Rhetoric & Homiletics: The Danger Of Personal Convictions

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One of the key components
of effective public address and preaching is
“Personal Conviction.”

Having a PASSIONATE certainty about what you are saying is part of both “ethos” and “pathos.”  Passion both . . . .

speaks about who you are as a person – “ethos”
emotionally moves an audience – “pathos”1


It is nigh to impossible
to be convincing
if you yourself are not convinced.


What’s the danger with passionate communication? — “Blind Spots”

Have you seen it?  — Those who speak passionately about this-or-that, but do not realize that the audience is quietly thinking — “Seriously!  You are able to say that while at the same time . . . . . ”

Truth has implications . . .
but not singular implications! 

While you as a speaker may be thinking down one line of application, while the audience may well be going down others.

“Our society has no sense of modesty, no sense of shame.  Seemingly little to nothing embarrasses our culture . . . . “


“What has happened to our culture.  We can get exercised about the flow of drugs across the borders of America, but why is there such a demand.  It is because this world can never satisfy. . . . . “

The audience may well be agreeing with the speaker about the culture or drugs-addiction in America, while also thinking about . . . .

the modesty, or lack of it, on the church’s platform
the addiction to food, stuff (materialism), styles, fashions, workaholic-ism

A speaker or preacher can disparage such critical audience thinking.  Nevertheless, such thinking is to be encouraged.  It is called “discernment,” and it is what helps God’s people detect and avoid the many religious frauds littering the culture — via the internet, book publishing, television, and social media.

It is not that expressing personal convictions, or feeling passionate about what he/she is saying is to be avoided.  While that might be helpful advice to some high-living religious scammers, it is like deciding to “just say nothing anymore” after reading about the dangers of the tongue in Proverbs and James.

Rather, the point is that life and passion are integral to each other.

Ask Jerry Falwell, Jr. about that these days!

Yes, living life and preaching about living life has some real dangers.


“My brethren, be not many masters,
knowing that
we shall receive the greater condemnation.”


While it is nigh to impossible to be convincing if you yourself are not convinced.

It is also nigh to impossible to move others to live a godly life — no matter how passionately you believe and feel what you are saying — when you are not living out that truth and/or its parallel implications.

Preaching isn’t for
the weak at heart or
the sloppy life-styled believer!

 . . . . especially when you are a serial speaker speaking to a serial audience.



1. While some unthinkingly hold the position that “emotional appeal” is outside of the realm of ethical public speaking, that position is untenable.

•  Part of our created being includes emotions.
•  Jesus exhibited emotions.
•  The Bible is peppered with examples and stories which excite the emotions.
•  Romans 6:17 — “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed (will)  from the heart (emotions) that form of doctrine (head) which was delivered you.”

Have you been moved by the emotions which are evident as an individual tells a story or share a personal testimony that he/she feels deeply?



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