• 72°

Dr. Henry B. Waiters: What preachers have become

During the Classical period of Ancient Greece, the Sophists (a class of teachers of rhetoric, philosophy and the art of successful living) perfected the art of speech writing and public speaking. Central to their study was rhetoric which is defined as the skill of using language and speech effectively and persuasively.

Sophists were experts, professors, teachers and authorities on presenting arguments, earning a reputation of “extravagant displays of language for astonishing audiences with their brilliant styles, colorful appearances and flamboyant personalities.” Frequently a Sophist, as a professional orator, would offer his services for pay, generally for legal purposes or entertainment in the public square. They razzled and dazzled the audience with their mastery of persuasive discourse.

The Sophists became controversial for several reasons, particularly for their view of truth. For them, truth was not found in transcendent fundamental or spiritual reality, but in the persuasive power of words projected, rather than objective truth. In other words, skilled Sophists became the source of —  as opposed to the tools or bearers — of truth. In this sense truth is not transcendent, but subjective intervention.

There is a sense that the majority of current preachers have become modern-day Sophists, concerned with the use of flattering words in the pulpit, as opposed to gospel truth, with the intent to entertain an audience that would rather have amusing discourse than preaching that “Convicts, Converts and Subverts.”

With the “platform grandstanding and showmanship” adorned in polished rhetoric, they preach to itching ears rather than wounded hearts. At the end of the day preaching becomes an act of entertainment in the interest of delighting the audience. Truth is dressed up with lavish garments of eloquence and style, turning it into something else.

Preaching is not to amuse but to amend the hearers. It is not manipulating the crowd using techniques that excite and stir and move people’s emotions to achieve results, but being the messenger of God with God’s Word and God’s Wisdom in God’s Power preaching the Scriptures.

The absence of this kind of preaching moved God in 698 B.C. to command Isiah to: “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgressions and the house of Jacob and their sins” (Isa. 58:1).

God in 609 B.C. spoke to Jeremiah about the faithless shepherds: pastors, prophets and priests. Of the 40 verses of Jeremiah 23, verses 1, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16, 21, 22, 25, 30 and 31 describe too many in 2017.

The Holy Ghost in A.D. 66 moved Paul to command to “Preach  the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4: 2,3). “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear” (1 Tim 5:20).

“The Word of God is quick (living and operative) and powerful and sharper than a two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12). “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psa. 119: 105).

God’s Messengers fail to preach God’s word in God’s Power for more than one reason: Insufficient courage to please God when men reject the truth, security and retirement are also factors to consider. Truth rejection is called Apostasy (falling away) and is the act of professed Christians who deliberately reject revealed truth (1 John 4:1-3, Phil. 3:18, 2 Peter 2:1). Paul says: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn their ears from the truth and shall be turned to fables” (2 Tim. 4: 3-4). Paul then further describes the age of Apostasy which is our present experience: “This, know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those who are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Tim. 1: 1-5). Apostates depart from the faith but not from the outward profession of Christianity (3:5). Apostate teachers are described in 2 Tim. 4:3; 2 Pet. 2:1-9; Jude 4, 8, 11-13, 16. Apostasy in the church is irremediable and awaits God’s judgement (2 Thess. 2 10-12; 2 Peter 2: 17, 21; Jude 11-15; Rev. 3: 14-16).

Dr. Waiters can be reached at 704-636-3369.

About Post Lifestyles

Visit us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SalPostLifestyle/ and Twitter @postlifestlyes for more content

email author More by Post



David Freeze begins cross-country cycling journey in San Diego


Community remembrance events to focus on lynchings of the past, need for justice today


August issue of Salisbury the Magazine is now available


After 10 days, three hospitals, one diagnosis, Kassidy Sechler will return home


COVID-19 surging as North Carolina set to ease restrictions


Blotter: Police ask for help finding robbery suspect


Three Rivers Land Trust finalizes deal to double size of nature preserve in Spencer


Spin Doctors announced as headlining band for 2021 Cheerwine Festival

Ask Us

Ask Us: Readers ask about Hoffner murder case, ‘Fame’ location


Cornhole tournament at New Sarum Brewery brings out Panthers fans, raises money for charity


Blotter: Salisbury man charged for breaking and entering, burglary tools


Senators race to overcome final snags in infrastructure deal


Child killed in Monroe drive-by shooting; 1 arrested


Rowan County Chamber of Commerce’s Dragon Boat race returns after year hiatus


Marker commemorating Jim Crow-era lynchings in Rowan County, racial injustice required years of work


Identified Marine was a Salisbury native, served in WWII


Rowan County sees COVID-19 cases coming more quickly, remains in middle tier for community spread


Cleveland plans to build walking trail, community barn quilt mural

High School

High school athletics: Male Athlete of the Year Walker in league of once-in-a-generation players


Young entrepreneur learns lesson of responsibility by raising quail, selling eggs


Historic McCanless House sold, buyers plan on converting home into events venue


Library’s Summer Reading Week 10 has virtual storytime, last chance to log hours


Positive COVID test knocks DeChambeau out of Olympics


College football: North grad Delaney ready for next challenges at Johnson C. Smith