Analogies Are Shortcut Arguments: Five Steps To Good Analogies

apples to apples  Apples To Apples

In an interesting book, which I just bought today — “How To Use Analogies & Metaphor To Sell More” by John Pollack — Pollack states . . . .

“I think most people grew up thinking about analogies in their strictest SAT format. . . . .  Once you start thinking of analogies more broadly, as a comparison that suggests parallels between two different things, you’ll start seeing them in marketing, business models, legal arguments, biblical parables, sports pages.  That awareness, learning to cultivate that awareness, will start tuning up your analogical instincts and allow you to put them to work on your own behalf.”

If you read the previous post, you realize that once you become aware of the power of analogy, you begin seeing them in all kinds of places and surely in the sermons of men like Tony Evans!

Here is a link to a previous example of Tony Evans using analogy.

In fact, in his discussion with (Link: H. B. Charles, Jr.) about preaching he states his constant attempts to see things in life to which he can draw an analogy to for a message.

[Audio Link]

You’re also known for very powerful illustrations — are — what is that and at this point. The first book I’m checking if I need a construction on something is your book of illustrations — are —  is that.

It is that heavy crafting?  Are you over the years on your feet illustrating?  What is your philosophy of sermon illustrating.

Well it’s you use a great word, and that was the word philosophy because I assume something  – OK – and the assumption is everything is an illustration.

And because I operate with that assumption — it’s kind of hard — sometimes I do it’s when I’m with preachers — I tell them — point to point out something in the room, and they’ll just point out anything  — and I’ll immediately turn into an illustration.

 And maybe some of that is personality,  but it’s also philosophy

because I assume that everything created has been created by God or is in opposition to God and therefore has a spiritual, theological framework it can illustrate something in the spiritual realm

and because I’ve operated that way I see illustrations all the time

so I have some planned, and some come on the spot

and some events happen while I’m a while I’m preaching — something happens then it becomes an illustration at the moment — but the practice of that turns it into a mental orientation that that flows out because the more you do it — the better you get at it.

As John Pollack states, in concurrence with Evans . . . .

“Just like anything else.  If you practice, you’ll get better.  It’s a muscle.  We all have analogical instinct, and some people have honed it more than others.”

Pollack also states . . . .

“By using analogy effectively, you distill something which is complex into something that, perhaps, is simpler, in there that your audience can understand.  The strength of a good analogy is that it is a story, a comparison with a spring-loaded conclusion.”


In Pollack’s brief .99 “book” (really a pamphlet) he provides five steps to creating good analogies . . . .

First, analogies use the familiar to explain something less familiar.

Second . . . . Good analogies highlight similarities between the two things, and they obscure differences.

The third criteria of effective analogies is that they identify a useful abstraction.

The fourth criteria is that a good analogy tells a coherent story.

The final, fifth criteria, is that good analogies resonate emotionally.



“I would say that if you look at the most successful people in history, and in so many different fields, whether it’s Thomas Edison or Ronald Regan, you’re looking at people who are very comfortable with analogy.”

— John Pollack —

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