A Fender Bender
As I was listening to John Mac Arthur several days ago, I was not only reminded how important vocal variety is, but there were a number of other rhetorical techniques which caught my attention.
Again — As I listened – and later watched – I not only enjoyed it from a theological, informative, and instructive perspective but then I went “analytical.” When a speaker catches my interest, attention, awareness, curiosity, thinking, emotions, etc. I stop and go back (then or later) to that portion of the speech or message and ask — “Why?”
“What did he just do that pulled my thinking – attention – interest – focus.”
“What caused my response at that point?”
If Can Quantify – Then Can Replicate: If I understand what a speaker did, in a meaningful, quantifiable way, then I can reproduce or replicate that methodology. I am not talking about mimicking the actual content. I am looking for the rhetorical techniques which made the message effective or more effective. If I can grasp what he did, then I can use that same rhetorical technique in preparing and/or delivering a message which has no relationship with the topic or passage used by that speaker.
Here is the beginning of Dr. John Mac Arthurs Message: Video Link – Testing The Spirits.
(beginning @2:49 minute mark)
This is critical
It is critical because . . . .
and because demons exist,
and because they operate a kingdom of lies — that dominates the world.
Satan is the god of this world, the prince of the power of the air, the ruler of spiritual darkness in heavenly places,
and he has been allowed to run loose in this world, going about as a roaring lion, seeking who he may devour.
He and his agents are disguised — as angels of light, — according to the apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthians.
And we should not be surprised — that Satan operates 99 percent of the time in false religion,
in lies and deception.
You may want to go to yesterday’s discussion of the rhetorical technique which the above clip illustrates. Even though I have only transcribed one brief example of Mac Arthur’s ability regarding this vocal technique, it could repeatedly be illustrated throughout the whole of the message.
Mac Arthur is not only a good example of effectiveness in the use of that technique but is equally instructive in the use of other rhetorical techniques. I might be back tomorrow to point to yet another one of many.
As you listen to Mac Arthur, this “clip” might well catch your ears and attention.
Satan isn’t the one behind the wretched, corrupt, sinful behavior of any given society.
The flesh takes care of that.
Satan is behind the corrupt religion, the false systems of belief.
It’s really important to understand that.
For a moment, turn to 2 Corinthians chapter 10 — 2 Corinthians chapter 10.
People talk about spiritual warfare with regard to Satan and demons and I think –
almost — always — they get it wrong.
They come up with the idea that we’re supposed to be chasing Satan around.
I remember being at a Pastors’ Conference one time and a prominent wonderful church and the pastor got up to begin the pastor’s conference with several thousand men and he said, “Let’s pray,” and the first words out of his mouth were, “Satan, — we bind you.”
And I almost fell over.
Let us pray? —- [Did you catch his vocal intonation]
And the first word is Satan
and the first word is “Satan”
and he’s talking to the devil,
telling the devil what he can or cannot do?
Maybe he thinks that spiritual war, and maybe he thinks he has the power to do that.
That’s a delusion!**
As I was listening, I thought and felt . . . .
“Wow — he is really laying out the error — and the strength of his personal convictions about such — in the strongest of terms. I might have tried to be a little more delicate or artful. However, that was clearly his intent and goal, and he did accomplish it with such a situational description and the concluding evaluative word – “delusion.”**
(And then I thought – and this is key)
“Even about those at a pastor’s conference where thousands of pastors were attending along with him!”
Now, in order to quantify and remember the technique, I have called this a “Collision Comment.” The listener, those who might well agree with what has been and is going to be said, now become part of a crash, a collision . . . .
by the selection of the words,
by the description of where it happens, and
by a subtle reference to their circles
. . . . All of these grab their concern and pull them into listening closer.
I have highlighted the words which drive the coming collision. Some words and phrases are highlighted because they are words and phrases which shine the headlights into their eyes and because they magnify the last word – “delusion” – all making it even more of a “head-on fender bender” – Ouch – Even At A Pastor’s Conference!
There is value, both theological and rhetorical value, in making your case in the clearest, forceful, compelling, yet appropriate and substantiated words. That is part of both our responsibility and our responsibility rhetorically* – to make the case for truth. As it has been rightfully said . . . .
Error is half-way around the world before truth has its boots on!
Nevertheless, I want to draw a distinction between intense statements which are true and strong, but about a situation removed from us specifically, and a “Collision Comment” which hits closer to home.
i.e. — “It is not just “them” that ____, but even in our churches / circles / families / ministries / businesses _________ . . . .”
