Friday, July 10, 2009

Theodoret of Cyrus: Gentleness in Evangelism

Be irenic, tolerant, evincing complete gentleness towards all people. This is not inconsistent with what was said above; as I remarked before, he bids us propose the teaching to the unbelievers mildly and gently, but boldly censure the believers should they sin. He also gives the reason for gentleness: We were once mindless, unbelieving, in error, enslaved to lusts and pleasures of all kinds, living in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another (v.3): let us recall our previous way of life, let us consider what awful vices we were victim to and the fact that the God of all granted salvation to people in that condition. So let us for our part put up with the depravity of those still in error. The divine apostle, of course, included himself in this, not as guilty of all the crimes, but as one who had been a persecutor: not everyone had been guilty of all the other crimes - some had been guilty of this, another of that - yet all attained salvation.

- Theodoret of Cyrus (around A.D. 393 to around A.D. 457), Commentary on Titus, Chapter 3, in Theodoret of Cyrus, Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul, Volume 2, p. 257 (2001), Robert C. Hill translator.