On the Perils of a Winsome Ministry

We need bold shepherds and courageous reformers. We tend to look back at important reformers in history with a sentimentalist filter. Luther would never be confused as winsome; neither would John Knox (1505-1572). According to Martin Lloyd-Jones, God raised up Knox in his time for a special task. “A mild man would have been useless in the Scotland of the sixteenth century … A strong man was needed, a stern man, a courageous man; and such a man was John Knox …. In those times an heroic rugged character was needed; and God produced the man.” A biographer of Knox said this: “a gentle flute or plaintive violin may have their place, but they will never awaken a slumbering church in [a] dark hour. Give us men [like Knox] with a trumpet to their lips, sounding their Master’s message, plainly and boldly, to the ears of all.”

But we don’t tend to respond well to these types of figures when they show up. As Brandon Meeks has argued, we are only comfortable with reformers when they are far in the past, when they aren’t disturbing the peace anymore. “Everyone loves a good reformation until some rash soul takes a notion to actually reform something. The sons of the prophets much prefer it when their prophets are deceased.”

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