This will probably be down right boring to most people, so you might want to ignore it, but there are a few folks who will be on the same wave -length with me. Hopefully it will be an encouragement to them. So, here goes—
I have no idea why, but I just read an article on “Classical Rhetoric”—guess it’s a preacher thing! Anyway, if it didn’t do anything else it made me aware of my ignorance –as if I needed a reminder. On another positive note, joking aside, it also reminded me of the importance of education. Our educational system has slipped far and fast in recent years (might be better if I said it fell off a cliff) and our nation is paying a high price as a result.
The article however wasn’t always positive for me. While I wish I was better educated, there are things more important. Some times people get “too smart for their own good”. Here’s an example. The article said, ” A great man must not only study the rules and principles of eloquent expression, but he must know and do the good; he must not only have mastered certain techniques, he needed to be familiar with the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. The discipline that taught a man these things was called classical rhetoric—-To get a full understanding of what it is to be able to express yourself persuasively, you have to go back to the ancients—-Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian”.
My first thought was,”Really?”–I guess I missed the boat. Now I’ll admit that, if I had the time, I would enjoy studying these men, and I feel certain that I could learn some valuable lessons, but must you really do that in order to “express yourself persuasively”? Being as uneducated and ignorant as I am, I really hate to disagree with this writer, obviously a very intelligent person, but I’ve got to do it. Here’s what I think…….
There is more to preaching, teaching, and witnessing than using “the rules and principles of eloquent expression”. I am of the opinion that doing so could at times be an hindrance rather than a help. Some of us are country bumpkins and we need the message delivered in a way that we can understand. And, we would rather worship than be entertained by some eloquent preacher whose only concern is to show off his oratorical ability. Listening to a gifted orator might be entertaining, but that doesn’t mean it is edifying. What he says might be true, but that doesn’t mean he is communicating in the best way. Whether you are a hillbilly, like me, or a Cajun living in the swamp, or someone raised in the ghetto certain factors come into play when we try to communicate. Beyond those difference, there are others, like age and education, that should be considered.
Studying the modes of rhetoric (ethos, logos, and pathos) might be interesting and beneficial in some cases, but it seems to me that we depend too much on man’s ability and not enough on the Holy Spirit. I understand that my speaking skills could be vastly improved, but will that make me more effective in my God given ministry? If I am where God wants me to be, doing what He commands me to do, surely He will enable me to do it effectively. It’s not my job to impress the Queen of England with my mastery of the King’s English. God called me to preach to Texans and whether you like it or not we can be a pretty red-neck bunch. My only concern is whether or not they understand what I’m saying. Seems to me that’s what Paul thought when he wrote 1 Cor. 2:1-5–“…not with excellency of speech or of wisdom–not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power..”(Vs 1,4).
Maybe some of you think I’m making a big deal out of nothing, but I think you are wrong. It is a very serious matter when we rely on the flesh rather than the Holy Spirit. When all is said and done, if we simply speak the truth in love with the ability we have,in dependance upon the Holy Spirit, to those God puts us into contact with we will accomplish more than we would if we had become a master of “Classical Rhetoric”. While some are too proud of their ignorance, others have gone way too far toward making a god of their intellect and ability. Both are wrong! If you are one of those people who are highly educated and greatly gifted, able to speak eloquently and persuasively, I thank God for you and would probably love to hear you preach –God has a place of ministry for you, a place that I could never fill, but please show the rest of us just a little respect. Believe it or not, God has a work of equal importance for those of us with a lesser ability. The sermons that have helped me the most throughout the years were delivered by country preachers who couldn’t even begin to properly pronounce all the names in the Old Testament. We worry too much the other fellow does or doesn’t do. We will be much better off if we just concern ourselves with doing the best we can with what we’ve got where we are. Did I say that right? O well never mind–I’m not going to worry about it. I do, however, hope you will think about it! Like I said at the beginning–” This will probably be down right boring to most people”, but you can’t say I didn’t warn you.