Guest column

The evangelical idol of niceness

The evangelical idol of niceness
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Paul Smith
Paul Smith Paul Smith is full-time elder of Grace Baptist Church, Broadstairs, Kent. He is also a director and the book reviews editor for ET.
01 June, 2022 3 min read

Sometimes an idol only becomes apparent when it is threatened. Evangelicals have long sought to be described as ‘nice’. But what happens when the world’s definition of nice or loving is the opposite of the Bible’s? Should we abandon our aim or continue to pursue niceness, adopting the new rules of the game?

Gospel concerns have driven the quest for niceness. Evangelicals know that the Bible’s message has long been seen as outdated and irrelevant. They have sought to be as normal, friendly, and likeable as possible to gain a hearing.

However winsome your attitude, you’ve still got to decide which pronouns to use and whether to don the latest rainbow-emblazoned badge at work.

Niceness is advanced on church websites. Church leader bios highlight interests in football or film; cookery or camping. Photos of smiling, clean-cut families reinforce the message: nice people here with normal interests.

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