Rev. Saul (Apostle) Paul
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 of 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 bona fide missionary. We are told that you are afflicted with a severe eye trouble. This is certain to be an insuperable handicap to an effective ministry. We require 20–20 vision.
Do you think it seemly for a missionary to do part-time secular work? We heard that you are making tents on the side. In a letter to the Church at Philippi you admitted that they were the only church supporting you. We wonder why?
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.
You made so much trouble for the businessmen at Ephesus that they refer to you as “the man who turned the world upside down.” Sensationalism has no place in missions! We also deplore the lurid over-the-wall episode at Damascus. We are appalled at your obvious lack of conciliatory behavior. Diplomatic men are not stoned and dragged out of the city gate, 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.”
In one of your letters you refer to yourself as Paul the Aged. Our new mission policies do not anticipate a surplus of elderly recipients. We understand, too, that you are given to fantasies and dreams. At Troas, you saw, “A man of Macedonia” and at another time you were “caught up into the third heaven” and even claimed that “the Lord stood by” you. We reckon that more realistic and practical minds are needed in the task of world evangelism.
You have written many letters to churches where you have formerly been pastor. In one of these letters, you accused a church member of living with his father’s wife, and you caused the whole church to feel badly and the poor fellow was expelled.
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 to 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.
Your sermons are much too long for the time. At one place you talked until after midnight and a young man was so sleepy that he fell out of the window and broke his neck. Nobody is saved after the first 20 minutes. “Stand up, speak up, and shut up,” is our advice.
Dr. Luke reports that you are a thin little man, bald, frequently sick, and always so agitated over your churches that you sleep very poorly. He reports 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 up full of zing!
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 of Ephesus.” What on earth do you mean?
It hurts me to tell you this, brother Paul, but in all of the 25 years of my experience, I have never met a man so opposite to the requirements of the FMB. If we accepted you, we would break every rule of modern missionary practice.
Most Sincerely yours,
J. Flavius Fluffyhead, Sec.
Internation Mission Board
—Dr. Hendon M. Harris