Posted in By Roy C. Deaver, Doctrine

Roy Deaver-Gus Nichols Debate: Can the Guilty Party Remarry?

By Weylan Deaver

A preacher’s forum took place in November 1973 at the Harding Graduate School of Religion in Memphis, Tennessee between Roy C. Deaver and Gus Nichols. Each man respected the other. In fact, in the November 1972 issue of his paper, Biblical Notes (p. 73), Deaver wrote: “When brother Nichols preaches, it is obvious to the hearer that here is a man who is not just keeping an appointment. It is apparent that he knows the difference between having to say something and in having something to say.” But love for the gospel compelled Deaver to defend it, even if doing so meant opposing a friend. At the time, Deaver was in his prime (around age 51). The question at issue that day at Harding Graduate School was: “Can the guilty party, put away for fornication, scripturally remarry?” Gus Nichols said “yes” and Roy Deaver said “no.” Thomas B. Warren was in the audience and, when it came time for the Q&A session, he also held Nichols’ feet to the fire on this crucial doctrinal point. Listen to the two speeches and the Q&A session at the three links below.

1 Roy Deaver. Can the Guilty Party Remarry? (November 7, 1973 / Harding University Graduate School of Religion)

2 Gus Nichols. Can the Guilty Party Remarry? (November 7, 1973 / Harding University Graduate School of Religion)

3 Questions and Answers. Can the Guilty Party Remarry? Deaver vs Nichols (November 7, 1973 / HUGSR)

Posted in Apologetics, By Roy C. Deaver

We Can Know That God Exists

By Roy C. Deaver (1922-2007)

[Note: This piece by my grandfather was published in the July 1977 issue of Spiritual Sword (Thomas B. Warren, editor); at the time, he was serving as director of the Brown Trail Preacher Training School. —Weylan Deaver]

It is not unusual at all in our day to hear someone say, “Yes, but we cannot know that God exists. There is no way to prove that God exists. We are compelled to accept the idea of the existence of God by faith.” In response to special invitation I had taken the men of Brown Trail Preacher Training School to Abilene Christian College for the “Preachers’ Workshop.” One of the “buzz sessions” was on “Christian Apologetics.” Of the twenty-five men present in that session twenty-two of them were students at Brown Trail. I had the opportunity of making a few remarks about the meaning and nature of faith, the meaning and nature of knowledge, and the importance of being able to prove that God is, and that the Bible is the word of God. A member of the ACC faculty responded by saying, “There is no way we can prove the existence of God.”

Then again, just this past year, I went with our students to the workshop. The first lecture of the program dealt with the problem of knowledge and its relationship to the existence of God. The speaker—a highly educated, highly trained, exceptionally capable man—emphasized over and over that there is no way to be sure; there is no way to KNOW; there is no way to PROVE the existence of God. He made brief reference to the various arguments frequently used in efforts to prove the existence of God, but he stressed that these arguments were not adequate. He repeatedly declared that “These arguments take you down to this point but from there on you have to proceed on the basis of faith.” He said that this is the case because “There is no way to really know. ”

Immediately following this presentation there was a question session. I raised my hand, was recognized, and spoke as follows: “I would like to ask the speaker one question: Are you sure about that?” He recognized immediately the force of the question, stepped slowly to the microphone, and said: “No.” This admission, of course, destroyed his entire speech. But, his answer was really the only one he could give. If he had said “yes,” he would thereby have admitted that there is some process by which one can arrive at certainty with regard to at least some points. And, if he could follow that process and arrive at certainty with regard to that point, it just might be possible that I could follow that process and arrive at certainty with regard to other points.

Too, it should be pointed out that the brother who made the speech was misusing the word “faith.” That is, he was not using the word “faith” in harmony with the New Testament usage of the word “faith.” When this brother said, “These arguments take you down to this point but from there on you have to proceed on the basis of faith” he was stressing the idea that evidence will take one just so far, and from there on he must proceed upon the basis of accepting something with regard to which there is no evidence. And, to use the word “faith” in the sense of proceeding where there is no evidence is to use the word out of harmony with and contrary to the Bible usage of this word.

Others also are guilty of misusing the word “faith.” One brother, in insisting that we cannot know but that we can establish strong probability, declares that the man of faith behaves “as if” he knew. We would be inclined to ask the question: if the man of faith acts as if he knows, when in reality he knows that he does not know, why is not the man of faith a hypocrite? Further, why is not the man of faith an agnostic? The following quotations are from men whom I love and respect—men of marvelous educational background, men who love the Lord and His word, men who are personal friends of this writer. I am listing here their statements—not to embarrass them, but to try to drive home the point that many are using the word “faith” in a sense out of harmony with the Scriptures. Note carefully: “As indicated earlier, there is not enough evidence anywhere to absolutely prove God, but there is adequate evidence to justify the assumption or the faith that God exists.” “This choice or commitment is into the realm of the subjective, to be sure, since it transcends the objective and what can be clearly proved, and thus it is a leap of faith,” “Hence, it is more reasonable to take the short leap of faith required in Christian belief than it is to take the long leap of faith that is required in atheism. Absolute, dogmatic, unequivocable, complete evidence is often not possible, but a strong presumption is demonstrable.” “The evolutionist has a faith and I have a faith. I happen to believe that my faith is the more reasonable faith.”

What is the meaning of “faith” in the Bible? How is this word used? Does “faith” (in the Bible sense) mean strong probability? Is it identical with assumption? Does it exist only in the absence of evidence? “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain,…” (Heb. 11:4). “By faith Noah…prepared an ark to the saving of his house” (Heb. 11:7). “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed to go out unto a place which he was to receive for an inheritance…” (Heb. 11:8). What does “by faith” mean in these statements? Were Abel, Noah, and Abraham guessing? Were they responding upon the basis of assumption? strong probability? acting where there was no evidence? The Bible declares: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God,” (Rom. 10:17). Therefore, Biblical faith inherently involves; (1) the fact of the existence of God; (2) the fact of the existence of man; (3) the revealing ability of God to man; (4) the response-ability of man; (5) the testimony of God to man; (6) man’s proper response to that testimony. Faith—in the Bible sense—means taking God at His word. It means doing just what God said do, just because God said to do it. There is no Biblical faith where there is no testimony of God.

