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REV. J. F. BERG, D.D., OF PHILADELPHIA,
1. Berg,Joseph P. Great discussion on the
origin ... of the Bible,between Rev.
ORIGIN OF THE DISCUSSION, &C.
In December last,'jn compliance with a request from the Sunday Institute, I began a course of lectures in Philadelphia, on the origin, authority and influence of the Scriptures. The object of the lectures was to show that the Bible is of human origin, that its teachings are not of divine authority, and that the doctrine that the Bible is God's word is injurious in its tendency.
When I sent the Sunday Institute a programme of my lectures, I authorised the Secretary to announce, through the papers, that I was willing to meet any clergyman, of good standing in any of the leading churches, in public discussion on the Bible question.
Mr. McCalla, a Presbyterian clergyman, who had previously held several public discussions on various subjects, accepted the offer, and arrangements were made for a six nights' debate. Mr. McCalla, however, after the first night, made no attempt to debate the question, but employed his time in a manner which it would be difficult, and perhaps useless, to describe. 1 It may, however, be proper to say, that he sought, by abuse, foul names, and other offensive arts, to turn the debate into a quarrel or a fight. I, however, kept close to the question, which seemed to embarrass my opponent, and the result was, that, on the fifth evening, after trying to raise a mob, he withdrew from the contest
The clergy, or- a portion of the clergy, of Philadelphia, unwilling to leave their cause in this plight, demanded that I should discuss the question with Dr. Berg, a minister in whom they had fuller confidence. Being assured that Dr. Berg was a gentleman and a scholar, and that he was the ablest debater the clergy of Philadelphia could boast, I agreed to meet him, and the discussion was fixed for the 9th, 10th, 12th, 13th, 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th of January.
The report of the debate is before you — the best that I could give. Dr. Berg agreed, before the debate, to supply me with corrected copies of his speeches, that I might be able to publish the debate in full. I wrote to him, when the discussion was over, requesting copies of his speeches, and offering to pay him for them; but I received no answer. A day or two after, there appeared an advertisement in the papers, to the effect, that the Christian Committee were about to publish an authorised report of the debate. This Committee, however, never consulted me— never asked for corrected copies of my speeches. Their advertisement, therefore, of an " authorised" report, must have been designed to deceive. In this report, I have given my own speeches as correctly as I could; my opponent's are re-printed from the Register. The opinion of many was, that the Editor of the Register did my opponent more than justice; and that his speeches were much improved by passing through