The LaCoste-Jackson Debate

By Jack Holt

On May 20th and 21st, brother Bob LaCoste of the Wonsley Drive congregation in Austin Texas debated brother Bill Jackson of the Southwest congregation, also of Austin. The discussion was held one night in each building on the subject of church benevolence. Brother LaCoste affirmed: “The Scriptures teach that the church may grant benevolent aid only to those persons who are members of the church2′ Brother Jackson affirmed: “The Scriptures teach that the church may grant benevolent aid to a person who is not a member of the church.”

Brother LaCoste’s general demeanor was excellent, and his speeches dealt with the issues. Brother Jackson’s behavior was beneath that of a Christian gentleman in several particulars. His speeches were filled with language that could only serve to widen the gap between brethren, and in the last speech of the debate he introduced six new arguments and ridiculed brother Elmer Moore, who was brother LaCoste’s moderator, for making a point of order concerning the new material.

The first night of the debate was held at Wonsley with brother Jackson in the affirmative. The building was full (about 300 faithful brethren, and about 75 from Southwest). The second night of the discussion (at Southwest) found about 250 of our brethren in attendance, and less than 100 from Southwest-this in spite of the fact that Southwest boasts a normal attendance of near 350.

The truth prevailed in an outstanding fashion during the debate. In his first speech, brother Jackson charged that brother LaCoste believed that we must have specific authority for everything that we do. Brother LaCoste corrected brother Jackson on this, but brother Jackson continued to make the charge throughout the debate. In the course of making this charge, brother Jackson continually attempted to identify brother LaCoste with the anti-class, anti-located preacher, and anti-women teacher movements.

In his first negative, brother LaCoste took 2 Corinthians 9:13 away from brother Jackson so effectively that brother Jackson did not dare mention it again until the final speech of the debate. Brother LaCoste showed that pantas (“all”) could not have reference to alien sinners in the context of that passage.

Of course, brother Jackson brought out several passages which described individual duties in benevolence, and tried to apply them to church benevolence. Brother LaCoste demonstrated from 1 Timothy 5:16 that God has made a distinction between the benevolent duties of individuals versus the benevolent duties of the churches. All brother Jackson could do, again, was wait until his final speech when Bob would have no chance to answer, and then ridicule the idea that there was

any distinction between individual and collective duties in benevolence.

When brother Jackson brought up Galatians 6:10, he charged that brother LaCoste was inconsistent to contend that the verse spoke of individual action only, since he authorized collective action in regard to paying the preacher from Galatians 6:6. Brother LaCoste pointed out that he didn’t even believe Galatians 6:6 was talking about the preacher’s salary. He further explained that he looks to passages like 1 Corinthians 9:3-18; 2 Corinthians 11:8; and Philippians 4:10-20 to authorize a church paying his salary, and not Galatians 6:6. But apparently brother Jackson did not hear him, for even in his review of the debate (published June 20, 1985, Gospel Advocate), he charges brother LaCoste with looking to Galatians 6:6 to authorize the church paying his salary.

Brother Jackson spent the first 22 minutes of his first speech without even referring to a passage of Scripture. He argued from the basis of history that “antism” was wrong. Brother LaCoste simply pointed out that the proposition did not say, “History teaches that the church may grant benevolent aid to a person who is not a member of the church,” but that the proposition did say, “The Scriptures teach . . .” By referring to brother Jackson’s recent opposition to an Austin congregation’s building of a swimming pool, brother LaCoste got brother Jackson to admit that he was an “anti,” too.

On the other hand, brother LaCoste made a well-organized presentation of the truth while in the affirmative. After demonstrating the New Testament pattern in regard to whom the church may relieve, brother LaCoste pressed brother Jackson to see the parallel between his own position in regard to musical instruments in worship and the Bible’s pattern in church benevolence. Brother Jackson never dealt with the argument.

I could go on, but I think you get the general idea. I sure will be glad when brother Jackson and his brethren decide to come on out and defend their position from the Scriptures. Brother Jackson certainly did not do so in this debate.

Guardian of Truth XXIX: 17, p. 524
September 5, 1985