By Elmer Moore
On the nights of September 30 thru October 4, 1985 and March 3, 4, 6, 7 of 1986, 1 was privileged to moderate for J.T. Smith in his debates with Charles A. Holt. The propositions for these debates involved the “local church” and the “eldership.” The first debate was held in Lake Jackson, Texas and the second one in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I do not intend to present a review of the debate as such, but simply state my personal appraisal of it.
First, let me assure everyone that I have no ill will toward brother Holt; neither do I have a personal axe to grind with him. I firmly believe that he espoused false positions in the debates, and failed miserably as a debater.
It was a disappointment to me that brother Holt did not debate the issue at all. Fact of the matter is, he did not debate – period! I know that he understands what a debate is supposed to be. He knows that arguments of the opposition are to be examined with fairness and candor; yet he completely ignored the major portion of brother Smith’s arguments, choosing rather to devote most of his time in a tirade against his brethren. I don’t recall ever hearing a more bitter, vindictive, castigation of the church of the Lord in terms as severe, in my life. My judgment is that I listened to nine nights of a man who has~ become so bitter against his brethren that he seeks opportunity to brow-beat them. Nine times in his last speech in Chattanooga, he compared the church of Christ to the Roman Catholic church. Brother Holt stated in the debate that he had no intention of answering brother Smith’s arguments (referring to them as “quibbles”); but intended to teach the people. Yet brother Holt advertised the affair in his paper, The Examiner, as a debate.
My judgment is that brethren ought not to provide him any further audience where he can further his tirade against God’s people.
The church of the Lord is indebted to brother J.T. Smith for bringing these matters into the open. Many felt that brother Holt had abandoned the views he held in the 1960s. The debates have certainly been eye-openers.
Also it is well to note that in January of 1985 the charter for Holt Ministry, Inc. was filed for record. This was done for the express purpose of making possible the advocacy of brother Holt’s position, either through his paper, or a number of other ways that were mentioned in the charter. This was almost a year before the debate in Lake Jackson. The debate was well timed. Surely now all know that the only change that brother Holt has made regarding his position on the church and the eldership has been from bad to worse.
I believe that brother J.T. Smith not only did a thorough job in defense of the truth, but was kind and courteous toward brother Holt throughout.
Guardian of Truth XXX: 8, p. 234
April 17, 1986