The Deaver-Fox Debate


For many years brethren have differed concerning the indwelling of the Christian by the third person of the godhead, the Holy Spirit. Some of these differences have involved the false doctrine of Calvinism, Pentecostalism, and other kindred eroneous doctrines. However, most of the discussions among faithful brethren have centered on whether the Holy Spirit indwells the Christian mediately (only through the instruction that is from the Word of God) or immediately (in His person directly along side of the instruction from the Word of God. Whether with or without means, persons holding both views have fully acknowledged that the Bible is the complete, infallible, inerrant, all-sufficient, and final revelation of God to man. Furthermore, they have been in full agreemen that the Bible is the absolute, objective, humanly attainable standard revealed from God to man for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). It is obvious however that both views of the indwelling cannot be correct. Hence, we see the reason for all the discussions over the years and the reason for this debate.

Bible Resource Publications offered to publish the debate on the condition that both disputants agreed that their positions did not demand a cessation of fellowship between them or other brehtren who hold the respective views represented by the propositions therein affirmed. Therefore, this discussion should not be the source of division in the Lord's church.

In the introduction to his book on the work of the Holy Spirit the late brother Franklin Camp wrote:

While the things et forth in the book are, of course, my convictions on the subject, one thing I want to make crystal clear is that I do not believe that any differences about the gift of the Holy Spirit and the indwelling of the Spirit should ever be made a test of fellowship. I do not have the slightest problem in my relationship with those who may differ with me on the these questions. I have enough confidence in brethren that may not agree with me to believe that they in turn would not want to make their position a test of fellowship. I have always refused to allow any diference which I may have had with any brethren over these things not [sic] to cause any rupture of my relationship with them, and shall always continue this practice.

Let me say to all that may read this book that as long as we agree that the Holy Spirit convicts, leads, directs, and edifies only though the Word, whatever other differences there may be on the subject ought not to have the least effect on the question of our fellowship (The Work of the Holy Spirit in Redemption, first edition [Birmingham: Roberts & Son, 1994], pp. IX, X).

While willing to discuss and defend their differing convictions, such men at [sic] Thomas B. Warren, Garland Elkins, Roy C. Deaver, Robert R. Taylor, Jr., and the late brethren Guy N. Woods and Gus Nichols along with many others, have expresed the same sentiment as brother Camp regarding division over this matter. We trust such an attitude will continue to prevail.

The debate was conducted in the auditorium of the Barnes Church of Christ, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on the nights of August 15, 16, 18, and 19, 1994. The attendance was good and the decorum of the audience was excellent. W. R. "Bill" Craig was the master of ceremonies and did a commendable job.

On August 15 and 16 Marion Fox affirmed the proposition, "The scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit dwells in the Christian only through the Word of God." Charles Pledge served as Marion Fox's moderator. On Agust 18 and 19 Mac Deaver affirmed the proposition, "The scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit dwells int eh Christian personally in conjunction with the Word of God." Roy C. Deaver served as Mac Deaver's moderator. Each disputant set forth his arguments and pressed his points as he thought best. Both speakers sought to expose what he though to be inconsistent. Furthermore, each debater emphasized what he inferred to be implied by his opponent's position. Such is the nature of a debate and the reason it is such an important study tool. Overall the conduct of brethren Deaver and Fox was commendable.

The publishers wish to acknowledge and to thank Gil Yoder for typesetting and arranging the book in its present form. It requires hours of work to publish a book such as this, and brother Yoder did much of the work required for the publication of The Deaver-Fox Debate without thought of remuneration.

With these thoughts in mind, it is with great pleasure that Bible Resource Publications places this study of how the Holy Spirit indwells the Christian into the hands of the reading public.

The Publishers