LECTURE 11 ON SERMON PREPARATION Argument

Broadus leaves no doubt that preaching is argumentative in the classical sense, as we have observed, of being a reasoned presentation. The incentive is that we are speaking the Word of God, and it deserves to have us support it in every way possible. This may be done by testimony, but the testimony is to be judged by the integrity of the witness, the number of witnesses, and the Scriptures above all.

Then we have induction, analogy and deduction. Induction takes place when we apply a specific case to a class of individuals. As preachers we probably do this a lot. When this is based on the testimony of the Word it is not a problem. An example of this would be Jesus teaching the rich young ruler who went away sad because Jesus faced him with a choice between the kingdom and money. Although Jesus does this in a specific instance, the rule is applicable to all of us in some way.

Analogy is what Paul does in I Corinthians 15:35-44 where, in speaking about the resurrection, he makes many comparisons between the spiritual and the natural realm. 

Deduction is reasoning from the general principle to the specific. This is mostly found in doctrinal preaching, and it deals with ideas rather than facts. Simply put, God is good, so what are the implications for specific situations? In his general suggestions Broadus reminds us that we are aiming at convincing people. We should first of all be convinced of the truth ourselves and understand how to prove it. The starting point should be something familiar and the argument should be plain to the audience. Give preference to Scriptural arguments rather than theological disputations. The old acronym KISS is appropriate, keep it simple stupid! Clarity precision and force are the defining characteristics. How excited are you?

Lester De Koster gives us a history of the study of rhetoric, which, as we have observed was considered the heart of formal education in ancient times. Aristotle’s view was that arguments must appeal to the head with facts and logic, to the heart and the emotions, and they must come from the character of the speaker. The latter I believe is especially important in the case of a Pastor. There is a tremendous emphasis in Cicero on rhythms in speech and on words, but it is vital to note that this kind of attention is to be exercised, only after the speaker has determined his purpose and intent. Passion and conviction are essential to good oratory. Augustine said, “To teach is a necessity, to delight is a beauty, to persuade is a triumph. In general the Protestant Reformers were educated in this classical pattern. De Koster emphasizes the fact that in human renovation for the glory of God, words are important in the process and preaching is the ordained method. Calvin said that the guide for the study is the congregation’s needs, but the guide in the pulpit is obedience to the text. Salvation calls to a life of obedience. He freed sermonizing from pagan classical limitations while at the same time recognizing the importance of the three styles of Cicero: the plain style instructing, the middle style appealing to the emotions and the sublime style convincing.