Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Reason has given way to rhetoric

"Given the contemporary cultural climate, it is easier to get people to buy a product, join a movement, or accept a set of ideas if you use rhetoric, appeal to emotions and felt needs, and set aside a rational presentation of the topic at hand. But the short-term 'successes' of such an approach can dull us to the long term harm that can be done by taking this easy way out. As British sociologist and theologian Os Guinness has argued, the Devil will allow short-term success in evangelism and church growth if the means used to achieve it ultimately contribute to the marginalization of the church and her message. In this case, the church becomes her own gravedigger. By eschewing the role of reason in evangelism and substituting in its place an overemphasis on a simple gospel appeal, directed at felt needs, short-term gains are to be expected in a culture of empty selves. But who can deny that while our numbers have grown, our impact has not been proportionate to our numbers?" (p.130)

1 comment:

  1. So true. In the classical model of eduation where the rhetoric stage was built upon first the grammar and then the logic stage, rhetoric should provide sound, reasoned arguments for one's beliefs and convictions. Appealing to emotions would have been left to the Sophists.

    The short term successes can be clearly seen in the "health and wealth" gospel promoted by many modern day preachers, which is really more akin to the kind of sophistry Socrates encountered.