Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 8, 1955

Woods-Porter Debate

W. Curtis Porter, Monette, Arkansas

(Editor's note: Many inquiries continue to be received relative to the proposed Woods-Porter debate in Indianapolis. We believe the following letter to Woods from Porter will bring our readers fairly well up to date. According to the present state of negotiations the Garfield Heights congregation insists on debating only the orphan home issue, and agrees to debate the other two issues only on condition that Belmont Avenue admit dissatisfaction with the work done by her representative in the orphan home issue! In spite of this childish attempt to avoid the discussion, however, we believe progress is being made; and it now seems there may be a possibility at least of the debate materializing.)

Washington, D.C. August 12, 1955 Mr. Guy N. Woods Memphis, Tennessee

Dear Brother Woods:

Your letter of August 6 reached me in Washington today. I certainly have not been reluctant to sign propositions for the Indianapolis debate. In fact, a good while ago, I sent signed propositions covering three issues, as Brother Totty had instructed me to do. But the propositions were completely ignored. The reluctance is somewhere else instead of on my part.

You state that you have not been asked by the Garfield Heights church to discuss any issue except the orphan home question. I know of nothing to the contrary. But that does not change the fact that Brother Totty sent word for me to submit propositions for debate on three issues. And to claim that such a request, as Brother Totty now claims, had no reference to my debate with you is too absurd for sensible people to believe. Why would he ask for me to write propositions for a debate that I was not even connected with? You also state that if I were negotiating with a digressive and he refused to discuss any issue except instrumental music, you think I would debate him on that alone. And, Brother Woods, if you were negotiating with a digressive, and he insisted on debating other issues besides instrumental music, I am of the opinion that you would accommodate him. Did you not realize that such reasoning could work in two directions ?

You ask me to submit propositions on the orphan home question that would indicate my position. This I have done a number of times already, but every effort I have made along this line has been virtually ignored. I have not refused to affirm that such is sinful, but submitted what I believed to be a proposition that better stated the matter.

You tell me that "the impression is widespread" that I "will not complete arrangements on the orphan home question because" I "do not have well defined convictions on this matter." Regardless of how "widespread" it may be, the "impression" is wrong. My "convictions" on the institutional orphan home question were "well defined" a long time before the matter was ever discussed in the pages of the Guardian just as yours were a few years ago before you changed to defend that which once you opposed. And I am not "committed to hobbies," of the Guardian or of any other publication, any more than youwere when you opposed institutional orphan homes. Were you a "hobby rider" at that time ? And your reference to "the effort to divide the church that is being made by the Guardian" is a misrepresentation. The Guardian is seeking to unite the church upon scriptural grounds, just as you were when you opposed institutional orphan homes. When you did that you were not "making an effort to divide the church," were you? But those who are clamoring for a yellow tag of quarantine to disfellowship all who will not endorse their brotherhood projects are the ones who are seeking to complete a division in the church.

You also say that an "identification" of myself with the movement being carried on by the Guardian "can only result in the virtual eclipse" of my "great abilities in the defense of the truth." I know that some feel that way about it, but I would rather be right than to be popular, and if my abilities, whether great or small, must go into "virtual eclipse" because of my stand upon scriptural grounds, I shall accept the consequences without complaint. But I am not disturbed greatly about such being the only possible result. Rather, my abilities, if I have any, may be used to help stem the tide of digression that is sweeping the church along the road toward apostasy — the same road along which it was swept a hundred years ago. And I have a number of calls even now to defend the truth in debate over a wide section of the United States, even though brethren know where I stand on the problems before the church today. The "virtual eclipse" may not be as near as you think.

I am perfectly willing to meet you in the Indianapolis debate on the orphan home issue only if the Belmont Avenue church decides to do so; and I shall be glad to suggest to them that we complete arrangements on that issue only if you brethren will remove one restriction you have placed upon the matter. According to the demands of the Garfield Heights church, if such a discussion is held on this issue alone, then Belmont Avenue could never ask for a discussion of the other issues unless she admits that she is dissatisfied with the debate on orphan homes. Get a statement from the Garfield Heights church and Brother Totty that such restrictions are removed, and I will suggest that we debate only the orphan home question. And furthermore, I will accept the last set of propositions Brother Totty sent — the ones taken from Brother Holt's bulletin. Now, the next move is yours. So let me hear from you.

Brotherly, W. Curtis Porter