Paul was a meanie

I have the privilege once again to attend the Basics Conference. Basics is the annual pastor's conference at Parkside Church outside Cleveland. I have been attending this conference for nine years and it is always a restful and challenging time. One of the helpful elements of the week is that I come early enough to attend worship at Parkside under the preaching of Alistair Begg.

This morning Alistair continued his series through Titus. His text was Titus 1:10-16:
For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach. One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to Jewish myths and the commands of people who turn away from the truth. To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
This text falls between two calls for elders to be able to teach sound doctrine and be willing to rebuke those who who contradict it.

What an odd set of priorities this seems to many contemporary evangelicals who seem willing to jettison doctrinal boundaries for a veneer of peace. Alistair pointed out the harshness of Paul's tone and how offensive it seems to many today. "They must be silenced." Those who are diluting the church with errant doctrine are "liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons." We are to "rebuke them sharply." Notice that Paul will not allow the word "rebuke" to be dumbed down. There is a sharpness which is to accompany a rebuke given to those who teach or embrace errant doctrine within the church.

Bottom line? Paul was a meanie. He was a narrow-minded bully. He believed in the necessity of sharply rebuking error and those who teach it. He simply did not allow for peaceful coexistence (within the church) with errant doctrine or those who teach it. I shudder to think of Paul's long-term prospects in any church today. His intolerance for what is false would simply not be tolerated in a church milieu where the only heresy is believing that there is heresy.

Recommended Reading:
The Real Scandal Of The Evangelical Mind by Carl Trueman
The Courage To Be Protestant by David Wells
The Intolerance of Tolerance by D.A. Carson