Paul contrasts his approach to preaching the gospel (1Cor.1-4) with the Greek rhetorical approach which relied on “persuasive words of wisdom.” Duane Litfin has argued that the significance for us as preachers is that we must not take decision-making from our listeners by employing persuasive techniques that induce a listener to yield a specific response. What we are to do is to induce comprehension of the reality of God’s claim on their life. Thus there may be some aspects of persuasion that are appropriate tools for the preacher, but others that manipulate a response by means of our own power. So here is a question that can be answered comment by comment – when is persuasion actually manipulation? For example, this week I heard a famous speaker build his presentation around a supposedly true story from his experience in another country. That story centered on a very emotive element that seemed to carry an inappropriate amount of influence over the listeners. Whether or not his point was Biblical, I felt uneasy with the tools he used to make his point. Yet at the same time I believe it is important to communicate to the heart and not just the head. So what persuasive tools are legitimate, and what tools are actually manipulative?
(Peter has commented on this post)