Disclaimers . . . . “I’m not saying . . . . “
At times a speaker will have to make a “disclaimer,” a statement that indicates that he is not saying what it may sound like he is saying.
There are two purposes for using disclaimers.
#1) – To provide clarity — So that our audience does not blur or confuse two different concepts, or truths, or elements. Tony Evans uses a disclaimer, and uses these “disclaiming words” — “Now let’s make sure we are straight,” he says . . . .
“Now let’s make sure we are straight . . . not saved by good works . . . . but you are saved for good works . . . please don’t misread that” – Tony Evans
#2) To convey that you understand the topic, passage, position you are addressing -Obviously, you cannot cover all that could be said about a particular passage, position, interpretation, topic, but you do want to recognize that you understand that there is more than can be or will be said at this time. For instance, one might say . . . .
“I well understand that there is another side to what I am speaking about when it comes to submitting to the authority of your parents, or those over you. Yes, we still have an obligation to do what is right, and honest, and just even though we may be asked or told to do something which is unbilibcal. . . . But I’ll save that for another message.”
#3) – To “relax” any critics in your audience at ease — Your audience is somewhere between being a proponent and an opponent. If they have any reservations about you OR the position you are taking biblically or interpretively, disclaimers can give you time to have that person give you an audience.
“I know that there will be those who take a different position and maybe even a widely different postion on ______. Some hold the poistion that ______ and there will also be others who maintain that this is speaking about ______. I understand those two positions.
Just the fact that you . . . .
- know of other positions — also helps with those who already agree with you
- know of their position –
- have mentioned their position
- have even considered their position –
- might have held one of those positions at one time
. . . . will give you a more receptive audience
Note: When it comes to this category of skeptical listeners, do not put the disclaimer at the end of the message. It doesn’t work there very well!
- Some might have been taught that . . . .
- Now let’s be sure we are straight on this . . . .
- I understand that there is another side of the coin.
- That is not to say that . . . .
- There is a balance we must keep here . . . .
- Some might be thinking of the biblical passage which says . . . . and I am going to address that later (or next week, at a different time)
- There is space for some to read this passage as “God’s love for us” and not “our love for God.”
- I used to hold the position that this passage was speaking about . . . .
- Whether you read it this way or that way . . . . our basic theology doesn’t change.
- Now let me be clear when I say . . . .
- But that is for another message
- Not that I agree with all that the Supreme Court decisions (a debatable personality / a Bible teacher-preacher / book)
There is another common kind of disclaimer that is knowingly or unknowing used to cover what one has really been saying and really means. You have probably witnessed such as you listen to someone who has been speaking for some period of time and seemingly taking an off-balanced theological position. You may well be thinking that this teacher/preacher is off in left field and sounds like he is saying ________. Then the speaker says . . . . .
“I am not saying that . . . . ”
Don’t misunderstand me. I know . . . . .”
“That is not to say . . . . “
But it sure sounded like he has been saying that for the last 20 minutes, or the whole message. Now he says he isn’t.
Some will cover all they have been teacher or preaching by such “disclaimers” to be able to say . . . .
- to themselves????
- to those who may be naive
- to those trusting enough to believe it
- to any legitimate critics
I am not teaching a position that is removed from historical orthodoxy
If the legitimate critic where to challenge what has been said, the typical response is . . . “No, I’m not saying ______ In fact, I said that I was not saying that . . . . .”
The truth is the disclaimer is used only for “theological cover” by some because what they have been saying . . . . is exactly what they have been saying, precisely their position.
“now that does not mean you don’t matter, you mater a great deal”
“Now let’s make sure we are straight . . . not saved by good works . . . . but you are saved for good works . . . please don’t misread that . . . . “