Proverbs 18:8 “A gossip’s words are like choice food that goes down to one’s innermost being.”
This is an admonition to fellow Christians to be mindful of what they believe and spread online. Maybe we think that because we don’t actually know the people, it’s not gossip? It is gossip. It’s wrong.
I get that it scores points on “Christian Twitter” to dunk on the Moderates/Libs. It’s always the mega church pastors that get hit, right? Mega churches put out sermons on video. So everyone can see what they teach.
From time to time you see 1-2 minute clips from megachurch sermons pulled out to prove they have gone soft on sin. At no time is any benefit of the doubt given. The pastor can’t have misspoken, can’t have been taken out of context. The sermon may be 35 minutes of multiple points and sub points, but this 60 second clip is all that matters.
The clips are never plain. It’s never one of these guys saying, “I believe homosexual behavior is not a sin.” It’s never that clear. The new clip is often tied back to another clip previously used for the same purposes.
The supposed heresy often contradicts what the church has previously, publicly said. Their belief statement on the web likely doesn’t reflect this new theological view.
The position is, the bad church/pastor publicly publishes their teachings where anyone can see them, but are, at the same time, secretly teaching heresy/bad theology. They have secretly decided to call sin holy and good. Not only are they wrong about their belief, but they are nefarious liars, saying the “right” thing in some places, but secretly leading the sheep astray.
This is the claim of some. These people take to social media and trumpet their discovery of false teaching. By all means, let’s get the mob back together. Who’s got the pitchforks and who has the torches?
You know what you don’t see? “I heard this and it disturbed me, so I called the pastor in question…. I reached out to the church highlighted in this clip…” Nope. Why would you ask a liar, right? They might be able to explain away your major issue. You might find out the clip doesn’t reveal the full theology of the speaker.
And then there are the guys who make a living out of doing this. They post hours of video proving some ministries have it all wrong. You know what you never see? A video where they investigate and find out the critics were wrong. You will never see a headline that read, “We heard there was heresy, but we only found truth!”
Why is that?
Why do regular Christian people retweet/repost/repeat unproven gossip? Why do people watch these expose’ videos? Proverbs 18:8 has it right. Gossip is so tasty.
Controversy breeds interest. If you feel you are right, or at least “righter” than them, you feel superior. There’s a bit of allure to this “secret knowledge” that these posts and videos give out. You can be in the know. You can be someone who was not fooled.
It’s “I may not be perfect, but I’m not that bad,” combined with “I know things others don’t.” Delicious, yet rotten to its core.
Here’s 3 problems with sharing these things:
- You don’t know anything. You just don’t. Unless the person you’re criticizing said clearly, ‘This is my belief” you cannot know their theology from a few minutes of one sermon. You have to jump to too many conclusions. You don’t have enough information to use inductive logic properly.
- The experts you are listening to don’t know anything either. Every time I watch one of these long videos that “proves” something, it’s filled with conjecture. They have a list of things that, if you tilt your head and squint just right, will prove what they are saying. But if anything is not exactly what they suggest, the house of cards tumbles down. I get it. They dug up some dirt, they got an insider feeding them info. They connected the dots, they put the jigsaw puzzle together. Those who subscribe to these theories refuse to entertain other possibilities. Because if they think for one second one piece of evidence might not be correctly interpreted, then their entire theory crashes down.
- It’s not biblical. This isn’t how you deal with false teachers. Before the internet you would never jump to public condemnation before you took several more steps. Matthew 18 lays out a pretty good path to conflict resolution. There are 4 steps. Even if you claim that public posts online counts as taking something to the Church, there are 2 steps before that point. If you are really concerned about this brother, this congregation, then you will go to them and confront them in love. You will get the truth. But, if you are honest, you care more about feeling better about yourself than correcting a brother.
That’s hard to hear. The tendency to believe the worst about fellow Christians is a cancer in the Church. The habit of attacking people who are wrong (or we think are wrong) rather than lovingly, biblically correcting them is a terrible thing in the Church. Spreading online gossip is spreading lies. Reposting these hit pieces doesn’t do one thing to grow the kingdom of God.
When I see a post, I’m tempted to reply with “Wow, what did the church say when you reached out to them about this?”
Brother and sister, I implore you. Don’t share these posts, don’t spread gossip. I know it’s “choice food” and it feels so good. Resist. If you are truly concerned, reach out to the pastor, leader, congregation in question. I know that takes more time than hitting retweet, but it’s the right thing to do.
If you can’t reach out, then pray. Everyone can do that.