Faith does not mean absence of evidence. In fact, Biblically approved faith requires evidence. Where there is no evidence there can be no faith. God expects us to be concerned about evidence. The very existence of the Bible presupposes the need for evidence. John said, “…but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, ye may have life in his name” (John 20:31). We are not inclined in the least to criticize the attitude of Thomas. Rather, we have great respect and admiration for his attitude. His attitude was: “Without evidence I will not believe. Give me the evidence, and I will believe.” The Lord gave him the evidence. When Thomas saw the evidence, he declared: “My Lord and my God.”

Faith does not in all cases mean the absence of literal sight. Sometimes faith is clearly contrasted with sight (as in 2 Cor. 5:7), but there can be faith where there is sight. The Lord said to Thomas: “Because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed.” Many more of the Samaritans believed on the Lord because of His word (John 4:41). The fact of their seeing Him did not preclude their believing on Him. There can be faith where there is no sight. The Lord said to Thomas: “…blessed are they that have not seen, and yet believed.”

Neither does faith mean the absence of knowledge. It should be shouted from the housetops that Biblically approved faith does not rule out knowing. Paul said, “being therefore always of good courage, and knowing that whilst we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord…” (2 Cor. 5:6). How did Paul know? “For we walk by faith, not by sight,” (2 Cor. 5:7). Here is knowledge which is the product of faith. Many of Samaria who believed on the Lord said to the woman: “Now we believe, not because of thy speaking: for we have heard for ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world” (John 4:42). These said, “We believe” and “We know.” Faith does not preclude knowledge, and knowledge does not preclude faith. Peter said to the Lord, “And we have believed and know that thou art the Holy One of God” (John 6:69). Paul said, “…for I know him whom I have believed…” (2 Tim. 1:12).

Can we know that God exists? The basic question underlying this question is: Can we know anything at all? For, if it is possible to know anything, then it is possible to know that God exists. Can one know anything? Is a normal human being capable of really knowing anything? To answer this question we must come to a knowledge of what “knowing” means. (Interesting sidelight: Is it possible for one to come to a knowledge of what knowing is? Would it be possible for one to know that it is impossible for one to know?)

The answer to this question (Can we know anything?) involves the whole field of study called epistemology. Epistemology is that field of study which deals with the origin, nature, methods, and limits of knowledge. The human being, in two basic ways, comes to have knowledge. We come to know (learn) by experience, and we come to know (learn) by contemplation. Knowledge which comes by means of actual experience is placed under the heading of SCIENCE. Knowledge which comes by means of contemplation is placed under the heading of PHILOSOPHY. The knowledge which comes by experience may be: mathematical, physical, biological, or social. If the contemplation is about the universe it comes within the realm of metaphysics. If the contemplation is about conduct, it comes within the realm of ethics. If the contemplation is about the beautiful, it comes within the realm of aesthetics. If the contemplation is about correct reasoning (the principles of valid reasoning), it comes within the realm of logic. This reasoning involves two kinds: inductive and deductive.

The Empirical philosophers insist that only real knowledge is that which comes by means of the physical senses. The Existential philosophers insist that there is no way that one can really know anything. We are insisting at this point that though it is certainly true that there is knowledge which comes by means of the physical senses, it is also true that there is knowledge which comes by means of contemplation. We are insisting that it is possible for one to know and to know that he knows by working (in thought) according to the demands of the principles of correct reasoning.

It is generally recognized that 7 x 7 gives 49. The “49” represents a conclusion arrived at by contemplation. But it is possible for us to know (and to know that we know) that 7 x 7 gives 49. Likewise, if one places a dime in an envelope, and then places the envelope in a trunk—we can know where the dime is. We can know that the dime is in the trunk. And, this knowledge we have by contemplation, rather than by sense perception. If it is the case that all men are mortal beings, and if it is the case that Socrates was a man, then we know that it is the case that Socrates was a mortal being. I recently said to my students: “If it is the case that the accute accent can stand on either of the last three syllables of a Greek word, and if it is the case that the circumflex accent can stand only on either of the last two syllables of a Greek word, and if it is the case that the grave accent can stand only on the last syllable of a Greek word—then it is the case that if the third (the antepenult) syllable of a Greek word is accented that accent will have to be the accute. And, you can know this, and you can know that you know it.”

The “law of rationality” holds that “We ought to justify our conclusions by adequate evidence.” Adequate evidence absolutely demands certain conclusions. We are not talking about assumptions. We are not talking about guesses, or speculations. We are speaking of that conclusion which is absolutely demanded by the evidence at hand. And that conclusion which is demanded by the evidence is a matter of knowledge. It is “knowledge” just as much as is the case with regard to sense perception. It is evidence at hand. And that conclusion which is demanded by the evidence is a matter of knowledge. It is “knowledge” just as much as is the case with regard to sense perceptions. It is this kind of knowledge in particular that we have in mind when we emphasize that we can KNOW that God exists. It is this kind of knowledge which is compelled by consideration of the facts: there can be no effect without an adequate cause; there can be no law without a lawgiver; there can be no picture without a painter, no poem without a poet, no design without a designer, no thought without a thinker, no engineering without an engineer, no chemistry without a chemist, and no mathematics without a mathematician.

It is not the purpose of this article to discuss in detail how we can know that God exists, but rather to declare emphatically that it is a fact that we can know that God exists.

Perhaps it should be pointed out that so far as concerns those who love, believe and respect the Bible there should be no problem on this point. For, the Bible frequently and emphatically declares that we CAN and that we MUST know God. The Lord said, “And this is life eternal, that they should know thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, even Jesus Christ” (John 17:3). John said, “I have written unto you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning” (I John 2:13, 14). In fact, in the book of First John the writer uses the word “know” (in some form) twenty-four times. Those who insist that we cannot “know” would do well to study carefully John’s writings.

Posted in By Roy C. Deaver

The Unity of the Bible

By Roy C. Deaver

The great general area of study called “Christian Apologetics” deals with evidences (or proofs) related to (1) the existence of God, (2) the deity of Jesus Christ, (3) the inspiration of the Bible. With regard to “evidences of inspiration” there are (1) evidences external, and (2) evidences internal. One of the most powerfully convincing internal evidences is the marvelous unity of the Bible.

