Debate Report — on “The Cup”

By William C. Sexton

The first two nights of the series of debates with Brother Bob Loudermilk is now history (January 13, 14, 1978). We believe that the debate was a learning experience for all present, including the participants. I gained a great deal from my preparation and the discussion. We did not go into the debate because we felt that we possessed great skills as a debater; rather we entered the debate because we believe that Christians are to present and defend what they believe to be truth as it is revealed in God’s word, the Bible.

I feel that some clarification was made on the exact point that separates Brother Bob and me over the “container” in the communion. In the past, it has occurred to us that much misunderstanding exists between the two groups of brethren on this issue and not much is usually done in the debates to clarify the exact point of difference. In this discussion, I feel that we got to the heart of the issue. These brethren believe that the “cup” of Lk. 22:20 is the container, and that it represents the New Testament, while the contents of the container-the fruit of the vine-represents the blood of Christ. However, in most debates the number of containers is what is discussed, thus the real issue is not discussed. We would encourage all to debate the real issue if they are going to discuss it.

It is my position that Jesus took a container with fruit of the vine in it; then, when He began to give instructions relative to it, He made it clear that it is the contents that He speaks of. Therefore, I made a chart with the word “cup” as it appears in the account of the Lord’s Supper with all of the pronouns whose antecedent is “cup.” I filled out my view of the matter on the chart showing that when Jesus took the “cup” it was both, container and fruit of the vine, but when He gave instructions relative to it, He indicated that it was fruit of the vine. We did this consistently, all the way through, thus we affirmed that the “cup” of Lk. 22:20 and 1 Con 11:25-26 was the fruit of the vine, representing the New Testament in His blood, and this being equal to Matthew and Mark’s account of it being His blood of the .New Testament.

Brother Bob, however, affirming as he was that the container of Lk. 22:20 and 1 Cor. 11:25-26 was representative of the New Testament, had much trouble filling out the chart. He had Jesus taking the container and then instructing His disciples to drink it; also he indicated that they were to drink both the container and the contents in 1 Cor. 11:27-28. Consequently, he has the impossible happening: people drinking from an empty container, and then drinking both the container and the contents. However, Bob does not in fact believe in the empty container, and we did not charge him with such; we only pointed to his impossible indication on the chart, believing that such was the product of his improper view of Lk. 22:20 and 1 Cor. 11:25.

We are looking forward to him recognizing his impossible indication on the chart, as time goes by. Also, we are looking forward to a good discussion with him on the bread, Feb. 17 and 18, at the Westside church of Christ. 3500 South Meridian in Wichita. He is to affirm that the bread has to be in one loaf or piece on Friday night; I am affirming that the break may be in more than one loaf or piece on Saturday night, at 7:30. Remember, also, that we will be debating the classes on March 24th, and the Women Teachers issues on March 25th-both at the Westside church of Christ, 7:30 each evening.

Above everything else, I was glad that both Brother Bob and I could discuss with the feelings and deep faith and conviction we have in our proposition, and yet manifest respect, love, and appreciation for each other. I believe with all my heart that brethren ought to be able to do this, if they are going to stand the test of Christian character.

We would urge brethren throughout the country, to meet each other in this fashion, on issues that divide them. There is no need, in our view, to bring in professional debaters, and then let them leave town after the debate leaving the brethren divided. Brother Bob and I have worked here in Wichita for three years, studying and teaching. We have studied other issues, and we continue to study. If we had brought in other men to debate the issue, even though they perhaps would have done a better job as far as debate skills are concerned, they would have left behind a situation that would not have produced further study. However, brethren need to continue to get together after the discussion, and carry through on ideas that were presented and defended. We intend to do this, and we would urge the same behavior in other places, believing that this holds the greatest chance for fruitful study and application. We are appreciative of brethren, as Brother Bob, who are willing to discuss and defend what they preach and practice. We are willing to put what we teach and practice to the test, and if we were unwilling to do this, we would be afraid to teach and practice them.

Truth Magazine XXII: 11, p. 189
March 16, 1978