He ends his piece “Tone matters. But…” It should have been “Tone matters. And…” The problem with tone today is that pastors think our tone should belie our message. Soft words on hard subjects is the sweet spot of our preaching and pastoral care, but this is nonsense. I point this out in “Church Reformed” quoting both Solzhenitsyn and Kierkegaard:
It is pretty much the same now with the modern clergyman: a nimble, adroit, lively man, who in pretty language, with the utmost ease, with graceful manners, etc., knows how to introduce a little Christianity, but as easily, as easily as possible. In the New Testament, Christianity is the profoundest wound that can be inflicted upon a man, calculated on the most dreadful scale to collide with everything—and now the clergyman has perfected himself in introducing Christianity in such a way that it signifies nothing, and when he is able to do this to perfection he is regarded as a paragon. But this is nauseating! Oh, if a barber has perfected himself in removing the beard so easily that one hardly notices it, that’s well enough; but in relation to that which is precisely calculated to wound, to perfect oneself so as to introduce it in such a way that if possible it is not noticed at all—that is nauseating.
Years ago, I repented of being nimble and adroit in my preaching, and working to repent such that my so-called “tone” didn’t match people’s preferences and expectations, but the content of God’s Word I was right then preaching. It’s been good to work on this change.
My sneaking suspicion is that this discussion of tone is itself our capitulation to the Spirit of our Age. Can any of us imagine what our Lord or John the Baptist or Amos or the Apostles Peter and Paul or Martyr Stephen would say to us if we complained (as we ought to if we were honest) about their tone?