“The defense to slander is the truth, and sometimes the truth hurts.” Mazie Hirono
If you have limited time, scroll down and read my original post,” Slander or an Inconvenient Truth. I think it is worth the read and will help readers as they interact on social media.
It appears that Tim Challies, an ardent theodude, has still not studied Scripture to understand what slander is and what it looks like. He still cries “slander,” seemingly unaware of the proper definition of this term. Pastors scream slander when they are feeling convicted about an inconvenient truth. Challies wrote Hang One by the Tongue and the Other by the Ear. Todd picked up on the post and tweeted the following, which includes a comment at TWW from 2015.
Tim Challies appears to think those who support abuse victims on social media are “looking for dirt.”
Here is what he has to say about those people on social media who seek to love and care for victims. When it involves abuse, one must be a “gutter inspector.” In 14 years, I have spoken with victim after victim and heard their pain, which involved dark deeds by molesters in the church. Lots and lots of molesters. Then there are the many domestic abusers or wives and children. It appears he would rather not know about these things.
Do not retail slanders and whisperings. Do not make yourself the inspector of warts, and the supervisor of carbuncles, and the commissioner for street-gutters, and the holder of stakes for a dog-fight. Can it be that you, an immortal man, that you, an immortal woman, can find no better business than to become a gutter inspector?
Tim Challies thinks it’s bad time management to look at abuse.
Challies had been a vocal opponent of saying anything bad about CJ Mahaney, even though many asked him to take a stand on that debacle. He took the easy way out in 2013 and wrote Thinking Biblically About C.J. Mahaney and Sovereign Grace Ministries. In this article, he claimed he would avoid learning too much about the situation because it was “not good time management.”
For this reason I have deliberately avoided learning too much. I have had to question my motives, especially since I have repeatedly been on the receiving end of scathing criticism for not using my platform to speak out against Mahaney. I have chosen to read the news stories, to understand the basic facts, but conscience compels me to stop there. To do more may not be spiritually beneficial, it may not reflect good time management, and it may not be loving toward those who are involved.
You will notice his conscience would not let him proceed further. It appears his conscience was not oriented around the victims who received little notice from the very busy Challies. The following comment causes me to scratch my head. He says even if you can get the facts, maybe you shouldn’t!
Not all knowledge builds us up; not all knowledge helps us; not all knowledge helps us love God and love one another in deeper ways. The fact that today’s media allows us to have access to facts, does not necessarily give license to avail ourselves of them.
Tim Challies appears to push CJ Mahaney 3 years later.
Here is what he says in Who Will You Serve and Surprise This Week.
How can I serve and how can I surprise? (I owe “serve and surprise” to a series of articles written by C.J. Mahaney.)r
Tim Challies and Cruciform Press
Sometimes, it is interesting to follow the money. During the time of Sovereign Grace’s upheaval, CJ Mahaney was an author admired by the founder of Cruciform Press. CJ Mahaney was much admired when Challies and Meath cofounded Cruciform Press. Meath had been the chief editor for Sovereign Grace for 11 years. I checked today. It appears Mahaney is now no longer listed at Cruciform Press. Eventually, things got too hot, perhaps?
“…let me tell you about an exciting new venture I am involved in. Let me introduce you to [insert drum roll here] Cruciform Press.
Cruciform Press is an alternative publishing company designed from the ground up to operate in the digital marketplace. And it officially launches today.
This is a collaborative effort between Kevin Meath (book editor extraordinaire who has edited books for authors like C.J. Mahaney, Paul David Tripp and Dave Harvey), Bob Bevington (an entrepreneur and optometrist who also happens to co-author books with Jerry Bridges) and me. Together we see the need for a model of publishing that begins with, not extends to, the new realities of this digital world.
As a publisher getting its start at the cusp of the digital age, our model is slightly different from traditional publishers. We are focusing on books between 10,000 and 25,000 words (roughly 50 to 100 pages) and will offer them at great prices in print-on-demand, e-book and audiobook formats. And we intend to publish a new book on the first of every month.”
Cruciform Press Founders
As mentioned above, Cruciform Press was co-founded by Kevin Meath, Bob Bevington, and Tim Challies. Meath serves as the Publisher and Editor hat, Bevington is the Executive Director, and Challies is Strategy and Acquisitions.
We believe Kevin Meath is the Smoking Gun. Meath’s bio on the Cruciform Press website says it all. Here’s how it begins:
“Kevin has more than 25 years professional experience as an editor, including eleven years as chief editor for Sovereign Grace Ministries. He has worked on more than 40 book projects for the Christian market, and has edited for C.J. Mahaney, Paul Tripp, John Piper, Jerry Bridges, Joel Beeke, Richard D. Phillips, Scotty Smith, Dave Harvey, and many others. He has worked with Multnomah, Crossway, Reformation Trust, Shepherd Press, New Growth Press, Founders Press, Sovereign Grace Ministries, Revive Our Hearts, Focus on the Family, Desiring God, and others.”
