Introduction to the Controversy About My Lecture

Donnie V. Rader

After my lecture was delivered at Florida College (02-08-01), there was an oral response and two other written responses handed out. These responses were to my citing these brethren and referencing material they had produced.

I debated whether to include the names and references of brethren who made the arguments or points I was seeking to refute. After much thought, I decided that it would be best to include them. As I said in my oral speech, I tire of reading or hearing some man who refers to what some brother has said, but never gives us his name or the benefit of checking his sources. I gave references so that my audience could see who I was talking about and check the sources for themselves. Furthermore, it is late enough in this controversy over divorce and remarriage and the question of fellowship as it relates to that subject that we not beat around the bush. We are well past a time when vague references would be more productive.

I sent the manuscript to Ferrell Jenkins in June 2000. In October I received the following note from brother Jenkins. (Brother Jenkins has granted permission to print part of his letter to me. The part left out had no bearing on this discussion.)

October 25, 2000

Donnie —

I had some concern about your use of unpublished materials. Specifically, I have reference to the citation of a taped sermon by Owen (in two places). All of the other sources you use are published. I would prefer in all of those that you cite the page(s). I have seen Harrell’s material, but have not seen the material by Kimbrough.

I showed your manuscript to Colly. We both think that in a published source such as our lecture book, published by an academic institution, one should use only documented, published material. Apparently you have heard the sermons under consideration; I have not. According to the MLA Handbook, 4th ed. (4.10.12) you must cite the "sponsoring organization."

A brother may disagree with you, but we don’t want one of them to say that his views were misrepresented and ask for equal time, etc.

Here is what I wish to do about this:

(1) Drop the reference to the unpublished tape by Owen, or…

(2) Make a reference to published material. Perhaps the manuscripts in "Toward a Better Understanding" may say the same thing (published by Preceptor and available on the web at I do note, after a cursory glance and use of the "search" feature in my word processor, that brother Owen mentions a sermon he preached in 1993 which he says has been incorrectly applied. Could it be the sermon you cite? Or…

(3) If you are not willing to make this type of documentation, then I will make an editorial note to that effect.



On November 1, 2000 I responded to brother Jenkins with this note:

Brother Jenkins,

I’m sorry that I have taken a while to get back to you. I have put your notes (***) in red and my comments / corrections (noted with ^^^) in blue on the manuscript (attached)

I would like to leave the citation of brother Owen’s sermons and Brother Kimbrough’s material. I’m sorry that this caused you and brother Caldwell some time in your busy schedule. I don’t want to be difficult about this, but consider the following.

I noticed that you did published references to unpublished material in the book you edited, A Tribute to Melvin D. Curry, Jr. (Wolfgang’s Footnote # 1 – p. 233, #9 – p. 234, # 21 – p 236, # 41 – p. 238). Also there was a quote in the 1990 FC lecture book from Bill Swetmon in the Nashville Meeting (p. 179). I know that brother Curry edited that book. However, both books were FC publications. Those were two of three FC publications I checked. Perhaps there are other instances in lecture books I did not check.

Both sermons by Bob Owen have been well quoted and well circulated. The transcripts of both are available on the internet (I have included the URL in the manuscript from the web page of the Woodmont Church of Christ, Fort Worth, TX). Also the material by Earl Kimbrough has been circulated a lot as well. In fact, brother Owen has commended the material in one of the sermons I quote. If you don’t have a copy of brother Kimbrough’s material, I would be glad to mail you a copy.

I don’t see that an editorial note is necessary in light of (1) The fact that FC has published quotes from unpublished sources before without editorial note, (2) Both the sermons by Owen and the material by Kimbrough can easily be located by those who wish to check the sources. However, I recognize that editorial notes are your decision and not mine.

I plan to publish the full text of my manuscript on the web just before I come to the lectures. All of these quotes will be in that manuscript.

Again, I’m sorry that I’ve been a few days getting back to you.

Donnie V. Rader

408 Dow Drive

Shelbyville, TN 37160-2208

I heard nothing else from Ferrell Jenkins or anyone at the College about this. As you can see (if you have a lecture book) brother Jenkins decided not to add an editorial note. I had breakfast with Ferrell Jenkins and Colly Caldwell at the speaker’s breakfast on Tuesday. I saw Bob Owen two or three times during the week. In fact, as I had lunch on Wednesday at the Ole World Cheese Shop, Bob Owen came in and sat at the table next to me. No one said anything about a possible response to my lecture. About 10 minutes before I was to speak, Colly Caldwell called me outside of Hutchinson Auditorium and told me that "this just came up". He said that Bob Owen had asked for time to respond to my reference to him in the printed lecture and that they had decided to give him time to read a prepared response. I asked if he was going to grant the same to any other who might ask like Ed Harrell, etc. He said that Ed had asked to respond, but agreed that it was best for only one to be allowed to orally respond. When I asked if I would be given a chance to reply to Bob Owen, Colly said "no." I asked if Owen’s response was going to be on the end of the tape of my lecture and he said he thought so. I asked Colly if he was going to let Bob Owen respond to me, why didn’t he allow someone to respond to Melvin Curry who the day before (at Puckett) had called Dan King, Mike Willis and Tim Haile by name. Colly’s response was the he didn’t know of anyone asking to respond there.

When I closed my lecture I said that there would be a response. Since I would not be given a chance to reply, I noted that I would respond on Colly announced that Bob Owen was going to respond. Brother Owen read the statement that is found on this web site. Colly then announced that a printed copy of the same could be found in the back along with a response by Ed Harrell. He stated that Earl Kimbrough would have copies of the booklet referred to at the front of the auditorium. Brother Kimbrough gave out a response as well.

Copies of the tape of my lecture (that includes the statement by Bob Owen) can be obtained from Florida College for $5.00 plus shipping and handling. The number is 1-800-922-2390 . Copies of the lecture book can be bought at Truth Bookstore (1-800-428-0121 ).