On Winsomeness

There is a common idea in the contemporary Presbyterian Church in America that our people should be winsome, particularly in their polemics and intra-denominational disagreements. Thus we find, for example, two Covenant College professors lauding a controversial figure in the denomination as winsome in the course of a recent review of one of his books at The Gospel Coalition. Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary defines winsome as meaning “sweetly or innocently charming; winning; engaging.” Perhaps that is the first thing we should note: if the author in view were truly ‘winning’ or ‘innocently charming’ he would not be, as the reviewers themselves admit, a source of much controversy.

But more importantly, this notion that it is desirable to be winsome is contradicted by the testimony of Scripture and by that of church history.

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