When should a Christian expose wrong-doing? Are there specific biblical directives that give us clear answers, or are there only guidelines and examples? Should our decision depend on whether the individual involved in wrong-doing is or is not a fellow Christian? How concerned should we be about shaming the cause of Christ?
Is a whistle-blower (or whistle-blogger) no more than a grown up tattle-tale? Or, does a Christian have a unique responsibility to expose wrong-doing?
These are very practical issues in Christian life and ministry–and marriage. Should a wife report to authorities her husband who she learns has molested a child? Or, should she report only her neighbor’s husband who has committed such a crime? How do matters of loyalty and kinship and friendship factor in?
On another blog, I ask the following questions:
Should Christians expose or or should they cover up wrong-doing of fellow Christians? Should the hierarchy of the Catholic church expose or cover up sexual abuse? Should an Evangelical organization expose or cover up evidence of embezzlement by its popular leader? Should a professor expose or cover up fraud at a seminary?
I go on to say:
“There are arguments to be made on both sides, but it is worth noting that Moses and the Prophets and Jesus and Paul and John Calvin and countless other individuals throughout the Bible and the course of Christian history exposed wrong-doing.”
An example of exposing wrong-doing that I am very familiar with relates to Lauren Stratford the author of Satan’s Underground, a book that was found by John Trott, Bob and Gretchen Passantino to to be fabricated. Their very well researched article shows a decades-long pattern of deception by Ms. Stratford.
In defending their exposing the book to be a fraud, they write: “As believers, our concepts of ethics and truth should be higher, not lower, than those of the secular press. When a publisher issues a testimony which he knows is likely to be sensationalistic, we believe he is obligated to ask what constitutes verification of that testimony.” [See “Satan’s Sideshow: The Real Story of Lauren Stratford”]
Trott and the Passantinos came under heavey fire by some Christians. Here is an example from another website:
“In the early 1990’s, our national network of law enforcement, probation, therapeutic and pastoral workers were working 24/7 in the war against satanic crime and the occult. We had burned a significant trail and saw no defeat in sight. Then, a soldier fell. She was not hit by enemy fire. She was felled by our own butchering, journalistic wolves in sheep’s clothing – Cornerstone Magazine, Jon Trott, Bob and Gretchen Passantino. With one article, they fairly destroyed her ministry and her life. But not completely. The test of a real Christian is how they react to evil, malicious, ungodly attacks on their character, motives and faith.” [See “Lauren Stratford, A Hero Goes Home”]
Do Christians have a unique obligation to monitor and expose wrong-doing among fellow Christians, as Trott and the Passantinos have argued? Should there be an army of Christian investigative journalists and whistle-blowers who let the world know that they are holding other believers to a high standard of ethics?
Anyone who exposes wrong-doing can expect to be criticized as these journalists were.
I discovered that that to be true last September when I published my blog, “My Calvin Seminary Story.” [www.ruthtucker.net] As the first and only full-time woman professor at Calvin Theological Seminary, I was without warning, given a terminal appointment. My case is very different from that of Trott and the Passantinos in that Lauren Stratford’s story was already in the public eye when it was exposed as fabricated. In my case, the wrong-doing was covered up, and my attempts over three years to have it brought to light had been stymied at every turn. Another big difference is that they were not personally harmed in the matter they exposed, whereas I was–a factor that makes me more vulnerable to the charge of being self-serving in my whistle-blogging.
But this matter goes far beyond Jon Trott, Gretchen and Bob Passantino and me. It is an ethical issue that fases us all at one time or another.
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