Niceness: The Eddie Haskell Of Evangelicalism

I’ve recently said on a Mortification of Spin podcast that niceness is the Eddie Haskell of evangelicalism. It’s haskellmanipulating, but not really loving, manners without truth. Have we become more concerned with our expectations of politeness at the expense of truth? I think we all do at times. We think that the opposite of nice is mean. This is not so. Nice is people-pleasing, and we like to be popular, don’t we? But we need to remember what kind of theologians we are. We are not theologians of our own glory, we are theologians of the cross. Sure, we should be kind-hearted. But don’t confuse over-groomed caricatures who bird-dog esteem with a kind heart.

—Aimee Byrd, “The Truth Isn’t Very Nice

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  • R. Scott Clark
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    R.Scott Clark is the President of the Heidelberg Reformation Association, the author and editor of, and contributor to several books and the author of many articles. He has taught church history and historical theology since 1997 at Westminster Seminary California. He has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary, and Concordia University. He has hosted the Heidelblog since 2007.

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  1. This is a hard topic. Dr. Clark. Sometimes, in our question to “prove” something we believe is true, we forget the aspect of gentleness and respect we are to use in our conversations. If we truly understand that God alone can convict a heart, perhaps we might resort to a more kind heart when we attempt to prove an argument.

    Let me give you an example — because we were not born reformed, our family members are aghast at the fact we left the SBC church. We have so many basic issues to discuss with them, baptism being a huge hurdle.

    Yet, one of our family members is interested and wants to lurk quietly around on pages we follow, such as the URCNA fb page. When he sees ugly discussions on controversial subjects such as Two Kingdoms, which he does not understand yet, it’s not the argument of the doctrine that matters to him. It is the tone of the conversation. He perceives arrogance and that pushes him away from understanding the basics of the reformed faith. He sees a disgruntled federation rather than one united in the gospel.

    These discussions must be thoughtful. Academics must realize, that in the day of this wonderful internet, many lurk behind the scenes who are just discovering the beauty of the reformed faith. They want to know and understand. How we deliver our message can either help or hinder their understanding, because the truth is, it is a process to become reformed. How well we are able to love others in the middle of our conversations is a much better way to give credence to the truths we are trying to communicate.

    So, while I generally agree with Aimee (I’ve read her work), from a personal perspective, and from someone who has not always been “nice” when I’ve communicated my truths, I now understand I must love better while doing this. Letting our light shine with warmth is surely preferable to a cold, icy glare, wouldn’t you say?

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