By Cecil Willis
In order that as many as want to do so may attend, we are trying to announce as early as possible all the particulars regarding the debate on whether schools like Florida College have the right to teach the Bible. Brother Jesse Jenkins of Denton, Texas and I have agreed to discuss this subject four nights, Sept. 23, 24, 26, and 27. The debate will be held in the High School Auditorium in Pasadena, Texas. Pasadena is a suburb of the metropolitan Houston area, and I am told that its location is ideal for anyone coming East from Houston, or from the North.
The Pasadena High School Auditorium is just off the Pasadena-LaPorte freeway (Hwy. 225), which comes off the Gulf freeway, as one leaves Houston headed South-east. Take the first Pasadena exit (Shaver Street) from the Pasadena-LaPorte freeway, and the High School and auditorium are right next to the feeder street, and are clearly visible from both the freeway and the feeder street. One would turn right on Shaver street and the auditorium and High School would be immediately on his right.
The location of this auditorium was so ideal that those making arrangements for it have waited longer than they wanted to wait, but did so in order to procure the right to use this particular auditorium. The auditorium will seat over 1,000. Rent on this auditorium is $100 per night, and I have personally paid $200 of the rental fee, and Brother Curtis Torno and some others are going to pay the other $200.
The brethren in the Pasadena area will try to provide as many places to stay as possible, for out of towners who wish to stay for the entire debate. Brother Don Carter, one of the Elders of the Red Bluff church in Pasadena, has agreed to take the responsibility to coordinate the number needing a place to stay with those who are offering to provide free lodging. Brother Don Carter’s address is 1807 Patricia Lane, Pasadena, Texas 77502, if you wish to write regarding the availability of a place to stay. Or, you may call him at home at 713-473-4456. This could turn out to be a sizable job for Brother Carter, so give him as much advance notice as possible, if you need a place to stay.
The delay in arranging the usage of the auditorium was occasioned by the fact that we had to wait until the school calendar was finalized. But everything now appears to be in readiness, and we hope a goodly number will plan to attend. The last debate that I can remember at this moment that was conducted on this subject must have been around twenty years ago. So perhaps a goodly number of brethren will be interested in such a discussion.
Having met Brother Jesse Jenkins only one time personally, I of course do not know him well. But everyone who ‘ has spoken to me of Brother Jenkins has commented that he will be very honorable in such a discussion (I would have expected this anyway, since he is a brother in Christ), but that he will be a formidable opponent. Several has advised me that I should not under-estimate Jesse Jenkins’ ability. That advice was unnecessary, for I do not underestimate any debate opponent’s ability. I am highly respectful of them all, and enter every debate with fear and trembling. But I will come to Pasadena, the Lord willing, ready to do my best in discussing honorably and fairly the propositions which we have signed. Paul stated that he planned to preach the gospel in Rome, “as much as in me is” (Rom. 1:15). That passage always has had much meaning to me. It tells me that I do not have to preach or debate as ably as someone else, or better than someone else, but I must do my best! That I fully plan to do, not only in Pasadena, but so long as the, Lord shall permit me to continue to have a little share in His Work being done upon the earth.
Brother Jenkins and I have every intention of entering and ending this debate in a good humor with one another. We hope that all the listeners will come so disposed. Of course, we each will press the points in our arguments, but that does not mean we have any ill-feeling toward each other. So far as I know, neither has any earthly reason for having an ill feeling toward each other, and we fully intend to behave ourselves in this four night debate study period in a manner that becometh Christians; indeed, as brethren in the Lord. We hope you will make your plans to come.
POSTSCRIPT: A letter dated July 1, 1974 received from Leroy Garrett, also of Denton, Texas, indicates that he has every intention of carrying through our before mentioned plan to discuss the fellowship question in Port Arthur, Texas sometime in January, 1975. We want to avoid as many schedule conflicts as possible, and thus plan to have the discussion before the Abilene Christian College Preacher Workshop, and before the Florida College Lecture program. That probably means that this debate will be held during one of the first two weeks of January. This debate would be a very important one, and we will give as much advance notice as possible, when final arrangements as to date and location have been made.
The debate scheduled for December with Nathan Urshan, National Radio Speaker for the United Pentecostal Church, cannot be held in December of this year, as we before had indicated it would be. However, a telephone conversation this past week with Mr. Urshan indicated that he has every intention of honoring his agreement to meet me in a public discussion in Indianapolis, but that his schedule is such that it would have to be late Spring, or in the Summer. With my trip to the Philippines planned for April, 1975, it probably would fit my plans better also to have it in the Summer. So keep that approximate time in mind, and try to save some vacation time so that you can come for that discussion.
Meanwhile, the brethren in Glen Burnie, Maryland have been challenged to a debate by Dr, Eugene Perry, President of the Israel Tract Society. The Glen Burnie brethren have asked that I represent them in the discussion, and I have agreed to do so. No exact time has been chosen as yet, but we just might be able to work it into the early part of December 1974. If not, it then will have to be scheduled for early spring 1975.
Having participated in only four debates in my entire life, four rather important ones within a six months time is a rather frightening contemplation. Brother Jenkins will not have to worry about me coming over-confident! Frankly, I have more to do than I can do well, and I must just do the best I can in each engagement. All these other men probably have equally burdensome schedules to keep, so a busy schedule for me is not cited as an excuse to get out of any commitment. I know of no honorable way to avoid defending what I believe and teach, when it is challenged by a worthy opponent, and I have no disposition to try to avoid such a responsibility. My only desire is that the truth never suffer due to ineptness or unpreparedness on my part. So, if you like debates, here are a few you can make you plans to take in.
Truth Magazine, XVIII:40, p. 3-4
August 15, 1974