Thursdays are for pastors. Pastors inevitably deal with controversies of different types. We shouldn’t necessarily go looking for these controversies, nor do we need to. Rather, there is some wisdom given by the late and great C.H. Spurgeon that may be helpful when categorizing the things that pastors deal with.
1. There are those controversies that fall into the first level category that are “of immediate conflict over scripture teaching” (Nettles, Living by Revealed Truth p.473). “Spurgeon had much to say in this are and spread remarks over a wide field including persons, denominations, and movements” (Ibid).
2. The second level of controversy “emerged with those that held a confessional position ostensibly, but felt themselves justified in functioning in opposition to it” (Ibid). This is basically subscribing to a confession like the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, but functionally not holding to it.
3. The third type of controversy “focused on theological differenced that [Spurgeon] had with other publications, including periodicals and books. For the most part this type involved a single interaction but on occasions resulted in prolonged, and sometimes bitter, insulting exchanges” (Ibid).
Obviously, the first level of controversy above is the easiest to deal with because it happens naturally as we preach through books of the Bible and subjects come up. It is in facing these subjects that actually can make a church healthy if approached in humility to the authority of Scripture by the church. The second level controversy dealing with a confessional subscription is probably much more tricky, yet very common. Spurgeon respected someone who said he did not subscribe rather than someone who said they did yet did not really hold to believe those things. So, the matter is honesty here, and deals with the integrity of a church or pastor. Nevertheless, it is important that churches really know their statements of faith–simply to be honest. The third type is the most difficult in my own estimation. I like the fact that it often only took one interchange. Today is a bit different from Spurgeon’s, and there are so many more books and periodicals and information. We could never address them all; and perhaps prayer and patience will solve some of these matters. Simply giving out and recommending good books seems to be the best method for dealing with the latter item.