Culturally, controversialists are in the dog-house. The people whose opinions we controvert might get upset. Or they might have sons and daughters who are doing the things we say God forbids.
We are neither 'people-friendly' nor 'pastorally sensitive', it is alleged.
But our calling to argue for the truth of the gospel against error in the press or on the internet is a ministry serving the cause of the Servant King, His people and a lost world. So it is as intrinsically people-friendly and pastoral as any other ministry of the Word.
As with the exercise of any spiritual gift by fallen human beings, there are dangers attending the ministry of controversy. Published controversialists face falling into the same grave sin as platform preachers - pride.
The manifestations of pride for the controversialist include:
* a sinful desire to win the argument for the sake of self-satisfaction rather than winning it for the sake of the people we are called to love and serve
* feeding off the sins and failures of others rather than constantly repenting of the depravity in our own hearts
* enjoying the fallen world in which controversy is necessary rather than longing for the Day when it no longer will be.
Any one involved in public ministry can fall into the appalling sin of pride. And it is appalling to use the cause of Christ's gospel for an ego-trip and to use God's Church as a platform for it.
Cranmer's Collect for the Sunday next before Easter is vitally necessary for all involved in public ministry including those of us called to contend for the gospel of the Lord Jesus:
Almighty and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ to take upon him our flesh and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.