W.C. Nevil’s Last Hurrah

By Larry Ray Hafley

When Dick Blackford met Paul Dabdoub in debate in Dyersburg, Tennessee, late last year, one of those in attendance was Mr. W. C. Nevil. Mr. Nevil is an aged Missionary Baptist preacher. He was debating before Dick Blackford was born. He met Joe Warlick, a gospel preacher whose name and reputation are virtually unknown to our generation. Also, Mr. Nevil has engaged A. C. Grider and James P. Needham. Needham said of Nevil, “Nevil is the best debater I ever met. He knows all the old Bogard quibbles and presents them in a convincing way.” At any rate, Mr. Nevil’s blood was stirred by the debate between Dabdoub and Blackford. Like an old fire horse who hears the fire bell and feels his pulse quicken and his nostrils flair, Mr. Nevil could not resist the arena of debate. So, he challenged Dick for a debate. The debate was held near Cadiz, Kentucky, May 22-25, 1978.

The debate was rather poorly attended. This was due in part to the fact that there is not a faithful church near the site of the debate. However, brethren drove great distances to hear the discussion. Gene Harris, an elder where Dick preaches, and Wendell West, treasurer of the church, drove many miles and performed well in helping the discussion to be a success. Sam Bynum also did excellent work handling the charts for Dick. All I had to do was pour water for Dick to drink. Also, I think I led prayer one night-4hey could not have gotten along without me!

Dick had prepared many beautiful charts to present his affirmative material and to answer Mr. Nevil’s Baptist doctrine. He was well prepared. Dick has a nice, gentle way about him that makes it hard to get angry at him. Mr. Nevil has a harsh manner that was tempered by Dick’s calm, sincere presentation.

Who Are The Bad Guys?

Christians are always condemned for “name-calling.” Somehow, it is “us” but never “them” that gets the black eye for “calling names.” Well, if Mr. Nevil said “Campbellite” once, he said it a hundred times. He had a few charts that pictured the “Campbellite Church” and constantly referred to “Campbellite preachers.” Below are some of his quotes from the tapes:

“I know you despise the grace of God. You hate it worse than anything in the world.” “You Campbellite preachers are not gospel preachers. You are gospel blasphemers.” “Campbellite preachers can’t stand faith in Christ as a means of salvation.” “You Campbellite preachers preach Campbellite lessons.” “You’re a member of the outfit started by Alexander Campbell.” Those are just some samples. Campbellites trust in the water for salvation; Campbellites have their faith in the water and not in the blood of Jesus Christ these charges were constantly made by Mr. Nevil. Yet, “Campbellites” are the bad guys! We are the ones who “call names!” Dick did not respond to this kind of tactic by doing the same thing, and it was effective. He simply explained the truth and showed why we ought to be Christians.

Usual Proof

Mr. Nevil resorted to the usual line of proof for his position. He cited Lk. 7:50, the palsied man, the thief on the cross, etc. It was the usual, typical approach that has been answered through the years. Dick responded to Nevil’s arguments point by point. Mr. Nevil, on the other hand, ignored most of Dick’s affirmative material. He did not attempt to deal with the arguments which were presented in each speech.

Bloopers And Blunders

Mr. Nevil made too many bloopers and blunders to mention. It would take a whole series of articles to even notice them all. A few, though, are worthy of note. He took the position that the Lord’s Supper is referred to in Matthew 26:28 as that which is shed “for the remission of sins.” He said the Lord’s Supper, like baptism, merely pictures our salvation and that the Lord’s Supper declares the remission of sins in Matthew 26:28. Look it up and see what you think. Mr. Nevil said that repentance and faith are “the same act;” “I want to emphasize now this thought-one and identically the same-repentance and faith.” Several things were said in reply, but the most telling thing was the Lord’s statement in Matthew 21:32, “Ye . . .repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.” Mr. Nevil never noticed this passage. I think the Baptists were embarrassed by his position on this point. Mr. Nevil said that Simon the Sorcerer sought to “buy salvation.” See Acts 8:18, 19. He never corrected himself. He said that Naaman was healed by water in 2 Kings 5. There were others, but this is enough to show the plight of false teachers. Some of you who have never attended a debate probably cannot believe the things a sectarian preacher will say. It would be a good thing for you to attend and see that they do say the ridiculous things that preachers say they do. You have to hear it to believe it in many cases.


This report has already gone too long, but we thought you might be interested in it. Dick Blackford worked long and hard and should be commended for his valiant efforts for the truth’s sake. We trust that the brethren at the North Side church in Dyersburg will support him well for his work. Mr. Nevil is a fine gentleman in many ways, and we would not seek to take advantage of him here. However, we trust that he will consider the error of his ways and obey the Lord. He has no excuse for not knowing the truth. As an aged man, this marks perhaps his last public debate. We pray for -him and for his brethren who attended the debate.

Truth Magazine XXII: 27, p. 443
July 13, 1978