Unity in Theme and Purpose

The Bible is a wonderful unit in theme and in purpose. By “theme” we mean the Bible’s basic message. By “purpose” we mean the reason for and the consequent blessings of that message.

It has been accurately observed and properly stressed that the “theme” of the Bible is: The coming of Christ. The Old Testament message is: The Christ is coming. The New Testament message is: The Christ has come and will come again. In statement, type, shadow, copy, and figure the Old Testament presents this message. In plain declaration, in anti-type, in substance, in original, and in the real— the New Testament presents this message. All is involved in the Christ— his gospel, his church, his blessings to men.

But, what about the “purpose” of the Bible? (1) The Bible relates to the need for human redemption. The first three chapters of Genesis explain how sin made its entrance into the world. Human beings are born into a world where sin is. (2) Accountable persons, in transgressing God’s law, thereby become sinners. The tragic fact is that all accountable persons do transgress God’s law and do become sinners. Cf. Romans 3:23; I John 1:8. (3) Redemption is in and through Jesus Christ, Romans 3:24; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14. (4) As previously indicated, the Old Testament points to Christ. “And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself,” Luke 24:27. The Old Testament Scriptures bore witness of Christ, John 5:39. Paul persuaded “them concerning Jesus, both from the law of Moses and from the prophets, from morning till evening,” Acts 28:23. (5) Human redemption glorifies God. “Sonship” through Christ is “to the praise of the glory of his (God’s) grace,” Ephesians 1:6. “Unto him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations forever and ever, ” Ephesians 3:21. “To the only wise God, through Jesus Christ…be the glory forever,” Romans 16:27.

It is based upon consideration of these five basic facts that we summarize the purpose of the Bible as follows: THE GLORY OF GOD AND THE SALVATION OF MAN, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD. This is the purpose line which runs all the way through the Bible— from Genesis 1:l through the last verse of the Revelation. Every word in every verse in every paragraph of every chapter of every book sustains a vital relationship to this purpose line.

Unity in Books

The Bible is one book, but it is made up of many books. It has 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament. It is one in theme; it is one in purpose.

Every book of the Bible has a unique message of its own. Every book of the Bible makes a unique contribution to the overall purpose of the Bible. Every book of the Bible does something (with regard to the purpose line) which no other book does. And, it is from this viewpoint that we declare that every book of the Bible is the greatest book of the Bible. Each book does something which no other book does. It is my job as a student to learn the basic message of each book— to learn the unique contribution which each book makes to the overall purpose.

Think of the book of Genesis. An appropriate title would be: The Book of Beginnings. Its purpose is, to set forth the beginning and early development of the scheme of redemption. It divides itself into five natural sections: (1) from the creation to Abraham, (2) the life of Abraham, (3) the life of Isaac, (4) the life of Jacob, and (5) the life of Joseph. But all as involved in the beginning and early development of the scheme of redemption.

Ephesians is: The Church of our Lord— God’s Plan for Man’s Salvation. Chapters one through three deal with the nature of the church; chapters four through six deal with the Christian’s life in that church.

The book of Hebrews is: The Way of Christ— The Better Way. Paul emphasizes: (1) Christians have the better medium, 1:l-4:13; (2) Christians have the better high priest, 4:14-10:18; (3) Christians have the better way, the way of faith, 10:19-13:25.

Whatever the book, it is a marvelous unit, it has a unique message, and it makes a unique contribution to the purpose of the Bible.

Unity in Presentation

If one begins reading in Genesis one and continues through the Bible, he is reading the gradual unfolding of God’s wonderful message of redemption. It is one beautiful connected story. In the Old Testament the story is told consecutively from Genesis through Nehemiah (Esther should be read at the end of Ezra 6). The books of Job through Malachi give additional details that are involved in the connected story. In Old Testament history “God Prepared the Perfect Plan.” In the New Testament history “God Presented this Plan to Man.”

This beautiful, amazing story of redemption is presented in wonderful consistency. There are no contradictions in the sacred message. Men have often referred to apparent contradictions, but thorough investigation never fails to remove the difficulty. “Contradictions” are often imagined where there are none.

From first till last the Bible was written by approximately forty writers, and over a period of sixteen hundred years. It was begun by Moses in the desert of Arabia, and was completed by John on the isle of Patmos. The writers generally were not conscious of the works of others. They were widely separated in geography and in chronology. They were fishermen, farmers, shepherds, soldiers and kings. They wrote in palaces, pastures, prisons and in tents. There were men who were highly educated, and there were men untutored and unlearned (so far as concerned formal education of the day). These were not a literary people. Yet, when these writings are all brought together in one sacred volume, there is perfect unity— there are no contradictions.

Conclusion

If a forty-piece orchestra should suddenly begin to play— in perfect timing, melody, and harmony— it would be evidence of direction by a single mind.

If forty archers, in forty different places, widely separated in time, should shoot their arrows and all hit the same target “dead-center” it would be evidence of (proof of) direction by a single mind.

If forty men— widely separated in geography, with varied backgrounds, and living over a period of sixteen hundred years— should each write down a few lines, and these lines when brought together constituted a beautiful poem, it would be evidence of direction by a single mind.

Because of its marvelous and otherwise inexplicable unity, we believe the Bible came from God— that it is miraculously inspired and is divine authority.

Posted in By Roy C. Deaver, Church History

“Play On, Miss Bertha”

By Roy C. Deaver

[Note: This piece was written by my grandfather, Roy Deaver, many years ago, giving some of the sad history of the school that would in time become Texas Christian University (TCU) in Fort Worth–Weylan].

These words are sad words—some of the saddest ever uttered in all Restoration history. The dictionary says that “sad” means “…to be associated with sorrow.” Some words are sad because of their inherent connotations. Some words are sad because of the circumstances out of which they came. Some words are sad because of the consequences which they brought.

On Monday, September 1, 1873, in the pioneer village of Thorp Spring, in Texas, Thorp Spring college came into being. This year—1973—is the centennial year. In celebration, the ex-students of Thorp Spring Christian College held a reunion “on campus” July 21 and 22. At the time, I was in a gospel meeting at nearby Morgan Mill, and was privileged to attend the reunion. Brother Don Morris spoke on Saturday afternoon, and brother Foy E. Wallace, Jr. was the speaker on Saturday night. Because of my own preaching engagement I did not get to hear brother Wallace, but I did get to hear brother Morris. Brother Morris spoke on “Add-Ran and Its Heirs.” His lecture was tremendous. It will become an exceedingly valuable document in Restoration literature.