Frankly, you probably have done this yourself concerning a topic, events, position, etc. of which you have felt strongly about and wanted forcefully to communicate . . . .
An — “It is not just them, it is us” kind of example, illustration, proof, etc.
Dr. Mac Arthur’s message, as a whole, about the Charismatic Movement, is intense and profitable. It is NOT the many examples of intense evaluation which Mac Arthur offers throughout the message of which I am calling a “Collision Comment.”
Rather, it is his (fair and rightful) statement about a preacher’s conference which he himself attended. It is this “close to home” reference, which speaks of a pastor within his own circles of travel, of which I want to characterize as a “collision comment.” It collides with those who are listening and agree with the overall intense evaluation of the charismatic movement because these words hit closer to home.
In working your speech or message, think about the need to use a “Collision Comment” to drive the point which is being made. It has a place and role to play in accomplishing the goal of clarity and impact. “Collision Comments” comes to closer to home and challenges “our” (“the listener’s”) thinking, as those who may believe that “we” (“they”) are outside of such critique!
“Collision Comments” can drive the force of your point because they will “collide” with your audience. It includes them! While an audience may have excused itself out of the appraisal, assessment, or critique, it is now included. — It is “us” as well?? – Ouch!
Here is another example by Mac Arthur, which comes close to home because of both the position held by the person who is identified by Mac Arthur – a seminary professor – and the seminary at which he taught.
Jack Deere, once a professor at Dallas Seminary, — with whom we also had a conversation — says this . . . .
He taught at Dallas Theological Seminary and left.
. . . . says this, “The sufficiency of Scripture is a demonic doctrine. In order to fulfill God’s highest purpose for our lives, we must be able to hear His voice, both in the written word and in the word freshly spoken from heaven. Satan understands the strategic importance of Christians hearing God’s voice, so he has launched various attacks against us in this area.”
Did you get that?
Satan — is the one calling them to – scriptural – fidelity.
He further says, “One of Satan’s most successful attacks has been to develop a doctrine that teaches God no longer speaks to us except through the written word. Ultimately, this doctrine is demonic, even though Christian theologians have been used to perfect it.”
The test has failed.
The sweep of this movement’s influence and the shocking nature of the positions held by those who have joined this movement crash into the reality of our naive and perhaps pollyanna world. Our world is being impacted!
Template Samples: There are mind generating words and phrases which can help generate ideas which MAY BE useful in your speech or message . . . .
- Let me read you an article — which is about those who call themselves Christians. No longer is this the faith we were taught nor the church culture we were raised in during our days.
- This is more prevalent that we understand. We may live in a “Gospel Bubble” where we do not realize that it is part of the Christian worldview for many a local church or Christian in our day.
- “Euphemistic Christian Living”: Living the same way, but it appears and sounds nicer.
- It is a terrible comment to make — Isn’t it? – but that comment wasn’t made by one who knew not Christ, but by a Pastor who . . . .
- It is “Stinking Thinking” — Such thinking by God’s people is just as offensive to God as that of the world around us.
- You understand that this is not just about those who . . . .
- At times, we exclude ourselves from this mistake, but it shows up in the lives of God’s people when . . . .
- It is wrong thinking and even twisted thinking to believe that . . . . ., but is this _____ actually much different than . . . . when we as God’s people . . . .
- Isn’t that irrational? How do people ever get to the thinking that allows them to . . . . . However, how do God’s people ever get to the thinking that permits them to . . . .
- No matter how far we are removed from that type of language, are there not some euphemistic ways of saying the same things? Are there inappropriate Christianized expressions of the same words?
- That quote did not come from a secular magazine, but by a well-known Christian leader, a pastor, a pastor of one of the largest churches in America. “The Church is no longer relevant!” — Yet are there not many of God’s people who say that every week and no one is shocked.
- Perhaps the words / actions of that Christian leader/speaker/pastor are more shared by God’s people than we would like to believe.
*It should be said that there are intense words which rightfully, accurately, truthfully, and appropriately characterize positions, events, activities, actions, theological arguments, groups, etc. To use those characterizations is not necessarily to be shocking, but for clearly identifying the nature of such [ Extreme charismatic practices / Jonesboro Baptist Church / Alt-Right / KKK / Various news sources — and many shades inbetween]
The opposite of Collision Comments is “Candy-Coated Comment – words which are softer in tone, blending with their sensitivities, removed from us directly.
** Dr. Mac Arthur’s message as a whole about the Charismatic Movement is intense and profitable. However, in the clip cited, it used as an example of a “collision comment” because it involves and cites men in the ministry and circles wherein he himself travels. It comes close to where we are and therefore has more impact.