Losing Rhetoric

By Caleb Keith

We live in what many call the information age. This label is in significant in part due to the large number of communication platforms upon which information can travel. While modern forms of communication are seemingly infinite, the skill with which we communicate seems to be falling apart. Text messages, status updates, and even blogs focus on distributing raw information rather than making the information compelling or powerful. Shorthand text language, responses in the form of “likes,” and nonsensical rants fill our screens forcing the point leaving nothing to nuance or imagination. In a society fueled by constant forward momentum it only makes sense that beauty is exchanged for efficiency.

While skilled rhetoric isn’t exclusive to Christianity, Christians have a rich history in artful and dynamic modes communication used to spread the greatest news the world has ever heard. Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans utilizes, at least, three rhetorical forms in the first several chapters alone. Countless other writers including Augustine, Luther, and Lewis, to name only a few, follow in Paul’s footsteps. As a writer even on a small blog I aspire to communicate as powerfully as these great men. However, this is no easy task; it takes discretion, knowledge, and discipline in volumes I have not yet acquired. For every good piece I write, there are ten well intentioned and even intelligent flops.


My personal aspirations aside, it would be a sad day for the Gospel if Christians utterly lost the skill of rhetoric. The Gospel, while at its core is simple enough for an infant to receive, ought not to be reduced to raw data. The message of Christ’s atonement for all is not just fact, but rather is the living Word that breathes life and gives life. Scripture affirms this, 1 Peter 1:23 states, “since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God;”. Also Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active…”. The Word not only gave life through death and resurrection but in the act of creation John 1:3, “Through him all things were made; without him, nothing was made that has been made.” It is through the Word that our words can be a gift to those around us. In artful rhetoric, the power of God that is the Gospel thrives in a world full of information and desperate for beauty.