Brother Morris spoke at length about unscriptural organizations in Texas, and the consequent divisions among brethren. He spoke of the steps which led to the formation of the “Texas Christian Missionary Society” in Austin, Texas, 1886.

Brother Morris then discussed the introduction of mechanical instruments into Christian worship. He mentioned that the instrument was introduced “…first in congregations in Dallas, San Marcos, Waco, and Palestine.” He continued as follows:

“But the place at which the introduction of the organ received most attention was, without doubt, Thorp Spring, in Add-Ran College. The occasion was a gospel meeting in February, 1894. The speaker was B. B. Sanders, and the song director, E. M. Douthitt. These two often worked as a team and were known to use the instrument in worship. Before the meeting began, there was much discussion—on and off the campus of Add-Ran—about whether the organ would be used. As the meeting began, a crisis at Add-Ran was developing. It proved to affect the church throughout the state.

On February 20, 1894, the climax was reached. Before the service began, Joseph Addison Clark—the father and pioneer—and his wife took seats at the front of the auditorium. Their son Addison Clark, the president, arose to begin the service. Joseph Addison Clark arose, walked toward the pulpit, took a paper from his pocket, and presented it to his son. It was a petition. The petition was signed by the elder Clark and more than a hundred others, who asked that the organ not be used, on the ground that it was not authorized in the New Testament. Addison read the petition, conferred briefly with his brother Randolph, and then announced that he had promised the students that the organ could be used in the meeting and that he could not go back on his word. He turned to the organist and said, ‘Play on, Miss Bertha.’”

At this point, brother Don Morris was not able to continue for several moments. He wept audibly, and most of the audience wept with him. Brother Morris continued:

“As the organ and singing started, Joseph Addison arose with his wife and led the opposition out of the auditorium. He was a gray bearded man, seventy-eight years old, with a cane. About 140 people, according to Randolph’s son Joseph Lynn, followed the elderly Clark out of the building. Many in the remaining congregation wept. My father, who was a student that year, was present, and he told me many times about Uncle Joe Clark—how he appealed to the audience not to use the organ and how he led the group out of the auditorium.”

Brother Morris closed his great speech as follows:

“…we of Churches of Christ today are the real heirs of the first years of Add-Ran and of the gospel taught in the first Texas churches. This is true because today we continue in the slogan first used by Texas pioneers and the Campbells before them: ‘We speak where the Bible speaks and are silent where the Bible is silent.’ This principle has been followed by the Thorp Spring Church from the beginning in 1873 until now. And we believe that this is the true pattern for church organization, for purity in worship, and for all things religious. To use this pattern is more important than excelling in numbers or affluence. We look to the New Testament as the guide in restoring the Lord’s church, and we pray that He may bless us as we attempt to follow it.”

And RIGHT NOW, more so than ever before in my lifetime—there are IN THE CHURCH those who are saying: “MISS BERTHA, PLAY ON!” May God help us to have the faith, the conviction, the courage of Joseph Addison Clark.

Posted in By Roy C. Deaver, Church History

The Point We Seek to Make

By Roy C. Deaver (1922-2007)

It was in 1938, in his gospel meeting with the 2nd and Whaley Street Church in Longview, Texas, that I first became acquainted with the great, respected, much-loved N. B. Hardeman. It was here that he conducted a great gospel meeting, with C. M. Pullias (our local preacher) leading the singing! Yes, the same team that had conducted the great Nashville, Tennessee, Ryman Auditorium meetings! By the time the Longview meeting was over, I had determined in my own mind that someday, somehow, I would become a student in N. B. Hardeman’s classes.

In September of 1940 Wilma Ruth and I made our trip to Henderson, Tennessee. Within a few days I was a student in classes taught by N. B. Hardeman, L. L. Brigance, W. Claude Hall, and Mary Nell Hardeman Powers—the greatest English grammarian I have ever known!

In my first year one of the required courses was the study of the Scheme of Redemption. The text was the monumental book entitled The Scheme of Redemption, written by Dr. Robert Milligan, who at the time of the writing was President of the College of the Bible in Kentucky University — a great scholar in the Restoration Movement. The “Introduction” to the book has the date: May 19, 1868. So, the book has been around for awhile, and it will continue to be around.

It was a study course for which I personally will be eternally grateful. I was and I am and I will ever be truly grateful to have had that privilege of seeing such a majestic unfolding of the glorious “Scheme of Redemption.” Three of the best years of our lives were spent at Freed-Hardeman College, and we are truly grateful.

What’s the point — the present point? The above article is the material contained in pages 276 through 284 in Milligan’s The Scheme of Redemption. The book is hard to come by, and so, I have typed this material that others may read it for themselves. This is the class, and these are the pages which first began to give me — in some measure — an understanding of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It triggered my determination to continue to study the subject. It was here and why and how I began to grasp the concept of an actual, literal, personal, indwelling of the Holy Spirit within the child of God. Who was the teacher? Professor N. B. Hardeman! I am here to tell the reader that in NO WAY did brother Hardeman ever try to “explain away” what Milligan had written. If you want to know what brother Hardeman taught on this subject — HERE IT IS!

And so, it disturbs me no little to hear somebody on the present scene declare that brother Hardeman did not teach an actual indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I encourage the reader to read– and/or to read again and again his monumental sermons on “The Vine and the Branches” and “The Spirit of Christ.”

At that time (when I was a student, 1940-43), FHC was a two-year college. But after two years I was not ready to leave. I wanted at least one more year, and did remain another year. I had three things in mind: (1) I wanted to do additional work in my Greek; (2) I wanted to take advantage of that fabulous library; and (3) I wanted to study N. B. Hardeman. I wanted to see (at least to my own satisfaction) what made N. B. Hardeman so great! So exceptional! In case you are interested in my conclusion, here it is: (1) It was not the fact that he was a handsome man, always dressed well and looked well — his shoes were always shined! (2) It was not just the fact that he was so exceptionally brilliant and knowledgeable in so many different subject areas. (3) It was not simply the fact that he was a man “set in authority.” Rather, my own conclusion was (and still is) his tremendous ability (without seeming to be aware of it) to produce a student!

