Using Analogical Metaphors #2 . . . .



building blocks metaphors 2  The Building Process


These three articles are on the “Rhetorical Technique” called “analogical metaphors.”

  1. Examples and an explanation of its communicative power
  2. Thinking Backwards:  How to construct analogical metaphors.
  3. A list of events, people, things, which help generate analogical metaphors

We began this three-part series with #1 — Examples of analogical metaphors which exemplified their effectiveness, followed by an explanation for its rhetorical power.


Today, we are explaining the methodology for constructing them.  Obviously, as John Mac Arthur indicated in the first example, someone else came up with the analogical metaphor.  As to the source of the second and third examples cited, it is rightfully assumed that Mac Arthur came up with them himself.

As seen, there are two sources for analogical metaphors.

  1. The creative minds of others – (i.e. — @49:26 — Link – John Mac Arthur – Testing The Spirits — “Prosperity preachers have made Christianity a laughingstock.  One writer says, “The prosperity gospel is Christianity’s version of professional wrestling.” That communicates!”
  2. Our own creative minds


Obviously, we could listen to and read other teachers and pastors and cite the words of their analogical metaphors.  That method rests on our selection of writers or speakers who are capable of and practiced in calling up useful metaphorical analogies.

However, if we want to have this rhetorical tool available at our disposal, then we have to go analytical to quantify the methodology so that we can create our own.

As we have stated, they have significant communicative power because they can, in a few words, bring up a mental image that grasps what is being referenced.

If we wanted to devise an analogical metaphor how would we go about that?  The answer is . . . .

#2 – Think Backwards —

Most want to go at it this way . . . .

Start with “A” – the “application”  – In this case, The Charismatic Movement

Then go to “B” – Rack our brain for some possible analogies.  What are some comparisons we can make to the Charismatic Movement?

Then step “C” – Evaluate if that analogy works. Does that analogy describe the nature of Charismatic Movement?  Does it grab the characteristics of the application?  If not, then try to think of another.


However, I would like to suggest that it is an ineffective methodology.  It is ineffective for two reasons . . . .

#1) There are no boundaries which constrain “B”

#2) Mentally generating possibilities is helped when we focus on the characteristics which describe the application.


Therefore — Reverse “B” & “C”

The tendency is to go straight to “B”  (trying to think of possible analogies) without the guidance which “C” helps provide.

Think of the possible analogies – “B” –  AFTER you have defined/delineated the characteristics “C” of the “application” – “A”

Think in this order

We are starting with A – our selected application – in this case, the Charismatic Movement

Then do C – Delineate the characteristics which mark the application

THEN go to B – What is like that – as an analogy?  What in our experience fits that description?

Work yourself backward.  I say backward because we are flipping B: & C:

You are NOT moving from A: to B: – Application to thinking of possible analogies.  That is where most people want to start — with trying to think of an analogy before they have a clear grasp of the characteristics (C:) which mark the application (A:)what is being described.


It would look like this if we flipped B & C . . . .

A: The “Application” – In our case it is —  The Charismatic Movement

B: Then think of the what you would say were you to put it all into sentences.  What would you say about the application?  How would you describe it with words and/or phrases?  How would you describe the application?  Don’t worry about possible analogies right now.

Descriptive words and phrase which characterize or mark your “application.”

  • Fake
  • It is a lot of showmanship.
  • The glitzy  and calls up the materialistic
  • It attracts and plays on the naive.
  • It is personality driven.
  • It has the power to attract crowds.
  • It offers or promises what it cannot deliver.
  • Deceptive
  • Fraudulent
  • Desperate people needing help

Now, as you look at the various characteristics, words, sentences, descriptive comments, statements you might make about the application, ask yourself what fits that?  What is analogous to that today?


I stated that it is an ineffective methodology for two reasons . . . .

#1) There are no boundaries which constrain our thinking in regards to possible analogies.

If you begin by trying to think of possible analogies, the mental list of possible analogies is far too broad.  Your mind will go all over in trying to think of possible analogies.  You have to limit the mental search by thinking through the characteristics which mark what you are addressing.  The list of words, characteristics, comments you could make about the application, descriptive phrases, etc. begin building some boundaries of thought for a possible analogy.

#2) Brainstorming possible analogies is helped when we focus on the “characteristics” as a whole.

As we look at the various characteristics, words, thoughts, phrases out minds begin thinking about — “What is there today that would fit that descriptive list?

Once you have a broad understanding of . . . .

  • the nature of
  • the characteristics of
  • the elements which mark it
  • descriptive words which characterize it
  • sentences which explain what it is
  • phrases which define it

. . . . then there are mental limits to what might be analogous to it, and then we are helped in brainstorming an analogy.


Step Three . . . .

Then, ask yourself . . .

“What is analogous to such a description?”

What is there . . . .

  • in life
  • in our experiences
  • in living
  • in our world
  • in the experiences of people
  • in an object
  • in an event

. . . . which might fit that “descriptive list?”


Possible Analogies (which might fit that descriptive list)

  • W.C. Fields
  • P.T. Barnum
  • A Circus
  • A Three Ring Circus
  • A car showroom
  • A carnival barker
  • The Shell Game
  • Hollywood
  • Con Artist


Is there an analogical metaphor in that list which epitomizes and grabs many of those characteristics, words, ideas, and/or phrases?

What on that list is a good analogy to the characteristics which mark your application?

Which analogical metaphorically best carries over the elements of the analogy to your application?

Does your list cause you to think of other analogies which might work?

Are there some others which you have now begun thinking about, which might work even better?

  • Magician – Illusionist
  • Soothsayer
  • Snake charmer
  • Enchanter
  • Snakeoil salesmen
  • Salesmen
  • Professional wrestling



Two Other Examples Of Listing Out The Characteristics Of —  Before Looking For An Analogy:

  • Something built on a lie
  • A scheme
  • Fooling the uninformed
  • A quick get rich appeal
  • Operated by a greedy liar
  • bait and switch
  • A liar
  • Feeding on the gullible
  • Pyramid scheme
  • Bunko squad
  • rip off
  • Social Security System
  • shell-game
  • confidence trick
  • Ponzi Schemes
  • Bernie Madoff

Leading to the Analogical Metaphor: Ponzi scheme – It’s a spiritual version of Bernie Madoff.



  • People willing to take a gamble, spin the wheel
  • get rich fast appeal – get healthy fast appeal
  • Take your money
  • Corrupted by money
  • Promising fast money
  • Criminal – Mafia
  • An understood risk
  • The hopeless who are hoping
  • raffle / long-shot / lottery
  • people willing to take a shot in the dark
  • risky behavior
  • people who take your money and run
  • throw of the dice
  • desperate people

Leading to the Analogical Metaphor: Las Vegas – Mafia


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