Gossip and Double-Speak

December 31, 2007 in Sovereign Grace Ministries

In the comments section of “Your Questions and Concerns,” I posted the following observations about the notion of “gossip”:

Something that I’ve noticed, and Theoden and others have pointed out, is that there is a lot of double-speak (where words have either taken on broader-than-normal meanings, or where people make statements that they believe are true but actually aren’t) going on within SG leadership. Let’s look at the example of “gossip”:

“Gossip” is defined (at dictionary.com) as, “idle talk or rumor, esp. about the personal or private affairs of others.” But within SGM, this definition has been expanded. I’m sure others could do a better job of summarizing what they’d say is gossip, but it seems to me their definition would be something like this: “Gossip” equals ANY TALK AT ALL about questions, concerns, or problems, unless you are directly engaging in this talk with the people who can answer your questions, concerns, or problems.”

At our SGM church, the pastor pretty recently did a 2-part series on gossip where he relied on the old Bill Gothard definition: “Gossip” is any talk of a problem with anyone who is not part of the solution.”

You’ll note that the original dictionary.com definition of “gossip” includes the word “idle” as a modifier for the word “talk.” “Gossip” by tradition is “idle talk,” NOT “any talk.” There is a big difference. If you are earnestly and honestly seeking to flesh out your thoughts, or seek feedback on an idea, or figure out if there even IS a problem to begin with, it is NOT “idle” (purposeless, pointless, meaningless) talk to discuss a problem with someone else. But of course, it IS “any” talk.

Also, SGM folks seem to have an extremely narrow definition of what they mean by “anyone who is not part of the solution.” By that phrase, they mean “anyone IN AUTHORITY who is not part of the solution.” In other words, unless you are discussing your problem, question, or concern with someone IN AUTHORITY who can fix your problem, you are engaging in gossip.

It’s all very nebulous and very subtle, but these distinctions are hugely important.

Because, considering SGM’s views on submission to authority, essentially what happens when you bring a problem or concern or question to the authorities is, you are already, by their assumptions about what “authority” means, setting yourself up to submitting to WHATEVER THEY SAY about your problem, concern, or question.

After that, it’s only a hop, skip, and a jump to the point where you must receive discipline from the authorities if you do not align your thoughts with their thoughts about your question, concern, or problem.

Thoughts, anyone?

© 2007, Kris. All rights reserved.