The Grider-Highers Debate

By Dick Blackford

It was my privilege to moderate for A. C. Grider for five nights in the debate at Central City, Kentucky, with Alan E. Highers, March 6-10. It is not our purpose to discuss the debate in detail but only to mention what we consider to have been the main arguments.

The first two nights were on limited benevolence. Brother Highers presented a chart on 2 Cor. 9:13 as his major argument. The chart contained Acts 5:11; 1 Thes. 3:12; I Thes. 5:15 and Gal. 6: 10 which are parallel in construction to 2 Cor. 9:13 (This chart is in The Arlington Meeting, p. 221). His argument was that because each of these verses includes more than saints, that the same must also be true in 2 Cor. 9:13. Brother Grider replied that we must keep a passage in context to determine who was relieved. He presented a chart containing I Cor. 16: 1; Rom. 15:25, 26, 3 1; 2 Cor. 8:4; 2 Cor. 9:1, 12, all of which say it was for the saints. He then asked if Paul misappropriated the funds by giving it to someone other than whom he said it was for. Brother Highers did not deal with the context but stuck to his “parallel constructions” argument.

On the second night when brother Grider again cited all the cases of church benevolence and pointed out that only saints were mentioned in each case, brother Highers replied by trying to parallel Griders argument to a Baptist preacher reading all the verses on faith and concluding that salvation was by faith only. Brother Grider effectively pointed out that there were other scriptures on the subject of salvation which proved that more than faith was involved. He emphasized the point that the Bible did not say sing only, but that it only said sing; that it did not tell us to take the Lords Supper on the first day of the week only, but that it only said the first day of the week: and that it did not tell us to take a collection on the first day of the week only, but it only said on the first day of the week.

Brother Highers presented a chart on Js1: 2 7 and Gal. 6: 10 (appears in The Arlington Meeting, p. 218) in an attempt to show that individual duties are discharged through the church. He paralleled Js. 1: 2 7 to I Cor. 11: 28 (Lords Supper) and said it was an individual duty discharged collectively and that Gal. 6: 10 was collective because it was addressed to churches (Gal. 1: 2). Brother Grider answered this with two charts–one showing that the Lords Supper was both individual and collective (I Cor. 11: 28 and Acts 20: 7) but that orphan care was only individual (Js. 1: 27) and that there was no passage authorizing orphan care on a collective basis. The other chart showed that Gal. 6: 10 could not be collective because of the context-particularly the fact that “they compel you to be circumcised” (Gal. 6:12) could not be collective action. These were the major arguments the first two nights.

The third night was on institutionalism. Brother Highers introduced a chart called “Which Organization?” with the church on one side, the home on the other and such things as 11 provide food, shelter, recreation, etc.” in the middle. His purpose was to show that these were home duties and not church duties. Thus the church could only contribute the money to the home and it could provide these things. Brother Grider again pointed out that it was the individual who was to practice pure and undefiled religion, Js. 1: 27.

Brother Highers presented his “Hobby Wheel” chart in an effort to make it appear that we are just like the anti-Bible class brethren. Brother Grider replied with a chart called “The Hobby Wheel Broke Down.” He pointed out that the brethren who oppose classes are objecting to something that does not exist-an organized Sunday-School society separate from the church. He said if that was what it was, he would oppose it too. He noted that the organized Sunday-School society, the benevolent society, and the missionary society are parallel and that all three are wrong. It was also pointed out that Brother Highers was confusing the word “home” by using it in several different ways without noting the distinction. Grider cited the charter of the Shultz-Lewis Childrens Home showing -that the organization called a “home” existed for the purpose of “providing a home” (another usage) and thus was an institution which could provide a thousand “homes” if it wanted to. He further emphasized that the church helps individuals, not “homes.”

On the fourth and fifth night co-operation in evangelism was discussed. Brother Grider showed what was involved in the sponsoring church system and noted that concurrent cooperation and not joint co-operation was the scriptural kind. Brother Highers did not show where one church sent to another in evangelism but asked by what authority Brother Grider got his salary from the first-day-of-the-week contribution. Brother Grider showed from 2 Cor. 11:8 that it is necessarily inferred that preachers were paid from the treasury and that I Cor. 16:1, 2 is the only passage telling when a collection could be taken. This did not satisfy Brother Highers and became his main argument the final night. On the last night brother Highers admitted that I Cor. 16: 1, 2 was not on evangelism but made a “two wrongs make a right” type argument that if preachers could get their salaries from this passage, he could also get authority for World Radio, etc. Again brother Grider said he did not get his salary from I Cor. 16:1, 2 but that a treasury was necessarily inferred in 2 Cor. 11: 8. He forcefully emphasized that I Cor. 16:1, 2 was the total revelation from God as to when a collection was to be taken and it was specific (first day of the week) and exclusive (first day of the week only). Grider further noted that we must first find authority for spending the money and that I Cor. 16:1, 2 was not authority for spending anything in evangelism and thus was not the passage which authorized a preachers salary.

Good order prevailed throughout the discussion and the atmosphere among brethren seemed to be much better than it had been at previous debates.

Brother Highers remarked that whether we (conservative brethren) “win” in a debate or not, we always “win” when we write it up. Though the same could be said about them, we simply want to point out that we were not seeking a personal victory. Both truth and error were presented. And in spite of Brother Highers outstanding ability as a speaker, one can study the arguments presented and arrive at the truth.

May 18, 1972