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  • Nichols-Holder Debate

    Gus Nichols and J. D. Holder first met in debate at Tallassee, Alabama, in 1944. At the close of that debate, Mr. Nichols' moderator, Rex Turner (now President of the Alabama Christian College in Montgomery) suggested publicly that the debate should be repeated and committed to record for publication.

    A rumor was circulated among the Primitive Baptist people near Medina, Tennessee, in 1948 that the church of Christ would not debate with them. Hence a challenge, signed by the elders of the Medina church of Christ, was sent to the nearby Primitive Baptist Church, calling for a discussion of their differences. This challenge was accepted, and the Primitive Baptists endorsed J. D. Holder as their representative. Gus Nichols was selected to represent the church of Christ.

    A year passed before the propositions were agreed upon and signed by both speakers. The date (September 11-14, 1950) was mutually agreed to, and due announcements were made.

    The first session was held at the church of Christ building. But due to the overflow crowd (which filled not only the church building, but also a tent in the church yard) it was necessary to obtain larger quarters. Permission to use the school gymnasium was refused, but an open packing-shed was secured for the last three nights. It was estimated that more than two thousand people were present for some sessions.

  • Item Title Author Introduction Holder/Nichols Biography of J.D. Holder J. D. Holder Biography of Gus Nichols Gus Nichols First Night: Holder's First Affirmative Holder/Nichols First Night: Nichols' First Negative Holder/Nichols First Night: Holder's Second Affirmative Holder/Nichols First Night: Nichols' Second Negative Holder/Nichols Second Night: Holder's First Affirmative Holder/Nichols Second Night: Nichol's First Negative Holder/Nichols Second Night: Holder's Second Affirmative Holder/Nichols Second Night: Nichols' Second Negative Holder/Nichols Third Night: Nichols' First Affirmative Holder/Nichols Third Night: Holder's First Negative Holder/Nichols Third Night: Nichols' Second Affirmative Holder/Nichols Third Night: Holder's Second Negative Holder/Nichols Fourth Night: Nichols' First Affirmative Holder/Nichols Fourth Night: Holder's First Negative Holder/Nichols Fourth Night: Nichols' Second Affirmative Holder/Nichols Fourth Night: Holder's Second Negative Holder/Nichols

    Purpose

    The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.

    Bennie Sticky Note Click chapter title for text

  • Introduction

    Written by Holder/Nichols

    Gus Nichols and J. D. Holder first met in debate at Tallassee, Alabama, in 1944. At the close of that debate, Mr. Nichols' moderator, Rex Turner (now President of the Alabama Christian College in Montgomery) suggested publicly that the debate should be repeated and committed to record for publication.

    A rumor was circulated among the Primitive Baptist people near Medina, Tennessee, in 1948 that the church of Christ would not debate with them. Hence a challenge, signed by the elders of the Medina church of Christ, was sent to the nearby Primitive Baptist Church, calling for a discussion of their differences. This challenge was accepted, and the Primitive Baptists endorsed J. D. Holder as their representative. Gus Nichols was selected to represent the church of Christ.

    A year passed before the propositions were agreed upon and signed by both speakers. The date (September 11-14, 1950) was mutually agreed to, and due announcements were made.

    The first session was held at the church of Christ building. But due to the overflow crowd (which filled not only the church building, but also a tent in the church yard) it was necessary to obtain larger quarters. Permission to use the school gymnasium was refused (1), but an open packing-shed was secured for the last three nights. It was estimated that more than two thousand people were present for some sessions. A public address system was necessary each night. The interest was high, yet splendid order and fine attention prevailed.

    Each debater spoke twice at each session, and the speeches were thirty minutes in length. Pervie Nichols served his brother as moderator, while Mr. Holder's moderator was J. M. Bullard.