He did not have to give orders or make threats. He simply possessed an indescribable way of causing a person to want to be a better student! If he happened to mention the annual overflow of the Nile River, being translated that meant: tomorrow you had better know the lakes and rivers that were in any way related to the annual overflow of the Nile. God bless you, N. B. Hardeman!

 

[Editor’s note: This piece was originally published in the Jan-Mar 2000 issue of Biblical Notes Quarterly, and references another article which is not reproduced here].

Posted in By Roy C. Deaver

The Most Important Factor

By Roy C. Deaver (1922-2007)

If there is a life after this life — and there is; and if there is a judgment to come — and there is; and if every accountable person shall stand in judgment before the Christ — and each shall; and if this life is given us that we may prepare for the life to come — and this is the case; and if the Bible is our only and all-sufficient guide in making preparation for the judgment, and for the life to come — and it is; then, it has to be the case that a knowledge of the Bible is the most important factor in the life and education of an individual.

(Excerpted from the Introduction to Deaver’s book, How To Study the Bible, p. ix).

Posted in By Roy C. Deaver, Doctrine

Consequences of Baptist Doctrine

By Roy C. Deaver

[The following is excerpted from Deaver’s book, The Baptist Church and the New Testament Church, pp. 47-49.]

In view of the study already made regarding the Bible teaching on the essentiality of baptism, we need to consider now some of the consequences of the Baptist doctrine that one can be saved before and without baptism.

First of all, the teaching that baptism is not essential to one’s salvation means that the Baptist church is not necessary. Baptists teach that one can be saved without baptism, but that one cannot get into the Baptist church without being baptized…And, in which case the Baptist church is not necessary to one’s salvation.

Secondly, the Baptist idea that one can be saved without baptism means that it takes more to get into the Baptist church than it does for one to go to heaven. Baptists hold that one is saved by faith, the moment he believes, and that he is later baptized into the Baptist church because he has already been saved. If one can go to heaven because he is saved, and if one is saved by faith, and if one cannot get into the Baptist church without baptism—then, obviously, it takes more to get into the Baptist church than it does to go to heaven!

Thirdly, the doctrine of salvation without baptism means Baptist preachers cannot follow New Testament examples of conversion…The following quotation is from a book called The History of the Denton County Baptist Association and the Sixty Churches in Its Jurisdiction. This book was written by Mr. J. N. Rayzor, a prominent Baptist of Denton, Texas. The quotation is found on page 82. Here it is:

“An incident occurred in the Pilot Point church during Rev. J. B. Cole’s pastorate, which involved a point of doctrine that subjected Pastor Cole to criticism, and gave the incident much publicity and notoriety. Pastor Cole went fishing one day with a business man who was not a Christian, and he availed himself of the opportunity to talk to the lost man about his unsaved condition, and led him to an acceptance of Christ. Jo Ives, the man converted, said to Pastor Cole, ‘Here is water, what doth hinder me from being baptized?’ Obviously Brother Cole thought of the story of Philip and the Eunuch, and taking that incident an example, he led Mr. Ives out into the water and baptized him. Rev. Cole had been a Baptist but a short time and was not up on their conception of baptism, and how and when it should be administered. The news of the incident soon spread among the members, and then the show began. The following Sunday Mr. Ives presented himself to the church, asking membership, and his application was rejected and he was hurt at the action of the church and turned to another church which readily accepted his baptism. The criticism of the pastor caused him to ask a committee of eminent brethren to sit in judgment upon his conduct—Dr. A. J. Holt, J. B. Link, and R. C. Buckner. After reviewing the details of the incident they wrote the church, advising it to drop the matter, and Pastor Cole to go his way, but not to repeat the act.”

Note that Pastor Cole was advised by his eminent brethren never to follow this Bible example again. This is the story of a man who knew something about the Bible, and little about Baptist doctrine, and who thought he could follow a Bible example of conversion. But, he learned that such would not be tolerated.

Posted in Apologetics, By Roy C. Deaver

The Warren-Flew Debate

By Roy C. Deaver [1922-2007]

[Note: The following review was written by my grandfather soon after the debate occurred, and published in the December 1976 issue of Biblical Notes. The debate was momentous then, and continues to be. Thirty-one years after, in 2007, Flew would publish a startling book reversing everything he stood for in his debate with Warren. Flew would title his book, There Is a God (How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind). In it, Flew refers to his debate with Warren on pp. 67-69. Warren died in 2000; Flew in 2010. The book and DVDs of the Warren-Flew Debate are still available and highly recommended—Weylan Deaver.]

On Thursday, September 16, 1976, Thomas Warren and I moved into a motel room in Denton, Texas to continue preparation for the Warren-Flew debate scheduled to begin on the following Monday night. We were joined on Friday by James Bales and Bob Camp. During these eight days we lived together, prayed together, worked together, studied together — in full and deep realization of the importance of the occasion.

During the months preceding the debate it was advertised as being “The Debate of the Century.” I believe that this is an apt description of it. It was reminiscent of the great Campbell-Owen Debate, but it might be more accurately likened to Paul’s meeting the Athenian philosophers on Mars’ Hill when “…certain also of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him” (Acts 17:18). Upon that memorable occasion Paul preached the God whom they had left out. And in Denton, Texas brother Warren preached the God whom Dr. Flew (and all atheistic naturalism) has left out.

The debate was conducted on the campus of North Texas University, in the massive, beautiful coliseum. The debate was well-attended, with thousands of people having come from distant places. Wonderful fruits—even in generations to come—will be produced by these labors.

Since the debate it has been my privilege to speak a few times about the debate, and in these sessions we have devoted some time to answering questions. In this article I would like to consider several questions which have been asked.

How Was the Debate Brought About?

The University church of Christ in Denton, Texas conducts two Bible Chair programs within the city. One is directed by brother Gary Ealy; the other is directed by brother Rex Dean. These Bible Chairs work together in striving to accomplish the greatest good among the students. Each year they plan something “unusual” for the students. Last year (1975) they had Dr. Douglas Dean on campus for a special series of lectures on evolution. For 1976 the Bible chairs—together with the University church of Christ—planned the Warren-Flew debate. Since the debate was conducted by the Bible Chairs it was permitted to be held “on campus” and in the Coliseum.

