A few weeks ago Dr. William Hamblin, associate professor of history at Brigham Young University, declined the invitation offered to him to debate the thesis, “The Building of Temples is Consistent with New Testament Christianity” in a public setting before video cameras. Shortly thereafter a discussion occurred, referenced on this blog, regarding debates, etc. On April 2, 2004, I debated Richard Hopkins on the same subject on the campus of the University of Utah in Salt Lake City (audio and video recordings will be available soon). During the conversation with Dr. Hamblin prior to the Salt Lake debate, I indicated that, after the weekend of debates in Utah (I also debated the issue of homosexual marriage the next evening, also at the University of Utah), I would consider his challenge to “debate” the issue in written form on the Internet. I remind the reader that we have a standing challenge to Dr. Hamblin and to others who have been, or currently are, associated with F.A.R.M.S., to join in the dialogue that has been taking place now for a number of years in Utah. In cooperation with Jason Wallace and Christ Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City, we have now done ten moderated, public debates in the Salt Lake area. Those who have taken the time to either attend (we had one couple drive from Texas for the two debates April 2-3) or to view the debates on video know well that the debates are handled respectfully and properly. All accusations made against the debates that we have heard have come only from those who did not attend or have not actually viewed the debates. Also, please note that I also suggested to Dr. Hamblin that if we are going to invest the time to write our positions in a debate format, we should consider pursuing a publication project with a major publisher. Dr. Hamblin has not shown any interest in following that route, either. Hence, I respond now to the challenge to debate the topic of temples in written form to be posted on the Internet.

Both Dr. Hamblin and I teach in undergraduate and graduate contexts, he for Brigham Young University, I for Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and Columbia Evangelical Seminary. I am currently teaching Systematic Theology II and Development of Patristic Theology, and I’m sure Dr. Hamblin has a busy teaching schedule as well. I do not know of his current publishing schedule, but I know that I have hundreds of pages of publishable material to produce this year, along with at least four more debates, along with teaching during the summer session at the main campus of GGBTS in Mill Valley, CA, and teaching an apologetics class in the Fall as well. Hence, simply due to time constraints, I propose a very controlled, concise exchange on the topic that allows for sufficient time to write our responses without cutting too deeply into class preparation time, etc. Hence, I am proposing the following format and thesis. I am doing so in public, and propose that the debate be posted “in process,” i.e., as it takes place, so that our readers can follow along. We invite Dr. Hamblin to provide a counter-proposal. Once an acceptable format for both sides has been agreed upon, we can proceed with the exchange.

Proposed Thesis: The Building of Temples for Worship and Priesthood Activities is an Essential Element of New Testament Christianity

Proposed Outline:

Opening Statements: Hamblin: 3000 words White: 3000 words

First Cross Examination: Each participant will provide three questions of lessthan 250 words, to which the respondent will answer in less than 750 words.

First Rebuttal: Hamblin: 1000 words White: 1000 words

Second Cross Examination: Same format as first.

Second Rebuttal: Hamblin: 500 words White: 500 words

Closing Statements: Hamblin: 1500 words White: 1500 words

I propose doing the debate in two-week segments; that is, the opening statements would be posted two weeks from the agreed upon initiation of the debate; cross-examination questions due four days later, with responses due ten days later; first rebuttals due two weeks later; etc.

The debate would be posted at www.aomin.org and a website of Dr. Hamblin’s choice, concurrently. We hope to hear from Dr. Hamblin regarding his counter-proposal by April 9th, 2004.

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