The West Grove Debate
West Grove, Davis County, Iowa

Elder Robert W. Thompson, Primitive Baptist, versus Elder G. B. Hancock, Campbellite

A review of the debate by Elder W. N. Tharp, published in the "Primitive Monitor," April 15, 1891, pp. 364-381, and May 1, 1891, pp. 410-423. A brief review by Elder Isaac Sawin appeared in the same publication, August 1, 1891, p. 695.

Elder Hancock's Affirmative which lasted four and one half days.

A public oral discussion was held at West Grove, Iowa, commencing Feb. 10, 1891, between Elder G. B. Hancock, Campbellite, and Elder R. W. Thompson, Primitive Baptist. The discussion continued four hours each day for seven days. I will give some of the most important matters concerning the debate. Whatever errors, if any, may occur, I trust will be considered only as such, and not as an effort to show either party to a disadvantage.

Elder Hancock opened the discussion, affirming that the church of which he was a member was the church of Christ, set up and established by him, and recognized by his apostles. He insisted on four days to affirm his proposition, which was granted, but at the close of the fourth day he asked for more time, and he was given another day. His first speech indicated that he had a line of argument written down, which would be necessary for him to follow in order to establish his theory. In fact the first day and a half developed but little of a controversial character. It seemed to be a kind of preface to the main points in dispute. He said that the identity of the church of Christ depended upon its origin, its foundation, its name, its doctrine, and its practice. He spoke of the two covenants, claiming that the old covenant was a type of the new, and that the Sinaitic covenant was abolished in order to the establishing of the new. He quoted Gen. 22:18 to prove that it was because of Abraham's obedience God had made his covenant with him. He quoted Exodus 7 and spoke at length of the pascal lamb; how God had blessed the seed of Abraham, sending them forth out of the land of Egypt, while he smote Egypt with a curse. He said that this lamb prefigured Christ who was slain for the sins of the world. He said that the church was a building; that its foundation was Christ; I. Cor. 3:9, Eph. 2:19,20; and that Christ was the head of the church in the sense that he was its founder; just as Mohammed is the head of Mohammedism. Matt. 16:13-19.

Elder Thompson's speeches the first day and a half were an effort to bring Elder Hancock to the points of difference. He told him that he had now occupied a day and a half, and had done nothing toward establishing the identity of his church. He said he would agree with the gentleman that the identity of the church largely depended on its origin, its foundation, its doctrine, and its practice; but since his opponent thought that the name was also essential, he should have given us the name of his church; that no one could know from his speeches what church he belonged to. He said the gentleman would find that the covenant question would be much in his way during the entire debate; that the choosing of Abraham, Gen. 12:1-3, and the establishing of the covenant with him, Gen. 15:18, clearly taught the doctrine of election. He insisted that Elder Hancock should tell what it was that Abraham did; what condition he complied with, that brought him into covenant relation with God. He showed that Gen. 22:18 had reference to the offering of Isaac, and not to the conditions on which God would make his covenant with him. He asked why God chose Abraham, taking him from among his kindred, and why did he not take them all; and why did he not offer the Chaldeans a chance also. He spoke of the pascal lamb, saying that as in the type, so also in the anti-type, a definite and specific people were represented. That the nations with which Israel were surrounded had no paschal lamb, and he called on Elder Hancock for one text to sustain his assertion that Christ was slain for the sins of all men. He commented on Matt. 16:19, saying that this church was not built by men, and that Elder Hancock could not say so much for his church; that the church of Christ was to stand forever. Daniel 2:44.

Replying, Elder Hancock said that the name of his church was given in his proposition, "the church of Christ" and that the conditions on which persons could get into it were given in the commission; Mark 16:15,16. He said that the calling of Abraham was unconditional, but that the blessings were conditional. To prove that Christ died for all men he quoted I. John 3:2; Heb. 2:9, and Heb. 10:19. He argued that the terms church and kingdom were synonymous and that the church or kingdom was set up on the day of Pentecost, and that the fundamentals of religion did not exist until then. He held that the apostles were only apostles elect until Pentecost, just as the President of the United States is the President elect, until he is indued with the oath and power of his office. He laid no claim to church succession, but said that the seed of the kingdom, the word, or the truth, was buried in the Alexandrian school, about the year 180, and remained buried until certain men had gone back over the heads of centuries and reproduced it. He compared the seed of the kingdom to a certain kind of wheat that had been buried in an Egyptian tomb for thousands of years, during which time that kind of wheat became extinct; but a certain man afterward finding the buried grain, planted it, and thereby reproduced the same kind of wheat. So he said, had the founders of his church dug up the seed of the kingdom, and reproduced the apostolic church. He spoke of the apostasy of national Israel, and quoted Daniel 7:25-28; Amos 8:12; Rev. 13:7; to prove the apostasy of the church, and the complete extermination of a Christian congregation during the dark ages. He said that any number of persons, organizing upon the Scriptures alone, would be an apostolic church. He challenged Elder Thompson to show a position that was new in the church these men had organized.

