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Piper, Style

Eloquence Can Overshadow Conviction

Great post on Desiring God about the danger of an overly polished sermon having the ability to impress the hearers without ever convicting them with the content.

What I saw this week is that Whitefield’s gifts of “eloquence” pose the very problem I must deal with at the NatCon. He was so good, you could like his sermon while not believing a thing he says.

For example, in the spring of 1740 Whitefield was in Philadelphia preaching outdoors to thousands. Benjamin Franklin attended most of these messages. Franklin, who did not believe what Whitefield was preaching, commented on these perfected sermons:

His delivery…was so improved by frequent repetition, that every accent, every emphasis, every modulation of voice, was so perfectly well turned, and well placed, that without being interested in the subject, one could not help being pleased with the discourse: a pleasure of much the same kind with that received from an excellent piece of music. (emphasis added) (Harry Stout, The Divine Dramatist, 104)

Here was preaching that was so well-delivered you could like it enough to ignore it’s convicting truths.



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