Saturday, November 13, 2010

R. Scott Clark: "Was Paul Mean?"

R. Scott Clark posted an insightful article yesterday titled "Was Paul Mean?" reflecting on Paul's blunt words to the Thessalonians in 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12.  Concering Paul's rhetoric, Clark offers this observation:

It is also interesting to observe Paul’s rhetoric here. He speaks bluntly, forcefully, and even dogmatically. He doesn’t qualify his statement. There’s no equivocation. He doesn’t seem terribly concerned with how the Thessalonian Christians will hear his words. There’s a certain sharpness and directness to his words that is, in our most sensitive culture, well, not very nice. Consider what he’s saying to Christians: “If you won’t be productive, then starve.” Hyperbolic? Perhaps but he said it. He’s an Apostle. 2 Thessalonians is God’s holy Word. Evidently he meant it and it’s hard to see how rhetoric of this sort squares with the reigning evangelical ethos of “niceness.”

He closes by asking what our hyper-sensitive culture would make of the apostle:

How would these words go over today in the average evangelical or Reformed congregation? Would the one who spoke them find himself in trouble? One wonders. When we read (or hear) Paul’s words our first reaction might be to think, “My, that’s harsh.”  If we do think so perhaps we need to re-calibrate our meters.


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