Review Of The Padfield-Deaver

Debate On Limited Benevolence

by Harry L. Lewis

This debate, in my opinion, will be recognized as a water shed debate on this subject. The propositions were: "The Scriptures teach that a local church may grant benevolent aid to alien sinners." Mac Deaver affirmed that this is a true statement. Mac's father, Roy Deaver, LL.D., Ph.D., Th.D, served as his moderator. This became very interesting before the debate was over, for Roy has written rather extensively on the idea of Bible authority and how to establish it. The second proposition was as follows: "The Scriptures teach that the exclusive New Testament pattern for the benevolent work of the local church from its treasury is the relief of needy saints." David Padfield affirmed that this is a true statement.

Deaver started the debate in the affirmative of his proposition.

Mac Deaver made four major arguments to prove his proposition. He said "All things that a Christian can do, on the peculiar grounds that he is a Christian, may also be done by the church." Of course, the argument hinged on the words on the peculiar grounds that he is a Christian. The first question David Padfield asked brother Deaver was, Would it be scriptural for the Schaumburg Church of Christ to change its name to the Schaumburg Christian Church? His answer was, YES! David showed that this door, once opened, cannot be closed.

Brother Padfield began to show that Mac Deaver had made a law for God since his first argument could not be found in the Scriptures.

Brother Padfield showed that as per Romans 14 the Christian could keep days unto the Lord. Deaver said the church could too -- Wednesday Bible study, meetings, debates, etc. David showed that these acts on the part of the Christian showed the strong Christian and not the weak one as the day keeper of Romans 14 did. Mac Deaver did not fully recover from this stand since David Padfield specifically asked about Christmas, Easter, Ash Wednesday, and the diet rules which go along with such observance of days.

Brother Deaver claimed that James 1:27 showed something did on the peculiar grounds that they were Christians. David showed that religion is an individual activity and is not practiced by the church as such. The act of practicing religion is done on the peculiar grounds that we are Christians, but it is something the church does not and cannot do!

David Padfield began early to show that Mac and Roy Deaver disagreed on many of these things which could be clearly seen by the writings of Roy Deaver. They flipped and flopped, but never did even agree that they disagreed on anything which had been covered. David agreed with Roy Deaver on every quote which he used. It was obvious that Mac did not!

Brother Padfield asked Mac Deaver to define the word church when he used it. Mac Deaver replied that it made no difference what he meant by the word church. If he used church to refer to the church universal, regional, ethnic, local -- it made no difference he said. Here is an important point in this debate. For three decades these liberal brethren have been trying to activate the church universal, and they have denied it. Now they accept the fact even as they accept the name Christian Church as scriptural.

Now there is evidence that these brethren are willing to activate the universal, regional, or ethnic church in these benevolent schemes.

Deaver's argument number two was that if the individual Christian could help the alien sinner as an individual, but the church could not do so; then the individual could practice a higher ethic than the church could. Mac called this his Basic argument number two. His syllogism went like this: "If Christian 'A' can benevolently help non-saint 'Z' allegedly because 'A' is a Christian, but if it is a sin for Christians 'B, C, D, etc.' (rest of the congregation) to cooperate in assisting non-saint 'Z' then, Christian 'A' authorization to render aid to non-saint 'Z' must be for some reason other than he is a Christian." David seemed to think the word basic attached to this syllogism was a misnomer.

debate on benevolence mac deaverIn refuting Deaver's law David made the point about the eating of meat and keeping of days of Romans 14 that the individual could do these unto the Lord and it was not binding on others. If, however, the church did them the action would be bound, for none could assemble without having a part in what was done in that assembly. A case in point would be the use of instrumental music.

Brother Padfield also showed again from Luke 6:27ff that Deaver's use of Matthew 5:43-48 was not even acceptable to him as a practice of the church. The first night of the debate ended with Deaver's attitude much different than it had been in other debates he had been involved in on this subject.

