Yesterday I began this post on how to preach a passage that may tread on some toes. Sometimes there are informed members of the congregation who hold a particular position theologically. Often there are relatively uninformed members of the congregation who hold a particular position tenaciously. What should we do when we have to preach a passage that might stir disunity in the church? Perhaps a passage touching on predestination, eternal security, eschatology, or a particular branch of Christian theology? We should evaluate the choice of passage, preach the passage and preach wisely. Furthermore:
Recognize, but don’t overqualify. It is often appropriate to recognize that there are different opinions on an issue that comes up in the text. By recognizing it we assure people that we are not preaching unaware. But don’t overqualify every statement and end up sounding like a politician who is saying a lot, but basically avoiding saying anything bad.
Watch your tone. It is important to choose words wisely, but don’t forget your tone. Model a gracious spirit, never take cheap shots, demonstrate an attitude of harmony. Make sure you are not using the opportunity and platform to win some points in a theological sparring match. Fully pray through the situation ahead of time, not only in reference to the message, but also in reference to your relationship with key individuals in the church.
If appropriate, overtly teach theology. If you have the authority to do so, the situation requires it, you have prayed at length, etc., then it may be appropriate to ignore what I have written here and preach blatant theology (apart from watching your tone – always appropriate!) Generally I would save this for the genuinely central issues – deity of Christ, salvation by grace/faith alone , the inspiration of the Bible, the trinitarian nature of Christianity. The issues listed at the start of yesterday’s post are important, but not as central as these.