Campbell-Patterson Debate

By Larry Ray Hafley

During the first week of August, brother Kevin Campbell met Cecil Patterson, a Missionary Baptist, in a debate on the general church question. Both men affirmed that “The church of which I am a member is scriptural in origin, name and doctrine.” It was an orderly discussion without the slightest hint of misbehavior. It was my pleasure and good fortune to serve as brother Campbell’s moderator.

Though he is a young man (23 years of age), this was brother Campbell’s second debate. Brother Campbell was thoroughly prepared. He has a quiet, almost shy, manner, but there beats within him the boldness begotten of righteousness (Prov. 28:1). He speaks with “great plainness of speech” (2 Cor. 3:12) that is kind, yet firm. He dealt with his older opponent, Mr. Patterson, with the power and authority of truth, yet with tact, compassion and godly sincerity. Kevin is indeed a workman that needeth not to be ashamed for he handles aright the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15). The cause and kingdom of Christ sorely need more young men like our brother Campbell who know how to send arrows of truth into the heart of the errors of men.

N.T. Church Vs. Baptist Church

Origin: Kevin showed the scriptural origin of the church from a variety of Scriptures (Matt. 16:18; Mk. 9:1; Acts 1:8; 2:47). Mr. Patterson said the Baptist Church began “on the sea of Galilee.” Kevin pointed out that the foundation of the Lord’s church was laid “in Zion” (Jerusalem, Isa. 28:16). So, Baptists have a building put up on the shores of the sea of Galilee while the Lord laid the foundation in Jerusalem. With telling effect, Kevin asked why one would lay a foundation in one place but put his building somewhere else.

Patterson argued that “Christ established his church during his personal ministry.” If so, Kevin said it was a church that could not preach Jesus as the Christ (Matt. 16:20). It was a church under the law of Moses (Matt. 23:2-5). It was a church whose preachers were preaching that it was still at hand” (Matt. 10:7; Lk. 10:9). It was a church that had not yet been purchased with the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28). It was a church whose members did not have the remission of sins in the name of Jesus Christ, for that began at Jerusalem in Acts 2 after Christ’s ascension and not during “his personal ministry” (Lk. 24:47-49; Acts 2:21,38).

Name: Brother Campbell asked Mr. Patterson if it would be scriptural to refer to the church as “a church of Christ.” Patterson said, “I don’t have any problem with that.” But Mr. Patterson had signed his name to deny that the church of Christ to which Kevin belongs is “scriptural in name.” Hence, he had surrendered that part of the proposition. “The churches of Christ” are mentioned in the Bible, but Missionary Baptist churches are not (Rom. 16:16).

In typical Baptist fashion, Patterson argued that both John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ were “Missionary Baptist preachers.” Said Cecil, John and Jesus were preachers sent on a mission who baptized; hence, they were Missionary Baptist Church preachers. Kevin contended that if that established the Baptist name, then the Mormons also have a scriptural name. The apostle Peter was a preacher and a saint, a member of the church who preached in the last days. Kevin asked, therefore, if that made the apostle Peter a Latter Day Saints Church preacher. It would prove that the Mormon name was scriptural according to Baptist reasoning. The truth is that neither is found in the Bible. When the debate ended, Mr. Patterson had found no reference to Baptist churches in the Bible. Some things never change.

Doctrine: Note a few of the stark, startling contrasts between New Testament teaching and Missionary Baptist doctrine. Kevin simply stated a number of Bible teachings to which Patterson replied with Baptist doctrine.

(1) “Elders in every church” (Acts 14:23). Patterson: “We (Baptists) don’t, have elders; we don’t appoint elders in every church.”

(2) “Upon the first day of the week when the disciples came together to break bread” (Acts 20:7). Patterson: “They might have been doing that at that time, but we Missionary Baptists don’t do that.” Again referring to the Lord’s supper, Cecil said it should be taken “once a year.”

(3) “Ye are fallen from grace” (Gal. 5.41). Patterson: “It is not possible for a child of God to lose his salvation. ” Patterson said that a child of God who died guilty of murder would “go to heaven.” Compare Galatians 5:19-21; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 Jn. 3:15 – “no murderer hath eternal life, abiding in him.”

