Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 20, 1962

Jones - McCaghren Debate A Review

H. L. Bruce

In the recent Baytown debate, W. R. Jones, who preaches for the Pruett & Lobit church, did a magnificent job in upholding the word of God against the confused liberal trend of our day. The proposition that bro. Jones affirmed (which bro. McCaghren denied, and affirmed the opposite) was: "It is unscriptural for churches of Christ to send funds to a benevolent home in order that orphans may be adequately cared for."

According to the proposition, as well as the debate regulations, there was a burden of proof placed on each disputant. Bro Jones was to prove the unscripturalness of a church's sending funds to a benevolent home in order that orphans may be adequately cared for. In denying this, bro. McCaghren was burdened to prove the scripturalness of the setup.

In order to accomplish the most good, and being somewhat acquainted with the antics of his opposition, bro Jones appealed to the audience in the very outset of the debate not to be moved by emotional appeals, sentimentality, tradition, and not to be confused by sophistry and to keep the issue in mind at all times. He further asked that we be convinced ONLY BY THE TRUTH. Keeping these points before the people throughout the course of the discussion was a valuable asset in defending the truth. Our mind was called to the propositional issue, namely, the church, not individual responsibility as the focal point of dispute. Consequently, bro. McCaghren was paralyzed as far as effectively introducing passages relative to individual responsibility and giving them "church" application. In the course of the debate, bro. McCaghren labored hard to find SCRIPTURAL proof for his position, but found none. He quoted and referred to scriptures, but none sustained his position.

Froth the outset of the debate, bro. Jones kept us mindful of the effect that scriptural authority had on the involved issue. He pointed out from Matt. 28 that none but Christ has authority. We are confined to things written — and are not to go beyond the doctrine of Christ, (1 Cor. 4:6; 2 Jno. 9) For one to teach that a church can contribute to a benevolent home in order that orphans may be adequately cared for is to exceed the realm of the written and to go beyond the doctrine of Christ. Such was obvious even to the most casual listener.

God has never approved the unauthorized. He did not approve the strange, unauthorized fire. (Lev. 10) Uzzah, was not authorized to touch the ark, thus his action met with God's disapproval. (2 Sam. 6:6,7) Likewise; today, we are to function exclusively in the realm of the, authorized. (2 Cor. 5:7; Heb. 11:6; Rom. 10:17) This is the very sphere wherein instrumental music in worship to God is condemned. It is unauthorized.

Man cannot direct his steps. (Jer. 10:23) It is man's task to perform the assigned of God. (Jno. 6:28)

Since there is no divine authority for the use of mechanical instruments of music in worship to God, we have long concluded that its use is sinful. Bro. Jones successfully and effectively reasoned that in like manner, since there is no divine authority for a church to send funds to a benevolent home in order to care for orphans that such unauthorized practice would fall in the same realm. He aroused thought with the truthful reasoning that church support to a benevolent home could not be scriptural when such a practice was hardly over 50 years old and was not authorized in the scriptures.

Bro. Jones reduced the issue in dispute to the smallest possible focal point and simply challenged bro. McCaghren to produce scriptural proof that the church could contribute to any kind of home. Bro. Jones pointed out, as can be observed by scriptural study, that the church in the first century contributed to saints, not homes. Bro. Jones kept this point before us: God's money in the first century was used to relieve needy brethren, needy believers, brethren, poor saints, and widows indeed. (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37; 11:27-30; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; 1 Tim. 5) We have authority for the church's relieving SAINTS. But where is the authority for the church's sending to a home? Every case of relief mentioned in the N.T. — saints were relieved. Never was the contribution made to a home. As there is no authority for the church's using mechanical instruments of music when worshiping God, there is no authority for the church's sending to a home.

For McCaghren, his work was cut out. Bro. Jones pointed out that bro. McCaghren's task would be exceedingly easy or exceedingly difficult. If bro. McCaghren had scriptures for his position, he could simply give them, which would make his task easy. However; if he didn't have scriptures, he would have to attack bro. Jones, the Pruett & Lobit church, resort to sophistry, emotional appeal, sentimentality and tradition. Bro. McCaghren had to choose the latter course.

Bro. McCaghren had the responsibility to produce the scriptures that teach that churches may send funds to a benevolent home in order that orphans may be adequately cared for. He seemed to think that since it was conceded that a 12 year old orphan who was a Christian could become the responsibility of the church that his proposition was benefited. Bro. Jones replied that the reason that he could be church responsibility was because he was a Christian. Bro. McCaghren's point went begging.

McCaghren side-stepped the issue and chided the Pruett & Lobit congregation for having a surplus in the treasury and yet not sending to Sunny Glenn Home. He alleged that they had changed and had brought in false teachers. He made an attack on their budget. He tried to make something out of their spending some money on "termite control" and yet sending none to an orphanage, He tried to use "termite control" as a sugar stick throughout the debate. We wonder why a person would resort to such if he has scriptures for his proposition. He is aware of the fact that maintaining a building comes under the scope of general authority. Yet there is neither general, specific or any other kind of scriptural authority for churches' sending funds to a benevolent home in order that orphans may be adequately cared for, the recent debate notwithstanding.