An Evaluation of Dr. Flew

Many have asked: “How would you evaluate Dr. Flew?” Dr. Flew’s academic credentials are impressive and are unquestioned. He is a professor of philosophy at the University of Reading, in Reading, England. He is in constant demand as a “special lecturer,” and he travels the world as a spokesman for “atheistic naturalism.” He is without doubt one of the top atheists in the world today.

He writes almost constantly on the subject of “God.” brother Warren pointed out in the debate that he (Dr. Flew) seems to be almost “God-intoxicated.” Dr. Flew responded by saying: “I seem to be sobering up from my God-intoxication, and henceforth will not write upon the subject of God—except in response to those who attack me—but will devote more time to writing on social matters.” I consider this to be a highly significant statement from Dr. Flew—one which indicates that he keenly felt the force of Dr. Warren’s arguments.

In order that I might be of more help to brother Warren I have spent considerable time during the past year reading some of Dr. Flew’s books. I have found him extremely difficult to read (probably because of his British accent!). The vastness of his knowledge is apparent. Many have expressed disappointment that Dr. Flew did not do a better job in the debate. We emphasize that Dr. Flew’s failures were not the consequence of his not being a qualified opponent. No atheist has done more writing, or more speaking, or more debating than has Dr. Flew.

Dr. Flew is a personable, likable man. As brother Warren said, “You can’t help but like him.” It is my judgment that Dr. flew was shocked, bewildered, astonished, flabbergasted. So far as he was concerned “Christianity” meant Catholicism and denominationalism. He had never before encountered simple New Testament Christianity. And, he had never before encountered an opponent of Dr. Warren’s caliber. Dr. Flew, son of a Methodist minister, knows full-well that truth cannot be established upon the basis of feelings (emotionalism, subjective experiences). It must have been quite a shock to him when brother Warren said: “Dr. Flew, we fight that kind of thing just as much as you do. On that point you are just speaking to the wrong crowd.”

I think Dr. flew is honest and has some very strong feelings about truth. Dr. Flew entered the debate as a “positive atheist.” In a very short time he had become a “negative atheist.” Then, he began taking positions that were not atheistic, but that were agnostic. This he admitted. Then, he explained that he was “a spokesman for atheistic naturalism.” It seems to me that Dr. Flew left the debate as an agnostic rather than as an atheist.

Dr. Flew stresses that men “ought to be honest” and “ought to seek after truth.” We can continue to hope and pray that his honesty and concern about truth and evidence will yet bring him to the truth of God.

An Evaluation of Dr. Warren

I have known, loved, respected, and worked with brother Warren for near twenty-five years. I know him better than any other man knows him. I stand amazed in contemplation of his great abilities—natural and attained. He possesses the greatest natural brilliance of mind that I have ever seen. He has worked so hard for so many years in so many different academic disciplines in preparing himself to be an efficient servant of the Lord.

I know of his deep feelings related to the fact that as a people we are not doing enough to combat the forces of atheism and liberalism. It grieves him deeply to know that we sit back and allow the atheists to write our textbooks and to exert their infidel influences in the colleges and universities across the land.

More than twenty years ago he determined to do something about this situation. He knew that it would be necessary for him to hold the highest academic degree—and from a university of unquestioned prestige, and in the field which would be respected even by the atheists. To obtain this degree—his doctorate in Philosophy, from Vanderbilt University—he went into the lions’ den. To say the least, his professors were not favorable toward the traditional view (the Bible view) of God. Upon one occasion the professor said: “Mr. Warren, perhaps we ought to let YOU explain to the class the traditional view of God, since we so seldom have a man in this class who holds that view.” I know how hard and how fervently he prayed that—if the Lord so willed—he might be admitted to that program. At the time, Vanderbilt was admitting only six to eight students out of eighty applicants.

In reality, brother Warren’s debate with Antony Flew was that toward which he had been working for more than twenty years.

The more immediate preparation was made during the past year. The magnitude of this preparation is almost unbelievable (and is indescribable). He had very meticulously prepared over 400 charts for the debate. We used only 75 during the debate, but the others were there and ready to be used, if needed.

We thank God for brother Warren’s abilities, but—more than this, for the fact that these abilities are dedicated, consecrated, to the glory of God.

Why Did Dr. Flew Refuse to Make A Sound Argument?

This question comes in recognition of the fact that it is the case that Dr. Flew did steadfastly refuse to make a sound argument.

In logic, the term “argument” refers to the basic unit of reasoning. It means a “unit of discourse in which beliefs are supported by reasons.” An argument is a unit of discourse which seeks to prove that something is or is not the case. An argument therefore, is made up of two basic parts: (1) premises—the evidence—, and (2) the conclusion.

When a series of statements are intended to prove a point they may be (and, in fact, ought to be) reduced to a syllogism. An error which is concealed in three hundred pages becomes crystal clear when reduced to a three-line syllogism.

In order for an argument to be sound two things are necessary: (1) the syllogism has to be valid, and (2) the premises have to be true. A syllogism is valid when the premises (whether true or false) demand the conclusion. There is a difference in validity and truth. There are definite laws (five basic laws) governing validity, and if a single law of validity is violated the syllogism is not valid. If the syllogism is valid, then the logician asks: are the premises true? If the syllogism is valid, and if the premises are true—then the argument is sound.

Dr. Flew knows full-well what a sound argument is. He knows that argumentation is not assertion and is not insinuation. He constantly chides and ridicules religious people for refusing to make a sound argument. He constantly calls upon them to face up to the task of proving their position. The “Law of Rationality” holds that “We ought to justify our conclusions by adequate evidence.” Dr. Flew respects this law. Dr. Flew (of all people) did not refuse to make a sound argument because he did not know what a sound argument is!

Literally hundreds of people have expressed to me their disappointment because Dr. Flew refused to make an argument. He raised questions. He chided. He insinuated. He indicated that he would eventually get around to actual argumentation. But, he never did. He did a lot of talking and philosophizing, but he never did get down to the task of trying to prove his point. (Dr. James Bales observed: “A philosopher often spends his time throwing dust into the air, and then complains because he cannot see.”) One person said: “Dr. Flew would approach the microphone as if he were really going to do something this time, and then…just fizzle.”

