The Neal-Wallace Discussion on the Thousand Years Reign of Christ, Foy E. Wallace, Jr.
With the popularity of the Left Behind series that teaches the false doctrine premillennialism, have you ever wondered why churches of Christ were not swallowed with the pernicious doctrine? One of the main deterrents against this error was Foy E. Wallace Jr. who was the editor of the Gospel Advocate. Wallace fought against this error and those who were trying to take the churches of Christ down this road to perdition. If you think that one can believe in premillennialism and be a faithful Christian, then you have not read the works of Foy E. Wallace, Jr. or you are blinded from the truth. Everyone should read this debate.
One of the great benefits of religious debates is the ability to gather the facts of two points of view and see the pros and cons tested against one another. It can be brutal for the opponent who is wrong; however, the truth is the victor and that is what the purpose of debates are. This discussion in January 1933 in Winchester, KY is a premier example of truth winning and winning decisively.
The proposition was pushed by Charles Neal who dared anyone to sign on the dotted line in opposition to his debate proposition—“The Bible clearly teaches that after the second coming of Christ and before the final resurrection and judgment, there will be an age or dispensation of one thousand years during which Christ will reign on the earth.” The editor of the Gospel Advocate signed the proposition, which began one of the more thrilling debates that can be read.
Wallace did not hesitate to use humor to force his points. My father tells of staying up late at night to read the debate and come across a funny incident. It would be so funny that he would wake up my mother to relay her the story. Needless to say as funny as the story was, it was not funny to my mother at the time! One of the examples where the humor shines is Wallace’s attack of prophecies having to have a literal rather than literal or symbolic fulfillment relates to a prophecy about John the Baptist.
In Luke 3:3-6 is this prophecy in Isaiah 40:3-4 about John the Baptist: “3And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; 4As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; 6And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”
Here is what Wallace states to drive the point home that not all prophecies were fulfilled literally: “According to the statement in Brother Neal’s book, John the Baptist would literally pull down the hills and fill up the valleys; for according to him, ‘every prophecy that the Bible says has been fulfilled has been fulfilled literally.’ John the Baptist was not a preacher at all. He was a road builder, operating a steam shovel, going out to pull down the hills and to build up the valleys, constructing a literal highway. That alone shows the fallacy of his statements that every prophecy is fulfilled literally.”
I have a photocopy of a letter Foy Wallace wrote to a friend about the second debate Neal agreed to have in Chattanooga, TN. During this debate Wallace basically began refuting Neal’s positions before he could present them. This so defeated Neal that he quit the debate. Neal’s mentor for this doctrine was R. H. Boll. Boll refused to debate Wallace and it is evident that it was the arguments used by Wallace were true. The premillennialist movement was basically stopped in its tracks. Indeed the church is better because of men like Foy E. Wallace, Jr. He may be dead, but his work lives on. All his works are available on CD. Anything by Foy E. Wallace, Jr. is worth studying.
Originally printed West Virginia Christian, Vol. 10, No. 1, January 2003, p. 5. Reprinted by permission.