In the absence of scriptures that sustained his position, bro. McCaghren thought that he had something in a 1956 lesson sheet used by bro. Jones. He accused bro. Jones of having changed. Suppose, for the sake of argument, he could prove it. Would that prove that his teachings are now unscriptural?

In the battle over institutionalism there was one particular issue over which bro. Jones and bro. McCaghren didn't have to fight it out. That is the issue of "homes under an eldership." Bro. McCaghren's position is that a home under an eldership is impossible and unscriptural but not sinful. Bro. Jack Holder, McCaghren's moderator, says that such is like the Catholics. In view of being called "nuts" by bro. Lemmons, Jones pleaded with McCaghren and others to help oppose such a setup and admonish South Main and Missouri St. congregations to give up their unscriptural practices.

In contrasting the realm of the institutional parent with the adoptive and natural, bro. Jones asked, "Do institutional parents do the same for the children as natural parents?" Original parents are commanded to exercise authority, personally provide necessities. (2 Cor. 12:14; 1 Tim. 5:8; Eph 6'4) and beg nobody to support their children. Adoptive parents are in loco parentis and assume and exercise authority, personally provide necessities and beg nobody to support their children. On the other hand, the institutional parents are "in loco parentis" and assume authority but do not personally provide necessities and constantly beg churches for money to support their children! Institutional Parents" are not the same as natural or adoptive parents, why then would institutional parents be right?

McCaghren admitted, when confronted with the length of time that such practices had been in existence, that Boles Home did not exist 1900 years ago, but quipped that neither did Jones' home exist 1900 years ago. Evidently he took his audience to be so stupid as to not see that a home after the fashion, design, and pattern of Jones' did exist 1900 years ago. Such is evidenced both from the standpoint of the Bible as well as history. However, he needed to find historical and/or Biblical references to homes after the fashion, design and pattern of Boles Home, then he would have something from which to argue.

Bro. McCaghren assumed the role of God. 2 Sam. 6:16 allows us to know that one despises with his heart. Yet over the stern but kind protest of bro. Jones, McCaghren accused him of despising Boles Home. Since God only can see within the human heart, it isn't hard to see the role that McCaghren assumed.

Still distressed, without sustaining scriptures, he thought he had found something in the mention of the "church treasury" on one of Jones' charts. However, on one of his own charts was found the expression — you guessed it — "church treasury." He tried to get bro. Jones to explain such things as "church treasury," "preacher's receiving support out of first day of the week contribution," "termite control," and other elements that are in the realm of inference and general authority, which things were not a point of issue and dispute, and if bro. Jones had taken time to explain them, McCaghren would have been in complete agreement, no doubt, with his explanation. Therefore it was pointless to bring them up. Bro. Jones rightfully refused to allow himself to be led into such irrelevant argumentation.

Bro. McCaghren quoted and alluded to several passages of scripture in the course of the debate. From some he would argue. He used and abused 1 Tim. 5:4; 2 Cor. 8-9; 1 Cor. 16:1,2; Rom. 15:25, 26; James 1:27 and others. These scriptures do not teach his position.

McCaghren was constantly attacking and trying to intimidate both bro. Jones and the Pruett and Lobit congregation. As he said — he also evidenced — he came to "unmask" bro. Jones. In reply to his constant charges and intimidations, bro. Jones had a chart handy showing "Scriptural Refutation": McCaghren Style — "Jones Dishonest"...."Pruett-Lobit elders been inconsistent" ...."Jones changed positions"...."Churches are not supporting orphans"...."Jones despises Boles Home." Now, brethren and friends, hear it: From the above type of reasoning, McCaghren was trying to prove it is scriptural to send funds to a home. Many of us were made to wonder what McCaghren would have done, what could he have said, if there could not have been any personal attacks and intimidation.

Not only McCaghren, but all of those who would agree with him who would be polemic, if they were robbed of the right to accuse, abuse and personally intimidate their opposition, they would be unable to make the number of speeches that are necessary to carry on a religious discussion. They don't have the truth. Such is evident from hearing them. They are going to make their speeches. In the absence of truth and with no scriptures to sustain their position, they have to say something. Consequently, they attack their opponents, the churches where they work, their work, etc. For proof of their proposition they misapply scriptures, appeal to tradition, sentimentality, sophism and emotional appeals. Such is the style of liberal debating. When you have heard one liberal try, you have heard them all as far as style is concerned.

In the Boles Home News, Volume 19, Number 13, bro. Oler wrote: "Bro. McCaghren ably presented proof that churches of Christ may properly send to care of children in benevolent homes and such proof was never successfully attacked." He didn't say that McCaghren scripturally proved. I don't know what possessed bro. Oler to say that "Such proof was never successfully attacked." It could be that he slept through bro. Jones' speeches. He might have not known what was going on. Or, he could have just plain misrepresented. At any rate, as this review indicates and tape recordings bear out, bro. Oler was inaccurate.

— Baytown, Texas