"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.VI No.XIII Pg.56b-58a
July/August 1944

Side-Stepping His Own Challenge

In his flustered face-saving maneuvering to deliver himself from an unexpected predicament, Norris now attempts to shift the negotiations from the basis of his challenge to the churches of Christ in Fort Worth to a private arrangement with me. And what an arrangement! He wants me to play tail to a kite to be flown by him and Jake Hines! If you have a sense of humor the following letter, typical of Norris when he gets on a hot spot, will bring down the galleries.

* * * *

My dear Sir:

A group of ministers of your church, some dozen, called to see me yesterday with reference to having another debate with you.

Dr. J. L. Hines and I have arranged for a joint-discussion over the radio.

These brethren of yours asked if I were willing also for you to have a discussion over the radio.

I have secured time for Dr. Hines and myself and feel sure that I could secure time for you over the same radio, and without cost to you. I assume every responsibility of the radio, myself. This I am doing with Dr. Hines.

He and I will discuss the following subjects:

First, that Christ will return to the earth in Person, and establish His kingdom on the earth and reign until He has put all enemies under His feet.

Second, that the scriptures teach that baptism of a penitent believer is one of the conditions of his salvation; and unless that penitent believer is immersed he cannot be saved.

Third, that the person born again receives eternal life and can never perish or fall away into perdition.

I have the time from 10:00 until midnight every Sunday night, to be exact 10:15. You could have a free additional use of the same time that Dr. Hines will use.

You can go on immediately after the introduction, or at 10:15. In as much as you have my published position on the above questions it will not be necessary for me to go first. I could take less, or an equal amount of time.

Because of requirements of the radio, it will be necessary to submit your manuscript at least a week in advance, to the radio.

This discussion with you will take place after the discussion with Dr. Hines.

Yours respectfully,

J. Frank Norris.

The following reply was sent to the above ridiculous communication:

Dear Sir:

This acknowledges receipt of your letter of June 24. Your challenge to the churches of Christ for a debate has been accepted by the churches in Fort Worth, Dallas, and Oklahoma City. I have been asked by the churches in all three cities to represent them in this discussion.

You have received their official acceptance of your challenge, together with propositions signed by me. I am ready to meet you in the debate you demanded at any, or all, of the cities named, and at any date you set-even if I have to cross the continent to do it.

As eager as I am for this discussion, however, I share the feeling of my brethren generally that nothing on earth could ever induce you to meet me again in a public debate under conditions which would preclude the unfair advantages which you seek. In fact, the Ft. Worth brethren have informed me that you, in conference with them last week, in a moment of honest candor, declared you would see me in hell before you would ever, ever get on the same platform with me again in a religious discussion.

It is obvious that you were considerably surprised and chagrined when your challenge to the churches of Christ was accepted. It is also obvious that your chagrin turned into unutterable dread when you realized you might have to face me again. From the first moment you understood this fact, you have made one frantic effort after another to back out of the situation.

Your letter of June 24 is but the latest of these attempts. In it you are seeking to embroil me in a three-way radio wrangle with yourself and J. L. Hines, under conditions which would give you entire control of the complete program. Your stipulation that negative speeches be made before you make the affirmative, and that they be submitted to you a week in advance,is exactly the sort of unscrupulous advantage you have always sought.

Your challenge for a debate has been accepted; the propositions have been signed and delivered to you. All that remains now is for you to make good on your own boastful assertions and put your signature to the propositions.

Very truly yours,

Foy E. Wallace, Jr.

* * * *

The Sole Issue Before Mr. Norris Several days later another letter was received from Norris, still ignoring the issue.

Dear Sir

Your letter is characteristic of you. I would not say that it was unchristian for that would imply that you had the capacity of being a Christian.

Of all the little things I ever heard of on earth is for you to have your lawyer call up the radio station and object to your name being called. You have yourself in the unenviable predicament that it is being called without being called and all are laughing at you.

You had the tar licked out of you in that debate and your own crowd says so.

I told the crowd, your group of representatives, that I was well satisfied with it and would see them where the fires never go out before I would allow anybody to come and dictate to me an unalterable "contract."

You got mad during the debate, showed an ugly spirit all through and you lost terribly by it. Over 40,000 copies have gone out and its a difficult thing to keep the demand supplied. Many people want the debate since you were cowardly enough to run under the bed and not allow your side of the debate to be published.

So I am very glad to find your attitude as it is for its very satisfactory to me. You will hear from it from time to time, and may I suggest that you go and get a blanket injunction to the effect, "the Court hereby enjoins Frank Norris for even thinking about Foy Wallace."

Yours with the finest of good humor and profoundest pity,

J. Frank Norris


* * * *

It is hardly necessary to refer to the expressions in the above letter which show that Norris is not in the "good humor" he would have us believe. He would refrain from even implying that I have "the capacity of being a Christian." In that case, I should have been a Baptist preacher! So Norris turns "Primitive Baptist" and consigns me to the non-elect, reprobate class - I cannot even become a Christian, for I do not have the "capacity." In trying to be "witty" he has joined the Hardshells.

The following reply was made to his letter. August 4, 1944

Dear Sir:

This is to acknowledge and answer your latest communications.

The sole issue before you now, Mr. Norris, can be stated in one question! Will you or will you not make good with your challenge for another debate? Your bluff has been called. You will either debate with me or you will reveal yourself to the whole world as a radio-ranting blustering bravo who can put up a grandiloquent microphonic fight but who cringes with consternation when his challenges are accepted for a real debate on anything like even terms. My brethren have insisted from the very first that you would never debate with me again, and that all your bellicose bombast is but the pompous swaggering of a craven autocrat. It took one brief jab-the acceptance of your challenge-to puncture your puffed-up balloon and let all the air out. And, judging from reports from those who attended the interview with you, it was rather foul air.

Your reckless references to what our people think of my part of the former debate seem silly to the point of asininity in the light of the overwhelming endorsement they have given me to meet you again. Can you get the endorsement of the Baptist churches in Fort Worth to meet me again? Try it. Then try Dallas; then Oklahoma City.

You cannot laugh this off, Mr. Norris, as you indicate that you and your radio fans are attempting to do. We are all aware that you would like to do that, and turn the whole thing into a general guffaw, a sort of a circus with yourself as the chief clown. But we have heard that Charlie McCarthy laugh of yours before, and we know exactly how mechanical, hollow and forced it is in your efforts to cover up confusion and bewilderment. You came out like a roaring lion, never dreaming that your challenges would be accepted. They were accepted, and so quickly that it made your head swim. Now you would try to stir your risibles with a farcical laugh that turns to a stilted snickering, as you say: "Ha, ha, ha, I was only joking." But it is no such trivial matter with us, sir. Eternal issues are involved, and they are sacred to us. The souls of men are at stake, and you have deluded them long enough. We are in dead earnest about this matter. Your effort to escape the predicament which you created for yourself by your own challenges cannot obscure these facts. Nor can you maneuver around to shift your challenge to the churches of Christ from that - your challenge to the churches - to an entirely different thing, a thing you have yourself substituted, in which you pick your own opponent for a privately arranged kangaroo radio debate under your personal direction and domination wholly, having none of the endorsements you demanded nor any of your former requirements - that, I say is not even a good face-saving substitute and will not furnish you the way out. We can, and we will, see to it that the public are made familiar with the facts in the case, and they will not be deceived.

Your remarks about my alleged irascibility and your asserted amiability presume entirely too much on the memories of the thousands who heard the Fort Worth debate. Do you think they have forgotten the Martin Luther incident? You know, you read an excerpt from Martin Luther and pretended that you were reading it from Alexander Campbell. Do you think that the hearers will ever forget the confusion and frustrated anger you showed when your hand was called? Do you delude yourself into thinking that they have forgotten that apoplectic fury with which you flung your book to the floor, and screamed out your threat of "one hundred armed men" whom you had planted in the audience to spring forth at your beck and call? The audience that witnessed the violent eruption of your ungovernable temper in that scene knows very well, and they can never forget, who was mad with anger, Mr. Norris. And you need not undertake to tell us the kind of a humor you are in now, it is not necessary, we all know exactly what kind of a humor you are displaying and for the past ten years have kept displayed. The people are more discriminating then perhaps you have allowed.

All who heard the debate and have since seen that bumptious and libelous piece of literature which you published under the spurious title of the Norris-Wallace Debate have looked in vain in that collection of falsehoods for any reference to this occurrence, any many others like it, which you left out of your book. You have carefully culled and deleted them from the manuscripts, though they occurred in your own speeches. In view of all of this, it is easy to understand your natural aversion and objection to entering into any sort of contract that would bind you to engage in honorable debate.

Sir, you cannot juggle yourself out of this embarrassing situation with your jocosity nor camouflage it with your clownery. The issue that shall be held before the public, including your Baptist followers, is the issue of your own challenge. If you did not intend to debate, and to debate with me, then you have simply talked too much. You may browbeat and brag. You may arrange a radio comedy with J. L. Hines as a last resort to save your face by a substitute, and thus divert the pressure. You may whimper and whine and ensconce yourself behind the opposition of anonymous laymen to the debate. You may gather together again your motley assortment of "one hundred armed men" with which you threatened your guests in the Fort Worth debate. But all that will avail you nothing. The churches are demanding that you meet the issue now in three major cities: in Oklahoma City, my home, in Fort Worth, your home; and in your neighboring city of Dallas, where you peremptorily cancelled the debate which you had yourself demanded and contracted to hold after the Fort Worth debate in 1934. Now that these later challenges have been so crushingly accepted, your feverish, frenzied and frantic efforts to back out of it, and to fight a mere delaying action with J. L. Hines while you are on full retreat, can nevertheless leave no grounds for the simplest to wonder what you and your people actually think of the vaunted "victory" you have claimed for the former debate. Those of your, own people who heard the debate do not believe your claims, and the one redeeming thing with reference to the public is that they have a long time ago learned not to believe anything you say.

With reference to the restrictions concerning your mention of me over the radio programs you sponsor - doubtless it has irked you no little to be told that you cannot renew the campaign of slime and slander that you waged ten years ago. Since you regard that action on my part so "little" and have even offered it as another pseudo-excuse for not ever debating with me again, perhaps it would interest you to know that your own hand-picked opponent, whom you have styled a "high class, Christian gentleman," was among the ones who urged me to take that legal action against you, your radio attacks. This is what your "high class" hand-picked "Doctor Hines" said about you in 1935. Take a look at it.

"Dear Foy: Well, I suppose you have heard by this time what Norris said last Sunday about you. He said he got his information from Dr. George C. Brewer, of Memphis, Tennessee.' Now note he said George,' not Grover. That may be a loophole, but of course we know who he means. He said further that he was going to publish his part of that debate and copyright it so none could touch it in any way. If I were you I would forbid him in any way using my name over the radio, in the papers or in his published part of the debate." J. L. Hines, Feb. 11, 1935.

What do you think of that, Mr. Norris? If you proceed with your "radio debate" with him, what becomes of your excuse on that ground for not debating again with me. Never mind, we all understand that it is only an excuse, a straw of one at that, grabbed by a drowning man. Evidently, however, your calling Brother Jake "Doctor Hines" and treating him to those "delightful" and "delicious" Fort Worth "Chicken Dinners" to which the both of you have frequently referred, has turned him into "a high class, Christian gentleman" in your mutual admiration for yourselves. What a wonderful change has been wrought!

Your written threat to violate the restrictions in your references to us over K. F. J. Z. is noted, but the Federal Communications Commission may have something to say and to do about that matter.

As for restraining you by court order from even thinking of me - I am aware that no earthly power can remove me from your mind. Since 1934 I have been constantly on your mind and my name on your tongue. I have little doubt that you have even dreamed of me, and that you have experienced more than one nightmare as the memories of that 1934 Fort Worth debate came back to haunt you in your sleep. How galling and bitter those unforgettable recollections must be is apparent to all in the nearly hysterical efforts you are making to avoid another debate. But you will not be able to deceive the churches over the nation, nor the public, into thinking that the privately arranged affair between you and your self-labeled "Doctor Hines," as you call him, and as he has even called himself, is the answer to your challenges. Already they know better, and shall know it more and more.

Finally, sir, I have been perfectly aware, as have my brethren, that all your Mussolini-like blustering and beating of your breast and demanding another debate was exactly that - Mussolini-like. But your challenge was accepted; sir, and now you, like that other saw-dust Caesar have come to the end of your rope.

Very truly yours, Foy E. Wallace Jr.