Rev. Saul Paul Independent Missionary Corinth, Greece
Dear Mr. Paul,
We recently received an application from you for service under our Board.
It is our policy to be as frank and open-minded as possible with all our applicants. We have made an exhaustive survey of your case. To be plain, we are surprised that you have been able to “pass” as a bonafide missionary.
We are appalled at your obvious lack of conciliatory behaviour. Diplomatic men are not stoned and dragged out of the city gates, or assaulted by furious mobs. Have you ever suspected that gentler words might gain you more friends? I enclose a copy of Dalius Carnagus’ book, “How To Win Jews and influence Greeks.”
At Antioch, we learn, you opposed Dr. Simon Peter, an esteemed home missionary and actually rebuked him publicly. You stirred up so much trouble at Antioch that a special Board meeting had to be convened in Jerusalem. We cannot condone such actions.
We know that you had a bitter quarrel with a fellow missionary named Barnabas. Harsh words do not further God's work. Especially concerning is the terrible burden you placed upon his nephew the young John Mark. You must realise that he is a different generation from you. If you continue to send young men home there will be no young generation on the mission field. You really must learn to move with the times. Is it true that you have a jail record? Certain brethren report that you did two years time at Caesarea and were imprisoned at Rome. And that while there “all forsook you.” Good men are not left friendless. Three fine brothers, by the names of Diotrephes, Demas and Alexander, the coppersmith, have notarized affidavits to the effect that it is impossible for them to cooperate with either you or your program.
You made so much trouble for the business men at Ephesus that they refer to you as “the man who turned the world upside down.” Sensationalism, in missions, is uncalled for. We also deplore the lurid “over-the-wall-in-a-basket” episode at Damascus. If you keep this up how do you expect the communities good and well respected business men to financially support us?
It seems that whatever the culture, nationality or custom of the people you are able to cause trouble. You opposed the honourable women at Berea and the leaders of your own nationality in Jerusalem. If a man cannot get along with his own people, how can he serve foreigners? We really do not believe you have the right qualifications for cross-cultural missions. You must learn to respect each culture. It is often reported that you preach the same messages and themes where ever you go. You really need to show more imagination concerning reaching different cultures.
Let’s come to your persistent writing of controversial letters to the churches where you have formerly been Pastor. In one of the letters, you accused a church member of living with his father's wife, and you caused the whole church to feel guilty, and the poor fellow was expelled.
You spend too much time talking about “the Second Coming of Christ.” Your letters to the people at Thessalonica were almost entirely devoted to this theme. Again we must inform you that such things are outdated. Put first things first from now on. Ask yourself, ‘what do people want to hear’ or ‘what will appeal to the modern man.’
Can I suggest that in any other letters you should drop out a lot of the doctrinal stuff as people just do not understand it. Also the warnings and rebukes are just down right unfriendly. You will not win people like that. I just cannot imagine Jesus saying such things. Why not tell more stories or a few jokes? That would really lighten things up a bit. If you do continue writing as you have done there will not be a church in all of Judea, Samaria, the Greek and Roman world who does not consider you a legalist, fanatic or hyper depressant.
In one of your letters, you refer to yourself as “Paul the aged.” Our new mission policies do not envisage taken on those who aught to be retired. We can only but imagine you would be a burden to us and unable to meet the needed task.
You wrote recently to Timothy that “you had fought a good fight.” Fighting is hardly a recommendation for a missionary. No fight is a good fight. Jesus came, not to bring a sword, but peace. You boast that "I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus." What on earth do you mean?
We understand that you are given to fantasies and dreams. At Troas, you saw “a man of Macedonia” and at another time “were caught up into the third heaven” and even claimed “the Lord stood by” you. We reckon that more realistic and practical minds are needed in the task of world evangelism.
This so-called miraculous element in your ministry concerns our whole board. First by making the new converts believe that you speak in what you call “unknown tongues” (how convenient) and call them the “tongues of men and angles” we just feel this is going too far. It is commonly reported back to us that it is nothing more than vain babblings and we well believe it.
Now to the supposed miracles and healings. Do you realise that you will give many sick people the wrong impression? Who do you think you are, Jesus? Now days we have some brilliant and outstanding doctors in our midst, I think you need to leave the medical side of things to them.
Do you think it seemly for a missionary to do part-time secular work? We hear that you are making tents on the side. In a letter to the church at Phillipi, you admitted that they were the only church supporting you. We wonder why.
Your ministry has been far too flighty to be successful. First Asia Minor, then Macedonia, then Greece, then Italy and now you are talking about a wild goose chase into Spain. Concentration is more important than dissipation of one's powers. You cannot win the whole world by yourself. You are just one little Paul.
In a recent sermon, you said “God forbid that I should glory in anything save the cross of Christ.” It seems to us that you also ought to glory in our heritage, our denominational program, the unified budget, our Cooperative Program and the World Federation of Churches.
Your sermons are much too long for the times. At one place, you talked until after and a young man was so asleep that he fell out of the window and broke his neck. Nobody is saved after the first twenty minutes any way. “Stand up, speak up and then shut up,” is our advice.
We have of course heard of your ministry in Ephesus when for three years you never preached a message without warning people of sin, judgement and false teachers, otherwise called “wolves.” And as if that was not enough you wept tears throughout the preaching of each message. Brother, this is just too much. We don’t know a single popular conference in the land that would invite such a speaker to minister to the crowds. What about love, joy and fun? You will never build a church that way.
It is commonly reported to us that your appearance at meetings is somewhat vulgar in that you are a thin, little, bendy legged, bald headed man. And I’m afraid the reports about your ability to preach are no better. Many have been deeply disappointed in your lack of eloquence and culture. Some again have said you’re down right vulgar. If you had been 40 years younger we would have definitely suggested a few seminaries which you could attend for 5 or 6 years.
Some who have stayed in the same house as you overnight say that you are so agitated over your church work that you sleep very poorly. They report that you pad around the house praying half the night. A healthy mind in a robust body is our ideal for all applicants. A good night's sleep will give you zest and zip so that you wake full of zing.
We find it best to send only married men into foreign service. We deplore your policy of persistent celibacy. Simon Magus has set up a matrimonial bureau at Samaria, where the names of some very fine widows are available.
It hurts me to tell you this, Brother Paul, but in all of my twenty-five years experience, I have never met a man so opposite to the requirements of our Foreign Mission Board. If we accepted you, we would break every rule of modern missionary practice.
Most Sincerely yours,
J. Flavious Fluffyhead, Foreign Mission Board Secretary