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Discourse on Discourse

November 1, 2006

Pistols

When two people engage in a verbal battle, who wins many times depends on the weapons chosen.  Personally, I don’t mind coming with a gun to a knife fight, but if it’s guns, I at least want to have one, better two.  I want to win, not for myself, but for what’s at stake, which in most cases is eternal truth.  I don’t choose to carry a pea-shooter when my opponent packs a bazooka.  Discourse itself is the battlefield to which one brings his vocabulary, expressions, and style to affect other’s views of God, the Bible, the world, the church, government, or anything else worthy of time and energy.  The goal of persuading, changing minds, or settling convictions necessitates weapons and techniques that accomplish the objective.  This doesn’t get done by shooting one’s own foot, inflicting significant collateral damage, extinguishing the surroundings of all living organisms, or killing one’s allies with “friendly” fire.  Ideally, both sides choose a sword, but I have more skill and mine is sharper.  My enemy doesn’t get killed; he surrenders.

In this era in which we live, my content is so often alien that my presentation of thought is dismissed without careful consideration.  However, it could be that the structure in my communication itself results in an immediate dismissal.  As the world waxes worse, my belief and practice seem very out-of-tune.  However, I also might need to implement changes to speak effectively to the present generation, especially since I begin with a society already hostile to my message.

Consider this as an example.  One segment of society wants to end the murder of unborn children, others want to curb abortion, while many want to limit the restrictions on it.  In order to persuade movement from one group to the other, some communication breaks down based upon the very speech that comprises communication.  How can we possibly know what is the most effective discourse?

I begin an exploration of my own discourse with a consideration of what Scripture says about all of the aspects that make it up.  I have to start with understanding why I talk in the first place.  I know I have to do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), my discourse included.  This formulates a question:  How do I glorify God in my discourse?   1 Peter 4:11 plainly states:

If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God . . . that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever.

“Oracles of God” (logia Theou) are the “utterances of God.”  Everything we say ought to be Scriptural.  God is only glorified when it is.

Let’s sharpen our discourse with at least one Biblical quality.  Believers within the pages of Scripture talk with certainty.  Since God’s Word is true and is sufficient for every good work, we can join them in speaking with confidence.  We know God keeps His promises and that He does not lie, so we can present His Word with complete assurance.  Speaking with confidence is boldness.  Paul recognized the importance of this rhetorical quality when he asked the church at Ephesus to pray for him at the end of his letter (Ephesians 6:18-20):

Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit . . . for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

As Paul fought the good fight of faith, he saw boldness as an advantage for any battle.

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Categories: Brandenburg, Discourse
  1. November 2, 2006 at 2:00 pm

     As the world waxes worse, my belief and practice seem very out-of-tune. However, I also might need to implement changes to speak effectively to the present generation, especially since I begin with a society already hostile to my message.

    Good point. If it is unpallatable, it might not be the truth either. Our purpose is to reach people. Certainly, when we are choking the daylights out of somebody, we have reached them. But that wasn’t what we had in mind. Grace and Salt. Balance.

    We have some good thoughts on addressing a hostile audience.

    Confidently,

    The Mallet Factor

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