Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 20, 1958
NUMBER 26, PAGE 9a-10

Frost-Budd Debate

Robert L. McDonald, Houston, Texas

On Monday evening, September 15th, brethren Gene Frost of Houston, Texas and Don Rudd of Old Hickory, Tennessee began a six night debate on the present issues within the church. The first three nights were devoted to a discussion of arrangements and cooperative efforts such as the Herald of Truth and the last three nights to the church support of the institutional orphan homes. These discussions were conducted at the Barclay Place and Oak Forest church buildings in Houston.

Sponsoring Church Issue

Brother Rudd began the debate in an attempt to prove: "The Scriptures teach that such an arrangement and cooperative efforts on the part of churches of Christ for preaching the gospel as the Herald of Truth is scriptural." His arguments were very similar to those made in his debates with Brother Lloyd Moyer in California and Mississippi two years ago. His first defense of the Herald of Truth as sponsored by the Highland church in Abilene was:

1. The arrangement of the Herald of Truth was on the part of the Highland elders at Abilene.

2. The cooperation was on the part of 1,088 churches who contributed to the Highland church.

Brother Rudd advocated the obligation of churches to pool their resources into a common fund in order to cooperate. He said.

"Now brethren, these congregations pooled their resources — and listen to the word that I'm calling, if you will please — these congregations pooled their resources into a common fund into the hands of a group of men that had been selected by these different congregations."

The same night he also pointed out,

"Rudd says that not only is it a privilege, but it's an obligation by God's book to cooperate. It is not only a privilege — it's an obligation! And Rudd is not backing up on what he said."

When pressed for scriptural authority for churches to centralize their funds to accomplish a work such as the Herald of Truth radio program, Brother Rudd appealed to 1 Corinthians 12:26-27. Replying to this, Brother Frost showed the passage was not talking about many churches as the "members" of the body, but rather was talking about individuals who make up the body of Christ. Brother Frost then paralleled Romans 12:4-8 with 1 Corinthians 12:26-27 which teaches the individual member working in the church. If the "members" of 1 Corinthians 12 means different congregations as advocated by Don Rudd, the only conclusion one could reach is that "members" of Romans 12 are different congregations. Then, after reading Romans 12:8, "he that ruleth, with diligence", Brother Rudd was asked to tell where the "ruling church" is located. Brother Rudd never did tell the audience where this church was located.

Brother Frost, throughout the debate, made an appeal to the word of God for every argument which he presented. He proved from the scriptures that the concept of the "universal-church action" as advocated by Brother Rudd prostituted the work of the elders of the contributing churches. A chart was used to illustrate the scriptural functioning of churches in the matter of converting funds into service. Brother Rudd never did attempt to meet this argument.

Orphan Home Issue

Brother Frost began his affirmative speeches by defining his proposition in such a way so as to clearly focus the issue in question. The proposition, which had been worded by Brother Don Rudd, was affirmed by Brother Frost. "The Scriptures teach that such arrangements and cooperative efforts on the part of churches of Christ as Boles Orphan Home, Tennessee Orphan Home and similar child caring institutions are contrary to the Scriptures." He read from the charters of Boles Orphan Home and Tennessee Orphan Home to clearly define what was meant by the term Orphan Home as used in the proposition. To illustrate, he turned to a chart which pictured the three ways the term "Home" is used in the present controversy. He emphasized the fact that Boles Orphan Home as well as the other child caring institutions are corporate bodies which are separate and apart from the church.

Brother Frost then turned to another chart which illustrated the scriptural functioning of the church in relieving the needs of the indigents as compared to churches sending funds to a corporate body through which the work of "providing a home" was accomplished. Needless to say, Brother Rudd did not answer the argument but instead followed his usual course by drawing meaningless lines and circles on the blackboard and with much speech and little said attempted to impress the audience with his gift of chatter.

Brethren were urged to turn to the New Testament as the only guide to follow and to recognize the church of Christ as all-sufficient to accomplish everything authorized by the Lord. Brother Frost warned that man's ignoring the scriptures would result in another apostasy of the church which would follow the same pattern of two other major apostasies.

Extreme Positions Of Don Rudd

Brother Rudd, moderated by Brother John O'Dowd and endorsed by the Barclay Place church in Houston, advocated the most extreme, liberal positions this writer has yet heard within the church. First of all, his concept of the church of Christ is the same as that of the sectarian. He has the idea that he can get "in" or "out" of the church at will. He said,

"Now, Brother Frost said that James 1:27 does not apply to the church. Ladies and gentlemen, if James 1:27 is not applicable to the church of our Lord the church of the Lord cannot practice pure and undefiled religion and I'd get out of it (emphasis mine. RLMcD.) before the sun rises tomorrow because I wouldn't be a member of any institution that could not practice pure and undefiled religion."

His concept of church function is that the church must act through another institution. He said,

"But if these fellows were permitted to run loose over the country and tear up every one (institutional orphan homes, R.L.McD.) we've got, the only thing we could use would be a Baptist Orphan's Home (emphasis mine, R.L.McD.) just like we use Baptist hospitals and Catholic hospitals. I'm praying to God that some of these days we'll have our own orphan homes — I mean, our own hospitals just like we have our orphan homes."

Brother Rudd was not as "bashful" as some of the institutional brethren in declaring what he believed about the Missionary Society. When almost all of the liberal brethren will neither deny or affirm the Missionary Society, Brother Rudd said,

"Now then. He said that you can come over here and call that a Missionary Society. Well, brethren, if this is what we call a Missionary Society, before God tonight, I believe in a Missionary Society. Mark that down."

The position which awakened many brethren as to the dangers of modernism within the church was Rudd's plea for the right of churches of Christ to send funds to a Baptist church.

"Brethren, listen to me. One congregation can send $1,000 to the Baptist church, just like (emphasis mine, R.L.McD.) congregations send $1,000 to Fifth and Highland congregation. Do I hear an 'Amen'? You watch it, you watch it. There is such a thing as ear-marked money. Ear-marked money. When a congregation sends money to the Fifth and Highland congregation, it is ear-marked for a specific work."

This position, which must have been a bitter dose for some of the liberal brethren, was never repudiated by Brother Don Rudd, Brother John O'Dowd or the Barclay Place church. Even though most of the liberal preachers would not endorse this position, they made feeble efforts to uphold the position in private conversation.

Debate In The Mud

From the very beginning of the debate, Brother Rudd began a personal attack on Brother Frost and his moderator, Brother Herbert Coffman. Sophistry, misrepresentations and uncomplimentary expressions were used by Don Rudd and his moderator, John O'Dowd, throughout the debate. There was one statement made by Brother Rudd which, no doubt, all would agree. As he explained to his audience his responsibility in the negative of the debate, he said,

"I'm just here following you (Gene Frost, R. L. McD.). I don't care where you want to go. If you want to get in the mud, I'll get down there and wallow with you. As a matter of fact. I kinda like to wallow in the mud in debates."

Here Brother Rudd told the truth. This aptly explains the kind of debating one can expect when facing Brother Don Rudd.

Brethren Awakened

No doubt the debate accomplished much good. Some brethren were awakened to the modernistic trend which is found within the church. Such extreme liberalism on Brother Rudd's part is too far advanced for many of the institutional-minded brethren in the Houston area. They could see the "next step" which will be taken in the near future by the "modernist" in the church today.

Brother Gene Frost did a fine job in the defense of the truth. We appreciated his work and his loyalty to the truth of God. Those who worked with him and stood with him throughout the debate were well pleased in his effort to expose the unscriptural practices found in so many of the churches today.