Vol.IX No.V Pg.1
July 1972

The Meat Of Argument

Robert F. Turner

Reading bro. Ray Bohannans M. A. thesis on The School of Preaching I was impressed by quotes from rhetoricians on the importance of the character of one who would convince others. Can a preacher or teacher convince others of truth he does not practice?

Aristotle said, The character of the speaker is a cause of persuasion when the speech is so uttered as to make him worthy of belief;... It is not true, as some writers on the art maintain, that the probity of the speaker contributes nothing to his persuasiveness; on the contrary, we might almost affirm that his character is the most potent of all the means of persuasion.

Further (from Rhetoric of Aristotle) There are three things which inspire confidence in the orator s own character—the three namely, that induce us to believe a thing apart from any proof of it: good sense, good moral character, and good will.

Another ancient, Quintilian, held that the perfect orator must be a good man skilled in speaking: and in this generation, the modern speech teacher, Monroe, agrees. Speaking of ethical proof or the character of the speaker, he says, Of all the nodes of persuasion, it is the strongest and most permanent.

Of all people, Christians should understand this best. Paul offered his conduct purpose faith etc. in step with his doctrine. (2 Tim. 3:10-f) He charged Timothy to war a good warfare: holding faith, and a good conscience: (1 Tim. 1:18-19) and exhorted the young preacher Let no man despise thy youth: but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in manner of life in love, in faith, in purity. (4: 12, ASV) Again, Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine: continue in them: for doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee. (4:16)

Without holiness in our lives, we can not teach holiness to others. Our "arguments fall flat unless they are backed by God-respecting practices. Half the job is done when hearers respect and expect truth.