WHY THE DEBATE FAILED
It was so manifest that Mr. Fall and Mr. Fanning and others who were consulted did not desire the debate with Dr. Graves, though they tried to throw the blame on him for its failure, which Dr. Ford said was not true, Dr. Graves said: “I want the discussion to go down to the bedrock of the gospel plan of salvation or else I have no time to waste upon it. I want the issue of eternal importance to be clearly made – is salvation by works of righteousness which we have done, or is it by sovereign unmerited grace: if it is by or through baptism; through or by the church or kingdom; by any act of the creature done by him or for him – then it is by works, and grace is no more grace. This is the damning heresy of Rome and, to a great extent, of Protestantism. Campbellism is this same heresy which Paul denounced and Rome formulated, presented in a new and popular dress. I shall not give my time to the discussion of terms such as ‘for’ and ‘into,’ but discuss the vital, essential principles – is justification through faith or is it by works? This being decided, then the meaning of Peter’s words at Pentecost, and other expressions in the New Testament, are thoroughly in harmony with the great gospel fact announced by our Lord Jesus: ‘He that believeth in Him shall not come into condemnation, but is passed out of death into life.’” And thus ended the proposed discussion between these two representative men.
In personal appearance Dr. Graves was about five feet ten inches high, weighed about 160 pounds, and had a fine face with a well balanced head. His dark and almost black eyes showed the true temper of metal, his fine brow and broad forehead gave evidence of a more than ordinary brain, his finely chiseled nose marked him as a man possessed of penetrating thought, indomitable zeal and energy, his moth was expressive of sublime sentiments, and upon the whole his physiognomy indicated great reasoning ability.