P.S. Challies got all bent out of shape by that post. We used the term “Crosshairs” as a take on Cruciform. Challies spouted somewhere that we were threatening him…We never used that term again. Using social media to say two women are threatening one is OK.
However, Challies caused me to go to Scripture to understand what the Bible says about it.
Slander: What this post is about.
Back in 2013, when few people knew about TWW, I got tired of the word “slander” used by pastors, theodude, and Calvinistas to convey that they didn’t like what was being said. They never claimed that what was being said was a lie (well, some did, but it wasn’t.) I decided to look at Scripture to see what Scripture meant by this word. I was astounded. Scripture mirrored U.S. law in defining slander/defamation. It is a lie knowingly told to cause malicious harm to another. Satan himself is called “the Father of Lies.”
I have used this post so many times in talking with folks. It has brought me much peace as I continue to bring abuse in churches to light. Unlike Challies, I found it has been a good use of my time since it makes a difference.
“See the quote at the start of this post. The defense to slander is the truth, and sometimes the truth hurts.” Challies and friends, it seems to me, protect their friends and don’t care about the victim.
Paradise Lost, Satan-The Father of Lies
Lying is done with words and also with silence. -Adrienne Rich
I contend that “slander” is the most misused and overused word in today’s churches. Recently, Frank Viola posted an article by John Zens called The Most Ignored Sin here , which deals with their perspective on gossip and slander.
Slander and Gossip: According to Zens and Viola,
I agreed with his definition of gossip.
Gossip is second or third hand information that someone dumps on you without your prior consent and without the consent of the person being gossiped about. Gossip can be true, partially true, or completely false. It can be motivated by good intentions, but it’s always negative personal information about another that puts them in a bad light.
However, I disagreed with his definition of slander because I believe an essential element is missing in this explanation. Note that he starts by invoking what he claims the Bible says about slander.
The Bible defines slander as accusatory speech that is injurious to a person’s name and reputation. It’s essentially character assassination . . . the act of smearing someone. Gossip and slander color people’s perceptions of an individual unfairly and unjustly without their knowledge or consent.
What Does the Bible Really Say?
He claims this definition can be found in the Bible, but I had difficulty finding the exact wording that Zens proposes. Here is a word search for slander in the ESV Bible.
From 1 Peter 3:16, we read:
Having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.
From Psalm 103:9:
They encircle me with words of hate, and attack me without cause
A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
Is Slander Merely Saying Something Negative?
Zens goes on to say something that I believe can be dangerous when applied in today’s churches.
One doesn’t have to be operating in malice to be guilty of gossip and slander. Again, the motive is irrelevant. Spreading negative or shameful information about another person is contrary to walking in love. Love “thinks no evil” and “believes the best of others” (1 Cor. 13)
Here are his three points.
- It has nothing to do with malice.
- Motivation is irrelevant.
- Spreading negative information is contrary to walking in love.
An Analysis of the Verses In Regards to Motivation
I believe he is wrong. Let’s start with some background information. The Bible verses dealing with slander make some vital points.
- Slander attacks without cause.
- Slander attacks good behavior, and the person’s life demonstrates that good behavior.
- It involves dishonesty. Look more closely at James 4:11. From the Berean Christian Bible Study Link.
However the word “slander” should be used consistently throughout theses verses, as the same greek word “katalaleo” is used throughout. “Katalaleo” means to traduce – To cause humiliation or disgrace to by making malicious and false statements. This is the sense here. Thus it should be “anyone who slanders his brother slanders the law and judges it.” He then transitions from speaking of slandering to speaking on judging based on one’s own opinions. These are of course related in that when one sets one’s own opinion above God’s, such a person ends up misjudging others. Jesus was subjected to such misjudgment in his trial by the Sanhedrin. So what criticisms you make concerning fellow Christians, let them not contain false and malicious statements, but rather even as Jesus said, “If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil” Jon 18:23
And lest one misinterpret what James says here, Paul explicitly commands, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.” 1Cor 5:12,13 We are to judge fellow Christians, but not misjudge them.
So, we are allowed to judge fellow Christians but not misjudge them. This contradicts Zen’s statement, which I repeat.
One doesn’t have to be operating in malice to be guilty of gossip and slander. Again, the motive is irrelevant. Spreading negative or shameful information about another person is contrary to walking in love.
Truth Versus Lies Is Important
Truth is relevant. Here, Zens overlooks one of the Scriptural names of Satan, which will make all the difference when we look at the word “slander.” He merely focuses on the word “accuse” in a pejorative sense. He appears to say that “accuse” always means “ba.”. He seems to overlook the fact that it might not be about the accusation but the validity of the accusation.
