preachers don’t win battles? discuss


Tony Blair’s famous quote about Tony Benn ‘preachers don’t win battles’ says a number of interesting things to diverse audiences.  All public speaking seeks to be transformational- whatever the context, whatever your audience. In the political realm you are always aim to transform opinion (e.g. Vince Cable and big business)- the ultimate test being an election when you hope to persuade the masses to pop an ‘X’ in your box (possibly a ‘1’ in future). The gist of Tony Blair’s comment appears to be that fantastic rhetoric with unbending ideology simply encourages the heart of the faithful- and wins no-one over to your side. So what does this tell us about his opinion of preaching? Perhaps, that it has no evangelistic effect? That it is designed solely for the benefit of the salary-paying faithful? That it has no capacity for change? I hope that this is not really the case- though I have a sneaking suspicion that he’s not that wide of the mark. Maybe we require our preachers to have a ‘Clause IV’ moment where there’s a real argument to win the possibility of opposition. It could never be a manipulative stunt but if our speakers are captivated by the Spirit, not worried by the payroll vote then perhaps we will get some genuine passion and the possibility of transformation. Without it, we might be doomed to an uncontroversial diet of same-old, same-old.

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