Public Challenge For Debate
(Divorce & Remarriage)
April 14, 2015
As noted elsewhere on this website, an Open Bible Study on the subject of divorce and remarriage was conducted in Seminole, OK on March 14, 2015. Brother Malcomb Kniffen represented brethren and sisters taking the “no-exception” position. For the uninitiated, that means Brother Kniffen taught there is no exception whatsoever for a Christian to divorce and remarry. I (George Battey) took the position there is a cause for divorce and remarriage taught by the Lord Himself – the cause of sexual unfaithfulness (fornication) (Mt 5:32; 19:9). During his first speech, Brother Kniffen made the following statement:
Alright, I don’t have time to cover the rest of the stuff I’d like to cover. But I’ll just kind’a play along here a little bit for my last seven or eight minutes. Thirty minutes! Can ya’ll imagine! Shoo’ll. I’ll just have to bite my tongue on that one. Thirty minutes. I don’t know how either one of us can really prove our position in thirty minutes.
[23:09 into speech]
How serious was Brother Kniffen about this statement? How serious are his fellow preaching brethren? Do they really want to present what they believe to brethren who do not believe or do not know their position? I wrote a letter to the following preachers:
- Dwight Hendrickson
- Malcomb Kniffen
- Jerry Johnson
- Raymond Stiner
These are leading men among the no-exception brethren. The letters I wrote to each man may be viewed below. These letters were mailed on March 25, 2015. The letters were sent certified mail, signed for, and the certified postcard returned to me. Each of the above preachers received their letter along with signed propositions for debate. Brother Jerry Johnson is the only preacher to this date (April 14, 2015) who wrote back. He wrote the following:
Bro. Battey, I received your letter dated March 25, 2015. Thank you, but I have never had an interest in debates.
Jerry Johnson, March 31, 2015
Brother Dwight Hendrickson wrote the following in a review posted on his website:
Brother George Battey commented on the “Open Study” in Seminole, Oklahoma in a cover letter for a proposition for a formal, four-night debate on the subject of divorce and remarriage, that he sent to some of us. He commented: “there were approximately 300 people present and the audience was evenly divided – half favoring the no-exception position and half favoring the exception position.” Brother Battey also commented in his cover letter, “I believe our study together proved two things: (a) people are interested and will attend an open study on the divorce question and (b) brethren can conduct themselves in honorable manner during such discussions.” He also said, “Those who commented felt that, although the study was good, the time allotted for the study was inadequate to fully cover the subject matter. Brother Clint DeFrance [sic] issued a challenge for a longer, four night debate to fully discuss the topic.”
Brother Hendrickson obviously received my letter requesting a debate and references the challenge made by Brother Clint DeFrance, but he has never responded to the challenge – neither privately nor publicly. He writes boldly in the safety of his office. He writes condescendingly where no reply can be made. He does not accept an invitation to debate. Perhaps the mailman will deliver a response tomorrow, but as of this writing (April 14, 2015) there has been no response from Brothers Dwight Hendrickson, Malcomb Kniffen, and Raymond Stiner. Brothers Richard Aegerter and Jerry Perryman have both stated (October 2, 2014) they would not debate orally.
In a review of the Open Bible Study, Brother Don Bounds wrote the following:
Brother Clint DeFrance moderated and held the much maligned position of keeper of the time. His performance was both fair and equitable. He concluded with an appeal for more dialog or discussion. He proposed a discussion of the same topic which might span four nights and offer more depth in discussion.
On this proposal, I shall opine. First let me say I have no objection to oral discussions such as proposed; with one caveat. They must be conducted under the umbrella of brotherly love and remain in the best interest of our endless pursuit of objective truth. It must be devoid of bombast, egos, and personal attacks. The presence of such shall allow discussion to devolve into quarreling, which the scriptures condemn.
There is another possibility. I shall take the liberty of proposing another venue: written discussion. This is my thinking on that matter. In my lifetime, I have heard numerous discussions of the oral nature. Though having an attraction, they have limitations. Even if the time frame were extended, it is unlikely to address the issue adequately. Such discussion is colored greatly by the oratorical skills of the presenters. Oral arguments tend to become more personal and to a large degree, are dependent on the quality of the orator. Much depends on the polemic skills of the speaker rather than maximum exposure of facts.
The written discussion is more deliberative and can remain more focused on factual presentation. Time constraints may cause speakers to choose an assertion or defense without adequate forethought. Written discussion allows side by side comparative study. Brothers, do we just want a contest or is objective truth to be paramount?
The Voice of the Turtle, April 2015, pp. 24-25.
In response to the above, I wrote to Brother Bounds asking for both an oral debate and a written debate. (See my letter below.) Brother Bounds has not had time to respond as of this writing. I hope he will respond and I hope he will accept the proposal for debate. If Brother Bounds accepts the challenge, I hope his fellow no-exception brethren and sisters will come to the debate and listen – I know my own brethren and sisters will attend.
This post is offered to the public so as to keep brethren and sisters informed of what is and what is not occurring. If anyone wants to know, “Why are the no-exception preachers not willing to have a public debate on the marriage question?” it is not because they were not asked. Suppose for a moment that a Baptist preacher were challenging these preachers to a public debate on the subject of baptism:
- Would they simply say, “I have never had an interest in debates”?
- Would they simply not write back at all?
- Would they suggest only a written debate?
- Would they say, “The oratory skills of the speaker would cloud the truth, so I will not debate with a Baptist preacher”?
Surely none of the above excuses would be offered to a Baptist preacher. Surely one preacher from among the no-exception leaders would step forward and stand for the truth on baptism. Why not do the same on the “marriage question”? Is it not equally important? Was not Jesus an example of publicly debating the truth? (Mt 22). Were the apostles not an example? (Acts 15).
The Seminole Study demonstrated beyond doubt that people from both sides of the “marriage question” can gather together, treat each other warmly, listen to both sides of a discussion, and walk away with food for thought. The Seminole Study demonstrated “no-exception preachers” and “exception preachers” can preach their positions without demeaning one another. The Seminole Study demonstrated public discussions can be a spiritual feast without devolving into bitter hostility. Humbly I appeal to those reading these words to appeal to these preachers and encourage them to step forward to defend what they believe to be the truth.
April 14, 2015
To view the letters sent to NO-Exception preachers, please click on the following link: