By Colleen Tinker
Last Friday, March 30, Doug Batchelor, speaker and director of Amazing Facts, debated Steve Gregg, host of the daily radio program The Narrow Path. The title of their debate was, “Is The Sabbath Binding in the New Covenant?”
The debate was highly publicized, especially via Facebook, and as the day approached, both Adventists and former Adventists became embroiled in online discussions. Former Adventists were warning Steve through his ministry’s Facebook page and by private emails that Doug’s agenda was fixed and that he would not honestly handle the subject. Adventists, meanwhile, were encouraging Doug and engaging former Adventists in sometimes hostile discussions.
The debate occurred in Doug Batchelor’s church studio, and Steve gave the opening 20 minute presentation. Doug gave the second 20-minute presentation, and each had a 10-minute rebuttal time. Significantly, the debate rules included the fact that the participants could not present new information or continue to build their arguments after their 20-minute statements. Rebuttal times were specifically for addressing what the other said.
Steve was consistent and careful. He used his rebuttal time to address Doug’s arguments. At one point, he even commented that while there were facts he wanted to present, he couldn’t do it because he couldn’t add to his own argument during his rebuttal time. Instead, he said, he might be able to say more during the Question and Answer time which followed the debate.
Doug, on the other hand, essentially ignored the debate rules. He used his rebuttal time to continue to build his Sabbath arguments, using Power Point slides and Adventist art to emphasize his words. He used typical Adventist proof-texting and generalizations to sweep people into his worldview without actually showing how he arrived at his conclusions.
For example, two quotations from his sweeping statements illustrate his illegitimate use of Scripture. While Steve made the point that Romans 14 leaves the keeping of a day up to each individual worshiper, Doug said, “The word ‘Sabbath’ does not appear in the whole book of Romans.” Technically, that is a fact. In context, however, Romans 14 is clearly addressing the keeping of the seventh day when Paul says in Romans 14:5-6a, “One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord…”
For Doug to say that this passage does not include reference to Sabbath is to ignore the context and to misinterpret the text.
Another of Doug’s deceptive statements was this: “There in Genesis where God establishes the Sabbath day and He blesses the Sabbath day and He makes it holy.” Actually, the creation account never mentions Sabbath. Genesis 2:2–3 states,
“By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
Steve correctly stated that God ceased from His work on the seventh day and blessed and sanctified it, but he explained that God never established the seventh day as Sabbath nor did He give anyone any commands for keeping that day in the Genesis account.
Doug inserted the word “Sabbath” into his commentary about the seventh day and even stated that God “established” the Sabbath in Genesis. Wrong. God ceased from His work, and significantly, that seventh day in Genesis had no “evening and morning” boundary as did the six days of creation. In other words, God’s finished work did not have a beginning and an ending marked by an evening and a morning. His finished work did not stop being finished after the seventh day was over. God did not resume His work on the first day of the week.
Doug simply failed to deal with the context or to address the words of the text and what they actually mean. Instead, he plunged ahead, tossing out his habituated statements and proof texts in the way Adventist evangelists have done since the beginning of Adventism.
Because of Doug’s failure to abide by the rules of the debate as agreed by both parties in advance, Steve’s ministry says Steve is considering producing a follow-up video which will further address Doug’s claims which he promoted during the times he was supposed to be addressing Steve’s arguments.
The debate, which can be viewed on YouTube here, reveals that Steve knew his biblical arguments and handled Scripture well. Doug, on the other hand, was typical “Batchelor”, using the guilt-producing texts strung together illegitimately that Adventists always use, interpreting the word of God by a faulty hermeneutic based on a false prophet’s worldview.
Steve was prepared Scripturally to address Sabbath in the New Covenant; he was not prepared for the overt deceptiveness and refusal to adapt to the rules of engagement the men had agreed would define the debate.
In the same way Ellen White comfortably accused God of deception when she said He covered over William Miller’s mistake in date-setting so the people would get ready for Jesus’ return (Early Writings, p. 236), Doug Batchelor ignored the rules of debate and misrepresented Scripture to make his point: the Sabbath is binding on all Christians.
Steve was clearly not prepared for the blatant deception he encountered in debating an Adventist evangelist. Nevertheless, darkness cannot stamp out light. God is not surprised by the deception of those teaching false doctrine, and He has the last word.
The Lord knows how to protect His people and to preserve truth in spite of dishonest teachers who claim to speak for God.
Jesus has fulfilled the law, and in Him we rest. †
- Steve Gregg’s website: http://www.thenarrowpath.com