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A Letter to Dr. T. W. Brents
From D. B. Ray
The Baptist, 1868
      Bro. Graves:
      I furnish below my last letter to Dr. T. W. Brents, who was set apart, by the "Convention of Disciples," in the city of Nashville to debate with me. As one of the editors of the Gospel Advocate, he has published our correspondence in that paper, except my last letter, in which the main proposition for debate is settled. He has kept back a part of the correspondence, and left the impression that he had given it all. I will not charge him with the sin of Ananias.
      D. B. Ray

      Humboldt, Tennessee, April 25, 1868.

      Dr. T. W. Brents -
      Sir: In your communication of the 14th instant, you are very prodigal of time, ink, and paper. As to your sore hand, disabled finger, and painful writing, I would remark that I was fully aware that your feelings were sore, but did not know that our correspondence had produced soreness in your flesh! You inform me that, you drew, or "extorted" from me the promise of indorsement! It was my opinion that I promised the indorsement (though under no obligation to do so) in order to cut off your best excuse on this subject. But, if you had the power to "extort" that promise from me, why did you not "extort" such a one as you desired and demanded? I account for such statements as the above on the ground that you are possessed of a very lively imagination! But to the debate. You indulge in an outburst of irony and sarcasm, calling me the "Campbellite Killer," etc., because I asked for some one of sufficient courage to affirm
That you are "a member of the visible church or kingdom of Jesus Christ." I had evidence which caused me to think that you were unwilling to affirm any proposition requiring you to defend your church claims. When your challenge reached me at the first, I was not disposed to debate one or two abstract questions, leaving out the claims of our respective denominations. In lieu of your two, I therefore, framed two propositions requiring us to defend our respective organizations, and asked that you come "commended to defend the claims of your denomination. " And of this you said: "I deemed it useless to reply until your provisio could be met." Then you gave that overwhelming indorsement of the Nashville Convention for my "special benefit." You challenged me for debate; I presented my two propositions in lieu of yours, calling on you for indorsement only on condition that you accept my propositions; you informed me That my "provisio" was complied with; therefore, I had a right to expect you to accept my propositions. Your indorsement to defend "your denomination," did place you under obligation to take some proposition in defense of your church organization. Your indorsement was to discuss my propositions, not yours. It was for my benefit, not yours. But Now you have imposed on yourself and readers by attempting to make the impression that you are under no more obligation to debate my propositions than the question of the inhabitation of the moon! And after months of turning and twisting on your part to avoid the discussion of the claims of your church, I am told by your brother editor, D[avid]. Lipscomb, that neither Dr. Brents or D. L. will defend any denomination as the Church of Christ." I supposed that you had authorized him to say this for you, but it appears from your last, that "D. L." has misrepresented you. Judging from the testimony of "D. L." I supposed that your courage was not quite equal to the work assigned you by the Nashville Convention of "Disciples." I, therefore, in order to draw, or "extort" from you the promise to defend your church claims, called for some one qualified for the work.

      This has in part produced the desired effect, by squeezing from you, for the first time, the promise to defend your claims to be a church member. Here is your affirmation: "With all the courage I can command, I can barely affirm that T. W. Brents is a member of the Church or kingdom of Jesus Christ." You objected to the word "visible," in my proposition; and as it requires the new birth to enable one to "see the kingdom," I therefore exempt you from the use of the word visible; and accept your proposition. So, our propositions are settled at last.

      I have nowhere intimated that the "Campbellites" are quaking, trembling, and taking to their holes at the sound of my name. But, on the contrary, I have thought that the courage of Campbellites, on ordinary occasions, was superior to their judgment; but when they are required to defend their church organization, their courage is rarely equal to the task. Your courage is so great that it has required months of effort to enable you to barely affirm that T. W. Brents is a member of the Church or kingdom of Jesus Christ. But alas! you have raised another proviso, to keep off the debate. You have drawn up four propositions for me, and then remark: "I cannot protract our correspondence further unless the foregoing propositions are taken." I hope that this decree is not as the "laws of the Medes and the Persians, " unalterable. You must make all my propositions without permitting me to add or subtract from them, or you will correspond no more! The propositions you have framed for me, concerning Baptists, are as contradictory as they are false. I must permit you to select my camping ground, and erect my batteries, or you will not meet me.

