I dunno, this isn't based on anything but a vague gut feeling (yeah, yeah, as opposed to my usually well-researched and even-handed analysis!) but...
Are we afraid of preaching news that's too good?
I just wonder whether that 'honey mouthed' Puritan preacher, the 'sweet-dropper', Richard Sibbes was surrounded by a more bitter fraternity of preachers. You can imagine them, can't you. Consoling one another behind closed doors that their dull and tasteless offerings were the more faithful for it. "Sibbes is nice, but you can make the good news too good sometimes. We need to be more measured."
Now obviously we must preach judgement - I'm all for that. (As was Sibbes). I intend soon to write some stuff about preaching hell. But can we manage to preach judgement in such a way that the gospel is magnified? I hope so. (Cue enthusiastic comment from TheOldAdam!)
But yeah - it just seems like an unspoken rule among conservative evangelicals that the gospel offer we hold out is allowed to be somewhat encouraging. We can even make it quite appealing, so long as we guard it around with enough conditions and qualifications. But I do sense an unspoken fear of really and freely offering Christ in all His life-giving, Spirit-anointing goodness.
Is it just me or does anyone else feel the invisible hand of some well-meaning wowser keeping us in our chairs and urging us not to get too carried away but rather to content ourselves with being 'challenging, clear, faithful, helpful' and all that. Who is that guy? And what's the big fear?
Anyway... just a thought I had when I should have been finishing off my sermon. Must go and make it plainer.