religion, christianity, articles
Firm Foundation Logo

Toreador-Shelly Debate Unity


religion, articles, christianity

(Shelly's portion of the debate is from a speech he made at a "spiritual renewal con ference" at Florence, Ala., April 19, 1996. Shelly, believe it or not, has a doctorate degree from Vanderbilt University, Lynn Toreador, also called L. Toreador, is a bull fighter with common sense, and respect for the Bible. He is not easily fooled.)

Third Affirmative by Rubel Shelly, Ph.D.

But you know, I learned yesterday about a church in Reno, Nevada, that, though it was behind in its annual offerings for its own missions, God laid it on the hearts of those people that before the end of calendar '95 they raise $30,000 to give away to other churches that were in need. And they began praying. And Richard Owens led his church one Sunday morning over to a Baptist church. Their church is a charismatic independent fellowship. They went over to a Baptist church, showed up just about the time worship was starting. Here are about 200, 225 people coming in all together, and the ushers, "What's going on here?"

"Well, we're here to worship with you."
They said, "Well, the service is already starting."
They said, "We'll get in very quietly."
"But, the service is already starting."
"We'll be quiet."
"But the service is already under way."

And with a commotion going out in the foyer, the pastor comes out and he knows Richard, and he says, "Richard, what's going on here?" [Richard] said, "We're here to worship with you today and to bring you a gift."

"Richard," said the man, looking him in the eye, "if you're here to mess me over, I'll get you."

He said, "No, I promise you, I'm not here for any sinister purpose. We're here to worship with you and God has put it on our hearts to give you a gift." So they went inside and they went through a time of praise and worship. When the pastor got up to preach he said, "I don't know what's going on today." And he explained to all.

Everybody else, of course is looking around and they're whispering, "Do you know these people? Where do they come from? Do you know their motives?" I think only 225 worshipped, all the rest of them who were there mesmerized about ... (Seen the cartoon character, blub­blub­blub), just trying to ...

So, when he got up to preach, he said, "I don't know what this is about, these people are from such­and­such church, their pastor Is Richard Owens. Richard, come on up."

Richard came up and he said, "We want to give this church"-and he opened a check and put it into the pastor's hands for $10,000. And he said the man began to tremble, and his whole body began to tremble, and then he began to weep and tears just rolled off his cheeks.

Next Sunday, every church in town wanted'em to show up (Laughter).

And so they did. On three different Sundays before calendar '95 ended. The Lord allowed them not only to raise that $30,000, but they caught their own budget up and exceeded. Of course!

And they made three visits to three different churches and presented those gifts, and last Sunday 54 churches in Reno, Nevada, came together for corporate worship (applause).

Reno, Nevada, needs some unity among believers. Rick said that out of the 54 churches there's likely not more than 3 that have a total membership of over 200 each. But last Sunday, they filled up the football stadium at a high school. And the newspapers are covering this. And on the front page, stories are being written in Reno, Nevada, about Christians and what Christians are doing to encourage one another, and to support each other, and help each other. God help us make more headlines like that! (Hallelujah)!

Third Response by L. Toreador

Do you believe that fantastic story? The dictionary defines charismatic as: "Theology. Of, relating to, or being a type of Christianity that emphasizes personal religious experience and divinely inspired powers, as of healing, prophecy, and the gift of tongues."

Doctor Shelly, when you say God laid it on the heart of a charismatic church in Reno, Nevada, to give money to a Baptist church, are you saying both the charismatics and the Baptists are in favor with God? If yes, then why are they not united? Why did God "lay" on the heart of the charismatic group to give money to the Baptists, but fail to tell the Baptists about the deal. (The Baptist preacher, you remember, was confused, and thought the charismatic preacher might be trying to "mess me over.") Was God just playing games with them?

Tell us, Doctor, how does God "lay" something on a person's heart? Is it an immediate revelation? Is it ESP? Is it thought transfer? How do you know it is from God? How do you know it's not the devil? How do you know Joseph Smith was wrong? Or do you think he was wrong? Smith claimed that God laid the book of Mormon on his heart. How do you know the book of Mormon is not from God, or do you think it is from God.

Anecdotal evidence presents a lot of problems. You are at the mercy of the person remembering the incident. If he should misremember what happened, or if he improves on what he thought happened, then you are misled. Experiences of fallible humans are not proof of anything.

People have a tendency to spin yarns instead of studying scripture. Paul warned Timothy and Titus to stay away from the storytellers and hold to provable, confirmed facts (1 Tim. 1:4; 4:7; 2 Tim. 4:4; Titus 1:14). Peter wrote, "We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty" (2 Pet. 1:16).

Thayer says the word translated fable means, "1) a speech, a word, a saying 2) a narrative, story." The Bible says to stay away from such. Why, Doctor Shelly, do you indulge what the Bible tells us to avoid?

Albert Barnes, commenting on 1 Timothy 1:4, makes this wise observation:

These [fables] were composed of frivolous and unfounded stories, which they regarded as of great importance, and which they seem to have desired to incorporate with the teachings of Christianity. Paul who had been brought up amongst these superstitions, saw at once how they would tend to draw off the mind from the truth, and would corrupt the true religion. One of the most successful arts of the adversary of souls had been to mingle fable with truth; and when he cannot overthrow the truth by direct opposition, to neutralize it by mingling with it much that is false and frivolous.

Please, let us keep to the Word and prove our proposition by scripture. It is amazing that people who listen to the weird and the fantastic-delight in it-have little respect for divine revelation.

If any man speaketh, speaking as it were oracles of God; if any man ministereth, ministering as of the strength which God supplieth: that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, whose is the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen (1 Pet 4:11).

Feature Book: Among the Scholars


by David W. Hester

Paperback, 167 pages
$7.99 + shipping and tax if applicable


Click here to order


Published November 1997