Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Richard Baxter on Gossip

In his Christian Directory, Richard Baxter (1615-1691) offered extensive “Directions for the Government of the Tongue.”1 He says, “Another sin is, backbiting and venting ill reports behind men’s backs, without any warrant. Be the matter true or false, as long as you either know it not to be true, or if you do, yet vent it to make the person less respected, or at least without a sufficient cause, it is a sin against God, and a wrong to men.”2

1Richard Baxter, Christian Directory, Christian Classics Ethereal Library, (accessed July 12, 2012).

Note: We are in the middle of a long blog series working through my doctoral research into the problem of gossip. We have listened to many voices along the way--proponents of gossip, those who have exacerbated or exploited the problem, those who are ambiguous or ambivalent, and now opponents of gossip both secular and religious.

Last week, we surveyed the contributions of business leaders, social workers, educators, and Jewish moral teaching against gossip.

This week, we are interacting with Christian teachers throughout church history.