THE UNFINISHED DEBATE On May 10, 1988, James H. Laws, Jr., a Church-of-Christ preacher and
THE UNFINISHED DEBATE
On May 10, 1988, James H. Laws, Jr., a Church-of-Christ preacher and a
professor of apologetics at Tennessee Bible College, challenged Farrell Till to
a written debate on the inerrancy issue. His letter proposed the following
RESOLVED: I know that the Bible is the plenarily inspired word of
God to man.
RESOLVED: I know that the Bible is not the plenarily inspired word
He concluded the letter with a solemn pledge that he would not assume this
responsibility in a "light hearted way." "I will put everything I have into
such a discussion (knowledge, ability, sincerity)," he promised. After pre-
liminary discussions in which Till questioned the phrasing of the propositions,
objecting especially to presumptuous implications in the word "know," an
agreement was signed to use Mr. Laws' propositions essentially as he had
submitted them. The only change was the substitution of verbally for ple-
The debate began with Mr. Laws defending his proposition. Three manu-
script exchanges were made, and then there was a three-month silence on Mr.
Laws' end. After two letters of inquiry were directed to him, Laws wrote on
May 17, 1989, just one year and one week after he had issued his challenge,
to say that he was quitting the debate and would communicate with Till no
further about the matter. Laws refused to accept a letter that Till mailed him
on May 20th in response to the unilateral withdrawal.
Why would Mr. Laws quit a debate that he himself had proposed? Osten-
sibly, he withdrew because of increased responsibilities that came with his
acceptance of a new position as minister of the Getwell Church of Christ in
Memphis, but we suspect a different reason. By the end of Till's third
rebuttal, the central argument on which Laws had based the defense of his
proposition had been so demolished that he had nowhere to turn, so he chose
We urge readers who might be inclined to accuse us of biased judgment
to let the debate speak for itself. Despite almost frantic efforts by Mr. Laws
to block their publication, Skepticism, Inc., will publish the three exchanges
that were made. Printed in the two-column format you are now reading, this
fifty-page volume will be available February 1st for $3.00, a cost that will
barely cover publishing and mailing. Orders should be addressed to P. O.
Box 617, Canton, IL 61520.
OTHER INERRANCY DEBATES
Farrell Till now has written debates in progress with Jerry Moffitt and
Bill Jackson, both prominent ministers in the Church of Christ. An oral
debate between Till and Moffitt will be held on August 13, 14, 16, and 17, at
the 39th Street Church of Christ, 15331 East 39th Street, Independence,
Missouri. Propositions in all the debates are essentially the same. Moffitt's
and Jackson's position is that the Bible is verbally inspired of God and
therefore completely inerrant; Till contends that contradictions and other
errors in the Bible disprove its claim to divine inspiration. We encourage all
readers who can to attend the oral debate. The written debates will be
published when finished.
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Review can be obtained by writing to P. O. Box 617, Canton, IL 61520-0617.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank