Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 6, 1961
NUMBER 47, PAGE 3,10-11

Moyer - Crawford Debate

K. A. Sterling, Napa, California

On the nights of January 9, 10, 11, 12, 1961, Forrest D. Moyer, evangelist of the church of Christ in Sunnyvale, California, met R. Lawrence Crawford, preacher for the Missionary Baptist church in Hayward, California. The debate was held at the meeting place of the church of Christ in Napa, California, where the writer is local evangelist. Brother J. Lloyd Moyer of El Cerrito, California, brother in the flesh and brother in Christ to Forrest, served as his moderator. In spite of ill health due to another recent heart attack, brother Lloyd did an outstanding job as moderator and his perspicacity and circumspection served as a valuable asset to Forrest during the course of the discussion. Lloyd served as moderator in two previous debates between Forrest and Mr. Crawford and for any who might be interested a report of the second debate (Nov., 1959), may be found in the GUARDIAN of March 10, 1960 (Vol. II, No. 43). It is possible that this most recent debate may appear in book form at a later date.

As far as the general tenor of the debate, it was indeed excellent and conducted on a high plane throughout with the resultant effect of being both enlightening and edifying to all present. Attitude was good — attendance was good — and conduct was good. There was no "mud-slinging," character-assassination or anything of the sort upon the part of either disputant which certainly demonstrates that men can meet on the polemic platform and discuss PROPOSITIONS and not PERSONALITIES. Debates conducted on this level DO GOOD and we are persuaded that good WAS DONE in this debate.

Propositions Discussed Were As Follows:

"Resolved that the Missionary Baptist Church of which I am a member is scriptural in origin, name, doctrine and practice."

Affirm: R. Lawrence Crawford Deny: Forrest D. Moyer

"Resolved that the church of Christ of which I am a member is scriptural in origin, name, doctrine and practice."

Affirm: Forrest D. Moyer Deny: R. Lawrence Crawford

The following are some of the outstanding points of the debate:


In Crawford's first affirmative the first night of the debate, he maintained that the church was established before Pentecost; that it consisted of a "called out company of believers" (this being the definition of the word "church") who were: (1) Not in the world — the world hated them- (2) Saved (3) New Creatures — citing 2 Cor. 5:17 (4) In Christ — Judas the exception — Jno. 13:10 (5) Secure — Jno. 18:8, 9. He said that they had been cleansed — saved — by the blood of Christ. Forrest showed that this would be a little difficult — for them to have been saved — cleansed by the blood of Christ — inasmuch as Christ had not died yeti Crawford would have saved people "beginning from the baptism of John and before Jesus ever died on the cross. Notice the following:

Acts 1:21-22. Crawford argued that the Lord had a "company" of scripturally baptized believers before Pentecost per Acts 1:21-22 — that this "company" comprised the church beginning from the baptism of John. (Jno. 1:35-38) He said these were the first members of the Lord's congregation. Forrest showed that to this SAME "COMPANY" Jesus said: "I will build my church" (Matt. 16: 18) SIX MONTHS AFTER JOHN DIED.

Mark 13:34. "For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch." Crawford argued from this passage that (1) The Lord left his house when He went to heaven (2) What is his house? — church-1 Tim. 3:15 (3) Therefore the Lord had a house (church) to leave before Pentecost. Forrest asked the question: "Do you teach that Christ is now separated from the Baptist Church and will be until He comes again?" (Passage refers to the second coming). This put Crawford in an embarrassing position inasmuch as he had used Matt. 28:19-20 to refer to the church and there Jesus said he would never leave the church. Forrest thus showed that he could not use Matt. 28:19-20 to refer to the church (which destroyed his argument on the name — which we will later present), because in Matt. 28 Jesus said he would never leave the church (per Crawford's use of the passage), and yet he had Mark 13:34 referring to the church stating that Jesus left it and would not come to it (her) again until the second coming. Forrest showed that Mark 13:34 is teaching on watching and not on the church.

