Toward and “Untoward”: Theological Humility and Homiletical Confidence for Pastor-Theologians
Recently, a friend tweeted. “If your article or book title begins with ‘Toward,’ I don’t want to read it. Let me know when you get where you’re going,” he says cheekily. I think there is something to the sentiment, specifically for pastor-theologians. We need to speak and write, and especially preach, with theological confidence. In this sense, we need an “untoward” type of posture. That said, a true sense of untoward theological confidence must also combine with a posture of theological humility, working toward certainty. Theological humility should thus hold hands with homiletical confidence as we learn with humility and to preach with conviction. In this essay, I will argue that pastor-theologians must cultivate the doubled virtue of theological humility and homiletical confidence, following the example of the consummate pastor-theologian, Augustine of Hippo.
I will argue this point in three phases. First, I will explore the robust Augustinian tradition of “faith seeking understanding” as a mode of theological humility. Second, I will expound a vision of homiletical confidence, drawing from Augustine’s sermons on John. Third, I will connect the cultivation of theological humility and homiletical confidence to the calling of the pastor-theologian.