Rhetoric & Homiletics: It All Depends On How You Define It!

  Here’s the argument . . . . .

“Animals in captivity are freer than in nature
because there are no natural predators to kill them.”

That is one side of the argument being made in defense of animals’ captivity in zoos, aquariums, shelters, and the like.  I am not attempting to make the argument, either way; that is not the purpose of these posts.  Rather, this argument illustrates the nature of “definition” when it is used in any “argument.” [1]

The argument (or “point which is being made” — if you prefer that word as a preacher) all rests on how you define “freer.”  If “freer” means free from the danger of predators, then the protection by a place of “sanctuary” does make them free to move about and exist =, free from that danger.

If “freer” means making all their own decisions in regards to where they would like to move about in their chosen habitat, then they are not free at all.  They are confined to a very small footprint of ground and no longer even decide how much food, when they would like to have their food, and what they would prefer to prey on for themselves.

LIKEWISE, when some preachers make this-or-that point (or argument), the point being made is only “true” if you agree with the way they have chosen to define the words which they have used.

  • “Men are born with a free will.” — If “free will” still includes God’s sovereignty, then . . . .
  • “There is nothing we can do to merit salvation.” — If exercising “saving faith” is not something people do, then . . .
  • “Without Him, we can do nothing.”  — If it is acknowledged that non-Christians do all kinds of things (and some very bad things) every day without Him in their minds or hearts, then . . . . .

I was reminded of “argument by definition” when I read this post . . . .

  • Our church’s polity is “congregational rule.” — Depends on how you chose to define “congregational rule.”

If “congregational rule” excludes “the church” role and right to actually and genuinely make decisions as to . . . . , then, no, it is not “congregational rule.”

If “congregational rule” means that the congregation has a genuine say in all the decisions which affect the church’s operations and elections of its officers, then it may well be “congregational rule.”

It all depends on how you define “congregational rule,”

who gets to define those words.

Some use the words “congregational rule” in a way that seems to go against what most would take those words to mean, or in a way that does not seem to be based on a fair and general usage of those words.  The words represent the user’s own definition as to what “congregational” means.

CRINO: Warren Cole Smith is correct when he looks at church polity for where the most serious problems are coming from in the local church setting.  Tell me how your church is organized, and you will find one of the first clues as to where the potential or actual problems are arising.

√ Elder-Rule
√ Deacon-Rule
√ Pastor-Rule
√ Long-time Member(s) Rule
√ CRINO – Congregational Rule In Name Only
√ Congregational-Rule

1. “Argument” is part of what speakers AND preachers engage in when making a point, an application, supporting an interpretation, revealing the flow of the biblical writer’s argument, flow the argument of the biblical writer, et al.

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