My wife and I recently attended a debate between a Church of Christ minister (Don. R. Wilson) and a Messianic Jew (Monte Judah – Lion and Lamb Ministries: lionlamb.net). The debate addressed the question of whether or not the Old Testament, specifically the Law of Moses, has been done away. The Church of Christ minister spoke in the affirmative, and the Messianic Jew negated. For two nights we listened to two hours of debating, the bantering back and forth between two opposing sides. I was expecting a debate between scholars on Scripture. However, this could have easily been a fight between Mike Tyson and The Wizard of Oz. Let me expound.
As we prepared to go to the debate, we were filled with excitement about the possibility of these two opposing viewpoints coming together to share diverse viewpoints related to the Torah, and gain understanding from the representative sides. What we, and the Messianic Jew, failed to realize was the obvious: this was a debate. The point was to win, and win dirty if necessary. As soon as the proverbial bell rang, Mr. Don R. Wilson, came running from his corner without even a thought of his gloves. He immediately leaped on Monte Judah and pulled a Mike Tyson, biting off his opponent’s ear in a mad furry, hoping to bully and intimidate him in front of the spectators. While this didn’t happen physically, it did happen verbally…maybe a little worse.
Evidently, Mr. Wilson—representing the “grace” camp—was prepared for a presidential debate, rather than a Scriptural debate, researching his opponent for any dirt that could be used to undermine his authority on the subject, and generally give him a negative appearance for the audience. He had dug up something out of Monte Judah’s past from nearly ten years ago, and used it (out of context, according to Mr. Judah) to declare Monte Judah as being a “false prophet.” Sure, Mr. Wilson is a heavy-weight in the Church of Christ debate camp, but when you have to push your weight around to be heard, then you are only a “sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal” to quote the Apostle Paul—and in this specific situation, a bully. No one likes bullies, Mr. Wilson. Therefore it was a bit hard enduring his twelve step argument on the obsolescence of the Hebrew Scriptures, which was repeated nearly verbatim each of the four times he spoke.
Mr. Judah—representing “law” camp—was far more gracious than his opponent, and exemplified a demeanor of grace which should have made Mr. Wilson blush. However, Mr. Judah wasn’t much of a debater. Although Mr. Judah probably had more actual knowledge and a better overall understanding of the subject matter at hand, his presentation did not reflect that of a debater. It was more that of a teacher. While a teacher is of much value, this was a debate, and Mr. Judah needed to be able to address and respond to specific claims of his opponent within the parameters of Scripture in order to be viewed as a successful debater. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Mr. Judah actually fell into the trap of most Messianics who first begin their understanding of Torah. He was lulled into believing he could waltz into the debate in Wizard of Oz fashion, dazzle the audience with his esoteric grasp of the Hebraic concepts of Scripture, dumbfound his opponent, and leave no room for argument. Regrettably, this didn’t do much by way of response to his worthy opponent’s seemingly airtight argument against the validity of Torah.
It was two nights filled to the brim with arguments for and against the Torah. It was heated, thought provoking, and drew near equal crowds from the opposing camps. Although the opponents were both speaking on a common topic, it was apparent that we were not speaking the same language. It was about as clear as trying to effectively communicate between one person who only spoke Chinese and one who only spoke French. In fact, it was Hebrew and Greek that were butting heads. The Monte Judah was viewing Scripture Hebraically as one continuous work of the Creator, and Don Wilson annulled portions of the Word of God to be outdated or non-applicable in the Greek fashion.
The few common grounds over which battles were fought were Acts 15, and Matthew 5. Sadly, these topics ultimately ended as an impasse for which neither candidate was willing to negotiate. There were several other points of contention for which I will write at a later date. I’ve ordered a video of the debate, and after reviewing it in order to ensure the accuracy of my statements I will write on the various assertions more specifically.
In conclusion, neither “candidate” was there to debate the topic. Mr. Wilson was there for mud slinging. Mr. Judah was there to dazzle the audience. Sadly, I had wrongly assumed it would be a night for both persuasions to present their understandings in order to help the other’s understanding of Scripture. However, the goal of the night was for a full-blown K.O.—knockout—and everyone was anxiously waiting for the fatal blow to be thrown. Will there ever be understanding between God’s people?
“By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35.