Not Talking…But Talking About Talking

February 23, 2012 in Sovereign Grace Ministries

Yesterday, a reader posted the following in a comment:

Observation 1: Since the reinstatement announcement on 25 January, there have been *no* denominational updates over at Plant and Build blog.  We’re going on nearly a month.

Observation 2: In the same period, multiple SGM congregations across the country have been on the receiving end of unity-related and godly speech/slander/gossip-related sermons.

Earlier, when people had been discussing the recent barrage of “Don’t Talk” messages flowing out of SGM pulpits, I wrote this:

I haven’t had an opportunity to listen to any of the messages that have come down the pike about gossip, slander, and “passing along bad reports,” but I think it’s tremendously revealing that this particular topic is what some SGM pastors have chosen to focus on at this time.

I mean, if you consider the amazingly wonderful scope of the Bible, with its pretty much endless store of sermon fodder, and if you consider how the “Gossip & Slander” meme has already been so thoroughly beaten into the SGM culture, to where a significant cause of SGM’s present issues has actually been SGM’s code of silence, where nobody dared speak up, it seems pretty obvious that yet another teaching about “Gossip & Slander” is the very last thing your average SGMer needs.

Yes, godly speech is important.  Christians ought to be mindful about what they say.  They ought to make every effort to avoid mean-spirited conversations where the goal is to tear others down.

But in my experience, SGMers are already hyper-sensitive about this.  They have already been taught frequently about the pitfalls of “Gossip & Slander.”  They are very careful in their attempts to honor God, even to the point of trying to steer clear of “Gossip & Slander” according to SGM’s expanded definition, where “Gossip & Slander” no longer means what the Bible or the dictionary would tell us, but instead has come to mean, “Anything one might say that would show one is questioning one’s pastors.”

So, why hammer away on a well-worn subject yet again, when SGMers have already proven themselves to be almost paranoid about avoiding “Gossip & Slander”? Why not just crack open the Bible to some Psalm that celebrates God’s goodness…or focus on our identity as new creatures in Christ…or talk about the glories of the resurrection…or any of a thousand other topics that SGM pastors have tended to neglect over the past decades? Why revisit “Gossip & Slander” now?

(Especially since such messages would seem to be more topical in nature and not the sort of preaching that would be characterized as expository…which is the type of preaching SGM claims its pastors do?)

Sometimes SGM pastors are pathetically obvious, and to me, this is one of those times. Carting out the old “Gossip & Slander” chestnuts at this point in SGM’s history is a desperate attempt to do damage control by controlling the flow of information by controlling what people feel they can say to one another…and even what people can READ. These pastors ought to step back and realize how bad a choice this is. The church members who will listen to them unsuspiciously and eagerly imbibe their directives to not discuss church problems are the very same people who are already so drunk on the SGM Kool-Aid that the pastors have nothing to worry about with them anyway.

But those who have had their eyes opened even just a little bit almost can’t help but see how utterly self-serving yet another sermon about “Gossip & Slander” is…and what a desperate attempt it is to try and put the rain back into the storm clouds.

SGM pastors who are trotting out your “Gossip & Slander” sermons, you might want to rethink that idea. Honestly, I know this line has been mentioned many times here, to the point where it’s become something of a cliché, but you’re so obviously like the little man in Wizzard Of Oz, desperately trying to get people to “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.”

Talking about SGM’s problems, and objecting to CJ’s reinstatement, and rising up and demanding that church leaders make themselves formally accountable to the people whom they supposedly serve – none of that is sinful. None of that is “Gossip & Slander.” It’s just a much-needed dose of honesty, a much-needed reality check, from other members of the Body of Christ. If SGM’s pastors don’t accept this honesty and respond correctly to the reality check, they are going to lose the very kingdoms they are trying so hard to preserve.