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Great Carrollton Debate,

On final perseverance of saints, the mode of baptism, the Lord's Supper, infant baptism, believers' baptism, church of Christ

Between: J. R. Graves, LL. D., and Jacob Ditzler, D D.

Stereotyped by Southern Baptist Publication Society. Memphis, TN
published by the Southern Baptist Publication Society, 1876.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1876, by SOUTHERN BAPTIST PUBLICATION SOCIETY.
In the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington, D. C.
was faithtully reproduced by the gracious efforts of: Barry Watson of Ontario, Canada, for Chris Silvey, Pastor and Paul A. Little, Librarian for Friendship Missionary Baptist Church of Sacramento, California, with motivation and encouragement from J. C. Settlemoir, Pastor of New Testament Baptist Church, Brownsburg, Indiana. The original text, format, spellings and pagination have been left intact so that this replica would match the original as closely as possible. We pray that this work is a blessing to all who read it. -- 6/30/2003.

Feb. 15th, 1876.

We, the parties to the Debate embraced in the present volume, hereby declare that we have read and corrected the whole work, which is now a faithful transcript of what we said is the discussion at Carrollton, Mo. --

[* This note is here added by Brother Paul A. Little from Brother J. C. Settlemoir as a reference to the statement made towards the end of the following "Publisher's Introduction." It is provided here solely as an updated item of interest.

Comments from J. C. Settlemoir -- 1/2001: About the $500.00 paid to Dr. Ditzler. My great grandfather died in 1879 and I have a copy of his estate sale, which without any land but including horse, cows, hogs, geese, sheep, two wagons, three plows, harness, nine acres of growing wheat, saddle, and rifle plus a few other items brought $175.80. So I would guess that the $500.00 would have been a very good two years wages for the common people of that time.]


Oral debate is the pride and glory of our advanced civilization. This is admitted by all. It is a singular fact, therefore, that in this country, where the people boast of a free press and public discussion as the grandest trophies of liberty, there should still be some who have a deep-seated prejudice against religious controversy. It is confessed that there are great denominational issues upon which men are not agreed. These issues, all must know, are pregnant with mighty interests. We assume, therefore, that the earnest and prayerful discussion of denominational difierences pan but result in good. That our view is not singular, is manifest from the following quotations: "Some are disposed to deprecate all such discussions, * * * under the head of unprofitable controversy. That it is controversy, I admit; that it is unprofitable controversy, I deny. Dr. Wardlaw's Inf. Bap., page 1. The same distinguished author says, "Controversy is not a work from which any well constituted mind should shrink. If it be conducted in the spirit of the Master whom we serve, it is an important and indispensable means of eliciting truth." Ch. Lee. page 6.

Dr. J. Buchanan. - "Many sincere Christians dislike controversy, and, so far from engaging in it themselves, can scarcely allow that others should. An enlarged view of the history of the Christian church might serve to convince such persons. * * * That error, when it does appear, should be met by a bold exhibition of truth, seems to be one of the first duties the church owes to her divine head." Disc, on Nat. Rel. Est., pages 3, 4. "It is right that every one should express his deep and honest convictions in charity. Dr. J. Gumming." Sab. Eve. Rea. on Matt. III. Such are the views of calm and profound thinkers; views to which we call the attention of such as are averse to discussion, and hastily declare that it is not only productive of no good, but full of harmful influences.

Among the ancients, before the small or great assemblies, this was almost the only mode of investigation employed. The orator then performed much the same service for the people which the newspaper now does. Politics, philosophy and religion were all alike made the subject of discussion. The people rejoiced in the privileges of public debate. One publisher's introduction. might think there was less need of debate now than in the past. Newspapers without number, and with the regularity of each bright morning, visit the homes of men. And there is no end to the production of boots. But the truth is that, as the earth is filled with knowledge, through these and other instrumentalities, public speakers multiply, and there seems to be an enlarged and legitimate demand for public disputation. The increased light but serves to define more sharply the differences between men.

The guises of error disappearing before the light, its darkness and deformity are made manifest, while truth shines with its native and perfect splendor. These things true, there is a constant and inevitable tendency to discussion. And since it is scarcely possible, and to thinking men, not at all desirable to avoid it, we are made to wonder that persons can be found who are opposed to it. A law which interfered with the liberty of the secular press of our land, or which prevented the public discussion of great political issues, would arouse (he hostility of the whole nation. The least abridgment of this political liberty would be regarded, even by those who stand opposed to the public discussion of theological questions, as the gravest national calamity. But heaven is higher than earth; and as it is impossible to measure the gap between these, there is no way to estimate the transcendent importance of religious as compared with political questions. The man, therefore, who favors the free discussion of secular questions, could not, it seems to us, with any considerable show of reason, oppose the discussion of matters infinitely more important.

