Feb 4, 2009

Graves vs. Campbell?

I believe that Alexander Campbell, for all his boasting and challenges to "debate," actually wanted no part of a debate with two leading Baptists of his day, with either Dr. J. M. Peck or Dr. J. R. Graves. Notice this historical information regarding debates that were never "finalized."

Campbell vs. Graves debate?

"To this sweeping and, we may say, criminating denial of Mr. Campbell's repeated assertions, and also to the challenge to give the names of "distinguished Baptists and Baptists ministers condemning the course of J. R. Graves," he made no reply. Those who knew Alexander Campbell, or were familiar with his writings and general course as an incessant controversialist, did not question the correctness of his statements. He was a man whose veracity was above suspicion, and at the time these statements appeared in the Harbinger it was pretty well known that there were influential men in the Baptist ranks who desired and planned a union of the Reformers and Baptist based upon or growing out of the co-operation and fraternity of the two peoples in the Bible Revision Movement. This fact gave boldness and credibility to Campbell's averments. But he prudently let Graves alone, and was silent in regard to the implied challenge to discuss the questions at issue with Graves either orally or through the respective periodicals. Graves pursued his fearless course of argument, and, at times, of denunciation of the dogmas of "baptismal remission;" insisting ever on the Scriptural truth of justification by faith only, and salvation independently of any ordinance, or church connection. This finally culminated in a challenge, through one Elder Hall, to hold public debate with Elder Fanning, a scholarly and able man of "the Reformation." It was accepted. P. S. Fall of Nashville, who had been pastor of the 1st Baptist Church there, and who led pretty much that whole Church in the ranks of the "Reformation" was selected by Fanning, S. H. Ford (the writer) by Graves, to arrange propositions and preliminaries. A voluminous correspondence ensued. The correspondents could not agree upon the wording of the propositions. On the part of Dr. Graves, Ford insisted on this proposition: —

The Holy Spirit, the third person in the Trinity by the application of the truth as it is in Jesus, convinces the sinner of his guilt and loss, quickens him into spiritual life, and leads him to trust in Christ.

The reason for stating the question at such length was to avoid all misunderstanding or evasion of the true issue — viz., does the Holy Spirit convert? —
is the truth, the instrument, not the cause of that spiritual life?

Elder Fall on the part of Fanning, declined to discuss that proposition — indeed admitted the affirmative and accepted the doctrine of the direct operation of the Spirit through the truth. But it was,in fact, a repudiation of "original Campbellism." That system — with many of its most distinguished "proclaimers" had undergone or was undergoing a change in regard to the Spirit's work. It's early teaching was (and to some extent is still) that there is no personal work of the Holy Spirit until after the "consummating act" — immersion.

The next proposition objected to was this: "In the case of a penitent believer, the pardon of past sins is conditioned upon immersion in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit." Fanning was asked to affirm that. He refused. He claimed that "baptism" and not "immersion" should be the term used. He was asked if there could be a baptism without immersion. But it seemed that he wished to have the indefinite word (in English) baptism, so as to include all who, though sprinkled or poured upon instead of being immersed, were really baptized.

Further, Mr. Fall objected to the words, "conditioned upon." It was too sweeping. It shut out all hope of pardon for those who did not comply with this invariable condition. An "assurance of remission," or something like that, was desired to be substituted for condition of pardon.

Graves became tired of this seemingly endless logomachy and insisted on the propositions as first stated, and there the whole affair ended. It seemed patent to the writer that Fall and Fanning and the others who were consulted did not desire a debate with Graves, though they threw the blame of its failure upon him.

"I want the discussion," said Graves, "to go down to the bedrock of the Gospel plan of salvation, or else I have no time to waste upon it. I want the issue of eternal importance to be clearly made — Is salvation 'by works of righteousness which we have done,' or is it by sovereign, unmerited grace? If it is by or through baptism; through or by the church or kingdom — by any act of the creature done by him or for him — then it is by works, and grace is no more grace. This is the damning heresy of Rome and to a great extent of Protestantism. Campbellism is this same heresy, which Paul denounced and Rome formulated, presented in a new and popular dress. I shall not give my time to the discussion of terms such as 'for' and 'unto,' but discuss, the vital essential principle. 'Is justification, through faith, or is it by works?' This decided, and the meaning of Peter's words at Pentecost and other expressions in the New Testament, are thoroughly in harmony with the great Gospel fact announced by our Lord Jesus: 'He that believeth in Him shall not come unto condemnation, but has passed out of death unto life.'" (J. R. Graves-Alexander Campbell Dispute By Samuel H. Ford, 1900)

See here

Campbell vs. Peck debate?

"About this time Mr. Campbell held a brief correspondence with Elder J. M. Peck on the subject of spiritual influence. At the close of the discussion of this subject with S. W. Lynd, he had expressed his willingness to discuss the question with any Baptist doctor, and publish the controversy in a volume of one hundred and fifty or two hundred pages for general circulation, as an end of the matter. This proposition was accepted by J. M. Peck of the "Baptist Banner," but after a few communications the disputants seemed to come unexpectedly to so close an agreement that the discussion was closed. Mr. Campbell had said:

"The truth is the instrument, the means, and the Spirit of God is the cause or agent of regeneration. Such are my views on this great subject. And, my dear sir, if you always make the word the instrument of regeneration, you may always expect me to concur with you in saying that it is but the instrument, and not the first cause of a great spiritual change."

"Mr. Peck expressed his high gratification with these distinct statements, regretting that Mr. Campbell had been so long misunderstood on this topic for want of such a declaration. Mr. Campbell then called his attention to the fact that the proposition which he had from the very beginning labored to sustain was precisely what he had now expressed--viz.: that "in conversion the Holy Spirit operated through the truth, and not without it," as the Baptists had taught. As Elder Peck declined to affirm this dogma of the Baptists, and endeavored to show that Mr. Campbell had misunderstood them on this subject, there appeared to be no longer any question in dispute..."

See here

I think Campbell did not want a debate with either Graves or Peck. It is ironic that this was the case seeing Campbell was known as the "great debater."

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