Elder Thompson said that the church to which Elder Hancock belonged was too young to be the church of Christ; that it was only about sixty-four years old; and then it lacked the Bible characteristics to entitle it to that name. He objected to it on the ground that they held the atonement to be effectual only so far as the sinner makes it be, by complying with certain conditions, which makes salvation consequent upon the work of man. He said salvation was the work of Christ, quoting Matt. 1:21 and 20:28; Rom. 5:10,11; Col. 1:14,20; Titus, 2:14; Heb. 10:14; I. Pet. 2:24. He asked what about John's ministry, and that of Christ and his apostles if the essentials of religion did not exist until Pentecost. He told Elder Hancock that when he took the position that the seed of the kingdom was buried for centuries, he virtually admitted that his church was not the church of Christ. He asked where the church was the should stand forever, that the gates of hell should not prevail against, while the seed of the kingdom was buried for sixteen hundred years; and what became of the people during all that time; and if that was God's method of saving sinners. That if so, he must have saved them without baptism. He said he hoped that Elder Hancock would tell us who these men were that had gone back over the heads of the centuries, and found the seed of the kingdom. He spoke of Heb. 2:9 and 10:10; I. John 2:2, saying that these quotations had direct reference to the children given to Christ; and quoted Hebrews 2:13, as proof. He said he knew what the Bible said on the subject of the atonement, but that he would like for Elder Hancock to take a position that could be readily understood by all present. He asked for a direct answer in his next speech. In answer to what had been said of the apostasy of Israel and the church, he said that in Egypt, in the wilderness, or by the waters of Babylon, Israel was God's covenant people; and just so with spiritual Israel; dwell where they might, call them by what name you will, they are his people, his church. He said it was a doctrine of the Campbellite church, that the unregenerate were capable of receiving the truth, coming to God, and complying with conditions by which they could be saved, independent of any influence distinct from, and above the gospel, and that this was something new. He quoted John 3:6; Eph. 2:1; Rom. 8:7,8; I. Cor. 2:14; John 8:43.

Elder Hancock answered, quoting Galatians 3:6,7; Rom. 3:26 and 6:17; Acts 6:7 and 18:8, to prove church identity. He said Elder Thompson's doctrine made God a cruel tyrant, sending persons to torment just because he had so decreed. To prove universal atonement he quoted Titus 2:2; and said Christ died for every man. He said the commission, Mark 16:16, was an amnesty proclamation, and all who would comply with its terms could have pardon; that faith, repentance, and baptism are the conditions of salvation, and that there was but one article of faith and that was belief; John 20:31,31. He said that baptism was the completion of regeneration, the birth, and quoted John 3:5; Gal. 3:27. He said that faith, repentance, and baptism were three grand postulates in the scheme of salvation, and that they were the law of induction into the kingdom; that the remedial system was designed for salvation, that every condition was a salvation, that citizenship was essential to salvation, that entering into Christ was essential to salvation, that doing the will of God was essential to salvation, and that baptism was doing the will of God, therefore baptism was essential to salvation. He said to be in the church or kingdom of Christ was to be in Christ. He quoted I. Cor. 12:12,13; Eph. 5:26; I. Pet. 3:21; Heb. 10:22; Tit. 3:4-6. He said the name of his church was Christ's church, and they were called disciples, brethren, saints, and Christians. He said we were children of God by faith in Christ and that those baptized into Christ are Abraham's seed, and quoted, "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature." He referred to the parable of the sower, Luke 8, to prove the freedom of the will. He compared the ground, good, better, best, and said that according to his opponent's theory, God prepared the ground, but made some better than the other. He said he would surrender the question if one text could be given to prove that man can do nothing in point of his salvation. He quoted Ezek. 18:31,32, and other similar texts to show that salvation was based on the freedom of the will in choosing. He asked Elder Thompson what he would tell the sinner; and said he could tell them nothing. He said that Elder Thompson's position is, that man cannot move from where he is, because God has willed that he shall be there, and quoted Acts 6:7: "And a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith." He said the conditions between repentance and pardon are given in the commission three times, verbatim et literatum.

Elder Thompson said that the scriptures quoted identified the church, but not the church to which Elder Hancock belonged. That if they which are of faith are the children of Abraham, and God would justify the heathen through faith, then it was not by water baptism. He said it was the doctrine of the Campbellite church that a man may have repentance and faith, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and still be an unpardoned criminal before God, and without baptism in water he would be forever lost. He then quoted twenty-nine texts showing how persons were justified by faith, by grace, and in believing, without water baptism. Rom. 3:22-30; Gal. 2:16; John 3:16; Eph. 2:8-10; Acts 10:43; John 3:14-18, 36th verse, etc. He quoted ten texts to show that pardon was sealed by the blood of Christ; Heb. 9:12, 10:10-14; 9:28; I. Pet. 2:24, 3:19; Col. 1:21,22; Gal. 1:13; Isa. 53:5; Rom. 6:22. He said Campbell was the founder of Elder Hancock's church, and he then read from Hassell's Church History, pp. 607,608: "Thomas Campbell, an ordained minister in the Seceder church of Scotland, left Ireland in 1807, and came to Western Pennsylvania; his son, Alexander Campbell, a licentiate minister in the same church, followed his father in 1809. The theological views of the Campbells became altered and liberalized, and were regarded by many as both novel and objectionable; hence they and the few who at first sided with them formed an isolated congregation, called the Christian Association, at Brush Run, Washington County, Pennsylvania, in 1811. Their special plea was the restoration of original apostolic Christianity, and the union of all Christians, with the Bible as the only rule of faith and practice. Becoming satisfied that immersion was the only scriptural baptism, both father and son, and a majority of their members, were immersed, in 1812, by Elder Loos, a Baptist minister. Alexander was thenceforth the leader of the movement. In 1812 the Brush Run church joined the Redstone Baptist Association, and in 1823 the Mahoning Baptist Association. In 1827 the Baptist churches withdrew fellowship from the followers of Alexander Campbell, and the latter were then constituted into a separate body that have called themselves Disciples of Christ, but generally have been known as Campbellites. He told Elder Hancock that these were the men that had found the buried seed of the kingdom, and that they found it in a Baptist church. He said a man in the kingdom of Satan could not baptize a man into the kingdom of Christ; and hence Campbell desired to be baptized by a Baptist. He said that Elder Hancock ought not to be ashamed of the name of his church.

