Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 28, 1963
NUMBER 46, PAGE 9,12c-13a

Report On Southern Oregon Debate

H. Kirkland

On June 10, 1962, a new congregation began meeting in Dillard, Oregon. This came to pass when a group of brethren finally had to leave or support from the church treasury "human institutions." I moved here to work with them two weeks later.

As a result of these actions, Lester W. Fisher, evangelist of Denver City, Texas, who had held several meetings locally returned to brand the Dillard church as a faction. Subsequent events established that he had led the brethren in Canyonville who were sound on the issues to believe that he was sound, when in reality he was claiming to be, "a middle-of-the-roader like Foy E. Wallace," still not revealing his true position until this time. This report is the result of these events by and the debate which followed this revelation. Originally brother Fisher had limited the time to one 30 minute speech by each participant, each evening, followed by a 10 minute speech by each one. Because I chided him publicly and quickly about taking advantage of the good heatedness of brother Jim McFie and the Canyonville brethren, he agreed to lengthen the time to two 30 minute speeches each evening with two ten minute speeches also. Brother J. C. Clifford moderated for brother McFie.

The first evening, Monday, February 4, 1963, brother Jim McFie who is the regular preacher for the Canyonville church was in the affirmative on the following proposition. While this proposition may appear ambiguous, it was the best obtainable under the circumstances and there never was any doubt as to who was in charge of the discussion at any time.

Proposition: "The Scriptures teach that the church sustains an obligation to the widows, and needy, but it is sinful to contribute from its treasury to such as Boles Home.

In his first two affirmative speeches brother McFie clearly established and defined his proposition and its meanings. He then proceeded to show how the scriptures authorize by direct command, statement, approved example and necessary inference. He used the Lord's Supper as his example.

Secondly, brother McFie established that the Bible reveals two ways one can give glory to God. As a disciple (Matt. 10:42), in which he showed that the smallest deed of holy love was precious in the sight of Him who is love. He then proceeded to establish the need to glorify God in our body and our works. (1 Cor. 6:20 and Matt. 5:16) Next, brother McFie clearly established that the glory, if not thru the individual must be given through the church. (Eph. 3:21) He proceeded to outline the activities of the church in the various realms of evangelism, edification, benevolence and worship. He then gave the example of the church at work in benevolence, (Acts 6) He showed there was no money from church operated businesses nor merchandising. He showed that the money came from individuals who gave willingly from their own resources even to liquidation. Further he clearly established that the work was under the oversight of the apostles by men who were appointed in the local congregation. He pointed out clearly that the administration was not given over to another organization to administer. It was local administration of local needs.

From this brother McFie proceeded to establish the two divine institutions that God has given; the family, physical; the family, spiritual. Next he established authority as it pertains to generic and specific, and made the application to the music question. (Eph. 5:19) This proved to be a thorn in the side of his opponent during the entire debate. In applying these principles brother McFie established that the organization through which the Lord's authorized benevolent work was to be done was the church generic, and the local congregation specific. He clearly demonstrated that this excluded any other organization parallel to, on a par with, the local congregation. This parallel was invited to be broken but was never successfully dealt with. In fact the chart which had the church painted green and paralleled with Boles in Red proved to be most advantageous. His opponent would not, when referring to the chart, even point to the Boles home set up!

Some other strong points which took their toll were the charges against Boles, Tipton and such like of being: Transgressive, Unholy, Presumptive, Sectarian. Pharisaical, Unrighteous, Irreverent, Perverse and Wasteful. This was done with appropriate and applicable scriptures which made it stick. He dealt with the "en loco parentis" argument so effectively that his opponent was forced into making a wild statement to the effect that the institutional home was even better than the homes of some present and there were 99 percent Christians! This caused even those in sympathy with his position to wince. It hurt him also. When brother Fisher tried to agree with the sufficiency of the church, brother McFie tied on him the saying that, "One mule is sufficient to pull the load, but one mule cannot pull the load without the help of another mule!"

Each night brother McFie distributed an abundance of freshly printed material which supported and gave his position so the audience could follow. This had a tremendous effect. Among the materials were Financial statements on Boles and Tipton which conclusively demonstrated they were not "needy homes" as brother Fisher attempted to prove and defend. Each man had five questions and while brother McFie kept his clear and concise, his opponent had the usual abundance of A & B sections.

In attempting to answer brother McFie, brother Fisher started by trying to gain sympathy as was expected, anticipated, and prepared for. He dared not use direct ridicule as he has in previous correspondence and private conversations. He attempted the "Guy N. Woods home restored" idea only temporarily. His defense and position was weak even admittedly in the eyes of his own supporters. As one good brother said, "We heard a lot of scriptures on one side at least!" These words came from one who a short period of six months ago was a supporter and close friend of institutionalism! Mostly Fisher ignored Jim McFie's arguments and tried the old "anti" appeal to prejudices. This was brother McFie's first debate but his "speak softly and carry a big stick" really did wonders. This was seen in the absence of the "liberals" the second night. Most of them had enough.

On the second night, February 5, 1963, the following proposition was discussed: "The Scriptures teach that the Churches of Christ may sustain their obligation to the preaching of the Gospel to the lost by co-operating one with another in such efforts as the Herald of Truth." Lester W. Fisher affirming.

While in the affirmative brother Fisher's argument consisted mainly in the vague application of the various scriptural examples of cooperation regardless of application, to sustain his arguments. This, plus his emotional appeals to the Christian's sense of responsibility was his mainstay. He also classified and ridiculed as "hinderers" all who opposed such efforts. Not openly but inferred without question.

Brother McFie clearly demonstrated "delegation" existed and showed where delegation leads. He also proved delegation was unscriptural and, using his chart on the deadly parallel of instrumental music, he demonstrated that Fisher's argument and perversion of the other patterns in benevolence could not be considered. He proved without doubt that Fisher had to accept the pattern of 2 Cor. 8 and Phil. 4 neither of which Fisher even mentioned.

In dealing his death blow to Fisher's argument and appeal to "not disfellowship us," brother McFie again used a deadly parallel on instrumental music, missionary society, delegation, generic and specific as applied in the current situation. In answer to McFie on the authority of elders (2 Pet. 5:2; Acts 20:28), brother Fisher was as silent as the children of Israel on Mt. Carmel.

Attendance was excellent; the spirit was good. Fisher stated publicly that he "didn't have time" and "felt foolish" when asked to state if he meant by a statement about "fighting this to the end" that he was ready to debate again. Some came 1,000 miles for this discussion.

The undercover controversy in southern Oregon now in the open. There are two sound (not large) but strong congregations at Canyonville and Dillard. To the cries of "don't disfellowship us" it was clearly and irrefutably pointed out that those who brought in the support of the things and said "accept it or get out' are the ones causing the division and who are disfellowshipping in reality. Those who oppose these things have open pulpits for those who have the courage to come in and account for themselves, in regard to these idols. But just try to get them to discuss the question or even try to get into a pulpit where one of the so-called "middle-of-the-roaders" is and find out the truth.

Brethren, southern Oregon needs your prayers and support. Much is being done but much more could be done. It is a good place to live among the beauties of the creation of God. The people are wonderful and not as full of worldliness as in some areas. They believe in living what they believe. When shown they are wrong, the majority will repent.

As we have said before, much more needs to be done and with the sustaining grace of God — It will be done.

— Box 275, Dillard, Oregon