And we venture the opinion that there is danger of periodical stagnation. War and much precious blood are the price paid for national greatness. Civilization reaches its highest development only after struggling up through the dust and darkness of battle. Repose brings along with it decay and ruin. It is much the same way in the religious world. An age of denominational repose is a period of decay. This is well illustrated in the history of the past. On the contrary, in the ages when the conflict between light and darkness has been the most severe, and when the sword and the ax have been freely employed, it was the boast of pious men that the very blood of the martyred saints was the seed of the church. The Great One has provided for constant agitation in the physical world. There is no rest throughout the realm of nature. And in addition to the universal activity of all the elements, we have great periodical convulsions. The God of nature needs the storm to purify the world. The onward march of Christianity, in the early centuries, was but the
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progress of earnest and universal controversy. It was only when truth veiled her face, and retired from the conflict, that the dark ages, like a black and starless night, settled down on the whole earth. When she came forth again like the morning which wakes everything into life, she moved the nations with her power. Error was made forbidding by being contrasted with truth, But this was not all. A fierce and fearful war was made against every error and evil practice. And this struggle, this world-wide controversy of the Sixteenth Century resulted, as all confess, in a general reformation. We think, that in the period following our great revolution, the churches have been disposed to avoid a discussion of doctrinal differences. And those who shrink from the public discussion of truth, will be silent in the social circle; and becoming cowards, as they certainly will, they will not hesitate to surrender the strongholds of denominational power. In the conflict between truth and falsehood, pious men cannot afford to be silent. Aggression is a denominational necessity. Battle is the law of life. And nothing less than triumph can secure a church against the possibility of decay. The man who makes himself familiar with these facts, who feels the shock of the crashing thunderbolt or the tread of the storm, and who knows what blessings have sprung from the great discussions of the past, can hardly doubt that the present debate will be fruitful of much good.

If another reason is needed in support of public discussions and for the presentation of this volume, it may be found in the life and writings of the great Apostle to the Gentiles. Paul's whole life was but a single struggle. With his overwhelming logic, profound learning and great soul, he went right out into the front of the battle. He confronted the Jew with weapons drawn from the Bible, and contended grandly for the divinity of Christ; confounded the Ephesians with unanswerable arguments; over-whelmed the Athenians with his mighty logic; triumphed over the Corinthians in a profound and glorious argument on the resurrection; made the world, as well as individual monarchs, tremble with the weight of his splendid argumentation. He never threw aside the helmet or shield, and never laid down the sword. Panoplied in the armor of God, he was always girded and ready for the conflict - always in the battle. He went down at last in the strife, and gave up his life on the block. But as he surveyed his past life, he could truly say, "I have fought a good fight," Such was the life of Paul. And we conclude that the man who follows In the line of duty as illustrated in the life of this great teacher of religion will not greatly err. Such are our convictions in regard to the propriety of public discussions.
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The reader will not think it a strange thing, with these facts before him, that we felt a deep and curious interest in the debate embodied in this book. The Baptist and Methodist denominations are almost wholly unlike each other in polity and doctrine. Then views in regard to the ordinances and certain doctrinal points are directly antagonistic. And the opposing practices and principles of the two denominations can but clash against each other. This necessary conflict found expression in a challenge by the M. E. church at Carrollton, to discuss certain questions and great cardinal doctrines about which the two denominations are not agreed. The Baptist church at Carrollton accepted the challenge. Dr. J. Ditzler, a learned and representative man, was chosen to conduct the debate on the part of the Methodists. Dr. Graves, whose reputation is not confined to a single continent, was selected to represent the Baptists. With such men as parties to the debate, and with a prospect of thoroughly discussing certain important points of doctrine and practice about which for centuries there had been a conflict of opinion in the great religious bodies of Europe and America, there was felt, as might have been expected, a very deep and general interest. It was the conviction of many that it would be second to ho debate of the kind ever held on the continent. It was evident from the interest the press took in the matter, that the whole country was deeply concerned as to the result. It was claimed by both parties to this great conflict, that their chosen champions would be able to present the very best arguments in support of their peculiar views.

With all these facts before us, the Society felt justified in making arrangements to report, at great expense, the whole discussion. This we have done. And in order that there might be no doubt as to the fact that the authors are truly represented, we have paid Dr. Ditzler $500.00 to correct the MSS. of our reporter, and read the proof as the work went through the press. Dr. Graves has done the same work free of charge. So the reader may be sure that, in the pages of this book, the speakers are fairly reported. And on the Mode of Baptism, Infant Baptism, the Church of Christ, Believer's Baptism and Final Perseverance, both parties have presented the best and clearest evidences of their faith.

We now submit the Great Debate to the reading public, in the hope that it may do good. We know that God can use it for His own glory. Should men be brought to the truth, and be made to love it and labor more for its advancement, then we shall be satisfied.

W. D. MAYFIELD, Secretary, Southern Baptist Publishing Society.

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