A few days ago Tim Challies posted two blog posts about the ninth commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” here and here. He focused on how the ninth commandment applies in a day of social media, when vitriolic watchbloggers are violating the ninth commandment by calling out abusers.

Tim Challies and I go way back. Just kidding; he doesn’t know who I am, except as the author of a devotional book he had his daughter read and promoted in the video I referred to in my explanation of awkwardness in this Facebook post. (The awkwardness is born of the crossover between my two fields of writing: first, missionary books and biographies, and then, abuse in the worlds of fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism, which is Tim Challies’s world.)

To be fair, his accusations of lies in social media weren’t directed at me at all,  but were directed at much larger websites like perhaps The Wartburg Watch. They expose evil; I generally only examine the teachings of those who support the evildoers (and in some cases those who turn out to be the evildoers themselves).

So with that intro, I’d like to examine the teachings of Tim Challies regarding the ninth commandment. The quotations are from his two blog posts (here and here).

What does the ninth commandment encompass?

Based on the Westminster Larger Catechism’s lengthy expansion of the ninth commandment, Tim Challies draws out many applications to Christians as they interact on social media. Here is part of his introduction to his two posts about the ninth commandment:

I had become convinced I was violating the spirit, even if not the letter, of [the ninth] commandment, especially through social media. I wasn’t telling lies about other people, but I was reading lies.

I notice two things about this statement. For one thing, he has expanded the law from speaking or writing false witness to hearing or reading false witness. Expanding the law to claim other things to be sins beyond what the law stated is what the Pharisees did. (Which is different from what Jesus did in the Sermon on the Mount when He examined heart intent.)










Part Two of “Tim Challies and the Ninth Commandment” is now published here.





This article contains many links, some giving further information about the abuses I refer to, and some giving commentary. The Here’s the Joy blog posts  I link to in this article are these:  

Rachael Denhollander lost her church over her advocacy for abuse survivors

Maintaining a false unity (a commentary on the SGM scandals)

Tullian Tchividjian, Tom Chantry, BJUGrace, and gossip

Paige Patterson and a culture that breeds a generation of abusers

The “innocent until proven guilty” question: a response to Ryan Fullerton




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