Exposing The Sophistry Of Joel Gwin's Debate Charts:
by Bill Reeves and Tim Haile
September 12, 2003
Some of us, because of our public treatment of this issue, have been charged with making it "a test of fellowship." If, by this, one means that we require the innocent spouse to do what we teach he has the right to do, the answer is, NO, we do not make this "a test of fellowship." If one means that we condemn, as sinful, the practice of one's adding his own stipulations, restrictions, methods, provisos, protocols and procedures to what Jesus taught in Matthew 19:9, then YES, this is a matter of fellowship. It is sinful to add to God's word (Rev. 22:18; Prov. 30:6; Deut. 12:32). It is sinful to bind one's personal scruples and traditions on others (Mk. 7:8,9,13).
We teach that Jesus placed no restrictions on the innocent party that would prevent him from being able to put-away his fornicator-mate and marry another. We oppose every effort to bind where God has not bound. So, just as we oppose the binding of human provisos to the Lord's law of putting-away, we oppose any binding of the innocent party to remarry! Our position allows the innocent party to do what Jesus gave him the right to do. It does not obligate that innocent party to avail himself of that divinely given right.
In any controversy, honest, truth-loving brethren will study the issue with open minds, and they will allow others to do likewise! Time, opportunity and consideration should be given to other brethren, allowing them to evaluate and digest arguments. It is our sincere hope that our work in teaching on this subject will allow others this time and opportunity for study. We have not rushed to condemn those whom we believe to be misguided. We hope to help them.
This next chart demonstrates who is actually driving the wedge and making this a test of fellowship. It is brother Gwin and those who support him! By citing Galatians 1:9 (see the bottom of the chart), brother Gwin adds Bill Reeves to the company of the "accursed!" Brother Reeves is charged with doing something that will result in him being eternally condemned! By applying the language of Galatians 1:9 to Bill Reeves, Joel Gwin applies very strong language. It is the language of one who refuses fellowship with another brother. Consider the chart:
1. Originally on brother Gwin’s chart there were five quoted statements: three by Jesus, one by brother Reeves, and one by the apostle Paul. All five were in quotation marks. Brother Reeves complained to brother Gwin for quoting him as saying something that he have never said, nor believed! Later he explained to brother Reeves that by using quotation marks he meant that that is what to him brother Reeves means to say, but he added that he would remove the quotation marks (which thing he did). Now, how was the audience to get that impression upon viewing the original chart? If five times statements are mentioned as being said by different people, and the statements are in quotation marks, are we to understand that in four of the cases the persons actually said thus and thus, but that in one particular case the person did not actually say such and such, but that it was just what someone thought he meant? (This is not the only chart by brother Gwin that has quotation marks irresponsibly used. See our review # 6, second chart).
2. Notice that the three statements quoted from Jesus’ words, two from Matthew and one from Luke, are just the “b” parts of the three passages. Why is this? Why didn’t brother Gwin quote the entire verse, if he wanted to present the teaching of Jesus and to give the proper exegesis or explanation of the passages? Jesus in these passages directs his remarks to two men. He does not direct anything to a put-away woman. To properly represent Jesus one must emphasize what Jesus emphasizes, and that is the consequence of adultery for two men who marry: the husband who puts away his wife for just any cause and marries another woman, and the man who might marry that put-away wife of the first man.
Brother Gwin gives only the “b” part of the three passages because he is obsessed with a category of women that he classifies as “a put-away woman” and what she may not do! He has a box into which he is going to put her (see chart # 48), and others can’t get her out (but he can!). He tells us that Lk. 16:18b is an absolute (see his chart # 49), and so anyone who marries a put-away woman commits adultery! This is absolute. But then he denies his “absolute” and lets her out of the box to be married by another man if her husband, who unjustly put her away, should die! He has “qualifiers” for the man in Lk. 16:18a, making it not an absolute, but he has “b” an absolute although he has a “qualifier” for it also! Figure that out! See our review of his chart # 49.
3. The Gospel according to brother Reeves, he tells us on his chart, is that whosoever marrieth her that is put away doth commit adultery unless she was innocent of fornication when she was put away (emp. his). Where did brother Gwin learn that? He never read anything like that from brother Reeves’ writings, nor did he ever hear brother Reeves say such a thing. Well, he explained to brother Reeves, that such is what to him seems to be what brother Reeves’ position dictates. Well, then, if that is the case, our brother didn’t listen well during the debate. But, why should he? His charts were prepared before the debate. Many of them were prepared, not for a debate between him and brother Reeves, but simply to get as much generic teaching (misrepresentations and all!) of his position before the audience. He had many months of time in which to ask brother Reeves about any point of doctrine, but never asked him one time about anything! He simply took a number of generic charts and stuck brother Reeves’ name to them (or had it stuck to them). This doesn’t commend him, nor those who might have prepared the charts, or helped him prepare them. Truth never uses such carnal tactics.
Brother Reeves denies that statement of “The Gospel according to Bill Reeves.” It takes part of a statement of Jesus and, in bold font and underscoring, adds a proviso that totally misrepresents what brother Reeves believes and preaches. Brother Gwin wants his audience to believe that the reason that brother Reeves gives for the put-away woman of Jesus’ scenario being permitted to remarry is that “she was innocent of fornication when she was put away!” Where did brother Gwin come up with that? (Until he can tell us the source of such a wild accusation, he needs to withdraw this chart from circulation). The reason, and only reason, why any spouse is permitted to repudiate a mate and to remarry is the cause of fornication!
If a put-away wife agreed to the putting-away, even though she and even her husband were both innocent of fornication, they both sinned and neither one would be permitted to remarry! This is what happens in mutual divorce (very common in today’s society); and this is what happens in the “waiting game.” Brother Reeves abhors such a doctrine! In such a scenario there is innocence, in the matter of fornication being committed, prior to the divorce, but there is no Scriptural reason for the divorce, and therefore no divine permission for either one to remarry. The chart simply misrepresents brother Reeves, and this is the type of tactic that brother Gwin prepared before debate, with no regard for what brother Reeves actually believes and preaches.
4. In spite of all this, brother Gwin concludes his chart with words from the apostle Paul, implying that brother Reeves should be accursed! What? Misrepresent a brother’s beliefs and then accurse him for believing it! What shameful procedure! Did it originate with “a boy just starting,” or did older minds factor into the equation?
This completes part twenty of our study. Please check the next article in the series.