My Clarification and No Apology From Joel and Greg Gwin

by Bill Reeves

October 26, 2003

Brother Reeves' article, "My Clarification And An Apology By Joel and Greg Gwin"

   In order to give the reader a clarification concerning a libelous and damaging statement made by brother Joel Gwin in his opening remarks of the Hopkinsville Debate, July 17, 2003, I present by the following exchange of email between our brother and myself (and toward the end of this article between brother Greg Gwin and me). The exchange speaks for itself.

   On 09-29-03 I wrote the following to brother Joel Gwin :

   Dear Joel:

   May these lines find you and your family well and busy. Twilah and I are doing well for our age. God has been good to us with abundant blessings.

   You may be well informed about an exchange of emails between your father and me, an exchange initiated by a demand for documentation by brother Pat Donahue. Since your father spoke for you in that exchange, I told him, that if he did not have you issue a public apology for the quote that you attributed to me in the opening part of your first speech on Thursday night of the debate, I would contact you directly. He let me know that he was not going to do that; hence this post. (I would be happy to supply you with the above-mentioned exchange of letters, if you feel that that is necessary).

   From the recording of the debate I transcribed these very words of yours:

   “Brother Reeves surprised me by saying, I agreed to debate you, no one else.” Joel, I have never said those words; you have never heard me say those words, nor have you ever read from me those words. Yet, you give the audience a direct quote from me. You led that live audience, and everyone who listens to the recording of the debate, to believe that I said those words.

   If you do not know the difference between a direct quote and a statement of what you believe someone claims, consider the following examples in the N.T.:

(1) Mt. 26:42, Again a second time he went away, and prayed, saying, My Father, if this cannot pass away, except I drink it, thy will be done. -- Matthew gives a direct quote; Jesus said those very words!

(2) Acts 11:7, And I heard also a voice saying unto me, Rise, Peter; kill and eat. -- Luke gives a direct quote; The voice said those very words!

(3) (An example your father gave me!) Acts 19:21, Now after these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. -- After stating what Paul purposed to do, Luke gives a direct quote from Paul. Paul said those very words!

   Brother Joel, your statement parallels those given above from the Scriptures: “Brother Reeves surprised me by saying, I agreed to debate you, no one else.” But I have never said those words that you attribute to me!

   I am demanding, Joel, that you publicly apologize for publicly putting in my mouth words that I never spoke. To make the matter crystal clear, and to exonerate your character, you must:

1. admit that you in your opening speech, after saying that: “Brother Reeves surprised me by saying,” attributed these very words to brother Reeves: “I agreed to debate you, no one else.”

2. that to your knowledge brother Reeves never spoke nor wrote those words.

3. that you are sorry that you attributed said quote to brother Reeves, and apologize to him for having done so.

   What you might have meant to say, or intended to say, or think is the only deduction to be drawn from something written or said, is not the issue. The issue is: you attributed a direct quote to me that I never uttered nor wrote! Surely you will make the required correction for your own character’s sake, and for the sake of Truth which you love. My name has been sullied by your attribution to me of that direct quote, and the public is going to have this issue clarified, with or without your apology. The decision is yours. I hope that you will speedily do the honorable thing.

   I await your reply. Brotherly, Bill Reeves

   Brother Gwin replied 10-01-03 to my letter of 09-29-03 that requested an apology. He wrote the following:

   Brother Reeves:

   I have reviewed all of the email exchanges between you and my father, and I am in complete agreement with the things he wrote to you. I do not feel that I owe an apology for factually explaining how our debate developed. I never meant for those few words in my introduction to be taken as a direct quote. But I did mean for the audience to understand that you had refused to debate anyone but me. That is the truth, and you cannot deny it. As my father said, if you will make public the email messages between yourself and me, then I am not afraid for anyone and everyone to draw their own conclusions as to my truthfulness.

   Brother Reeves, you are demanding an apology from me for some simple, innocent words -- words which factually represented the true development of the debate. However, when I wrote to you (8/7/03) to correct some of the false accusations and character assassination you are doing on Tim Haile's website, you completely ignored my message. Why is this?