He asked Elder Hancock to name the conditions by which we might get into the new covenant: Hebrews 8:10-12. That since he said Christ died for all men, he would ask if he died for all that were destroyed in the time of the flood, and also for the wicked of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that were destroyed by fire from heaven, and give the reason for his dying for any who had died in their sins previous to his coming and crucifixion on the cross. He told Elder Hancock to prove that the pardon of sinners was obtained by their obedience to an amnesty proclamation, by works, even though it be baptism. He said faith was the gift of God, a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Eph. 2:8; Acts 15:9; Gal. 5:22; Heb. 12:2, and could not be the act of the creature; for without faith no man could please God. He told him that since he claimed free volition of the will, he would ask him to demonstrate the truth of his position, by believing the doctrine he was advocating. He held that baptism was never used in the Scriptures as a figure of a birth, but of a burial and resurrection; Rom. 6:3-11. He said according to Elder Hancock, Alexander Campbell was in the kingdom of Satan until baptized by Elder Loos into the kingdom of Christ. He wanted to know if a man out of Christ could be saved, and if all were not in the kingdom of Satan who were out of the kingdom of Christ.

Elder Hancock spoke of the old covenant, Gen. 17:1-9; arguing that it was a type of the new covenant, and that there was but one way to obtain pardon and that was by obedience, and that obedience was by the free volition of the will, and that this was the distinction between man and the lower animals, and if he did not possess freedom of will he was no better than they. He said man would be damned if he would not believe the truth. He said he could not believe Elder Thompson's doctrine, because it was not the truth. He said the commission was an offer of salvation to all who would accept it, and quoted Gal. 3:27, arguing that it taught water baptism and showed how we got into Christ. He illustrated the law or pardon by saying it was like the Governor of the State of Missouri offering pardon to a criminal on the condition that he would cross the Missouri River at a certain point. He said that Campbell did not discover the buried seed of the kingdom; that he was a school-boy in Scotland at the time it was discovered. He said Campbell was baptized by Elder Loos, a Baptist minister, but without relating an experience such as Baptists usually require, and without becoming a member of the Baptist church. He said he himself had once belonged to the Old Baptists, and spoke in derision of impressions and Christian experience.

He spoke of John 3:5, saying, that as the Israelites were born of the sea and the cloud, I. Cor. 10:1,2, so are we born of the water in baptism; Acts 2:38. He said that unbaptized persons were out of Christ and his kingdom and were not Christians; Rom. 5:5; Gal. 4:6. He compared the amnesty proclamation, of which he had before spoken, to a golden arch which a certain king erected, and offered pardon to every rebel against his government that would pass under it. He said that faith and belief were synonymous, and the grounds of acceptance with God is to believe what he says and do what he commands; I. Tim. 2:3,4; that regeneration is the effect of the gospel producing belief; Acts 16:29-33 and 22:16, and that we had as well pray for biscuits ready baked as to pray for salvation without our obedience to the law of Christ's kingdom. He said that conditional grace and an ordinance of God's appointment stood between repentance and remission of sins; Mark 1:4; Luke 8:30. He said he would answer Elder Thompson, that a man can not be saved out of the kingdom but that God granted all men the privilege of repentance. He quoted Rom. 3:27, to show that the faith by which we were saved is a rule of action; and said that there was no law of pardon except that given in the commission. Speaking of those who lived before Christ, he said that they were saved by faith; that their sins were rolled forward through time until they fell on the Savior. He spoke of the salvation of Noah as a figure of baptism. He held that his church was apostolic in that they had weekly meetings, and each time observed the communion, Acts 20:7.

Elder Thompson said he would give the text proving that man could do nothing in point of his eternal salvation, and quoted, "So then they that are in the flesh can not please God." Rom. 8:8; I. Cor. 2:14; Matt. 12:34,35, 7:16,17; Jer. 13:29; John 6:44. He said that repentance is pleasing to God; belief is pleasing to God; to think right is pleasing to God; to love that which is holy is pleasing to God; to pray is pleasing to God; but a man in the flesh could do none of these things, according to these scriptures. He said our salvation was by grace and not of works: Eph. 2:8-10; II. Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5. He said the church in its organic form was set up on the day of Pentecost, but that the kingdom of Christ was not; John 18:36; Luke 16:16. Speaking of the parable he said that it clearly taught that the preaching of the gospel, sowing the seed, did not change the ground, was of no avail until God prepared his heart; and that there was no better and best ground, but that the good ground only was prepared, and it alone brought forth the fruit. He said that man himself was accountable for his sins and his inability, and that God did not decree the sins of men. He asked Elder Hancock if he thought that God had taken a special and definite people to represent the whole, entire race of mankind, and insisted that there must be conformity between type and anti-type. He said that until quickened by the Holy Spirit, the sinner had neither will nor power to repent nor believe; Col. 2:11-14. He said that his respondent said that man would be lost because he rejected the gospel, but that the Bible taught that he would be lost because he was a sinner. He asked Elder Hancock if he would say that God was a wretched tyrant for choosing Abraham, or in choosing Jacob and passing by Esau; that Paul thought very differently when he said, "Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid." Rom. 9:11-14.

