Gossip: The Sin We Do Not Talk About -- By: Karl L. Hofmann III

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 20:3 (Summer 2003)
Article: Gossip: The Sin We Do Not Talk About
Author: Karl L. Hofmann III


Gossip: The Sin We Do Not Talk About

Karl L. Hofmann III

M.Div. Student
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina 27587

Introduction

It is becoming increasingly difficult to communicate polemically in Western society with language that is propositional and unambiguous. Discourse is often short-circuited when disagreement is evident as the Western world continues to hold fast to the idea that the only heresy is to claim that there is such a thing as heresy. Postmodernism has affected the West in ways that are just beginning to be explored by the great thinkers of this generation.1 There remains, however, a sector of conversation that has seemingly avoided the nadirs of the postmodern dilemma2 —a part of human discourse that continues, almost stridently, to embrace the notion that there is still something knowable (and that with certainty) namely, the motives and intentions of another. This type of conversation is so pervasive that it often slips below the radar of consciousness; that is until it rears its ugly head to topple empires, ruin careers, split churches, divide families, and separate friends. It is called gossip, back-biting, evil-speaking, tale bearing, slander, innuendo. .. sins that require the tongue to move but all too often cause the tongue to cleave to the roof of the mouth.

There are many articles and sermons on the internet that address gossip from the parochial “It is sin; don’t do it because it is bad” perspective. The landscape, however, is barren when it comes to an investigation of the significance of gossip’s pervasiveness, and how gossip fits into the larger question of truth.3 What literature is available for the consumer seems overwhelmingly to be written from the perspective of addressing a felt-need.4 The absence of a clear, modern, theologically rigorous, evangelical voice begs the question, “Why is no one speaking about gossip?” Unlike the child who declared of the Emperor’s new suit, “But he has nothing on at all,” those brave enough to raise the child’s question do not often receive the reward of the crowd’s response: “ ‘Good heavens! listen to the voice of an innocent child,’ said the father, and one whispered to the other what the child had said. ‘But he has nothing on at all,’ cried at last the whole people.”5

The dialogue must begin, perhaps again, framed in the lessons of historical theology, not just ...

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