After the second debate with J. T. Smith, March 3-4, 6-7, 1986, concerning the nature of "the local church" and the position and authority of elders, I predicted to several that that would be the last debate. It appears that I am a true prophet, my prediction has come to past.
In the April issue of Torch, which Brother Smith now publishes, Elmer Moore, Smith's moderator in both debates, announced that there will be no more debates. They have had enough! Brother Moore writes rather ugly about me and my debating methods and efforts. I do not debate to suit them. He declares that Holt "did not debate the issue at all...he did not debate -- period!" That is an extreme statement to say the least. True enough I was there for the nine nights, speaking for nine hours, made my affirmative and negative speeches, but according to Moore I "did not debate - period!" Surely I must have slipped up a time or two and debated, but not according to Moore and he is positively positive that I did not do so --"period." He has spoken and has delivered the judgment for everyone. I somehow get the idea from his words that my debating efforts did not suit them. Well, it didn't and I can understand why.
Then he appeals to the emotions, fears, and prejudices of his readers by a hard judgmental personal attack on me. He calls my efforts "a tirade against his brethren." He further pontificates: "I don't recall ever hearing a more bitter, vindictive, castigation of the church of the Lord in terms as severe in my life." He further expresses his vicious judgment of me by writing that Holt is "a man who has become so bitter against his brethren that he seeks opportunity to brow-beat them." That is a malicious appeal intended to prejudice his readers. Who is he to judge me as "bitter" and "vindictive''? I did not discuss people and certainly did not "castigate the church of the Lord." I did deal plainly with some unscriptural concepts and practices which have invaded our ranks. Men who have not been "hit" in their unholy teachings and practices do not react as Moore and Smith have done. The exposure of their errors has hurt and frightened them. They do not want you -- the people in the pews -- to hear what I have to say. For the same reason that Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal, and other preachers do not want any more debates.
After his condemnation of me, he then writes that the debates are all over, that they should not do it anymore. They have had enough! They have quit. But, as always, they have an excuse. His "judgment is that brethren ought not to provide him [Holt] any further audience; where he can further his tirade against God's people." That's their excuse! Their fear is expressed clearly -- don't "provide him any furtheir audience." They don't want you to hear -- or read -- what we have to say. This is their real concern. That is the reason for their strong opposition to The Examiner. You might hear (or read) and learn the truth about the local church institution and the assumed power and authority of The Eldership. These preachers, Moore, Smith and others, are hired as the professional employees of "the local church institution'' by the Eldership, and they don't want this unscriptural set-up exposed.
If they really believed their case was sure and certain the truth of God, they would not withdraw from open, honorable public discussion in this fashion and on such a pretense. They don't want the people to hear both sides for fear they will begin to see the light. And, Praise God! that is what is happening all over the country!
Unfortunately some churches, and especially the preachers, will bow to Moore's decree and try to justify the refusal to debate with the same excuse. C. R. Nichol, an able preacher and debater in the early part of this century, once put it like this: "You failed in argument, you now attempt assassination of character." So it has always been. Of Jesus the enemies charged, "he has a demon." They could not overthrow His teaching, so they crucified Him.
One more observation. It is somewhat ironic, but during the last twenty years J.T. Smith has harangued and badgered me to debate these matters with him. Through the years he has written me up, and down , time and time again in one paper or another calling me a coward, false teacher, and other such terms. Then when I decided it was time to accept this Goliath for a battle on the public platform before the people, he came out, as the other Goliath did against David, armed with distortions, insults, falsehood, perversions, intimidations, only to be "hit between the eyes" with the "stone" of truth and exposure. Things did not go to suit him.
We had two debates. Now they have had enough! His moderator has declared there will be no more debates. They have withdrawn to the safety and security of their own protected pulpits and papers to attack The Examiner, me, and the others involved in this work.
Brother Smith and I had talked of debates in all parts of the country. He agreed. I believe this would be a great blessing wherever conducted if the people would come to hear the discussion. Moore and Smith do not want this and will try to keep it from taking place. (So will some other preachers! In these questions they all stand or fall together!) Our clergy wants you to hear and read only what they dish out. Just like the Catholic priest explains everything to his laity, thus "protecting" them.
J.T. Smith and Elmer Moore have withdrawn. No more for them. Do you suppose that there could be any other preachers out there, from any segment of our divided brotherhood, who will step forward to engage in honorable discussions of these vital subjects? Many preachers read this paper. Will any of them agree to do this? The champion from the so-called "conservative ('anti') Church of Christ" has withdrawn. What about the preachers from the so-called "Liberal" or the "Mainline" Church of Christ? -- CAH