Satan’s nature is to accuse. He is called the “accuser of the brethren” (Rev. 12). In fact, the word “Satan” means adversary, and the word “devil” literally means “slanderer.”
If one refers to John 8:44, Satan is called “The Father of Lies.” The Devil, the slanderer, is the Father of Lies. So, lying is part and parcel of slander. Note how frequently the word “lie” is found in this verse.
When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies
It’s about lying and the motivation for lying. This appears to contradict Zen’s argument. U.S. law seems to mimic the Bible by defining slander as being a lie that is linked to a motivation of wishing harm to another individual.
Slander is the oral communication of false statements that are harmful to a person’s reputation. If the statements are proven to be true, it is a complete defense to a charge of slander. Oral opinions that don’t contain statements of fact don’t constitute slander. Slander is an act of communication that causes someone to be shamed, ridiculed, held in contempt, lowered in the estimation of the community, or to lose employment status or earnings or otherwise suffer a damaged reputation. Slander is a subcategory of defamation.
Truth and Motivation Are Important.
It is vital to the discussion to understand that slander is an act of making a false statement to damage another’s reputation, etc. It is a big fat lie, and the person making it knows it, just as Satan knows it.
Therefore, the expression of a legitimate concern, based on a number of reports, is not slander but a form of Christian love. It is meant to protect the church from serious error, to help those the church is hurting, to prevent harm to others in the church, and to exhort those in leadership to follow the example of Jesus.
How Not to Use the Word “Slander.”
Let me show you how NOT to respond to a legitimate concern. A few years back, we had the opportunity to speak with a mega-church pastor in our area. We addressed two points. Both points were based on credible information that we, along with many others, believed to be accurate. As time has progressed, it has become increasingly apparent that we were on the right path.
1. We knew this pastor was very friendly with leaders in Sovereign Grace Ministries and sometimes visited with them. By this time, we were aware of the incredible number of serious concerns regarding handling child sex abuse, domestic abuse, and bizarre theological applications that were hurting many people, as documented on the blogs of SGM Survivors and SGM Refuge. Never had we seen so many documented ugly situations anywhere else. We asked this pastor to consider asking his friends at SGM to address these issues. We genuinely believe that had he done so and had SGM leadership responded, we would not have seen the filing of a class action lawsuit.
2. We knew that this pastor and SGM recommended Gary Ezzo’s books. The American Academy of Pediatrics had issued warnings about the advice in Ezzo’s book link. We asked him to reconsider his recommendation of this book.
The pastor responded, accusing us of slander and “character assassination.”
In fact, we did no such thing. We documented our concerns based on a large number of reports. One of our motives was to ensure pastors do not give bad medical advice to their congregations. After all, they are not trained physicians and have no business blatantly ignoring the advice of experienced professionals without good cause.
We also contend that had he, along with other well-known pastors who are held up as examples within the SGM leadership structure, spoken up earlier, we would not be at this point today. But that would have interfered with all the speaking engagements and conferences and being nice to one another because “being nice” and supporting each other’s ministries is what it is all about.
It is not slander to express concern about the SGM lawsuit or the number of documents Brent Detwilers released. It is not slander to ask why Prestonwood Baptist Church did not report John Langworthy to the police. Looking at the associates involved in a business venture is not slander. It is not slander to ask if your pastor is paid by the church and the conference at which he speaks.
(As an aside, we want to commend an author at SBC Voices. In one post here, he revealed his relationship with Cruciform Press and Kevin Meath’s former relationship with SGM.)-Updated to more accurately reflect the authorship. This is meant to be a compliment for disclosing a business relationship. 3/20/13
Does Slander Really Mean an Inconvenient Truth?
Unfortunately, this accusation of slander is used to squelch very serious concerns within the church. I contend that in many situations where a pastor cries “slander,” he is really saying, “I don’t want to hear that. It means I have to deal with it, and I don’t want to. It will screw up all sorts of things.” Slander, in many instances, is simply an “inconvenient truth“.
Matthew 18 + Slander: Applied Erroneously
A series of exchanges between Frank Viola and some of his readers give us insight into how far some believe we should go to keep things “quiet.” It appears that Matthew 18 is in full force, always, with no exceptions when dealing with “inconvenient information.”
This advice, if followed, could have serious consequences.
February 18, 2013 at 4:07 pm
“If someone is clearly sinning, they are to be approached in private.” Is this the case with pedophilia? Should we let the churches handle this “privately”?
Frank Viola says:
February 18, 2013 at 8:29 pm
I didn’t write the article, but I think I can give an answer nonetheless. Jesus teaching in Matt. 18 doesn’t prioritize one sin above another or make exceptions. I was once part of a church where a pedophile was discovered to be among us. We went to him in private first. Eventually he was put out of the church, following Matt. 18, because he refused to accept correction. What he was doing was inappropriate, but it hadn’t gotten to the crime stage.
