In a number of passages in his letters, Paul casts non-Christians (or, humanity outside of Christ) in pretty dark terms. Just read Romans 1:18-3:21, or Ephesians 2:1-3 and 4:17-19.
When Paul writes to his churches about life outside the Kingdom of God community, he puts it in terms of idolatry, alienation from God, enmity with God, subjection to Sin and Death, and eventual judgment and eternal destruction.
Here’s my question: are such passages meant to inform how Christians regard non-Christians? Should they shape the way we relate to them?
The question is complicated by Paul’s exhortation to his churches to “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders, redeeming the time. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Col. 4:5-6).
Paul imagines churches treating outsiders with kindness and consideration, being wise so that their presence is gracious and their speech is reasonable.
Might it be that the passages darkly portraying life outside of Christ are directed toward some other end than informing churches how to regard non-Christians?
What do you think?