Friday, April 20, 2007

This Week in Texas Methodist History April 22

A. A. Kidd Debates Adventist in Malakoff, April 28, 1898

Theological debates were a common feature of church life in 19th century Texas. In the first half of the century two favorite topics were predestination (against Presbyterians) and infant baptism (against Baptists). Toward the end of the century, however, other contentious issues emerged. The Holiness Movement provided new topics especially concerning the second blessing and entire santification. Many of those debates were between Methodists and led to considerable enmity and the founding of new denominations.

As Texas became more integrated into the national economy by an expanding rail network, new denominations made their appearance in Texas. One of those was Adventism, a religious movement that traced its origins to the Ante Bellum revivalism in western New York. By the 1890s Adventism had spread, most notably to Battle Creek, Michigan, where its teachings on vegetarianism had contributed to the rise of the breakfast cereal industry and revolutioned American dietary patterns. Texas Methodists had no quarrel with the Adventist prohibition against alcohol and tobacco usage, but two of their doctrines provided grist for controversy. The first was the Adventist practice of observing the Sabbath from dusk on Friday until dusk on Saturday. The other was their doctrine that doomed souls would not spend eternity in hell, but would be destroyed. The Rev. A. A. Kidd begam a debate against an Adventist on those two propositions at Malakoff in April, 1898. Here is how the Texas Christian Advocate reported the event. One wonders how the same event would have been reported in the Adventist press.

The Adventists had been preaching their doctrine to the hurt of a few and the vexation of many of our people. Bro. Adams (P.E.) gave a fine sermon on the "Eternal Punishment of the Wicked" on Saturday at 11:00 a.m. , and one on the "Indeterminate State of the Soul" at 11:00 on Sunday, and Bro. Kidd gave a conclusive sermon on the "Law and the Gospel" Saturday night and on "The Sabbath and its Obligations" at 3:00 p.m. Sunday. This ended the Quarterly Conference. . . .But our Adventist friends were only wrought up and dissatisfied. They wanted a joint debate, and they got it. Bro Kidd was fully equal to the occasion. Bro. Kidd and T. W. Field signed an obligation to debate, "the Sabbath and the future punishment" questions. Two nights were spent on the Sabbath proposition and at the close of this Bro. Field hollered "calf rope". He refused to debate the other proposition at all. So this ended the debate, and they saw Adventism fall in the contest.


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