   I still hope and pray that YOU will repent of the false doctrine that you are teaching. If there has been anything which has "sullied" your reputation, it is that fact that you are teaching and promoting a false and divisive doctrine. Please think about this.

sincerely, Joel Gwin

   The next day (10-02-03) I again wrote brother Gwin, making a second appeal to him. I wrote:

   Dear brother Joel:

   Patiently I urge you one more time to simply admit that you attributed to me words in a direct quote that I never have spoken nor written, and to apologize for doing so. This is the honorable thing to do.

   In my first letter to you requesting an apology, I explicitly stated:

   “What you might have meant to say, or intended to say, or think is the only deduction to be drawn from something written or said, is not the issue. The issue is: you attributed a direct quote to me that I never uttered nor wrote!” (Incidentally, Joel, that is a direct quote--that’s exactly what I wrote! Note the quotation marks!). Yet, you evade the issue altogether, replying (and this is a direct quote from you, and not what I might think that you intended to say!): “I do not feel that I owe an apology for factually explaining how our debate developed. “ My brother, no one is requesting an apology for “factually explaining how our debate developed.” How can I make that more plain for you to see? Or, do you see and simply refuse to face the facts? Just as Zophar put words in poor Job’s mouth (Job 11:4), you are guilty of doing the same to me, and that does not commend his character nor yours.

   You led an audience, and continue to do so, to believe that I said something that I have never said. (No wonder that some people think ill of me). You have led them to do so! I am not, as you write, “demanding an apology from me for some simple, innocent words -- words which factually represented the true development of the debate.” Brother Joel, is it alright with you that anyone put words into your mouth and tell the world that you said them, as long as the person who does it considers his words “simple, innocent words?” Joel, surely you have heard of the “Golden Rule!”

   As for another matter which you raise in your reply, concerning a post to me on Aug. 8th of this year, after your apology for attributing that quote to me I will be happy to consider that matter with you.

   As I implored you in my previous post, submit the apology “for your own character’s sake, and for the sake of Truth which you love.”

   In closing I briefly comment on your charge that I am “teaching and promoting a false and divisive doctrine.” I do not draw lines of fellowship on the issue we debated, but you do! Now, whose doctrine is divisive? Just who is dividing the brotherhood on this matter? The answer is self-evident.

   Awaiting your apology, your brother in Christ, Bill Reeves

   Ten days later, on Oct. 12, 2003, I wrote to brother Gwin:

   Dear Joel:

   May these few lines find you well, along with your family. I write them to inquire if you received my post of Oct. 2, in which I make a second appeal to you to apologize for publicly attributing to me a direct statement, within quotation marks, that I have never made. There can be many reasons for one's delay in replying to a post: sickness, travel, pressing tasks, or even computer problems. Or, you may never have received that particular post. Please let me know so that I will know what to expect from you. Brotherly, Bill Reeves

   On Oct. 17, 2003 brother Joel wrote:

   Dear Bro. Reeves,

   I also hope that you and your family are well. In my last reply I stated,

   "I do not feel that I owe an apology for factually explaining how our debate developed. I never meant for those few words in my introduction to be taken as a direct quote. But I did mean for the audience to understand that you had refused to debate anyone but me."

Praying for you,
Joel Gwin

   How simple and easy it would have been for our brother to apologize for attributing to me a direct quote that I never said, and then explain that what he “meant” to do was such and such. Although what he “meant” to do is totally false, I did not request of him any apology for his false deductions or conclusions. I solely requested that he make public to the brotherhood that he apologizes for putting words in my mouth, thus leaving the audience to believe that I actually had said those words. He wronged me, but will not apologize for it. He leaves standing his direct quote, falsely attributed to me. I, and any who objectively read this exchange of correspondence, are disappointed in our brother who has self-inflicted damage to his own character.