    The manuscript for this book was typed in tape recordings of the discussion, and the disputants corrected their speeches. Effort was made to improve sentence structure where it was needed, and to correct all grammatical errors; but no argument was omitted, added, or changed. Both debaters have approved the manuscript of the debate. The photographs of the debate scenes are used by the courtesy of 0. H. Hogue, minister of the Medina church of Christ.

    This is the first discussion between representatives of the church of Christ and the Primitive Baptist Church to be published in book form in more than forty years. Only a few (2) such discussions have ever appeared (one in the present century). All of them are now out of print; therefore this volume will fill a great need in the field of religious literature.

    (1) Mr. Holder intimated that prejudice against the church of Christ prevented the use of the school property. (See page 91.) That very sight Mr. Cary Todd, Chairman of the

  • Board of Gymnasium. Directors (a Methodist), said to 0. H. Hogue, Minister of the church of Christ: "Someone has misinformed Mr. Holder concerning the reason for us not allowing you to use the gym." The following Is taken from a statement (now in possession of the publisher) signed by Mr. Todd: "...the Medina church of Christ was not refused the use of the school gymnasium . . . because of anything that was said or done by members of the church of Christ; neither was it refused because of any ill-will or prejudice. . . . At the time of the debate no religious group would have been granted permission to use the school gymnasium because necessary arrangements with the proper authorities had not been made. (Since then these arrangements have been made to grant its use.)"

    (2) Some are: Thompson-Burgess (1867); Franklin-Thompson "The Reynoldsburg Debate" (1874) ; Dalton-Burnett (1886) ; Brents-Herod (1887)'; Lawson-Thompson "Church Identity Discussed" (Publication date unknown to this publisher); Cayce-Srygley (1912).

  • STATEMENT BY MR. NICHOLS' MODERATOR

    As moderators we had very little to do in the debate which you are about to read, other than to keep time. While the debaters spoke with positive convictions each was friendly, and the audiences were very orderly and listened with reverence and respect. Though the heat of the controversy could at times be felt, each side respected the other. Rudeness and temper, "mudslinging" and abuse are unchristian, and have no place among those who "earnestly contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints." (Jude 3.) Paul says he was "set for the defense of the gospel" (Phil. 1:17), yet he says: "The servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient." (2 Tim. 2:24.) It is right to engage in honorable controversy, but it is wrong to engage in strife and wrangling. Quarreling, wrangling, strife, misrepresentation, denying one's own positions, slandering one's opponent, discourtesy, and the like, weaken one's own cause in controversy, and helps the other side. Those who would trust in such evil things to aid them in debate thereby show that they have more confidence in Satan's devices than in the wisdom and ways of God.

    Christ and the inspired apostles should be our examples in controversy. Christ had an informal debate with the devil himself. (Mat. 4:11.) He was also often in controversy with the Jews, the Pharisees and Sadducees, as well as with other errorists in his day. (Jn. 8; Mk. 7; Lk. 20.) But he was always a gentleman, was always courteous and kind, was humble and gentle, though he presented his truth with painful and death-dealing blows unto those in error.

    The inspired apostles had great "dissension and disputation" with false teachers. (Acts 15:2.) There was "much disputing" in those days. (Acts 15:7.) Of Paul the record says, "Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him." (Acts 17:17.) Those in error violated the rules and called him a "babbler". (v. 18.) But the defender of the truth is not responsible for what his opponent says and does.

    It is believed that this debate in book form will enhance the good done by the oral discussion. May the reader have only one motive in view as he reads the book: the desire to find the truth and embrace it with all his heart and to live it out in his life.

    Pervie Nichols

  • STATEMENT BY MR. HOLDER'S MODERATOR

    The debate was well attended. Good order prevailed throughout the meeting. Each speaker was easily subjected to the rules of honorable controversy, and put forth their very best efforts to establish their respective views. At times it became real heated when strong issues were introduced, but each speaker gave full credit to his opponent's integrity

    The book should have been published long ago, but some how it was difficult to get publishers to contract the work. Elder Nichols has been fair in permitting us to make necessary corrections of grammatica