Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 18, 1969
NUMBER 33, PAGE 3b,7b-8

Baptist Explosions

Olen Holderby

The small, but dedicated group of Christians meeting in the Veteran's Hall in Atwater, California, were much encouraged by the recent debate conducted there. On August 18, 19, 20, & 21, brother Voyd N. Ballard met A. A. Harris, Missionary Baptist on the general question of the origin of the church. The first two nights Mr. Harris affirmed the church was established during the personal ministry of Christ and the last two nights Brother Ballard affirmed that the church was established on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ. I moderated for Brother Ballard and a Mr. Harless moderated for Mr. Harris.

In spite of the fact that a number of preachers of the church made every effort to stop or boycott the debate, it was well attended by both Baptist and Christians. There were thirteen different churches of Christ represented during the four nights, with several gospel preachers in attendance. Some of our own brethren(?) had contacted Mr. Harris, telling him a number of falsehoods concerning Brother Ballard. The last night of the debate Mr. Harris stated. "Mr. Ballard has conducted himself as a gentleman in this debate and has proven that those who told me things about him are liars." What at first appeared to be handicaps, proved to be otherwise, with crowd size increasing throughout the debate. Needless to say Brother Ballard did a good job, as was to be expected. I thoroughly enjoyed moderating for him.

A few highlights of the debate will be of interest. On the first night Mr. Harris read 34 passages of Scripture, with little comment, and called these 34 arguments. Brother Ballard simply pointed out that all of the passages Harris used talk about the same thing, i.e. the soon to come kingdom. He showed that what Harris needed was at least one passage to prove his contention that the kingdom was established before Pentecost.

Mr. Harris admitted that the Holy Spirit did not come to the Apostles as a Comforter until Pentecost. He stated however that when the Holy Spirit did come to them on Pentecost he did nothing for them except to enable them to speak in tongues. He challenged Brother Ballard to show what the Holy Spirit gave the Apostles at Pentecost that they did not already have before Pentecost. Brother Ballard showed from John 14:26 and John 16 that the coming of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles at Pentecost was to: 1. Teach them all things, 2. bring all of Christ's teaching to their remembrance, 3. Reprove the world of sin, 4. Guide them into all truth, 5. Show them things to come, and 6. Glorify Christ. Mr. Harris came back in his next speech and admitted the Holy Spirit did all of these things for the Apostles after Pentecost!

Even though Mr. Harris had stated over and over again that the twelve Apostles constituted the church and that this church was established with full power at the time Christ first called the Apostles as recorded in Matt. 10, he later admitted under pressure that the Great Commission did not go into effect until the day of Pentecost.

Since Harris had taken the position that the twelve Apostles constituted the church Brother Ballard pressed him to give up his position either on the establishment of the church or on the impossibility of falling from grace. Ballard pointed out that if the church was established at Matt. 10 and the twelve Apostles were the charter members, as Harris claimed, then one of them (Judas) fell. Under pressure, Harris finally said, "Yes, yes, Judas was an apostate." Quite an admission!

In his second speech Mr. Harris introduced Matt. 16:18 and stated that the expression, "I will build" simply meant to build up or to embellish. He stated that both Ballard and the scholars would agree with him on this meaning. Brother Ballard told him, "not so." Brother Ballard showed from Thayer that the greek word for "will build" was future tense. He placed the greek word on the board and ask Harris if he had the right word and Harris said, "yes." Ballard then showed that Thayer said the word used in Matt. 16:18 meant to "found" to "establish."

Mr. Harris took the position early in the debate that the will or testament of Christ was in effect during Christ's personal ministry. In view of this Heb. 9:16, 17 gave him a great deal of trouble.

The third night of the debate when Brother Ballard went into the affirmative he presented only three affirmative arguments. The first based on Matt. 16:18 the second on Mk. 9:1 and the third on Isa. 2:2, 4.

On Matt. 16:18 Mr. Harris had already admitted that Ballard had the right greek word on the board and that it was future tense. Evidently he realized he had already admitted too much so he asserted that Thayer was right on the present tense of the word but wrong on the future tense of the word in Matt. 16:18.

Mr. Harris did nothing with Brother Ballard's arguments on Mk. 9:1 and Isa. 2:2, 4. He finally took the position that the kingdom of Isa. 2 was still in the future and referred to the 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth. Ballard showed that this did not fit Harris since Harris admitted that he did not believe that the gospel would be taught during the so called 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth, for Isa. 2:2, 4 plainly states that "He will teach us of His ways."

Harris hung up a chart with a picture of Alexander Campbell and stated that he could prove by Campbell that the so called church of Christ was begun by Campbell. He said, "I can prove Campbell said he started the so called church of Christ." Brother Ballard told him, "My proposition says 'The SCRIPTURES teach' and this is what we are going to debate. I refuse to be drawn into a discussion of Campbell in this debate. If you want to affirm in a future debate that Alexander Campbell started the church of Christ, I will deny. But right now we are discussing what the SCRIPTURES teach."

One of the last statements Harris made was, "Our whole cause hinges on whether the church was established back there in Galilee." But he had already admitted that the foundation of the church was to be laid in Zion or Jerusalem. So Ballard told him, "Your cause has a mighty weak hinge, for you have the foundation in Jerusalem and the church clear off the foundation over in Galilee!

It was difficult to tell which exploded the louder — Mr. Harris or his arguments!

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