It seems to me that the weak and disappointing efforts upon the part of Dr. Flew really show the force, the power, and the value of the debate. If Dr. Flew COULD have made a sound argument the conclusion of which would have been “I know that God does not exist” Dr. Flew WOULD have done so. The fact that Dr. Flew DID NOT proves that he COULD NOT, and that HE KNEW THAT HE COULD NOT! Dr. Flew’s failure to make an argument also indicated his profound respect for Dr. Warren. He knew that every word he said would be carefully and thoroughly examined by brother Warren, and that no error would be allowed to pass unnoticed. Dr. Flew could not make an argument which would stand up under the light of logical examination.

What Did Dr. Flew Say?

He stressed ideas of incoherence, inconsistency, and logical contradiction. These words relate to two basic points: (1) It is Dr. Flew’s view that the doctrine of eternal punishment in hell is inconsistent with the notion that God is all-loving; (2) He holds that the fact of evil in the world is contradictory to the theists’ concept of an all-loving and all-powerful God. The concept of “hell” is really disturbing to Dr. Flew. He said, “It upsets my British cool.” but, Dr. Flew admitted that the concepts of love and justice were not contradictory, and that God could be just in punishing a sinner for “one minute.” Dr. Flew thus placed himself in the position of judging God in connection with what constitutes just punishment.

The atheist habitually accuses the theist of affirming a logical contradiction. The theist affirms the existence of God who is all-loving and who is all-powerful. The atheist counters: “These concepts are contradictory. There is the fact of evil in our world. If God is all-good He would want to destroy evil; if God is all-powerful He would be able to destroy evil. If He wants to destroy evil, but cannot, then He is not all-powerful. If He is able to destroy evil, but does not want to destroy evil, then He is not all-good. If He is not all-powerful, or if He is not all-good, then He is not God.” But, the atheist fails to understand the relationship of the existence of evil to God’s plan for man’s redemption, and the atheist overlooks (and fails to understand) God’s respect for man’s free-moral agency.

Dr. Flew admitted the fact of human guilt and the fact of the existence of human conscience. He also admitted that atheism has no way of dealing with these. He admitted the existence of “law” higher than international law and that the Nazis were wrong in killing six million Jews. He failed to explain the source of this law.

Whether intending to do so or not, Dr. Flew rejected the theory of evolution. In answer to pointed questions he said that the first human being was not born of a non-human, and that the first human being was not the product of transformation from a non-human into a human! What else is left? Only creation by God.

Dr. Flew admitted that philosophy cannot deal adequately with the matter of origin. He said, “I begin with the universe and end with the universe.” This is a mighty restricted view of things, and fails to deal satisfactorily with either origin or destination.

Brother Warren powerfully refuted the theory of evolution. He stressed that the doctrine of evolution cannot be substantiated by the claims of science. Dr. Flew responded: “I am not a scientist—I am a philosopher.” I find this statement (and the attitude which it evidences) most astonishing. Here is a man who is a world-renowned atheist-philosopher. In rejecting the existence of God he puts himself in the position of having to accept the theory of organic evolution. This theory at least claims to rest upon scientific evidences. But, when the errors, inadequacies, and false claims of this theory are pointed out Dr. Flew simply says: “I am not a scientist—I am a philosopher.” It is astonishing—indeed, incredible—that a man would build his entire atheistic, philosophic house upon a doctrine which at least claims to rest upon science without knowing whether or not the scientific claims were true. How in the world could Dr. Flew be content simply to say: “I am not a scientist—I am a philosopher”? Keep in mind also that when Dr. Flew said that the first human being came (1) not by birth and (2) not by transformation that he rejected the theory of evolution.

What Basic Arguments Did Brother Warren Present?

First, brother Warren presented the cosmological argument. He argued (and proved) that for every effect there has to be a sufficient cause. He discussed our marvelous universe as an amazing effect. He declared that only the all-wise, all-powerful, all-loving God of the bible is sufficient cause. He considered man—marvelous man—as an amazing effect, and the all-wise, all-powerful, all-loving God of the Bible as the only sufficient cause. He considered the matter of the existence of law—law beyond national law, and beyond international law—the existence of which Dr. Flew admitted. Brother Warren argued that there can be no law without a law-giver. Brother Warren forcefully argued that the theory of evolution cannot explain (1) our universe, (2) man, or (3) the existence of law higher than international law.

Precisely stated, brother Warren’s argument would be as follows:

MAJOR PREMISE: If it is the case that our universe (or man, or moral law) is of such a nature

that it’s very existence can be explained only in terms of its having been cre-

ated by the all-wise, all-powerful, and all-loving God—then it is the case that

God does exist.

MINOR PREMISE: It is the case that our universe (or man, or moral law) is of such nature that

its very existence can be explained only in terms of its having been created

by the all-wise, all-powerful, all-loving God.

CONCLUSION: It is the case that God does exist.

Second, brother Warren made the moral argument. This argument overlaps the cosmological argument. Brother Warren emphatically argued that there does exist such a thing as outside, objective, moral law—that there is moral law beyond (greater than) international law. Brother Warren stressed that Dr. Flew admitted (1) the existence of this law, and (2) that the Nazis were wrong in murdering six million Jews. Brother Warren also stressed the fact of the existence of human conscience—that “Dr. Flew has a conscience, and Dr. flew admits that he has a conscience.” How explain the existence of moral law and the existence of human conscience? The theory of evolution has no explanation. These can be explained only in the light of creation by the God of the Bible.

Third, brother Warren stressed the argument based upon design—sometimes called the teleological argument. He had carefully and meticulously prepared beautiful charts on the human hand, the eye, the respiratory system, the skeletal system. Brother Warren argued that the marvelous design involved in these could be explained only in the light of an all-wise, all-powerful, all-loving Designer. Brother Warren presented a chart with a picture of an artificial hand. He asked Dr. Flew: “Did this artificial hand have a designer?” Dr. Flew admitted that it did have a designer. Amazing indeed! The artificial hand has a designer, and could not exist without the fact of the designer, but the natural hand does not have a designer! Dr. flew admitted that the automobile has a maker, but denies that the automobile-maker has a maker.  “He just growed.”

Time and space would not allow consideration here of the beautiful and fantastic details with which brother Warren pressed this argument. Its force was completely devastating to atheism.

Why Didn’t Brother Warren Use More Bible in the Debate?

