Jonathan Edwards and The Art of Effective Communication -- By: John D. Hannah

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 11:4 (Fall 2002)
Article: Jonathan Edwards and The Art of Effective Communication
Author: John D. Hannah


Jonathan Edwards and The Art of Effective Communication

John D. Hannah

In 1869 the transcontinental railroad was completed linking the extremities of a vast nation on the verge of becoming a world power in the industrial era. Laying track across the mountains from California and from the prairies of mid-America, the two were joined into one iron fabric of parallel bars at Promontory Point, Utah. Dignitaries met to drive in the last spikes in what was heralded as the greatest event in human history. One hundred years later in 1969, many of us were glued to the television watching an American walk upon the moon. The event was again heralded with an effusive array of euphoric accolades. It was “a giant leap for mankind.” Were these ultimately determinative events in the history of the race? Did they significantly improve the human condition? Did they initiate changes in human nature that has made our world a kinder place? As a result of these remarkable accomplishments, has the heart of mankind shed its darker abilities? It is not my intent to answer the question of the benefit of scientific and technological advances, though I seriously question that science has tamed the beast in the human breast or lessened the mortality rate (it remains at 100%). The question that I want to raise is this: What is the most important event in human history? Of all the events of the centuries, which one is the most life-changing?

While we may have a variety of views on these matters, God does not. I think that we should ask him. If we would search his wisdom, I think that we would find that he has stated the answer in unequivocal terms. The most important event in human history is the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is the central message that God has for mankind. While scientific advances have proven to be of significant benefit, as quality and longevity of life have been greatly improved, cultural advance is not God’s most important word to us. That word is “Christ” for he alone can change man from within, from the heart. If it is true that the greatest of all messages to be delivered to mankind is from God himself, then the greatest duty of mankind for mankind is found in the proclamation of that message. If true, the task is enormous; it compels us to understand that message and study the art of conveying it to the world.

This insight brings me to the topic of this article. If the greatest event of all history is the God-event of the incarnation, then Jesus Christ is the one who should dominate the thoughts and passions of those who claim to be his servants. Great preaching is not about the technique or personality of the speaker, but great preaching is about the preacher’s central top...

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