He still insisted that Elder Hancock tell where the church was for 1600 years, while the seed of the kingdom was buried, and what became of the people during all that time. He said to make water baptism essential to eternal salvation, was to say that no unbaptized person could be saved, and that shut out the pedobaptists, heathen, feeble minded, and infants out of heaven. Yet, he said, this church will commune with pedobaptists, and at the same time they say they are in the kingdom of Satan; and this is anti-apostolic. Hence they are not the church of Christ. He said he objected to this church on account of their Sunday schools, hired ministry, festivals, and dramatic entertainments; that there was neither precept nor example for them in the Bible. He asked him to find just one text showing that the gospel saved the man dead in sin; that ever caused such person to believe in Christ; and quoted John 6:44,65;, and 14:17; Heb. 4:2; I. John 4:4,6; Rom. 1:16,17; I. Cor. 1:18-24; and said the gospel saves none but the believer. He said his respondent had admitted that he could not believe the Baptist doctrine; and he could not believe theirs; hence it was evident to all that we do not exercise freedom of will in believing, but that the balances go up or down in spite of us, and that he only believes who is circumcised in heart, not in head; Rom. 2:28,29. He told Elder Hancock to reconcile Acts 19:27; Rev. 13:3; Acts 2:17, and 3:9; with his use of the terms "all men," and "the whole world." He said Elder Hancock's illustration of the criminal crossing the Missouri river, and of the rebels passing under the golden arch, taught that men could get into heaven with their guilt and sins upon them. He said pardon existed as a fact before it was made known to the one pardoned. He asked how those are to be saved who have never heard this amnesty proclamation, the heathen, for instance. He said he told sinners just what the apostles told them; that the answer always depended on the character of the person addressed; that the Pentecostian's and the jailer's cries were not the inquiry of a dead sinner, but of a quickened, penitent child of God, one born of God; John 4:7, and 5:1; born, too, before they can be gotten into the water. John 1:17,18.

At the close of this session, Elder Hancock, his moderator, and a number of his brethren gave Elder Thompson their hands, endorsing what he had said about Sunday Schools, etc.

Elder Hancock read from the Philadelphia confession of faith, to prove that Baptists believe God predestinated sin. He said that his opponent had left Baptist grounds when he said that Rom. 6:3; I. Cor. 12:23; Eph. 5:26; Gal. 3:27; Titus 3:5; Heb. 10:22; were Spirit baptism: and read what Dr. Carson, a Missionary Baptist said on the subject. He said that to be begotten of God was to believe; James 1:18; I. Cor. 4:15; and that the birth was baptism; that born of God; I. John 4:1, and 5:1,4; was an error in the translation, and should read, Begotten of God; that God was a Father, and not a mother; but Elder Thompson's theory had the child born and then begotten. He said the Spirit was not given until after baptism; that it was promised only to Christians; John 16:7. He said, that men would be damned for their sins was true, but that the truth makes them free from sin. Concerning the heathen, he said they are not amenable; where there is no law there is no transgression, and that God required no impossibilities, and would make all necessary allowance. He said no infant had sin. He said that baptism was the marriage ceremony, and a part of faith, and not a good work; for if so, then it would have to be repeated every time we worship God; that Elder Thompson's theory taught free-lovism. He said man could not be saved without doing something; Acts 16:25-33, 2:38; Rom. 6:16,17. He quoted Rom. 6:3, and said that to be baptized into the death of Christ was to be baptized in water, and that our obedience to the rule or command made us dead to sin and alive to God. He denied being a hired minister, and said he had never made a contract to preach for a salary, but accepted what was given him as a free-will offering. He said that no person had a right to the communion except they have been baptized, but they must be their own judge; that the church had no right to judge who should eat. He claimed there were no Baptists until the first part of the seventeenth century. That we had not a ray of light, only as we have it from the word of God; that where faith, repentance, or baptism are spoken of in the Scriptures, all are included. He said that the Holy Spirit dwelt in Christ, and that it only dwelt in the Christian by his being connected with Christ, and that baptism connects us with him; John 7:38,39. Speaking of the written word, he used it as a synonym for the Spirit. He said that Romans 8:8, meant that those who did the works of the flesh were the ones who are in the flesh, and quoted Gal. 5:19-21. Speaking of repentance, he said that God commands all men everywhere to repent; Acts 17:30. He asked Elder Thompson to give one instance of a heathen believing until the gospel had been preached to him.

