Truth Prevails In Bangalore, India

Mark Bass

  On the 19th of November, a public discussion between David Edwin Harrell of Ponte Vedra, Florida, and Jim Waldron of Harriman, Tennessee, was held in Bangalore, South India. Don Iverson, Russ DiGiorgio, and Mark Bass assisted Brother Waldron. Brother Bill Richardson of Birmingham, Alabama, assisted brother Harrell.  The debate consisted of two two-hour sessions beginning at 10:00 a.m., with a break for lunch.

The rented hall was packed with well over 400 brethren from many parts of India.  In spite of the differences, all present conducted themselves as Christians should with the exception of one man and his helper. These were Peter Solomon of the National Bible College in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, and his assistant, Volcano Philip, who made a spectacle of themselves, openly seeking to disrupt the meeting with loud talking during the speeches; for which they had to be called down. 

Not only so, but in the foyer and meeting hall itself, they passed out literature condemning the debate to show their animosity toward it. Volcano Philip at one point even got on a cell phone and tried to persuade the local police to come to arrest the speakers, but they refused. Thanks to the foresight of those with brother Harrell, six security men had been engaged to control any untoward incident, thus nothing severe came of the efforts of these false brethren.

The propositions discussed were as follows: (1) “The scriptures teach that in the matter of benevolence the church is limited to helping saints only.” Affirm:  Ed Harrell.  Deny:  Jim Waldron. (2)  “The scriptures teach that one congregation may send funds to another congregation for the purpose of evangelism and edification.”  Affirm: Jim Waldron.  Deny: Ed Harrell.

Harrell produced more than a dozen verses that speak of the church helping saints, but none that speak of helping saints only.  He treated lightly passages that refer to helping “non-saints” (Galatians 6:10, 2 Corinthians 9:12, 13; cf., Acts 24:17).

Waldron used these verses effectively to illustrate that not only do individual Christians have the responsibility to do good unto all, but local churches do also as they have the opportunity (the ability and the occasion).  The purpose of this review is not to "rehash" various arguments and points made by the debaters.  However, it is appropriate that I mention one point of significance as it gets to the heart of the truth as related to the first proposition.

Waldron, at the beginning of his first speech, asked Harrell a very simple question:  “If a church in India has a well on its property, would it be sinful to allow non-Christian neighbors to come take water from that well?” Keep in mind that, in much of India, potable water is a valuable commodity – some are forced to walk a mile or more for drinking water. Waldron asked the question in both his speeches, but Harrell would not say whether the church could or should allow non-saints to partake of their water.  In fact, he was as silent as a tomb on that question and others.

Waldron made several good arguments that were presented very simply and forcefully with beautifully designed Powerpoint slides.  His simplicity made it easy for the Indian brethren to see the absurdity of the "saints-only" doctrine.  His presentation on the second proposition was also presented in a simple and straightforward manner and was equally effective.  All speeches were in English.  Only time and eternity will tell just how much good was done by this debate.

If you would like a DVD of it, you may write and request a copy.  DVDs will be available after the first of the year on two compact discs.  Please enclose $2.50 for the cost of the two CD’s and postage.  Make check to “Know Your Bible.” The address is: Bangalore Debate, 1824 Roane State Highway, Box 171, Harriman, TN 37748. –Alkire Road church of Christ, 2781 Alkire Road, Grove City, OH 43123.

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