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Speech and Piety

Al Martin:

Another area of practical piety, which holds peculiar danger for the minister, is that of his non-professional speech. A dear servant of God once said to me, ‘You cannot be a clown and a prophet both. You have got to make a choice.’ I hope I have made the right choice. This does not mean we shall not be truly human and that we shall feel there is something sinful in the natural ability to laugh, and in the natural exhilaration that comes from a hearty laugh. But the unnatural effort to be a ‘joker’ amongst our people must be done away. The transition from the clown to the prophet is a difficult metamorphosis If seriousness — not fleshly somberness, but true seriousness — is not the mark of our lives in our normal contacts with our people, let us not expect that when we ascend the pulpit, some kind of magical process will immediately cause them to sit trembling before the words of God. They will rather think that we are play-actors. If they never see us regarding the issues of eternity seriously in their presence individually and non-professionally, we shall not see them gripped by the sobriety of these issues as we communicate them ministerially. The problem with our preaching, brethren, is the shoddiness of our lives in the realm of practical piety as expressed in domestic life and in our speech. (“What’s Wrong with Preaching?”)

 

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