Exposing The Sophistry Of Joel Gwin's Debate Charts:
by Tim Haile
July 22, 2003
On July 17th and 18th, in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, brother Joel Gwin met brother Bill Reeves in oral debate on the subject of biblical putting-away. Both men conducted themselves and articulated their positions well. In a time of cowardice and compromise, we should be thankful for men of conviction who are willing to publicly contend for what they believe to be the truth.
Having said this, brother Reeves and I were deeply disturbed by some of the tactics and arguments used by brother Gwin in the debate. We have, therefore, decided to review brother Gwin's debate charts on the web. We have several reasons for doing this. Some of the more important reasons are as follows:
1. We hope to help those who are interested in studying this subject, but were not able to attend the debate.
2. Brother Gwin's charts have been published on the world wide web on Jeff Belknap's Website. We want access to this review to be just as public as is access to his charts.
3. Although some of these charts were briefly reviewed by brother Reeves during the debate, the restraints of time kept him from giving any attention to some of them. This format does not so limit us. It gives us the ability to devote as much time and space as necessary to thoroughly examine and expose the fallacy of brother Gwin's material.
4. Some of brother Gwin's charts directly misrepresented brother Reeves. One statement was even enclosed in quote marks, suggesting that brother Reeves had somewhere made the statement. Brother Reeves had presented the very statement that brother Gwin purposely altered. This was brought to brother Gwin's attention, but he made no retraction. You don't quote a sentence from a brother's writings, change the subject, and then present the revised sentence as a quote from him! That's the epitome of dishonesty! It is dishonest to ascribe a statement to a man with absolutely no proof that he ever made it.
5. Some of brother Gwin's charts contained sophistry and equivocation. Whether brother Gwin designed these charts himself, was coached by others, or used charts that were designed by others, is irrelavant. The fact remains that he is the one who stood before an audience and made the misleading arguments. Specious arguments have a ring of truth. Brother Gwin's reasoning appeared sound. However, this was accomplished only by defining a word one way in the premise and a different way in the conclusion. Sophistry is also seen in how words and phrases are arranged and juxtaposed. These tactics easily deceive those who have not trained themselves to recognize them.
6. Many of brother Gwin's charts did not represent what brother Reeves believes, and had nothing to do with the differences between them. It became quickly obvious that brother Joel Gwin was not debating Bill Reeves, but anyone and everyone that disagreed with him! His charts were prepared to get before the public as much information in defense of his position as possible. Brother Joel simply followed a scripted text in which arguments were presented against anybody that might differ with him. Brother Reeves' name was simply attached to a lot of the charts, suggesting that they represented his beliefs. Brother Gwin used quotes from others, but not from brother Reeves' writings. At several times in the debate, it appeared that Joel debated Bill without knowing what he believed. Again, it was obvious that Joel was not debating Bill, but any and all who differed with him.
Brother Reeves and I will be drawing attention to these matters throughout the coarse of this review. This review is not for the purpose of personal attack. Neither brother Reeves nor I have any personal animosity against brother Gwin. We have no personal "axe to grind." We are merely interested in exposing his sophistry, answering his errors, correcting his misrepresentations, and setting forth the truth as clearly as we know how. Brother Gwin's error forces him and those who agree with him, to bind their own personal scruples and procedures on others. In order to avoid confusion and misrepresentation we intend to include full copies of the Joel's debate slides in the review. Due to the possibility that some will charge me with "trying to win the debate for Bill Reeves after it is already over," I want to state for the record, that most of the material contributed to this study has been written by brother Reeves.
Part One Of The Series