience who offered Mr. Childress the opportunity to heal him. So brother Belue's challenge went begging.
Truth Magazine, VI: 3, pp. 9-10