Formal Debates with Conley
The INC has a history of conducting formal debates, and I have received several challenges by members to request a formal debate.
I would love to do a public formal debate! I think that such a thing would be wonderfully edifying for both members of the INC and members of the true iglesia.
However, I have concerns about the fairness of any such debate and have a few requirements that must be met.
1. It must be in English.
I would like to become fluent in Tagalog, but at this point in time, my Tagalog ranges from non-existent to poor at best. There are many INC members who speak English well, so this should not be a problem.
2. It must be in the US.
Not only is the US more convenient for me, I have more resources available here and will be able to prepare more easily as the debate approaches. The INC has many locales here in the US, so this should not be a problem.
3. There must be no live audience present.
Of course, we want the debate to be public, but it should be aired to the public after it has been recorded. I have seen many INC debates that involve heckling from the audience, and I do not want there to be any opportunity for this.
4. It must be triple recorded.
The INC and I would each do our own recording. Additionally, an agreed upon, neutral third party would record the debate and post this publicly.
5. It must be scheduled at an agreed upon time.
I may need extra time to prepare for the debate. I can't be expected to participate in a debate at a moments notice.
6. It must be done in an agreed upon, neutral facility
This would not be my church building or an INC chapel, but some other facility that we could both agree to.
7. There must be an agreed upon, neutral moderator.
This would not be a member of my church or an INC member, but some other individual that we could both agree to.
8. There must be an agreed upon, neutral format.
The format must give each participant equal time. I prefer shorter (hour-long) formats, so I may not be willing to do a long format debate. The reason for this will become clear in the next requirement.
9. There must be an agreed upon, focused, double topic.
The topic must be very focused. It will be helpful for both the participants
in the debate and the audience if we have a very focused topic. For examples
of topics that would be too broad:
a. The Trinity is too broad of a topic.
b. The Deity of Christ is too broad of a topic.
c. The Deity of Christ as seen in Hebrews 1 is too broad of a topic.
A sufficiently specific topic would be: The Pre-existence of Christ in Hebrews 1:10.
By a "double" topic, I mean that there should be two debates, each having the same format, with opposing resolutions. For example, if the first debate is: "Does Hebrews 1:10 teach the pre-existence of Christ?", the second debate could be: "Does Colossians 1:15 teach that Christ had no pre-existence?".
10. There must be an agreed upon INC participant who is willing to publicly discuss the topic before the debate.
I refuse to debate someone who I have not discussed the topic with. I wish to understand my opponent's position fully before I attempt to debate that position. The only way I can be sure that is accomplished if he is willing to discuss the topic publicly in writing, prior to the debate. If the INC participant demonstrates himself unwilling to defend the position in writing, I am unwilling to do any debate orally. The reason it must be public is to give sufficient motivation to each party to describe their position as fully as possible.
Why so many requirements?
I anticipate many considering this a cowardly set of requirements. It is not. It is in the interest of a fair debate. If an opponent has a problem with any of these requests, perhaps that is evidence of cowardice. For example, if one is opposed to recording the debate in private before airing it publicly, he is probably was relying on planted audience members to heckle.
Additionally, written debates would also be very convenient and would get around the need for many of these requirements in order to ensure a fair debate. From my discussions with a sampling of INC members, they do not seem to consider this a valid form of debate, but I see no reason to be afraid of pen and ink.
I pray that the INC will find these requests acceptable and not shrink from having a formal, public debate about these issues. This is a discussion that needs to happen between Protestants and INC members and it would be wonderful if it happened in such a format.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Update: Friday, June 6th, 4:45 PST
Unfortunately, I just received an email from the INC informing me that they have declined. It doesn't sound like they are interested in a fair debate. I think they are only willing to debate if they can control the environment and set the rules. Perhaps, with more prayer, the INC will not shrink from having an honest, fair debate.