      As regards my proposition concerning Baptists, to which you object, and which Reads thus: "Is the Church or kingdom, now called the Baptist Church, the visible kingdom of Jesus Christ? But this does not suit you. You must thrust in the word "Missionary" before "Baptist." I informed you that "the word 'Missionary' is not used in well informed circles, by friends or foes, to designate the denomination of which I am privileged to be a member." But you have seen in THE BAPTIST that the Dardanelle Association, of Arkansas, claimed the name Missionary! Would you have me affirm that the Dardanelle Association is the Church or kingdom of Jesus Christ? I did not state that some churches, and even associations, were not called "Missionary," but I deny that the denomination, as such is ever called "Missionary Baptist Church" by well informed persons. Must I, in order to gratify you, accept a proposition which will exclude a large number of the same denomination from the kingdom of Christ? Where, among well informed writers and historians, except T. W. Brents, is any denomination called the Missionary Baptist Church? I would, by no means, insinuate that Dr. Brents is not well informed.

      Again, as to the "Primitive" Baptists. The term "Primitive" is not applied to all the Baptists who possess the same ecclesiastical peculiarities. Dr. Brents ought to know that there is no one party name added to the word Baptist, which includes all the Baptists who possess the same peculiarities. Neither did I use the name Baptist in my proposition in that loose sense that would apply the term "Baptist" to all who immerse. And I suppose that it was in this sense that Bro. Jeter applied the term "Baptist" to the "Reformers." But with the same propriety he might apply the name Baptist to the Mormons, for they immerse with same design as the Campbellites. As to your charge, that I "hated the Campbellites," and desired to keep them out of the kingdom of Christ, I place it in the same list of accusations made by yourself and "D. L.," without an attempt at proof. I do as heartily rejoice over the conversion of a Campbellite as of any other sinner. I may as well inform you, once for all, that you cannot "extort" from me the affirmation of any proposition which would cut off a large number of the same people from the kingdom of Christ. Neither will I affirm that all who have been loosely called Baptists are in the kingdom. But to cut off your quibbles on this subject, I will state several propositions concerning the Baptists, either of which I am willing to discuss with you:

First - Is the Church or kingdom, now called the Baptist Church, the visible kingdom of Jesus Christ?

Second - Is the Church or kingdom, now called the Baptist Church, of which D. B. Ray is a member, the kingdom of Jesus Christ?

Third - Is the Church or kingdom of Christ to he found among the people called Baptists?

Fourth - D. B. Ray is a member of the Church or kingdom of Jesus Christ.

      If you will deny any one of the above I will affirm. One of these with the proposition which you have taken, will cover the whole ground between us. But if you will deny no fair proposition concerning the Baptists, I will take your two propositions submitted in your first, provided you will permit me to trim them a little.

      Your first is stated thus:
      "Do the Sacred Scriptures teach that God will pardon the sins of an alien in answer to his prayers? " Now this is not clear, for it would make me affirm that God will pardon the sinner while an alien. The alienation of heart must be overcome, before pardon is granted. The proposition should be stated thus:
      Do the Scriptures teach that it is the duty of sinners to pray to God for the Pardon of their sins! I affirm, you deny.

      Your second is stated as follow:
Do the Sacred Scriptures teach that baptism, when preceded by faith and repentance, is for, or a condition to the pardon of sins?" This is a double proposition, and therefore indefinite. It would be better thus:
      Do the Sacred Scriptures teach that baptism preceded by faith and repentance, is in order to the pardon of sins? You affirm, I deny. My statement that I am identified with the same family of Baptists who rejected Mr. Campbell and his disciples from their fellowship, you say is news to you; and you further tell me, that A. Campbell belonged to the "Primitive" or "Hard Shell" Baptists! Judging from your confused ideas of Baptists, as seen in your letters, there are many facts concerning Baptists that would be "news" to you. Your statement that Mr. Campbell was a member with the Primitive or Hard Shell Baptists is an unfortunate statement. You ought to have known, that there was no party among Baptists called "Primitive" or "Hard Shell" till after the rejection of Mr. Campbell. You also insinuate that Mr. Campbell and his "Disciples" were never rejected from the fellowship of Baptists. But as well informed persons will admit, Mr. Campbell was in fellowship with the Baptist denomination at one time, and was out of that fellowship afterwards contrary to his desire; therefore, he must have been excluded. I did not say that the individual congregation, of which Mr. Campbell was the founder, passed an act of exclusion. The little "Brush Run" congregation came in with Mr. Campbell and went out with him. But how did Mr. Campbell understand the matter? When speaking of himself of himself and brethren of the Reformation, concerning their rejection from Baptist fellowship in 1827, he admits, that the Baptists declared "nonfellowship" with the brethren of the Reformation. Thus by constraint, not by choice, they were obliged to form societies out of those communities that split upon the ground of adherence to the "Apostles' doctrine." I now leave an impartial public to decide whether or not I have offered you fair terms of discussion.
      Yours, truly,
      D. B. Ray.


[From The Baptist, Memphis, August 29, 1868, p. 2. CD edition. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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