   I did not want that debate with brother Gwin. Six months before the debate, the other brother and I, with whom brother Gwin had a two and a half-hour study, by brother Gwin’s request, tried to get him to have another study together, but brother Gwin was insistent upon a debate. He gave the other brother and me to understand that he wanted me to debate him at the Suwanee church on the matter discussed, and I agreed to do that. (He later claimed that he never intended for the debate to be between just him and me, and I believe him simply because that is what he claims. But, brother Joel doesn’t express himself accurately and the other brother and I can’t be faulted for that; we know only that he challenged me to debate him at Suwanee!) And, basing my answer to brother Joel on the words that he used, I accepted to do so! Even though the other brother and I saw no need for a debate, but rather for more study together, I accepted brother Joel’s challenge to debate him at Suwanee simply out of respect for our close relationship to Joel (he used to be a member where I preach in Hopkinsville, and where he had preached on occasions when I would be out in meetings), and possibly be of some help to the Suwanee church that had disfellowshipped its preacher in part over the matter of this controversy. I knew the preacher personally. Because of these special circumstances, I reluctantly agreed to brother Joel’s challenge for me to debate him at Suwanee.

   Two days later, after the study and the challenge for debate, brother Joel called me and we talked about our initial plans for the debate. I still was given by him to understand that the debate was to be between him and me at Suwanee. When he thereafter wrote me about their wanting to get another to do the debating and that they wanted the Hopkinsville church to also participate in having the debate, thus changing the original proposal for the debate, I replied in a one-sentence letter! It said (and Joel, this is a quote!): “Dear Joel: Inasmuch as you have withdrawn your proposal for you and me to debate at Suwanee, consider the matter closed. Brotherly, Bill H. Reeves.” That, written Jan. 27, 2003, is the entirety of the letter! Brother Joel could have quoted that, but he quoted something else that I have never said; namely, “I agreed to debate you, no one else.” What I actually wrote him, and what he could have accurately quoted, didn’t serve his purpose of putting me in a bad light with the audience! He wanted the audience to get the impression that I was determined to take advantage of his youth and inexperience.

   Why is he so insistent now that what was obviously a direct quote be left standing, even though he admits that he did not intend that statement as a direct quote? He is bent upon libeling my character, just as did the brother who wrote in brother Jeff Belknap’s Encouraging Reader Responses section of his website, and whose statement was gladly published by brother Belknap (“Jeff: …I am surprised that Bill Reeves takes that position. I wish he was man enough to meet a seasoned preacher rather than insisting on a boy just starting meet him. This seems evidence to me that he knows the weakness of his position. 5-11-03”). As I said in the debate, in my first speech following brother Gwin’s libelous quote that he attributed to me, “Now what purpose is served in the web master’s publishing his evil surmising of a brother (the reader--bhr) who calls him (Joel--bhr) a boy … There is no purpose served in that but defamation of character and make me look bad.”

   I have publicly debated brethren and also sectarians, both in English and in Spanish. These public debates have been with men of my age, or older or younger. The age of the opponent has never had anything to do with these debates. In no case of these did I challenge for the debate (not that it would have been wrong to do so), but in every case I was challenged by the opponent. These debates have been from one night (with a Christian Church preacher, English) to ten nights (with a Mormon “elder,” Spanish). The first man was younger, the second man was my age. An eight night debate with an Adventist in Spanish was with a preacher who was older than I. A four-night debate that I had in English was with a brother in Christ who was older than I. (That’s twelve nights with two older men! One of them kept calling me a “boy!”). Brother Joel Gwin’s insinuation, in painting me as a man who will debate only a young, inexperienced brother (for only a two-night debate), is not only ludicrous but is designed solely to defame me and sully my reputation. This is what grieves me concerning my brother Gwin. Does he consider his position so weak that he must bolster it by means of attributing a quote to his brother in Christ that the audience can take only as a proof of that which brother Gwin is so determined to insinuate? What other purpose can be served by this carnal tactic? The audience went away honestly believing that brother Reeves said those words attributed to him as a direct quote, and therefore honestly believing that brother Reeves sought an advantage over this young, inexperienced preacher! This damaging of character is what brother Gwin refuses to correct, and wants to have left standing! I am sorry that he has refused, for such reflects upon his own character.

