Proposition: The Scriptures teach that the alien sinner comes into possession of Spiritual or Eternal life without any condition on his, the sinner’s part.
Participants: G. E. Griffin (Primitive Baptist Church of Christ, Hobbs, NM), Guy N. Woods (representing the Lord’s church of Lovington, NM).
Dates: July 15-18, 1957
In reading and studying the Bible one must interpret what is read and then make application of that which was read. Sometimes the application made makes an outsider look and scratch their head. For a great many more the application made seems reasonable. Yet, reasonable or not, there are many preachers and teachers who look at the same Scripture and come to conclusions not at all the same. This is perplexing to people not as well informed on biblical matters. It is also perplexing to people who are well informed, but are particularly perplexed as to how one can’t see the same passage in the same way.
In years gone by debates played a significant role in helping people come to a better understanding of conflicting teachings (or doctrines). This is one such debate. This is my initial study of the first affirmative and negative reply. Studying debates and interpreting the remarks is time consuming, but profitable to a great degree.
I offer just some of my notes in this study.
Griffin set forth his case the Scriptures teach that the alien sinner comes into possession of Spiritual or Eternal life without any condition on his, the sinner’s part. Woods gives replies. Woods replies with regard to the implications of the position held by Griffin. If Griffin is right, then there is no point in even having a discussion of this sort because one’s teaching will not change one thing relative to what the Scriptures teach and neither will it make one-whit’s difference in a person’s life (p. 13). Woods asked a series of questions to highlight the differences in the debate and to put Griffin in a quandary with regard to how Woods knew (or anticipated) he would answer.
Griffin’s first argument is from 1 John 5:12. One who has the Son has life, but the one who does not have the Son does not have life. Griffin does not really elaborate on this, but only asserts it. It does not appear to me that Woods addressed this passage as an argument (or counter argument) against Griffin. What Woods did was explain how one gets into Christ (Galatians 3:26-27). I suppose one can interpret Woods effort as simply an agreement with the express sentiment of the passage, followed by an explanation as to how one enters in.
Griffin’s second argument is from John 15:5. If one does not have Jesus then that one who does not have Jesus can do nothing. Woods concurs with the passage that man in and of itself can do nothing. “Our Lord is the only way of salvation” (p. 16).
Thus, the alien sinner is without Christ and can do nothing. Since the alien sinner does not have Christ and without Christ he (the alien sinner) can do nothing, then with this conclusion he (Griffin) tags on Ephesians 4:17-24, and underscores the idea that alien sinner does not even have any feeling for spiritual things. Consequently, any preacher who preaches cannot positively affect the alien sinner’s response toward God. If there is anything within, it won’t be because of a preacher teaching, but because of Jesus teaching the alien sinner (4:21). In addressing this passage, Woods, in conjunction with John 15:5, speaks to the point of what it meant to be “past feeling.” Paul addressed his words to Christians; the particular application Paul made to the Gentiles, the Christians in Ephesus were exhorted to not follow suit. “Paul admonished them to put off that manner of life and to put on Christ” (p. 16). The reason Paul brings this to their attention, Woods said, was because they learned Christ. “Why is it that they are contrasted with those who are past feeling? Because they have learned Christ. Learning Christ then, is the difference between living in lasciviousness, and living in purity; but learning Christ is a condition of the individual” (ibid). He compliments this with John 6:45
There is more to this first affirmative and negative, but I only wanted to include just under half of what I prepared.