Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 27, 1961
NUMBER 50, PAGE 8-9,13c

The Baker-Hunt Debate

Wilson M. Coon, Phoenix, Arizona

On the night of January 16, 17, 19, 20, 1961, brethren Tom Baker and Bill Hunt, local preachers in the Phoenix area, met for public discussion of the question of church benevolence. Brother Baker affirmed the following proposition for the first two nights: "The Bible teaches that in the field of benevolence a local church can supply the needs of only the poor saints from its treasury." Brother Hunt affirmed for the last two nights the following proposition: "Resolved, that several congregations and/or brethren cooperatively and regularly operating a legally incorporated chartered children's home or widows' home is a Scriptural method of doing benevolent work."

We should like to report some of the highlights of this debate as it progressed from night to night.

Monday Night Brother Baker began his speech by clearly defining his proposition to the satisfaction of the audience and his adversary, brother Bill Hunt. He developed his speech by carefully explaining what his proposition was not. He clearly pointed out that the discussion was not over the work of an individual but that it concerned the work of the church. He sacrificed enough of his time to affirm that the individual could assist the alien and cited Gal. 6:10; Jas. 1:27; Matt. 25 and Luke 10 as his proof texts. After these affirmative statements, brother Baker pointed out the difference between the individual and the church by showing what the individual is obligated to do and what the church is charged to do. He used 1 Tim. 5 as his proof text.

His main argument was based on the law of exclusion and the silence of the Scriptures. He read all the passages of the New Testament that deal with church action in the field of benevolence and showed, in each case, that the needy saint was the object of charity. He quoted Acts 2, 4, 6, 11; Rom. 15; 1 Cor. 16; 2 Cor. 8, 9 for his proof texts. He then challenged his opponent to disprove his contention by producing the Scripture that proved the church to be obligated to assist the alien ft.( m its treasury. He next advanced some parallel arguments to strengthen his position. He read Acts 20:7 to prove that the church should observe the Lord's Supper on the first day of the week, and that the first day was the only day upon which to break bread. He showed that baptism was a burial and that sprinkling was excluded. He asked brother Hunt if he would affirm that the first day was the ONLY day upon which to break bread; or if he would affirm that baptism was a burial ONLY. He plainly showed what the Bible taught and then proved that in the absence of testimony, there is no faith. He closed his first speech by insisting that brother Hunt should use the Bible in his discussion and not resort to tradition or age-old practices to try to disprove a proposition Brother Hunt spent the first few minutes of his time talking about the Westside brethren and former preachers connected with that group. He openly charged the brethren with succumbing to the divisive doctrines of the preachers. He was called down for a flagrant violation of Hedge's Rules of Debate which he had agreed to abide by. The rules were read and explained. However, brother Hunt, in a very disorderly way, denied that he had made any such charges; but he did and a play of the tapes showed that he did make such unfounded statements. He had to be called down several times in his first speech for disorderly conduct, his own moderator, Elton Dilbeck, being a witness that Hunt had broken the rules. He spent his time talking about drinking fountains and rest rooms in the church house being used by some alien sinner; evidently thinking that such acts would justify such organizations as Sunny Dale Home. His only honorable effort to debate the issue was made when he tried to prove Gal. 6:10 and Jas. 1:27 to be church action.

Very little new material was introduced in the last two speeches; however, brother Baker devoted his time in maintaining his proposition. Hunt spent his time near the rest room and drinking fountain, casting personal reflections on his adversaries. He did introduce a chart and an argument on 2 Cor. 9:13, trying to prove that the "All Men" referred to the people of the world. He was so beside himself that he boasted of having looked up the word "men" in the Greek text and then tried to tell the audience what the word meant. Anyone acquainted with the use of a King James Bible should know that brother Hunt did not find any such word in the Greek for the translators themselves could not find the word. That was the reason for supplying the word "men" in italics, to allow the reader of English to know that the word was not in the original. Now why would a man try to run such a bluff on an audience of Bible readers?

Tuesday Night

Brother Baker started the session by thoroughly treating 2 Cor. 9:13 and exposing brother Hunt's blatant misrepresentation. The verse was treated from both Greek and English. Brother Baker left his opponent dangling on the ropes with the absurd consequences of trying to make the all men" apply to aliens; namely, that the "men" of that verse glorified and prayed for the giver. The conclusions were too obvious for anyone to miss. Hunt had made the alien sinner to glorify God outside the church, to be responsible for a supply of the want of the saints in order to establish an equality, and to pray for the saints who had made a contribution to them from the church treasury. Brother Baker used three charts on that one verse and brought enough evidence to bear on the case that brother Hunt suffered such a bitter defeat that he had no answer to make in defense of his blunders. Hunt completely ignored the scholarly arguments and made an appeal to the audience for prejudice and sympathy.

