Fool’s Talk: The tyranny of application

Os Guinness observes with dismay that the modern Western obsession with “the magic of technique,” leads us to focus almost exclusively on the application question — what preachers call the “So what?” of a sermon:

“All good thinking is a matter of asking and answering three elementary questions. What is being said? Is it true? What of it? Yet one of the curious experiences of speaking in many places in the West is an almost universal preoccupation with the last question, as if audiences were incapable of answering it for themselves. A speaker must therefore provide ready-made ‘take home values,’ ‘next steps,’ ‘measurable outcomes’ and the like. I sometimes wonder if some audiences raise the first two questions at all, and I am far from certain that such insistence on formulas and recipes for action really leads to more decisive action in practice. But the hosts and chairpersons in many events act as if without spelling out all the next steps, audiences would be cruelly short-changed.”

Os Guinness, Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion (Kindle Locations 370-375). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.

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