Elder Thompson said that Elder Hancock had so far failed to tell us where the church was while the seed of the kingdom remained buried; that he had but one more speech on this proposition, and he would like if he would tell us. He said that according to Elder Hancock's admission, Campbell and himself got into the kingdom of Christ by joining an Old Baptist church, and although he had made fun of a Christian experience, he had to tell one before he was received. He quoted to prove that God prepares the heart, Prov. 16:1,2; I. Cor. 2:12; Matt. 11:25-27; Matt. 13:11; Rom. 8:15,16; John 8:36; John 17:2; Ii. Cor. 3:17; John 5:10,20; John 6:63; Ezek. 11:19,20. Referring to Acts 2:38, he said they were not commanded to repent in the name of Christ; only to be baptized in his name, for or because of the remission of their sins. That to be baptized in the name of Christ is to be baptized, depending, confiding, trusting in Christ, and not trusting in baptism to cleanse from sin; that Acts 22:16, taught the same; as proof he quoted Mark 1:40-44. To prove the birth before gospel baptism, and before and without the aid of the preaching of the gospel, he quoted Acts 10:1-5, and verses 15, 44-48; 16:14. He said love is the motive of all acceptable service to God, and that love is of God; Rom. 5:5; that faith is the gift of God; Gal. 5:22; Heb. 12:2. He said according to Elder Hancock's own position he had the child born before it was begotten; that in John 3:5, born of water was first, and of the Spirit was last.

He said that the reference to Ezek. 18:32, and all similar texts, were spoken to Israel respecting natural life, and could not be applied to the unregenerate sinner. He read from the Philadelphia confession of faith to prove that it did not teach that God decreed sin. He said if the truth alone quickens the dead, why is it not effectual in every instance where preached? He said his respondent was not satisfied with our present translation of the Bible, but if he were translated once by the Spirit, the Bible would read right to him. He said Elder Hancock had changed his position, when he said that God would make all necessary allowance for the heathen, and that made his position on baptism wrong; that it could not now be essential to salvation, for that which is essential is indispensable; that if we are dead to the law by the body of Christ, then it can not be by baptism. He said that I. Peter 3:21 taught that baptism was a figure of our salvation by the resurrection of Christ. He said he was glad to see one man of Elder Hancock's denomination who was not a hireling; that it was not a common thing. He said that a man who could speak in derision of a Christian experience, was either blinded by the god of this world, or in the gall of bitterness; he then dwelt at length on the evidences of the Christian's hope in Christ.

Their closing speeches were little more than a recapitulation of what had been discussed, except that Elder Hancock stated that he believed in Sunday schools for the reading of the Bible only. Elder Thompson's affirmative will appear in the next issue of the MONITOR.


Elder Thompson's Affirmative which lasted two days.

Having concluded the argument on the first proposition Saturday evening, it was agreed to adjourn until 10 o'clock on Monday. Before the hour had arrived for the discussion to begin, the house was filled with anxious auditors, eager to catch each word as it fell from the lips of the speakers.

This time Elder Thompson opened by affirming that the church of which he was a member was the church of Christ, set up and established by him, and recognized by his apostles. He said that he wanted but two days to establish his proposition. He said the question before us was an important one; that we should know the true church; Christ had but one church, and he alone is its King and Lawgiver. That to repeal, alter, or introduce any thing new into this church, was to accuse the King of fallibility, and this would be highly dishonoring to God. He said none of the institutions of men were admissible; that they would, if allowed, impeach the judgment and wisdom of the eternal King, and therefore we recognize none of the creeds of men as being infallible or binding, each church being independent, owing no allegiance, but to the King eternal. That the Bible was our infallible rule of faith and practice, and that the Baptist recognized none other. For its name he cited Acts 20:28; I. Cor. 1:2; I. Tim. 3:14,15. He said various names had been given by way of derision. That we, like John the first Baptist, had willingly accepted the name Baptist.

His first argument was to show that Christ alone built his church; that he did not need the cooperative help of men; Matt. 16:18. He said Christ builds the church, not as a contractor builds a house, employing other persons to do the work for him, but by his own immediate power he builds it. He said the prophets so understood it, and quoted, Dan. 2:34 and 44,45, and 7:13,14,18; Isa. 9:6,7; Luke 1:32,33; Heb. 12:28. He said that these scriptures were all at disagreement with Elder Hancock's idea of the seed of the kingdom being lost for 1,600 years. His second argument was to prove that Christ was the head and foundation of this church. He said that Christ was the foundation-rock; that he gave permanency to it, because of which it can never fall - never be overcome; I. Cor. 3:11; Acts 4:11; Eph. 2:20; Isa. 28:16. He said Christ is the head of the church in that he is its founder; he is its source, its life, its judge, its great and glorious King; Eph. 1:22,23; Col. 1:18; Eph. 5:23; Mark 12:10,11. His third argument was to show that this church was the workmanship of Christ and not of men. He labored to show that Christ by the Holy Spirit, quickened his beloved children into new life, setting them in the body, creating them anew unto good works, adding them to the church; I. Cor. 12:18, and 3:9; Eph. 2:8-10; Acts 15:13-18; Acts 2:47. He said this was the doctrine of the apostolic church, and that it was the doctrine of the Baptist church.