On the second night Deaver introduced his third basic argument: His claim was from Matthew 5:44-48 again and was that the church showed sonship in caring for the needy among the aliens. He asked the question, Can the church show sonship? He asked for a true or false answer. He contended again for the name Christian Church being attached to the New Testament church. He spent much time in this speech talking about the higher ethic. He said if the church does not care for the alien sinner then it is not like God, not composed of faithful children, and not like Christ.

David Padfield responded to Mac Deaver on Tuesday after the first speech by pointing out that Mac Deaver was willing to follow through with his line of reasonings. He was willing for the church to wear the name Christian Church, willing to teach that this Christian Church could keep holy days, could feed a false teacher, lend to a false teacher, care for those who had been withdrawn from, and feed a man too lazy to work on some occasions. David asked him to give us an illustration, but he did not get around to it. David also said Mac Deaver had asked 34 true or false questions, and they were designed to cloud the issue. Many of them were obviously identified with the fallacy of the complex question. This kind of question is specifically designed to muddy the water. Some illustrations of such might be: Have you given up your evil ways? Did you hide the evidence against you? Did you give your stolen money away? Do you want to be a good boy or go to bed? Are you for the Republicans and prosperity? Are you for the Democrats and higher taxes? Are you an American, redneck radical? Are you one of those unthinking conservatives? The last night of the debate Mac Deaver read and commented on well over fifty of this sort of question. David asked if Mac was sick the day they taught about complex question in logic class.

Mac Deaver switched to the negative the whole second speech of the second night. He spent much time on James 1:27 and pure and undefiled religion as he supposes it is practiced by the church universal, local, district, ethnic, etc. It was in this second speech that Roy Deaver took the floor as his son, Mac, tried to pull his coat-tails to get him to sit down. David had asked if the new edition of Roy's book would still have a quote in it which disagreed with what his son Mac was teaching on the name Christian Church. He called out in a loud voice, "It stays in the book!"

So ended Mac Deaver's affirmative.

On Thursday evening David Padfield was in the affirmative, and began to show the Bible pattern in benevolence. Roy Deaver, in his books on the pattern was quoted several times by brother Padfield. Remember, Roy Deaver served as Mac's moderator. David used a rather standard chart with several passages on it (Acts 2:44,45; 4:32-35; 6:1-4; 11:27-30; Romans 15:25, 26; 1 Corinthians 16:1,2; 2 Corinthians 8:4; 9:1-13; 1 Timothy 5:3-16). He stressed the fact that when the church and care for the needy are mentioned together; saints were always the recipients of the benevolence.

David asked brother Deaver to add other passages to this list if he thinks there are some which authorize the local church to take from its treasury and help alien sinners.

Deaver's first negative consisted of an agreement with most everything brother Padfield had said, but insisted that David's implication that saints were the only ones helped by the New Testament church was a contradiction of other passages. He said James 1:27 ought to have been on David's chart, for the church is certainly in it. He did not, however, ever find it in James 1:27. Deaver contended for entertainment in the church, and used Jesus' feeding of the 5000 to prove it. He said Jesus entertained the 5000! He also said Galatians 6:10 and Matthew 5:44-48 ought to be on David's chart also.

As Mac tried to find Bible authority for his practice, he said Matthew 5:44-48 was a direct statement (command) for the church to really care for the needs of the alien sinner! Can you believe that? Does this verse really teach that, and is this benevolence then an evangelistic tool to be used by the local church?

In David Padfield's second affirmative he asked Mac Deaver for the passage which taught that benevolence is an evangelistic tool for the church. He also asked for the source of Mac's authority to teach that the church as such practiced pure and undefiled religion.

Padfield pointed out at this time that this debate by Mac Deaver and his father was just a smoke screen to mask the plea for hospitals, day care centers, entertainment centers, soup kitchens all for evangelism. Last of all David went to the three passages Mac Deaver brought up as teaching church benevolence to alien sinners. He read them and asked if the church was there in those passages.