The NT doesn’t make an exception or an excuse for the sin of gossip, as Zens points out. Zens is appealing to the NT. If one doesn’t believe the NT, then that’s another story. The article is written to those who do. btw/ the instruction about the 2 or 3 isn’t that they have to be witnesses to the sin, but they are witnesses to the discipline process and correction. In addition, pedophilia is a crime. So going to the authorities for a crime … like murder, physical abuse, etc. . . . isn’t gossip if it’s happening.
Here are the problems with this response. Viola claims the man was a pedophile. They went to him privately and threw him out of the church at some point because he did not “receive correction.” Viola said it was “inappropriate,” but it did not reach a “crime” stage. So, the man was a pedophile, but his sin was not a crime? And this is still considered “gossip”? It appears that Viola is saying that we must “Matthew 18” the situation before reporting it. The discussion progresses as Viola is pushed on the pedophile issue since his answer is unclear.
February 16, 2013 at 10:51 am
So what would you do if someone tells you they fear a child is being molested and has given their reasons for thinking so but they have no proof? How would you handle that? Would that be considered “gossip”?
Frank Viola says:
February 17, 2013 at 10:47 am
Someone’s “fear” or “suspicion” doesn’t make it so. If there’s a legitimate concern with clear evidence, an investigation should be done. The person should be approached directly. If it’s clear that it’s happening and will continue to happen, the authorities should be contacted for this is a serious crime. Again, just as yourself, how would I want to be treated if it were me being accused. That question answers most of these questions.
Viola’s advice here contradicts the advice of many experts. In fact, it mirrors a situation with which I am acquainted. A teen boy reported a sexually charged incident at a church retreat. The church “investigated” it and pronounced the teen “nuts.” The pedophile continued to have full access to a group of boys for another year and horribly abused them. He is serving 13 years in jail, thanks to the police who caught him. The Matthew 18 brigade at the church had an epic fail, and many were hurt by their inability to make an adequate assessment.
Frankly, this is why churches get into trouble. He (Viola and the pastors) get to determine what constitutes “legitimate evidence.”. He gets to do the investigation. He gets to determine if it is “clear” that the abuse is occurring. This is dangerous. I am sure he thinks he is being “biblical,” but he is mistaken.
If you believe that sex abuse is occurring, call Child Protective Services immediately. You are immune from any prosecution by reporting a legitimate concern. Many states will allow you to report this anonymously. This is not slander; it is the right thing to do. Let the experts decide what is going on. An, if your church accuses you of slander, get out of there, pronto! That is a dangerous church.
Boz Tchividjian Addresses Matthew 18
Today, Rachel Held Evans featured an interview with Boz Tchividjian link on using Matthew 18 regarding child abuse. We will end on this note. She introduces Boz as follows.
Basyle ‘Boz’ Tchividjian, a founding member and Executive Director ofG.R.A.C.E (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment). Born in Vevey, Switzerland, Boz grew up in south Florida, where he served as Assistant State Attorney, Seventh Judicial Circuit (1994-2001). While in that position, he was chief Prosecutor, Sexual Crimes Division, where he gained much experience in cases involving sexual abuse and harassment. In 2003, Boz helped found G.R.A.C.E. to educate and equip the faith community to correctly respond to sexual abuse disclosures, while also providing practical guidance to churches on how to protect children.
She asks him about the use of Matthew 18 in child sex abuse. I heartily recommend that the reader review his entire response. Show this to your pastors or anyone who misuses Matthew 18. Here is an excerpt from their discussion:
The scourge of child sexual abuse is not just a sin violating the 7th Commandment in Exodus 20:14 and Matthew 5:27-30, but it is also a criminal offense in all 50 States. It is not a matter which can be handled quietly between two persons or between two families, as was misguidedly done in Genesis 34 and in many churches today. It is a matter of public alarm, because of its pervasive, extensive, and expansive nature, causing a cascade of misery in countless lives. Additionally, the God-ordained civil authorities in virtually every jurisdiction mandate in some fashion that suspected child abuse be immediately reported to law enforcement.
Thus, any claim that we must follow the Matthew 18 progressive confrontation process before reporting disclosures of child sexual abuse to the civil authorities is simply wrongheaded: God’s minister’s—the civil authorities—must be informed first!
In this, child sexual abuse is like murder. Anyone who would demand that the family of a murder victim must first follow the Matthew 18 process before calling the police could be criminally charged themselves for being an accessory after the fact. What kind of twisted mind would reason that kidnapping or rape ought to be concealed from the civil authorities while a process of church discipline is pursued first?
P.S. Gentlemen, it is not “slander” to admit that C.J. Mahaney has stepped down from SGM — even he admits it…