A Challenge For Christian Communicators -- By: John MacArthur
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A Challenge For Christian Communicatorsa
President and Professor of Pastoral Ministries
Clarity and accuracy in communicating divine truth is more important for Christian communicators than anyone else. The availability of mass communications further enhances the preacher’s job in this day and time because of the vast audiences he can reach, which were not nearly as large in earlier days. Mass media opportunities can be abused, however, as they have been in so many cases. Television, for example, helped to usher out the “age of exposition” and usher in the age of “sound bites” when image became more important than substance in the message being communicated. As an entertainment medium, television has lowered appetites for serious thought as it has raised expectations for trivia and brevity. That is especially true of sermons in the mass media. Christian publishing has gone in the same direction in catering to people’s “felt needs” and giving them something they want rather than the doctrinal truths of the Bible. That is the very thing that Paul warned Timothy against and that Jeremiah refrained from doing. As Christ’s ambassadors, Christian communicators must make the message, not the medium, the heart of what they give their listeners, viewers, and readers.
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Importance of Clear Communication
No preacher likes the feeling of being tongue-tied—especially when it happens in the pulpit. Those awkward moments when his brain gets stuck in neutral and his mouth continues to rev are the nightmare of every preacher. It can be especially dangerous when everything he says is taped.
A few years ago some of our radio-broadcast workers assembled a taped collection of all my verbal fumbles over the years. They collected about fifteen-years worth of out-takes and strung them together to make an entire sermon of nonsense. It was painful to listen to.
So I have nothing but extreme pity for the Reverend William Archibald Spooner, who suffered from a disability that no preacher deserves. Spooner was a brilliant man who was dean of New College, Oxford, at the turn of the twentieth century. Today he is chiefly remembered because he elevated slips of the tongue to
TMSJ 17:1 (Spring 2006) p. 8
an art form. He was particularly prone to one variety of verbal blunder that has been given his name—the spoonerism. A spoonerism transposes the syllables or sounds of two or more words, as in “Let me sew you to your sheet.”
Spooner's backward eloquence was unsurpassed. Reprimanding a wayward student, he uttered these immortal words: “...
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