The Harkrider-Hancock Debate

By Dennis C. Abernathy

We all should be ready always to give an answer or make a defense to everyone who asks us to give an account for the hope that is in us (1 Pet. 3:15). In Acts 15 we read of some who came down from Judea teaching that one had to be circumcised according to the custom of Moses or they could not be saved. Paul and Barnabas were there and “had great dissension and debate with them” (Acts 15:2). I ask you brethren, if men today come teaching that one must do something not taught in the gospel of Christ in order to be saved, can we afford to do any less than did Paul and Barnabas? I am afraid that a lot of my brethren today look upon public debate with disdain. With them it is not “The Fight is On” but rather, “The Fight is Gone.” For shame! Especially is this true with our “liberal brethren.” For the most part, they no longer believe in debate. If you ask them to do what Peter said we should always be ready to do, they will either ignore you or will accuse you of not loving your brethren. Brethren, we need more debates; they will do good!

My object in this short article is not to review the Harkrider-Hancock Debate, from the standpoint of the. argumentation, but to give you some information pertaining to the debate itself. On April 4, 5, 7 and 8, David Harkrider met Steve Hancock in public debate on the subjects of the Godhead, Holy Spirit Baptism, the baptismal formula, and spiritual gifts. David was representing the North Main church of Christ in Gladewater, Texas and Mr. Hancock represented the Gilmer Apostolic Church in Gilmer. The first two nights were held in the building of the North Main church of Christ. The crowd was estimated to be approximately 450 on Monday evening and approximately 410 on Tuesday evening. The last two nights were conducted in the Gilmer Apostolic Church’s building, with Thursday night’s crowd running approximately 450 and then the final evening up to 650.

The debate was orderly, with the participants respecting each other before and after the debate. For the most part, the crowd was orderly with very little disruption. Many good remarks have been made about the debate, from those in attendance who were neither members of the church of Christ nor the Apostolic church.

The brethren of the North Main church of Christ supported the debate in a fine way. We believe in defending the truth on every front, whether it be from among brethren or from without. We believe the truth has nothing to fear and that compromise and failure to speak up is deadly to the cause of Christ.

Brother David Harkrider did an admirable job and, it is the view of this writer that even though .many of the Apostolic people were in disagreement with his position, they had respect for him. Brother David Watts of Louisville, Kentucky moderated for David and did an exceptional job.

In conclusion, the debate was refreshing, and as far as the North Main church of Christ is concerned, it did us good. If you would like the complete debate on eight cassette tapes, the cost will be $15.00 plus postage (in advance).

Guardian of Truth XXVII: 14, pp. 428, 439
July 21, 1983