The fact is that brother Warren did use the Bible frequently in the debate, but (for obvious reasons) he did not build his argument upon what the Bible says. As brother Warren said to a certain man who had asked this question: “What passage would YOU cite to Dr. Flew to prove that God exists?”

The argument that the very nature of the Bible proves the existence of God is another entire debate. We felt that to introduce this argument during this debate would have allowed Dr. Flew too much room in which to wander, and consequently, would have detracted from this debate. Brother Warren, in his final speech, did offer to debate Dr. Flew on the “Bible argument,” preferably in Reading, England.

What Do You Think Will Be the Greatest Benefits of the Debate?

There have been and there will continue to be great and wonderful benefits from the debate.

1. Because of the debate many people of the world will hear of the church of our Lord who otherwise would not have heard of it.

2. Some have already been baptized into Christ as a consequence of having heard the debate, and others will be.

3. I think the debate will cause New Testament churches—especially those in the Dallas-Fort Worth area—to become more militant in the battle for truth. The whole world will know that we have absolutely nothing to fear in going up against the forces of atheism.

4. Most probably, there will be other debates. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if one or two debates of this type could be conducted every year—on campuses of colleges and universities everywhere. It seems to me that congregations should—beginning right now—set aside funds to help so that at least one debate per year can be conducted.

5. I think the debate will astound the philosophical world. Dr. Flew will be discredited as a debater in the eyes of his fellow-atheists. Can you imagine an honest, sincere student in one of Dr. Flew’s classes—with a copy of the WARREN-FLEW DEBATE in his hand?

6. The debate will emphasize to God’s people everywhere—and especially to Gospel preachers—the value of and the importance of real education. What an example we have in Thomas Warren.

7. Undoubtedly, the greatest benefits (which cannot be measured) will come from (1) the book, and (2) the video-tape. The book is now being published, and the video-tape will soon be available. These will be tremendous tools in combating the forces of atheism.

CONCLUSION

Brethren, the debate was wonderful and will prove to be one of the most significant events in the history of God’s people.

We express our sincere thanks to Gary Ealy, Rex Dean, Perry Hall, the elders and members of the University church of Christ in Denton, Texas—for making the debate possible. We thank God for—and continue to pray for—brother Thomas Warren. We express our gratitude to the God of heaven by whose providence the debate was brought about. Also, our sincere thanks to Dr. Flew for his willingness to have his atheistic philosophies tested upon the polemic platform. Likewise, we express sincere thanks to brethren Bob Camp and James Bales for their wonderful assistance before and during the debate.

We fervently pray that God will continue to use this great work to His glory and to the salvation of thousands of souls.

I COULD NEVER BE AN ATHEIST

I would have to honest with myself. I would have to be concerned about evidence. I would have to be concerned about proper reasoning. Before I could be an atheist I would have to be able to prove that:

1. Life can come from non-life;

2. Something can come out of nothing;

3. Order can come out of disorder—cosmos can come out of chaos;

4. Chance can produce arrangement;

5. There can be a design without a designer;

6. Like does not produce like;

7. There can be an effect without a cause;

8. Mind can be produced by matter;

9. There is no real purpose in life;

10. There is no hereafter;

11. The Bible is not the word of God;

12. There is no God!

How would YOU like to have the task of proving (1) that the Bible is not the word of God, and (2) that God does not exist?

Posted in By Roy C. Deaver, Church History

I Left the Meeting Scared

By Roy C. Deaver [1922-2007]

In 1967 I was working with the Brown Trail church in Hurst, Texas. Beginning in 1961, this congregation had developed a very strong interest in evangelizing by means of the mail system. Especially during the years 1965 through 1967 there was a great deal of pressure put upon the Brown Trail elders to investigate what was going on among the people in the “Independent Christian churches.” We kept hearing rumors that there were many among these people who were really concerned about becoming “one” with those of us in churches of Christ. The Brown Trail elders were—to say the least—very skeptical. Yet, they were deeply concerned about getting the gospel message to any and to all.

The elders decided to invite Don DeWelt and Seth Wilson to come to Hurst, Texas to spend two days with them, and with a few other gospel preachers. Brown Trail would pay their plane fare. Don DeWelt was a professor in Ozark Bible College (a college operated by the Independent Christian Church people), and Seth Wilson was Dean of the College.

So, on May 19 and 20, in 1967, the proposed meeting took place. We spent a great deal of time in discussion of the use of mechanical instrumental music in Christian worship. The elders discussed in detail the hermeneutical principles based upon which we were forced to the conclusion that the use of mechanical instrumental music in Christian worship is wrong! It was stressed repeatedly that there simply is no Bible authority for it!

All present listened patiently as DeWelt and Wilson presented their view. They made no special effort to attempt to justify by the Scriptures the use of mechanical instrumental music in Christian worship. It was clearly their view that it simply makes no difference: It is all right to have it, and it is all right not to have it. In fact, Wilson pointed out that he preached for a church which had on the sign in front “Church of Christ.” He stressed that this church where he preached DID NOT USE mechanical instrumental music in worship. “But,” he declared, “not because we are opposed to it—we simply do not have it.” DeWelt emphasized that he had not in any sense changed his mind about mechanical instrumental music in worship.

These men clearly and strongly felt that there could be (and that there ought to be) unity simply upon the basis that it makes no difference—whether we do or whether we do not. In their thinking, it was not necessary for them and their brethren to regard the use of the instrument as being sin.

I left that meeting on the last day as scared as I have ever been in my life about the church of our Lord. It had become crystal clear to me that these men had not changed their thinking one particle, and that they had absolutely no intention of changing their thinking. On this point, we had been terribly misinformed by many who had insisted that we meet with these men. The thing which scared me was this: They had not changed their position at all, and had no intention of doing so. BUT, THEY KNEW THAT THEY SAW AMONG US A WILLINGNESS TO ACCEPT THEM (FELLOWSHIP THEM) WHILE THEY CONTINUED TO HOLD THEIR VIEWS INDICATED! It frightened me then, and it frightens me now to know that on this point, they were right.

Why can’t brethren wake up? Why is it that many cannot be warned? These men (and those who follow their leadership) are not interested in unity based upon plain Bible teaching. They are not about to give up the instrument. But, as liberalism takes its toll, they know that many in churches of Christ are willing to accept them ON THEIR TERMS.