   On Sept. 18, 2003, brother Greg Gwin, Joel’s father, in an email exchange that he and I were having, wrote:

   “In hindsight, it would have been better for Joel to say something like: ‘I was surprised when brother Reeves indicated an unwillingness to engage in this debate with anyone other than me.’ This would have avoided any impression that he was directly quoting you. However, the audience would have still reached the same unavoidable conclusion.

   I responded on the 22nd:

   “Greg, what would have been better is not the issue. This issue is what happened, and the damage that I have suffered as a result. My complaint is that, and that only. Had Joel said what you state above, you suppose that the audience would have ‘reached the same unavoidable conclusion.’ Maybe so, maybe not. That’s not for you, nor me, to say with certainty. What the audience HEARD was a direct quote as from brother Reeves. That is what contributes strongly to any “conclusion” that the audience and all listeners to the recording are going to have.

   On 09-24-03 I wrote brother Greg:

   “You write: ‘You imply that you are preparing to take action of some sort. I suppose that the best thing for you to do is to publish your perspective on the development of the debate.’ No, the issue is not one of ‘perspectives.’ Everyone is welcome to his perspective. I am not insisting on any particular perspective. This issue is that of attributing to a brother words that he never spoke, thus misleading the audience. This is what needs to be corrected, or if not corrected, exposed.”

   Then lastly, consider this quote from brother Greg, written to me on Sept. 24, 2003”:

   “That one sentence quote/non-quote does not for one minute change the truth of how this debate came about. The fact stands – you refused to debate anyone other than Joel.” His concluding paragraphs says, “I will not be encouraging Joel to issue any correction or apology other than what I have already written to you, namely that while those words were not a direct quote from you, and were not intended to be so taken, they did accurately portray the meaning of the message that you sent to Joel: I AGREED TO DEBATE YOU AND NO ONE ELSE!”

   Brother Greg, along with brother Joel, have refused to correct the attribution to me of words that I have never spoken. This is clear. They ignore that and ride out on what they judge their and other people’s perception of me might be as to “how this debate came about.” I have repeatedly said that that is of no concern to me; people can believe about that matter what they choose to believe. But, what some people are believing about the matter is greatly influenced by words that were put in my mouth that I never spoke! Note above that brother Greg calls those words that Joel put in my mouth a “one sentence quote/non-quote.” Now, what kind of a critter is that? Greg wants it both a quote and a non-quote at the same time! He knows that it is a quote, but wants to make it a “non/quote” because of what Joel’s real intentions were in quoting me. Then Greg concludes his email, saying, “while those words were not a direct quote from you,” thus admitting that I never in my life said those words. Why not simply admit publicly that the attributing to me in public certain words was an error, and ask my apology for doing so? I would be happy to accept the apology, and forget the matter. But, it is not forthcoming, and I am sorry for both of them. It doesn’t matter to them that a brother in Christ is misrepresented publicly, as long as good intentions were involved in doing so. It kind of smacks of situation ethics!

   Dear reader, don’t let anyone lead your minds from the issue. The issue is not “how the debate came about.” It is not about what someone thinks that the email exchange between brother Joel and me might portray, as to the alleged conclusion that I “refused to debate anyone else except Joel.” It is about telling an audience that brother Reeves said such and such words which he never said. It is about leading an audience to believe that brother Reeves said a particular something that makes him look bad. It is about putting words in another man’s mouth!

   I would be happy to share the complete exchange of email with both brethren, Joel and Greg, and what anyone would see “portrayed” therein would be his own conclusion to which he would be welcomed. Doing so, however, would not touch in the least the issue that is raised: putting words in another man’s mouth to make him look bad! The Gwins want that personal depiction of me at all costs, even at the cost of refusing to do the honorable thing: apologize for telling the audience that I said something that I never said. Of paramount importance to them is to keep a brother looking bad! Brethren Gwin, how does that make you look?

Bill Reeves

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