Debates in the Upper Ohio Valley

A.M. McVey, L.S. White, I. Moore, J.A. Harding and W.B. McVey

Bruce Daugherty

In the first half of the 20th century, the Upper Ohio Valley was the scene of several important debates. Some of these have been preserved in book form; others were reported in the religious papers of the time like the Gospel Advocate, the Christian Leader, and the Apostolic Review. Some accounts also appeared in the secular newspapers of the day. This article will familiarize modern readers with some of these important debates.

MeVey-Ebeling debate (January 1906). Albert M. McVey, representing the cause of New Testament Christianity met F. J. Ebeling at Pennsville, Ohio. Ebeling was a representative of the Reorganized Latter Day Saints. A book was made of the debate and published by Fred Rowe. Ira Moore served as McVey’s moderator. Moore also served in that same capacity as McVey met C. C. Scott, another Latter Day Saint, in debate in that same year. Moore later met D. L. Shinn, another representative of the Latter Day Saints that same year. These debates with members of the Latter Day Saints were general discussions on Biblical testimony to the claims of Joseph Smith and the book of Mormon (Keystone 1).

Russell-White debate (February 1908). Charles T. Russell, one of the founders of the Millenial Dawn students, (forerunners of the Jehovah’s Witnesses), met L. S. White, of Dallas, Texas, to discuss the nature of the kingdom of Christ. Related topics included in the debate were the possibility of repentance and salvation after death, the state of the dead, punishment of the wicked, the Millennium and the Second Coming of Christ, and baptism for the remission of sins. This debate, held in the Music Hall in Cincinnati, generated widespread interest and was put in book form by Fred Rowe.

Moore-Noble discussion (1910). This was a written discussion between Ira Moore and J. C. Noble, a Millenial Dawn representative. This debate and the one with Russell, had been initiated by A. A. Bunner. Bunner was an experienced preacher and oral debater, but at this time had not participated in a written discussion. He felt more confident trusting Moore to meet the follower of Russell. (Bunner 12). The discussion originally appeared in the pages of the Christian Leader. Noble proved to be a better debater than Russell and made able defense of his doctrine. Because of the many requests to have the discussion in more permanent form, Fred Rowe published the debate the same year.

Harding-White discussion (1910). This was a written discussion between two members of the church of Christ, James A. Harding and L. S. White. It originally appeared in the pages of the Christian Leader and was put into a booklet of 32 pages. The discussion centered on the nature of God’s providence and its practical workings in modern life. Harding believed in a very literal understanding of God’s providential care for His children while White took a more pragmatic approach, looking to God’s people to provide for the needs of preachers. Unfortunately, the younger White was disparaging in tone with the elderly Harding in the discussion. White believed that Harding’s position left preachers impoverished and provided brethren with a dodge to their responsibilities in supporting preachers and missionaries. Some recent interpreters of the Restoration Movement look to this debate as indicative of the divide between spiritual and rational elements in the movement.

McVey-Hickman debate (1911). William B. McVey, brother to Albert, met the Methodist-Episcopalian J. T. Hickman in debate at Hamlin, West Virginia. Thad Hutson and Ira Moore both assisted McVey. This debate was a general discussion on topics like salvation, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the organization and establishment of the Church. Fred Rowe also published this large volume of 624 pages. It is a rare book. –64308 Warne Dr., Cambridge, OH 43725. (740) 432 7486.

(Works Cited: Bunner, A. A. “That Book,” Christian Leader March 16, 1926: 12-13; Harding, J. H. and L. S. White. The Harding-White Discussion. Cincinnati: F. L. Rowe Publisher, 1910; McVey, A. M. and F. J. Ebeling. McVey-Ebeling Debate. Cincinnati: F. L. Rowe Publisher, 1906; McVey, W. B. and J. T. Hickman; McVey-Hickman Debate. Cincinnati: F. L. Rowe Publisher, 1911; Moore, Ira C. and J. C. Noble. Moore-Noble Discussion. Cincinnati: F. L. Rowe Publisher, 1910; Moore, Ira C. “The Keystone in the Arch of Mormonism Removed and Crushed.” Tract, nd.)

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