Elder Hancock replied, saying that Matt. 16:18 meant the doctrine belief, or faith expressed by Peter, that if the church had been meant by the term "rock," then instead of the pronoun it he would have said her, for the church is feminine. He said the term hell means the under world. He argued that men do build the church, quoting I. Cor. 3: 12-15. He then asked Elder Thompson to show one man that God ever put into the church. He said the kingdom was left to the people; Dan. 2:44. That the kingdom was built by Christ instrumentally. He said that he denied the origin, teaching, and practice of the Baptist church being apostolic; that such an institution by name is not known in the Bible. He said salvation did not depend on God's decrees, but upon man's obedience; James 5:20; I. Tim. 4:16; I. Cor. 9:20. He claimed that there were two sources of faith; one was the source of the Christian's faith, which was the word of God; and the other was the source of the Primitive Baptist's faith, which was a lying spirit. He said God is no respecter of persons, but calls on all men to repent; Rom. 2:11; Acts 10:34,35; I. Pet. 1:17; II. Pet. 3:9; Matt. 9:13. That the Baptist idea of the work of the Holy Spirit was a delusion, and that their experiences were the fables spoken of in II. Tim. 4:4; that if the Spirit acts immediately then Christ would not be a mediator; and that the Bible was the only source of coming to God, or partaking of the divine nature; II. Pet. 3:4. He said that the gospel was the power of salvation by believing and obeying it; Rom. 8:16; I. Cor. 1:21; and that men are called by it; II. Thess. 2:14. That the doctrine of predestination and election is objectionable, because it presents the elect as always saved without their consent, whereas the Bible doctrine is the offer of mercy on terms to be accepted by man. He said the parable of the rich man and Lazarus was a proof that man had volition, and that salvation depended on obedience, and that they could hear Moses and the prophets. That Elder Thompson's theory makes Christ inferior to Moses and the prophets. He asked Elder Thompson whether he knew he was the Lord's or not. Elder Thompson spoke aloud and said that the Lord knew. Elder Hancock said, Then he doubts, and he that doubteth is damned. Rom. 14:23. He said that God could not work outside of Elder Thompson's theory if it were true, and that men therefore were regenerated in infidelity. He said he objected to the Baptist church for the reason that membership into the true church was unto salvation, while membership in the Baptist church was not; that Christianity was Christ in development, and membership was necessary to that development. He said if there was any church that he had a special fondness for it was the Old Baptist. He said associations are unscriptural, an institution of men, for they receive churches into fellowship.

Elder Thompson said that associations as legislative bodies are unscriptural, but that Primitive Baptist associations have no authority over churches, either in discipline or fellowship; that they were only allowable when held for the worship of God. He insisted that Christ did build his church; II. Cor. 3:3; and said that if this epistle is written in fleshly tables of the heart by the Spirit of God, and the stone is cut out of the mountain without hands, then means and men are excluded. For proof that God did put men into the church he quoted I. Cor. 12:13. He said the church - the body of Christ - is composed of all who are born of the Spirit; that the church as an ecclesiastical body is very different. That in Eph. 5:25-27, the whole redeemed church is spoken of, and that in Acts 2:47 the church in its organic relation as set up on the day of Pentecost, is brought to view. He said that James 5:19,20; I. Tim. 4:16; I. Cor. 9:20; as quoted by Elder Hancock, is not speaking of or to unregenerated sinners, but to saints - brethren; that the salvation spoken of was from false doctrines, and every departure from the right. He said he would now challenge Elder Hancock to prove by a single text that the gospel ever has saved or ever was intended to save the unbeliever - the unquickened sinner. He asked how his opponent would harmonize Rom. 2:11, with his conditional plan of salvation; that God had respect to his chosen people who cry to him day and night for help. He said Elder Hancock and his church committed sacrilege when they said the Bible was the only source of our coming to God. He said Elder Hancock claimed to know that he was now saved, and that if he (Thompson) doubted his salvation, or did not know absolutely that he was saved, that he was damned and had quoted Rom. 14:23 as proof. He told Elder Hancock that he very well knew his text had no reference to doubting ones' interest in Christ; that he had wrested the scripture from its legitimate meaning. That John, after baptizing Christ and witnessing heaven's acknowledgment of him, had doubts.

He introduced his fourth argument, saying the kingdom of Christ was spiritual; an intangible reign of Christ in the hearts of men, quoting John 17:20,21. His fifth argument was to prove that the preparation to enter the kingdom was an internal work; John 4:23,24; I. Cor. 3:17; and I. Cor. 5:17; Rom. 2:28,29; Gal. 6:15; I. Cor. 6:9-11; Titus 3:3-6; I. Pet. 1:28; I. John 2:28; Rom. 8:8,9; Col. 1:11-13; I. Cor. 6:19; II. Cor. 6:16. He said the subjects of this kingdom are born into it by the living Spirit. That the Spirit of which we are born lives and abides forever, and because it lives the church stands; but he said the Bible was not a living entity; that the word "Spirit" in these texts was capitalized, and meant the Holy Spirit. His sixth argument was to show that God's foreknowledge and sovereignty was a cardinal doctrine of Christ's church, and that it was the doctrine of the Baptist church. He said that Peter preached it on the day of Pentecost; Acts 2:23; and again, Acts, 3:18, and 4:27,28. That Christ taught the same doctrine; Luke 24:44; and that the apostles all taught the same. See Acts 2:39; Acts 13:48; Acts 15:18; Rom. 8:29, 30; Eph. 1:11; I. Peter 1:2; II. Tim. 1:9; II Tim. 2:19; Isa. 46:9-11, Isa. 50:10,11. He said the texts abundantly taught the doctrine of election, and many more could be cited if necessary, and asked why did the apostle say, "As many as were ordained to eternal life believed," if election be not true? He then followed up with the following quotations to confirm his position: John 6:37-39; John 17:1,2; Rom. 15:12; I. Cor. 1:2; Eph. 1:3-5; I. Peter 2:9; Psa. 45:4. He argued that if God knew what would come to pass - and he did - then it must come to pass precisely as he saw it; and how could these scriptures be true other than by God's predestination?

