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VI. MORE MARTINDALE ON SLANDER

Adding Words

In addition to Martindale's article, "Slander", which we examined in chapter four, he has written a companion article, titled merely: "Q & A". In it he answers several potential questions his readers might ask about slander.

From the very outset of "Q & A", it becomes apparent that Martindale is going to continue the same poor exegetical habits which so characterized his first article. He begins with:

"Q. Why is it so important to stop listening to slander? If I know that what he says is not true, can't I just disregard it?
"A. If you listen long enough, you will always be affected. Proverbs 26:22 says, "The words of a whisperer are like dainty morsels, and they go down into the innermost parts of the body." ...Two things are always true; A little gossip or slander tastes good; a little gossip or slander affects you in a bad way."1 (Emphases mine)
When we make the Scriptures say more than they say, we are making them say something which they do not say. The verse he cites (Proverbs 26:22) does not have the word "always" in it. Yet, Martindale uses the word twice as he interprets the verse for us. This violates the principles of sound biblical exegesis. The verse does not say that someone will always be affected by slander if they hear it. We need to stick to the text. If I say: "Men are taller than women", I am saying something different than if I say: "Men are always taller than woman". One statement is true, in a general sense. The other statement is not true, as some women are taller than some men.

If the Holy Spirit, speaking through Solomon, did not see fit to use the word "always", then it is quite presumptuous of Martindale to add it. He takes a statement which is generally true, or true in many situations, and changes it. Once the statement is changed, we can no longer accept it as inspired truth.

Why should we make such an issue of this? Simply because Martindale's statement is not true. There can frequently be factors which prevent slander from having an affect on us, even if we hear it. In a court of law, often times slander is spoken, but the truth is present also. The presence of the truth usually makes the slander ineffectual. Solomon, in making an analogy of how a whisperer (secret slanderer) can affect us, does not say that such a one will always affect us like that.

Another point in Martindale's statement should be observed. If Martindale's comment about always being affected were true, how much slander must one hear before it has an affect? At first he says: "If you listen long enough...", but later he says it is "always true...a little gossip or slander affects you." So what he apparently really means to say is that even a little will always have an affect. One doesn't need to listen for long; just the littlest bit, a word or two, will have its devastating effect.

Now let us consider the likely result of such a view of Proverbs 26:22. Let us remember first that Martindale and GCI have erroneous definitions of slander. Remember, too, that they have also cultivated an excessive paranoia of slander. (We have already demonstrated this, but we will see a great deal more of it in later chapters.) Now, in this context, what if we have one person who is considered, possibly falsely, to be a slanderer. We discover that this one, let's call him John, has spoken with another believer, Allen, about the one he is believed to have slandered. According to GCI and Martindale, we must assume Allen has now been "affected". It becomes imperative for us, in order to control the spreading slander, to avoid Allen, as well as John, or at least to be very suspicious of him, because he has heard a little, and therefore has been affected. And then, what if Allen talks to Bruce, who talks to Chuck, who talks to Dick? How far will it go? According to GCI it will go all the way. Every single one of those men must be suspect, and probably should be avoided. And all of this because of shoddy biblical interpretation. Sadly, this author has witnessed just such excessive paranoia on several occasions with Christians who have embraced GCI's errant doctrine. In their effort to avoid division, GCI has actually fostered tragic and needless division.

The simple reality is this: To be affected by information, we have to believe it. It does us no good to hear the Gospel, or to read the Word of God, or to listen to good biblical teaching, if we refuse to believe it. It is only when we believe something that it begins to affect us. That believing is a decision we make. In the same manner, wrong information or false information cannot affect us unless we choose to believe it. Hench, we are not automatically affected by slander if we hear it. We are only affected by it if we make the decision to believe it. It is this critical issue of choice which Martindale and other GCI authors miss, to their own misfortune. They miss it, in part, because to them slander can be true statements, as we have shown in chapter four. Therefore, to them, it matters not whether you believe it, since the truth or falsehood is not the issue, but merely the way something is communicated. So, whether you believe it or not, you are poisoned by the way something is said, not by whether or not you believe it to be true. This distortion can produce no small amount of fear and confusion in the minds of those who accept it.

Are Differences Acceptable in the Church?

At a later point in "Q & A", Martindale makes the following statement:

"Q. Is it sin to differ with one another, or with a leader?
"A. Differences of opinion and doctrinal positions, although not God's desire (I Corinthians 1:10) are acceptable in the church (Romans 14 and I Corinthians 8). They would only be unacceptable when they related to an error concerning the person and work of Christ (Ephesians 4:4-6 and Titus 3:4-8) or if they are used to hurt others and cause controversy and division (Titus 3:9-10)."2
At first glance his answer seems to shed a ray of light. But, whatever hope we might have that GCI is willing to accept open discussion and debate of differences within the church is quickly squelched. At first he says that differences of opinions or doctrines are "acceptable in the church", but he goes on to say that they are unacceptable if they "cause controversy". As we have seen in chapter two, GCI rejects any and all controversy in the church. We also have seen that such a position is unbiblical.

According to GCI doctrine, it would never be permissible to express a disagreement regarding any doctrine or opinion to anyone other than the elders. To do so would be "creating a controversy", and would be wrong. In May 1984, this author specifically challenged Jim McCotter on this very point in the author's living room in the presence of five other GCI members. McCotter emphatically assured him that it would be creating a controversy, and would be wrong, to express any differences in a context that did not include the elders.

So what Martindale should have said was not that "differences...are acceptable in the church", but rather than they are acceptable "in your own mind". There is a big difference.

The Slander/Faction Blend

To demonstrate how deeply ensnared the GCI leadership has become on the previous point, we need look only a little further in Martindale's article.

"Of all the five portions on church discipline, two of them -- Romans 16:17 and Titus 3:10 -- deal exclusively with slander and division..."3
At this point Martindale's exegetical conduct degenerates from being sloppy to outright recklessness. Neither one of those passages has a thing to say about slander. Very early in Titus 3 it is mentioned (V.2. - malign), but by verse 10 the context has changed significantly. Verse 10 is dealing with a faction or divisive person, probably one involved in the foolish controversies of verse 9. Most commentators say he is a heretic, in the modern meaning of the word. Nothing in the verse or immediate context has anything to do with slander, as any casual reader can easily observe.

Similarly, Romans 16:17 also says absolutely nothing about slander. But GCI doctrine has become so slander-phobic, that even their best teachers are seeing it in verses where it emphatically does not exist!

The troubling thing about this is that GCI seems to be loosing the distinction between slander and faction (or heresy). This is a problem for at least two reasons. First, if slander and faction becomes confused or blended in their minds into one sin, then it becomes quite easy for the leadership to designate as slanderous any who happen, either intentionally or otherwise, to express a difference of opinion or doctrine. Thus, one who expresses a difference can be considered to have fallen prey to Satan's "number on tool", and everyone who happened to hear the difference expressed is then "affected", and the poison spreads.

Second, if slander is blended with faction, then we can add one more sin to that for which a person can be excommunicated without ever coming before the church. We remember how Hopler would allow repeated warnings for most sins, but only two for divisiveness. Now slander is merged with divisiveness (faction), and one accused of slander may also be put out of the church without ever having the opportunity to defend himself on his charges before the church! This they call the "joy of justice"!

1 Martindale, Herschel, "Q & A", The Cause, p 16, June/July 1985.
2 Ibid., p 16.
3 Ibid., p17.

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