Impressions from the Deaver-Vick Debate

By Ron Thomas

The remarks below are simply impressions, nothing more. I am sure that others have an entirely different impression of the debate. Below, I have three primary paragraphs: 1. Style, 2. Substance, 3. A final word. I was present for two nights (Monday and Thursday). For the Tuesday and Wednesday presentations, I watched it online (now archived here).

With regard to style, it must be said that “style” gains no points of substance in a discussion like these two men were engaged in. However, it does convey (to me anyhow) the comfort one has going in with (1) the occasion, (2) material. I thought both men carried themselves reasonably well. Of the two, Mac Deaver was more polished, but that is not to say that Ben Vick was bad. In fact, as I interpreted their mannerisms, both looked relaxed, engaged, and capable of presenting their position and countering the other’s. I was especially struck by Mac’s disposition and methodology throughout. Ben was erratic, but don’t let this word give you the sense that he did not know what he was doing, or even how. It’s just that there were more “starts and stops” with him than with Mac, who appeared much more fluid.

With regard to substance, Ben seemed to speak a bit about Mac’s insistence at his (Ben’s) lack of offering a logical argument for his position (the first two nights). Ben denied that he had failed to do so, and when he did ultimately offer one, Mac negated one of the premises of Ben’s argument by stating that Ben did not prove the premise correct, but only asserted it; thus it was an unsound argument (though valid in form). When Mac was in the affirmative, he quickly set out his arguments (Wednesday) and took time to prove each one of his premises which warranted the conclusion Mac presented to the debate audience. Ben did not address a single one, though he made an attempt on the last night of the debate (though it was not much).

One final word, I noticed throughout the debate what I thought were some unfortunate remarks by Ben. Though he complained that Mac was condescending (something I did not detect at all), it was actually Ben who made a few remarks that I thought were a bit disparaging. Those things happen, and I would have dismissed it if it would not have been for Ben’s last speech Thursday evening. There is only one word that I would use – pitiful! It was condescending, belittling, and entirely useless for the occasion. It appeared to me that Ben wanted to go out as a “dragon-slayer,” and he wanted to be in the negative for exactly this reason. Moreover, it also appeared to me, that Ben wanted his “faithful brethren” to know (with this last speech) that he stood with the “truth” and opposed a “false teacher.” Yes, it appeared that Ben wanted to “throw his chest out” and warn others about teaching something contrary to what is believed to be sacred.

Though, I have never been asked, I would recommend that if one wanted to debate brother Vick, that person think very seriously about allowing him the opportunity to speak last. If this is his manner, you might regret giving him an audience.