In Paul’s ministry, tolerance, open-mindedness, and respect flowed together with critical analysis and non-apologetic evangelism.
- Ken Bailey
I have been reading a stellar book on 1 Corinthians called Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes by my favorite Bible scholar Kenneth Bailey. In commenting on 1 Cor. 10, Bailey makes striking observation about Paul’s teaching and one that should challenge all of us to live out in humility in 2012:
Paul is engaged in evangelism and his theological goal is clear. But his method is also clear. The standard is: Give no offense to Jews, Greeks, or to the church. For him there will be no public attacks on the faith of others. Critical analysis, yes, attacks — no! While writing to Christians he does not hide the fact that the gods of the Gentiles do not exist…But there is no attack on any of thee idols, their sacred books, their temples or their priests. When lecturing on Mars Hill (Acts 17:22-31) Paul found common ground between his message and respected Greek authors.
In Paul’s ministry, tolerance, open-mindedness, and respect flowed together with critical analysis and non-apologetic evangelism. To update Paul’s directive into the 21st century we could say, “Give no offense to Jews or to Muslims or to the church of God. Do not seek your own advantage — but theirs — and at the appropriate time, in a respectful and culturally sensitive, bear the Christian story without apology.”