(4) “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mk. 16:16). Patterson: “That is church of Christ doctrine.” “He that believeth and is saved should be baptized is akin to Missionary Baptist doctrine.”

(5) “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Patterson: “I know it says in Acts 2:38, ‘Repent, and be baptized for the remission of sins,’ but there’s just too many other places where it’s not mentioned.” “Baptism for the remission of sins is false, untrue and is biblical idolatry.”

(6) “Baptism doth also now save us” (1 Pet. 3:21). Patterson: “Baptism does not save us.” “Missionary Baptists don’t believe that baptism saves.”

Mahmoud Abdul Rauf

Ever heard of Mahmoud Abdul Rauf? Mr. Patterson has, but he wishes he had not: Mahmoud Abdul Rauf is best known as Chris Jackson, the basketball star from LSU who now plays for the Denver Nuggets of the NBA. Jackson is a favorite son of Gulfport, NIS where the debate was held. Midway through the debate the local paper came out with the news that Jackson was to “convert to Islam” and become a Muslim. “And what is so special about that,” you may ask? Well, “Jackson . . . attended Morning Star Baptist, Church in Gulfport . . . and was baptized into that church last year.” Further, the paper said, “Muslims do not believe that Christ is the son of God.”

Brother Campbell put the newspaper clipping on a chart and wondered if Patterson still considered Muslim Mahmoud saved. Here is a clear cut case of one who was baptized into a Baptist Church who has now joined a religious movement which denies that Jesus is the Son of God. On another chart, Kevin cited Hebrews 3:12 – “Take heed brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” Kevin asked:

What Is the Condition of One Who Forsakes:

Jehovah for Aliah?

Jesus for Mohammed?

Bible for Koran?

Brother Campbell pressed Mr. Patterson for an answer, but Cecil finally said he would “say no more about” Chris Jackson’s defection and departure from the Baptist Church. The reason was obvious. According to Baptist doctrine, a child of God can commit “every sin from idolatry to murder” and it “will not make his soul in any more danger.”


There were many interesting points, but you will have to secure a copy of the debate in order to hear them. Video and audio tapes are available. I do not know the cost, but contact Kevin Campbell, 106 Beverly, Gulfport, NIS 39503.

The brethren of the Morris Rd. church are to be commended for their eager, enthusiastic encouragement of open Bible discussions. Perhaps not all churches of Christ would want to be a part of a debate of this nature, but such an attitude will bring havoc to them in time to come. The brethren were edified greatly by the debate. They were provoked and stirred to more teaching and preaching of the gospel of the grace of God. They saw first hand, the glaring error of denominationalism. They saw the beauty, power and authority of plain, simple New Testament preaching. One had better not tell the church in Gulfport that “debates don’t do any good.” They know better!

Liberal views creep in where the truth is not contrasted with error, where men are ashamed and/or afraid to expose the doctrines of men and exalt the doctrine of the Lord. After liberal views slip in, false doctrine and, ultimately, apostasy occurs. Recently, a brother in Christ argued with me that one could not prove that Philip preached baptism when he preached Jesus unto the Eunuch (Acts 8:35,36). He said the Eunuch probably saw people being baptized in Jerusalem and that is why he asked Philip about baptism. In other words, one may preach Jesus without preaching about baptism. Cecil Patterson, a Missionary Baptist, made the very same argument! Brethren, it is later than we may think! Debates can help all to see the truth and avoid error. Press the battle e’er the night shall veil the glowing skies.

Brethren, we need to pray for, support and encourage men like our young brother Campbell. Let us not make heroes of those who can offer us only “good words and fair speeches,” but who will not “reprove, rebuke and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine,” who will not cast down the arguments of men but will, rather, apologize to those in denominationalism for the “legalistic, Pharisaical” preaching of those who are in the “church of Christ Denomination.” I pray that Kevin may have a long and useful life in the service of the Lord, and that he may maintain his poise, balance and equanimity of spirit as he fights the good fight of faith.

Guardian of Truth XXXV: 24, pp. 742-743
December 19, 1991