Elder Hancock responded by saying that the election spoken of by Peter 1:1,2, was the same as that spoken of in I. Peter 1:17; Gal. 3:6,7; Rom. 1:5. That it was those who had purified their hearts by obedience to the gospel; that the obedience of faith and the obedience to faith, are doing the things required in the gospel. See Acts 6:7; John 3:5. He held that to have power to become the sons of God was to have liberty, but that they did not become the sons of God until they were born, and that to be born was to be baptized. Men, he said, are necessary to man's believing, and no one could have a Christian experience until he had lived a Christian life. That just as well ask a man for a soldier's experience before he could join the army. He said that John baptized that Christ might be made known to the people; for he was not then recognized by his Father, therefore we must pass from the world into Christ before receiving the Holy Spirit; Gal. 4:6; that the spirit of man testifies and the Holy Spirit corroborates; it bears witness with, but not to our spirit. That the idea that the Holy Spirit works in each person is a delusion. He said Christ came not to judge; but to reject the word was to reject Christ. See John 12:47,48. He said he objected to the Baptist church because the church of Christ was built on the truth, while the Baptist church was built on sectarianism; that it was not a denomination, but a sect among sects, and a party among parties. That he objected to it because it was an offspring of apostasy, hence the offspring of the mother of harlots. He said he objected to it for the reason that when contending for their doctrine, they did the work the enemy of souls would do; Luke 8:11,12; for they take away the seed that is sown, and Thompson is the man, for he explains away the Scriptures. That he only asked us to believe what the Bible teaches, and to do what it commanded. He said there was not a Baptist church until the seventeenth century; that they originated in Europe with the Ana-baptists, and in America with Roger Williams; and their Philadelphia confession of faith is a bundle of contradictions; they say it is a synopsis of the Bible, but it is a dilution of the cup of abomination of Mystery Babylon, the mother of harlots, and they are drunk on its contents.

He said he objected to the Baptist church because they set a Baptist table in their house, instead of the Lord's table, refusing all but Baptists the right to commune with them. Referring to persons doubting, he said that to doubt would bring damnation; Deut. 28:66; Luke 7:29. That God would have all men to be saved; Matt. 9:12; I. Tim. 1:15; II. Peter 3:9. He said, Will Elder Thompson tell us what of those God predestinated to destruction? He said that he thanked God that he got away from the Baptist church. He asked to know if the saved needed salvation, and quoted, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation;" Rom. 1:16. He said that there was no difference between the Anabaptist of the seventeenth century and the Catholics, on baptism. Here the speaker read quotations from Mosheim's history, page 74, to prove that the Novatians believed in baptismal regeneration. Elder Thompson demanded the history, which was presented next morning. Elder Hancock said that the blood of the martyrs was the seed of the church. That there was just one way we could commit ourselves into God's hands for salvation, and he hit the Bible with his hand. He said that faith comes by hearing; Rom. 10:17. He said he did not deny the foreknowledge of God.

Elder Thompson said that his respondent had refused to examine his proof-texts, trying to prove a negative. That his effort was to try to array the Scriptures against themselves. He said Elder Hancock had quoted from Romans 10:8-17, a number of times, but that he knew he did not believe what it said, for he had told us that he could not be saved without water baptism, and that baptism was not once named in the chapter. He said let the gentleman show that the seed sown prepared the ground on which it fell; Luke 8:11,15, and then he would have need for the parable. That they who are accepted with Christ are they who do the will of God, but where is the text that says it is by our works of obedience which we have done? He said that Cornelius and the Ethiopian were both men of God before Peter and Phillip saw them. That if the Jews would not believe Moses and the prophets, nor one from the dead, then who would they believe, and what hope was there for them. He thought Elder Hancock's quotation of the rich man and Lazarus was hard on his gospel regeneration theory. That power, in John 1:12, means ability to comprehend. He said Paul told a Christian experience, Acts 9:1-20; and Acts 22:1-16, and that it was recognized by the apostles; that John said, "That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us," etc. I. John 1:3. He said, "Brethren, though your experience be ridiculed, do not be discouraged." That it did not consist in hobgoblins, as Elder Hancock would have us believe. And here the speaker related a part of his own experience. Many were in tears. He said according to Baptist doctrine, and that was Bible doctrine, every praying man, every one who loved God, every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is saved. That Elder Hancock's allegations against the Baptist church were bare assertions, without the least proof to support them. Here the speaker read from Hassell's church history, pages 19, and 20; Owen's history, page 10; Thompson and Burgess debate, page 303; also from Campbell's debate with Purcell, to prove church succession.

