When is it OK to be rude?


On the one hand, loud-mouthed, offensive Christians might not make unbelievers think, “Gee, I want to be like you.” But on the other, are Christians to woo the world using only the vocab of a Rick Warren calendar? When is it OK to be offensive?

In the Bible the ‘offensive’ language was (mostly) used by God’s attorneys, the prophets, who were speaking to a culture which had already heard the truth and should have known better (whether that be Israel or the nations immediately surrounding her). God reserves such scolding for those who were in high-handed (conscious) sin against the truth, and the prophets concentrate more on the nature of the sins than on ridiculing the sinners. Jesus does the same thing in Matthew 23-24. As mentioned here a few days ago, He even swings Isaiah 13 like a knife and infers that Judah is a new ‘Babylon.’ Now, that is some insult to a nation without a Davidic king since the captivity.

I guess, today, such ‘housekeeping’ would include dealing with those within the church advocating a wholesale sellout. Sarcasm aimed at two-faced liberal theology or theistic evolution would be an example. Richard Dawkins reserves his greatest spite for the latter and he is right on the mark.

Spurgeon was a wooer, and yet he wasn’t above using cutting remarks:

“As for sensible men, and especially the sturdy workmen of our great cities, they utterly abhor foppery in a minister . . . It is a pity that we cannot persuade all ministers to be men, for it is hard to see how otherwise they will be truly men of God . . . A hundred years ago the dressiness of the clergy was about as conspicuous as it is now, but it had no doctrinal meaning, and was mere foppery . . . Molasses and other sugary matters are sickening to me. Jack-a-dandy in the pulpit makes me feel as Jehu did when he saw Jezebel’s decorated head and painted face, and cried in indignation, ‘Fling her down.’” (Charles Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, pp. 300-301).

Such rudeness exposes the rudeness of the sin. It is self-deprecating rudeness, or ‘rudeness with tears.’ And when we keep our own house as good stewards by showing the world how to repent, some out there might just want to be like us.

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