“How are we supposed to reconcile the Apostle Paul’s rather low opinion of himself with the high esteem others had for him?” asks Stephen H. Webb. The answer, provided in today’s On the Square, is stage fright:
If Paul suffered from stage fright, then the incongruities between Acts and his letters make a lot of sense. In fact, they disappear altogether. Those who battle public speaking phobia can come across as powerful speakers precisely because they work hard at masking their fear. Speaking phobia is easy to hide from others, but it is an inward struggle that can be incredibly debilitating. A speaking disability would have been especially catastrophic for a man dedicated to a public ministry. In any case, Paul, like many great writers, often found that writing compensates for problems with face-to-face communication.
Read the rest here.
Wikipedia has a list of famous people with stage fright (sadly lacking the Apostle Paul). It also helpfully notes that “a large problem that is seldom talked about is the issue of people who have severe anxiety many times do not seek help because they are also fearful of dealing with the issues.” Thanks, Wikipedia! I never would have thought that people suffering from crippling anxiety would be anxious.