Deaver's second negative contained a question about whether a person could feed another without entertaining them. He used Luke 10:30-37 for scriptural support for his practice. He said feeding sinners is a work of evangelism! He said again that Matthew 5:44ff was a direct statement to the church to care for alien sinners who are needy. He also said there were other passages which, by implication, taught the same thing; but he gave none of them at this time.

David's third affirmative included the statement that his obligation was to show the pattern for the church, out of its resources, to feed the alien sinner in need. He asked what the good Samaritan had to do with the work of the church. Deaver had claimed that he opposed the use of entertainment in its usual sense. David pointed out that the same line of reasoning Deaver was using to bring in benevolence to alien sinners, could be used just as well to bring in the very things Deaver claimed he was fighting.

Padfield asked for the meaning of "good." Is a thing good just because Mac Deaver thinks it is good? Padfield indicated that 2 Timothy 3:16,17 showed that God thinks what is authorized in his word is good and that word ought to be consulted when looking for a good work. Mac Deaver and his father say the Church of Christ is good! They say the Church of Christ family life center is good! Again, the Church of Christ soup kitchen is good! David asked, On what grounds good entertainment is rejected? On what grounds are good seminars on how to make money are rejected? On what grounds are good exercise rooms rejected? Why would these not be good evangelism as well as what Mac approves?

Mac Deaver's last negative on Thursday consisted of ridicule of the question David asked about the good Samaritan. Mac thinks it is obvious that the good Samaritan story was given to teach the church how to carry out its benevolence. He called attention to John 20:30-31 and said we ought to do any sign which showed we are the children of God. That is supposed to show the church ought to care for the alien sinner who is in need. Deaver said he practiced limited benevolence, but he did not practice it from a limited pattern of benevolence. I think that means there is no pattern in benevolence. If that is not what it means? I do not know what he meant by it. About here he went back to the good Samaritan and poked fun at the idea that the church cannot be a good neighbor. He also went back to James 1:27. Brethren, these fellows go to this passage for purely emotional reasons. They know the church is not in this passage. They know the church is not in Galatians 6:10! They know the church is not in 2 Corinthians 9:13. They try to act like the church is in these passages, but they know all the time it is not there.

Mac Deaver contended for congregational membership in the universal church in trying to authorize universal church benevolence. The church is to do it, the local church is a member of the universal church, therefore, the universal church is to practice James 1:27 -- pure and undefiled religion.

On the last night of the debate David began to show church and individual distinctions. Matthew 18:15ff was used to show this distinction. Acts 5:1-11 was used to show the difference between the individual and the church. David finished the speech with the story of David and Goliath. He showed he had really used only one rock and killed the giant. That rock was Matthew 18:15ff. The implication was, I have four more smooth rocks in my bag!

Deaver began here to read a total of over fifty true or false questions. Nearly every single one of these questions was designed to entrap the person who answers.

David's second affirmative on this, the last night was a speech on 1 Timothy 5:1-16. He showed that more than care of the needy alien sinner was under discussion in this passage since this person was to be honored as well as helped.

This second speech of Friday night was Mac Deaver's busiest speech. It seemed he was in a hurry to get it all in, (he referred to 28 passages) and especially the last passage he used -- 2 Corinthians 9:13. He had a big chart on this passage, and David thought he was going to spend a good bit of his last speech on this argument.

David, in his very last speech poked fun at Mac Deaver for waiting until the last 2 minutes 46 seconds to come to 2 Corinthians 9:13. David spent nearly his whole speech dealing with all the arguments used on this passage. He taught the truth on this passage, and I feel sure it caused Mac Deaver to change his whole plan for his last speech.

Mac Deaver used his entire last speech to continue with his list of more than fifty true or false questions which were designed to muddy the water on this subject. I do not think Mac Deaver will be back to Northern Illinois. One person who was a member of the liberal church said he would not be asked to come back because he did not read from the Bible. There is a reason for that. There is not one passage of Scripture which teaches Mac Deaver's doctrine on benevolence.

Faith And Facts Quarterly, October 1994

Debate On Church Benevolence