Brother Hunt had one of the most difficult times of any man alive of staying out of the rest rooms and away from the drinking fountain long enough to open his Bible. His long suit was to ridicule and to cloud the issue by desperately trying to find an inconsistency in the practice of some "Anti Church" that had allowed an alien sinner to drink from a fountain, use a rest room, or the telephone, all of which were paid for with church funds. His hedging, dodging and quibbling proved to the truth seeker that he had no case to present from the Bible that would authorize the church to take funds from its treasury to supply the needs of the world. Hunt, desperately seeking for such a case, tried to prove that the stranger of 3 Jno. 5 was an alien, supported with church finance. Tom exploded the argument by showing that the stranger bore witness before the church, and was a worthy laborer for the name and sake of Christ. Hunt's quibble on the word stranger proved too much for Jesus was a stranger. (Matt. 25:35, 40) If a stranger means an alien sinner, then Jesus was an alien sinner and so are his brethren.

If ever a one sided debate occurred, Tuesday night would mark the event. Hunt made one of the most feeble efforts that any debater could possibly make on any one proposition. His poor spirit and unfair tactics will forever picture him on the brink of woe, the last refuge of a lost cause.

Thursday Night

Brother Hunt began his speech by parading his humility before the audience and making a bid for their sympathy. He read the proposition which called for him to discuss the Scripturalness of a children's home, operated by several churches; but did not define the proposition. He read several passages from the Old and New Testament that spoke of God's people helping those in need and then tried to conclude that his proposition had been proved.

Brother Baker challenged his opponent to name the children's home that fits the proposition and then challenged him to defend that institution. He then proceeded to show the audience that Hunt was not discussing the real issue. He examined the proposition for what it stated; related the practice of his opponent, and then proved that Hunt's "Home" did not even resemble the arguments that had been presented.

Brother Hunt refused to defend the children's home that he thinks to be right, which clearly proved to the audience that he was not willing to debate the issue, or to affirm what he believed: His refusal to affirm would not have been so glaring, had he not previously charged that the "antics" would not affirm what they believed. Hunt's refusal to discuss his own proposition and to defend his own practices showed the utter weakness of both Hunt and the contentions he had asserted. He left us no alternative but to conclude that he was unwilling to honestly and courageously wrestle with related subject matter.

Friday Night

In desperation, Hunt introduced Tom Warren's component parts argument, only to have it ripped to shreds. His personal attacks on his opponent (for which he was called down) was conclusive proof that he had no Bible testimony, or else he would have spent his time producing it instead of ridiculing and scoffing. Friday night was no better than Thursday, insofar as a real discussion of the issue, by Hunt, was concerned.

Brother Baker summed up the discussion by pointing out Hunt's dilemmas and the inevitable conclusions and consequences of his positions, which would be entirely too numerous to mention in this article, however, we list a few of them. Tom pointed out that if the church could give one dime to support a human institution, then it could give an unlimited amount, therefore the church could turn all its finance to the Home. He showed that Hunt's practice demanded an ORGANIZATION, other than the local church, to be supported by the church and then proved that the church, by the same token, could support any and all organizations, including the colleges and hospitals. He showed that the organization (Sunny Dale Home) was doing the benevolent work and that if it could do that phase of the work of the church, then the same organization could do all the work of the church. He showed that Hunt's position demanded and forced the church to fellowship the world.


There was a marked contrast between the efforts and attitudes of the debaters. Hunt violated every rule that he had pledged to abide by. He resorted to personal attacks and mud-slinging, ridicule, cavil and sophistry. His overbearing attitude even prompted him to make unwarranted charges against part of the listening audience. He could not debate without using such expressions as hobby-riders, anties, legalists and Pharisees. We are happy to report that brother Baker resorted to no such tactics. While Hunt wasted his time trying to prove his proposition by church tradition, Baker spent his dealing with Scripture. Hunt was called down repeatedly for his violation of Hedges Rules. Baker was called down one time (by Dilbeck, Hunt's moderator) but it was clearly shown that Tom had not violated the rule that he was supposed to have transgressed.

Hunt gave up his contention on the strangers of Third John, admitting that his argument was wrong; however, his spirit would not allow him to ask forgiveness of his opponent or the audience. His error did not remove his arrogance and smug attitude.

The whole debate hinged on whether or not a local church could use the Lord's money to supply the needs of the world. Hunt used Gal. 6:10; Jas. 1:27; Matt. 25; Luke 10; 3 Jno. 5 and 2 Cor. 9:13 to try to prove his proposition. He publicly gave up 3 Jno. 5 and ceased to argue on the others except 2 Cor. 9:13. That passage was his last stand, but it proved his undoing for Tom showed the consequences of making "all men" to apply to aliens. The contentions of Hunt had made the alien to glorify God, pray for the saints, preach the gospel and to remember the saints and to help them at a later time. His contentions also obligated the church to hold fellowship with the world and to support aliens who preached the gospel.

The crowds were fairly good, however, not as good as they should have been. We are happy to report that the audience was well behaved and listened to the discussion.

If the reader of this report thinks me to be prejudiced, then think again. My convictions resulted from long study and this article reflects my honest opinion of the debate. I could not refrain from writing about what I saw and heard.