In regard to origin, Forrest asked these questions: (1) When was the tried foundation laid in Zion? (Isa. 28:16) (2) When was Jesus made to be head over all things to the church? (Eph. 1:19-23) (3) When did the testament of Jesus become operative — of force (Heb. 9:15-17) (4) When did the Spirit take its abode in the one body? (Acts 2:1-4) He pointed out that the church could not exist without these things and showed when they did occur — much too late for Crawford's position.

The following is quoted from Forrest's first affirmative the last night (it was mimeographed and distributed to the audience). "Remember that God's word is the seed of the kingdom. (Luke 8:11) If you sow that seed now it will produce the same thing now as it did then. It produced churches of Christ then (Rom. 16:16) and will produce the same thing now. Mr. Crawford admits that his "watermelon" began in Matt. 3:1 — this is the scripture that he used. But is was pulled green. He says Baptists began from John. John said he would decrease. (John 3:30) Thus Crawford admits he began from the wrong source. NOW, DID JOHN OR JESUS FOUND THE CHURCH? Mr. Crawford contradicts himself by saying that it began in Matt. 3:1 for this was before Jesus was baptized."


Crawford argued that the Lord did not call his church by any detailed name. He said: "I will quit the debate if he (Moyer) can find 'the church of Christ'. " He argued from Matt. 28:19-20 that (1) The church is a Missionary church "GO ye therefore...." (2) It is a Baptizing church "....baptizing them in the name...." (3) Therefore, the Missionary Baptist Church. "Baptizing" a participle; "Baptist" noun form; and "Baptized" verb form. Forrest completely devastated this argument by (1) Showing that he could not use Matt. 28:19-20 to refer to the church and use Mark 13:34 to refer to the church also (see above). (2) Pointed out that Matt. 28:19ff contains four commands but Crawford takes only two. Why not take all? Forrest very effectively pointed out that Crawford picked one of these things for the name of the church which he doesn't even believe necessary! ("baptizing") Further, Forrest showed that the name of the church is not derived by what we are told to do — for if so, Crawford's sign where he preaches is not near big enough! This had a telling effect. On Matt. 28:19-20 also, Forrest (3) pointed out (as in previous debates with Crawford) that "baptizing" (participle) would have to be singular in number and feminine in gender in order to modify 'church" inasmuch as a participle must agree with that which it modifies in gender, number and case. "Baptizing" in Matt. 28:19-20 is neither feminine in gender nor singular in number but plural in number and masculine in gender and hence could not modify "church l"

Another interesting point in regard to the name developed from Forrest's affirmation that "The churches of Christ...." (Rom. 16:16) is of course plural referring to more than one congregation and that ONE CONGREGATION in a given locality would be "The church of Christ." Crawford denied this and said it would be "A" church of Christ. Forrest pointed out that his affirmation was scrip. turally correct (regardless of what Crawford said) by the following: 1 Then. 2:14 "....the churches of God which are in Judea...." 1 Cor. 1:2 "....the church of God which is at Corinth...."

Chart Goes Here

Hereditary Total Depravity and Security of Believer Forrest very effectively used the following charts:


In regard to Baptism, Forrest made the following salient points:

Baptism stands between the sinner and

(1) Salvation (Acts 2:38)

(2) Washing away of sins (Acts 22:16)

(3) Getting into Christ (Gal. 3:27)

(4) Getting into death (blood) of Christ (Rom. 6:3-4)

(5) Walking in Newness of life (Rom. 6:3-5)

(6) Putting on of Christ (Gal. 3:27)

(7) Cleansing (Eph. 5:26)

(8) Becoming a New Creature (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:4)

(9) Entrance into Kingdom of God (Jno. 3:5)

(10) Right relation to Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19-20)


This was truly a good debate from many standpoints. I am convinced that the truth was evident to all who will see and "none is so blind as he who will not see." Brother Moyer is an able debater who knows the book. He is quick to spot an argument and the fallacies in it. He is firm but kind and a truly Christian gentleman at all times. The church needs more men of the calibre and character of this fine gospel preacher.