His seventh argument was to show that depravity, or death in sin, was a doctrine of the apostolic church, and also of the Baptist church. The scriptures quoted were, Matt. 12:34,35; Matt. 23:33; Matt. 7:16,17; Acts 8:21,23; Rom. 5:12; Rom. 8:7,8; Eph. 2:1-5; Col. 2:13; Jer. 17:9; Jer. 13:29; I. Cor. 2:14. His eighth argument was on special atonement. This he said was another cardinal doctrine of Christ's church, and a doctrine ever held sacred by Primitive Baptists. He quoted Matt. 1:21; Luke 19:10; John 10:14-19; John 5:2,25; I. Peter 2:24; Titus 2:13,14; Heb. 9:14. He said Jesus told us that he did not pray for the world, but who would say he refused to pray for even one that he came to save? His ninth argument was on the direct influence of the Holy Spirit. See John 5;24,25; John 6:63; John 10:28; John 8:36; John 5:21; John 17:1-3; Heb. 4:5. He said eternal life was God's rich gift to his people; that it was a doctrine of the primitive church, and is of the Baptist church, but not of the Campbellite denomination. His tenth argument was that faith in God, repentance, i. e., repentance toward God, faith in Christ, immersion in water of penitent believers, and communion in the church, was apostolic faith and order, and is Baptist faith and order, therefore they are the church of Christ. He quoted as proof, Luke 17:5; John 14:1; Acts 20:21; Gal. 5:22; Titus 1:1; Heb. 11:6; Heb. 12:2; Jude 3. He said faith is the gift of God, but if Elder Hancock thinks not, let him tell us why the apostles said to Jesus, "Increase our faith." Luke 17:5. He said that he repudiated the unjust charge that God's predestination was the ground of man's eternal damnation. That election is to salvation, but sin is to ruin and death, and God ever remains just and good. He said Mosheim does not say that the Novatians believed in baptismal regeneration, but to the contrary. Then he read from the same paragraph as that read by Elder Hancock: "For such deep root had their favorite opinions concerning the irrevocable rejection of heinous offenders taken in their minds, and so great was its influence upon their sentiments they entertained of other Christian societies, that they considered the baptism administered in these churches, which received the lapsed to their communion, even after the most sincere and undoubted repentance, as absolutely divested of the power of imparting the remission of sins;" Mosheim page 74. He also read from Hassell, Owen, and other authorities to show that Roger Williams was not the founder of the Baptist church in America.

Elder Hancock said he could not stop to answer his opponent's quibbling over the texts showing a limited use of the whole world, all men, every man, etc; that its use in the commission meant all the human family. He said the sinner must be called in order to be saved; that the gospel calls, and God has made provision for them to hear. He said that Paul told his call to the ministry, but not in order to get into the church; that he had no Christian experience until he had lived a Christian life; that he became a saint by submitting to baptism, and that if we had not the power to believe, then we were acting the simpleton. He said a person could get into the Baptist church by telling a dream. That he objected to the doctrine of total depravity because it destroyed responsibility, and makes void a commandment to establish tradition. That spiritual regeneration would be a sense, and not of faith, thus destroying faith. He then read much history from his manuscript, some of which state that Roger Williams church was the first Baptist church in America.

Elder Thompson said it was amusing to hear the gentleman say at one time, that if there was any church he had special fondness for it was the Baptist church, and next that he thanked God that he had got out of it. That Elder Hancock was of the opinion that the believer did not need salvation, but that was just the reason why he was there; that he wanted to save them from all such speculation as we had been hearing from him, and as was being advocated by men of like principles. He wanted to know how election could depend upon obedience to the gospel, when it took place before the foundation of the world; Eph. 1:3-6; Rom. 8:29-33; I. Peter 1:2. He said it was a strange doctrine that Christians needed the Holy Spirit, but that a man could get into the kingdom, into Christ without it, that he thought if he could go that far alone, he could certainly get the rest of the way without help.

I have now given an impartial statement of the positions and arguments of the two contestants, and I now wish to say in conclusion that both men acquitted themselves with credit. The interest was good at the beginning and continued to increase during the entire discussion. And although it was not expected that either would make converts from the congregation of the other, yet the position between the two churches was brought out, their reasons for holding such positions explained. The Baptists who heard the debate are well pleased with the result. As far as I heard an expression, except from members of Elder Hancock's church, they thought that Elder Thompson was successful in defense of his doctrine and people.

Brief Review by Elder Isaac Sawin, with an account from the Ottumwa Press.

Elder Isaac Sawin writes: The general feeling is that the Baptists were far in the lead. Outsiders, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Missionary Baptists, all think we are ahead. Our folks, the Baptists, are entirely satisfied with the discussion. The prestige is entirely in our favor. I will enclose a short clipping from the "Ottumwa Press."

MOULTON, Feb. 10. -- Commencing Wednesday last week and ending Tuesday evening last, there was a joint discussion between Eld. Hancock of the Christian denomination of Missouri, and Rev. Thompson, a Baptist preacher of Indiana, each preacher endeavoring to prove that his church was the true church of Christ, held at West Grove, and the meetings were largely attended, many people coming from miles around to listen to the arguments. The Christian minister was granted four days and a half, this being all the time he desired. There was no judge, jury or umpire, otherwise than the ear and judgment of the people, and at the close the popular feeling prevailing was that the Baptist brother had the better of the argument. At every meeting the church was so packed that standing room was at a premium and no matter how long the discourse, the audience did not seem to tire.

Truth is mighty and will prevail. It is in the hands of God that no flesh shall glory in his presence, save in his name.

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