Exposing The Sophistry Of Joel Gwin's Debate Charts:
by Bill Reeves and Tim Haile
August 21, 2003
One must be very careful in his handling of the Scriptures (2 Tim. 2:15; 2 Cor. 4:2). In the next chart, brother Gwin alleges and descibes two "scenarios" from Matthew 19:9. There is a problem with this chart - Matthew 19:9 does not discuss two scenarios: It discusses only one! Jesus answered the question asked by the Pharisees (vs. 3). Matthew 19:9 does contain language allowing for the possibility of an additional scenario. However, that scenario is not developed and described by Jesus. Consider brother Gwin's chart:
This chart purports to represent two scenarios that are found in Matt. 19:9. The first glowing error of this chart is that Matt. 19:9 presents only one scenario, that one presented to Jesus by the Pharisees (19:3) and answered by him in the subsequent verses.
1. Brother Gwin’s “Scenario #1” is not discussed in this passage. That scenario is a necessary inference drawn from what the verse implies, and more can be said about the inference than what brother Gwin cares to admit in his chart.
2. Let’s look first at his “Scenario #2,” which is the only one that Jesus treats in this passage.
a. The phrase, “NOT for fornication,” is not found in Matt. 19:9. It is supplied to us (by necessary inference), based upon the scenario that was put to Jesus in 19:3. (What is said in 19:9a, by implication, gives us the right to necessarily infer what brother Gwin states in his “Scenario #1.”)
b. The two people to whom Jesus in this verse attributes adultery are two men. (He does not address himself to the wife at all, telling her what she may or may not do!) Yet, brother Gwin sees nothing else of merit in the verse to mention except the “result for (this) wife.” Look at what he circles on the chart! But Jesus says that both men (the husband, and the second man) commit adultery upon remarrying (in the case of the husband) and of marrying the put-away wife of the husband (in the case of the second man). This is what the verse says! And anyone who simply reads the verse can see this.
c. Brother Gwin underscores the wrong words in his chart, thus ignoring what Jesus actually says, and about which he gives emphasis. If Jesus were to make the chart He would underscore “whosover” and “whoso.” Brother Gwin ignores this and underscores the entire phrase, “whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery,” because his whole thrust in this controversy is the phrase, the put-away woman! This is his absolute (which, however, has exceptions, as we see elsewhere!).
3. Since brother Gwin builds into his chart a necessary inference (which has to do with “understanding Matthew 19:9”), we also will do the same in showing what is lacking in his chart. Let us look at his “Scenario #1.
a. In addition to what he has written between quotation marks, we by the same token can write this: “Whosever shall put away her husband, for fornication, and shall marry another, does not commit adultery: and whoso marrieth him which is put away doth commit adultery."
b. Brother Gwin’s arrow will now point down, not to “result for wife,” but to “result for husband!” The middle part of the chart now has the result for the husband being “May not remarry” and “May not remarry” (circled)!
c. The phrase which now must be underscored, both above (Scenario #1) and below (Scenario #2) is this one: “whoso marrieth him which is put away doth commit adultery.”
d. But Brother Gwin in his debate didn’t have any charts on “the put-away man”. What he had charts on, and what he repeated monotonously and countless times during the debate, was “the put-away woman!”
4. The reason why the wife, or the husband (by implication, for God is not a respecter of persons), as mentioned in Matthew 19:9, may not remarry, is not that the one or the other is a put-away person, but simply because the cause of the putting-away was NOT fornication, and God gives the right for repudiation and remarriage only to the spouse who is innocent of that sin and whose mate has committed it!
5. This chart by brother Gwin has one objective, and one only: to circle “May not remarry” for the put-away wife. The “put-away wife” is all that brother Gwin sees, breathes and articulates in this controversy in the brotherhood. This chart was not designed to cause the reader to understand Matthew 19:9, giving him a complete explanation of what is treated by Jesus and what can be inferred from the verse, but to cause his reader to see only one thing: no put-away woman may remarry. This is done by the subtle presentation of two scenarios, when there is only one, and by leaving out the implied part of the woman’s putting away as well as the man’s.
6. In the fifth question that brother Reeves sent to brother Gwin before the debate began, and which he did not read and answer in his first speech (see Reeves’ 430 Slides, numbers 367 to 430), brother Gwin was asked:
“5. Does Jesus teach in Matt. 19:9 that a wife may put away her husband who fornicates, and that she may then remarry?" He replied: “Matthew 19:9 is written from the man's point of view, but I believe that it is a generic teaching that would be applicable for a woman as well. However, the woman would not be able to "put away her husband who fornicates" if he had already made her a put away person. In such a case, the marriage is already dissolved.”
So, we see that he admits that there is “generic teaching” that allows the innocent wife to put away the fornicating husband. Why didn’t he make this a part of his chart, since he wants us to be “Understanding Matthew 19:9”? Because he is interested only in getting the put-away wife put into his box without escape. Lacking is a box for the put-away man!
His first sentence is well stated; he sees that Bible principles can apply to scenarios not specifically addressed. But brother Reeves is not permitted to so apply them! Brother Gwin plays by two sets of rules; one for him, and one for those not of his persuasion! He can apply “generic teaching” but others may not. How considerate of our brother (and of his associates)!
But now he is going to deny the principle, unless it contains his man-made proviso! She may put away her fornicating husband, just like he may put away his fornicating wife, but not if she was previously put away by her husband. Well, what about the husband who puts away his wife for fornication, per his chart? Where is this qualification for him? It is conveniently left out! In his chart he has the husband putting away the wife for fornication, and she may not remarry. Well, just substitute wife for husband and put it in his chart, having her put away her husband, and he may not remarry, and he says that she may do this, but only with his proviso! Surely the legs of the lame are not equal! Brother Gwin has doctored his chart to suit his purposes of depriving the innocent wife of her God-given permission to repudiate a fornicator-mate and to remarry.
7. But, one may say: “Well, brother Gwin on his chart is simply using the language of Jesus in Matt. 19:9, as he presents his ‘scenario # 1’. That is why he doesn’t mention the matter of the wife’s putting away the husband for fornication.” Really? Does Jesus in Matt. 19:9 really use the language of brother Gwin’s “Scenario # 1?” The language that brother Gwin, not Jesus, uses in his Scenario # 1 is an inference (albeit a necessary one) that must include the wife as well as the husband, since God is no respecter of persons! Jesus used the language that he did because he was asked (19:3) about the lawfulness of a man’s doing something! But our necessary inference, drawn from what 19:9 implies, is generic in its application: both husband and wife may put away for fornication!
8. Again we emphasize: charts can be very helpful, but when sophistry is woven into their construction, they become very misleading and false!
This completes part nine of our study. Please check the next article in the series.