Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 18, 1955

Fielder - Smith Debate

Billy W. Moore, Portageville, Missouri

Kenneth L. Fielder, who preaches for the Market Street church in Dyersburg, Tennessee, met Mr. W. E. Smith, Pastor of the Church of Jesus Christ, but who was being sponsored by the ONENESS Pentecostal Church, in a public discussion at Portageville, Missouri on the nights of June 27-28 and June 30-July 1. The first two nights Brother Fielder affirmed that "The scriptures teach that speaking in tongues, as was done in Bible days, was limited to those days and is not done today." Brother Fielder did a superb job in both proving his proposition and showing the inconsistencies of Mr. Smith. The first night Mr. Smith said that "all believers" spake in tongues, giving Mark 16:17 as proof. The next night he attempted to explain I Corinthians 12:29 and said that all did not speak in tongues. He said he would give Brother Fielder $1,000 if he would find just one place where someone received the Holy Ghost and not speak with tongues. Brother Fielder gave Acts 8:17. Smith objected saying, "it doesn't say they did not speak with tongues." He didn't pay off. Kenneth said, you still owe me $1,000 from our last debate.

Mr. Smith asked for one verse which said that tongues would stop. Kenneth quoted I Corinthians 13:8 time and again. In answer to this Mr. Smith said that verse eight was explained by verse one and really meant that prophecies that were not well seasoned with love would cease; and knowledge not well seasoned with love would vanish away. Brother Fielder then pointed out that Mr. Smith was making the truthfulness of God's prophecy depend upon the man. He also showed that Balaam, who "loved the wages of unrighteousness," prophesied and that they came to pass.

Smith also admitted that all tongues were not interpreted. When Brother Fielder pressed I Corinthians 14:28, "let them keep silence," Smith. explained that "silent" and "silence" do not mean the same. According to him, "silent" means dumfounded and "silence" means to speak to yourself in a whisper. Brother Fielder said if what you call speaking in tongues is "whispering," it's the loudest whispering I ever heard — I would sure hate to hear you scream.

When Smith was called upon to demonstrate his power to speak in tongues he said "I cannot speak in tongues without being moved by the Spirit any more than Kenneth can dream a dream without being asleep." Then he said that if he did speak in a tongue we couldn't understand for tongues were understood only by God and he gave I Corinthians 14:2 in an effort to prove this. Later he gave an example of speaking in tongues, in which he said that a Philippino girl, who had not studied the English language, was saying "thank you Jesus, thank you Jesus." Though she did not understand what she was saying, according to Smith, the Americans present understood her. Thus admitting that "tongues" is a language that one has not studied.

On the second night Brother Fielder showed the nature and use of tongues as given in I Corinthians 14. He pointed out that tongues would stand or fall with the other miraculous gifts. He challenged Smith to heal Brother John Bessire, a blind preacher who was present, to raise the dead, or to speak in a tongue which he had not studied. He further showed that those who claim tospeak in tongues violate Paul's teaching in I Corinthians 14. Mr. Smith did not mention I Corinthians in either of his speeches that night and of course refused to demonstrate the power that he claimed to have.

The last two nights were spent discussing the Godhead. Brother Fielder continued to do a magnificent job. He used a host of scriptures which Mr. Smith refused to mention. One question which proved to be too much for Smith was, "I John 5:7 says, 'These three are one.' These three what?" Smith never attempted to answer. The following diagram of John 17:20, 21 was placed on the board. Smith refused to answer Kenneth's question concerning it: "Are all believers one big person?"

That they all may be ONE AS Thou - and me

Smith was so hard pressed that he said "Christ now has the same body that was raised from the grave." He said it was not a body of "flesh and blood" but rather a body of "flesh and bones." The unanswered arguments and the inconsistencies were so many that if they were all written, I suppose that even the Guardian could not contain them.

On the last night Mr. Smith was affirming that there is one person in the Godhead. All of his arguments on the "oneness" were answered with the diagram of John 17:20, 21, as Brother Fielder would show just how God and Christ were one. Smith used the usual scriptures in an effort to prove his proposition. He made a big play on Ecclesiastes 4:8, "There is one alone, and there is not a second." He said "Fielder is against the Bible. The Bible says there is not a second, but Fielder says there is a second and a third." When Kenneth read the next verse "Two are better than one" and verse 12 "A three fold cord is not quickly broken" and explained that if Solomon were speaking of God or the Godhead that he was telling us that "two" is better than one and that "three" is the best. But Kenneth also explained that Smith was misusing the scripture in an effort to establish his theory on the Godhead. When this was done the Oneness people — preachers included — really "withered." It was quite evident that they had not read the next few verses. That was the last time that Ecclesiastes 4:8 was mentioned and I predict that Mr. Smith will be looking for a different "proof text" ( ?) if and when he affirms that proposition again.

This was the first religious discussion ever to be held in the city of Portageville, Missouri. There has never been a religious service of any kind in this city that has attracted so much attention. The crowds were estimated to be from 700 to 1,000 each night. Brother Fielder has a good knowledge of the scripture; he is a quick thinker; has good logic and reasoning ability; is able to drive a point and is very nice while doing it. These things coupled with his "wit" and personality make him well qualified to defend the truth on this or any subject. It was indeed a pleasure to moderate for him in this debate.