Too often in our media-saturated culture, political opponents are invited to spar with each other on radio and television news segments, not in order to actually work through their differences, but instead as almost a kind of blood-sport. The fact that these exchanges frequently produce “more heat than light” is actually part of the entertainment value. But how are we being shaped in the process? Do we belittle our political and religious opponents, and talk over them as if their views don’t matter? What does the New Testament have to say about our rhetoric?
On this program Michael Horton discusses this subject with Doug Jones, author of A Rhetoric of Love. Join us for this special edition of the White Horse Inn.
“We talk about the rhetoric of power. We talk about ways of seeking to persuade people through embarrassment or intimidation or destruction. Mocking unbelievers or engaging with fellow believers in certain ways that belittle them just isn’t effective. That isn’t so persuasive in the end. There are all sorts of levels to doing that and that’s part of our culture, even in churches. This is what made me try to look at the rhetoric of Jesus, the rhetoric of the New Testament, which really was counter cultural. Jesus many times was doing something completely unnerving and unexpected and surprising. People really sort of flower with just a little bit of respect.
“The rhetoric of love is really this goodness, goodness leading to repentance, goodness leading to loving God. In the end it all comes back to how we try to help ourselves and others to love God. At the heart of the rhetoric of love is this creativity. Our rhetoric is to be creative in a way that wins our audience over. The resurrection is an act of new creation. We’ve got new life here. The Spirit is doing new things. God is doing new things. We expected death and he’s able to overcome death. It’s crucial to try to find ways to imitate resurrection life in our rhetoric.”
Term to Learn
“Living in the Spirit”
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.