Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Salty Sermons

The word neither diffident nor ostentatious, An easy commerce of the old and new, The common word exact without vulgarity, The formal word precise but not pedantic, The complete consort dancing together.” ―T. S. Eliot

"Let your speech always be with grace,  seasoned with salt..." (Colossians 4:5,6).
Paul's metaphor, "seasoned with salt" meant ‘witty’ in Classical Greek usage and suggests language that is pithy, interesting and well chosen. British theologian, G. B. Caird commenting on this verse suggests that every person we address should be "treated as an end in himself and not subjected to a stock harangue."
In context, the verse applies to “those that are outside," but it seems to me that the principle applies to preaching as well and argues for discovering new ways to state old truths and manuscripting our sermons so we don't fall back on clichés and cant, worn-out phrases. That’s lazy thinking. As the “Preacher" would say, we should “search to find just the right words….” (Ecclesiastes 12:10).
Writing out our sermons makes us more responsible in our use of language. It helps us avoid shoddy thinking, evangelical argot, technical jargon. It makes our sermons more relevant and memorable. It makes us more exact.
With a prayer for salty sermons...


1 comment:

lazarus said...


Words matter. Sentences matter. Paragraphs matter.

They communicate truth and they can perpetuate the misunderstanding of truth.

They can set free and they can imprison and continue to imprison.

Thank you for reminding us of one among many ways to seek release from our unconscious dedication to what might, tragically, not be the Truth.

 The God-Man “If ever we get hungry to see God, we must look at his picture.”  “Where is that, sir?”  “ Ah, Davie … don’t you know ...