WORKSPACELIBRARY PJ MORE bookmarknoteslinkclose 12 Essential Skills for Great Preaching close Skill 4. Naming the Text Ideasearchmore_vert Skill 4. Naming the Text Idea
The words "subject" and "theme" are used by many interchangeably, but it is a loose use of terms, the result of hazy thought and indefinite aim. The subject is general; the theme is particular. "Faith" is a subject; "The Promptitude of Faith" is a theme. "Faith" is broad and general; it makes no affirmation or denial; it suggests no limit or purpose. "The Promptitude of Faith" is specific, gives definite relations and has an unmistakable purpose. 1 -- George S. Hoyt, 1905 Naming things is natural to us. If we don't have names for the things around us, we have a hard time talking about them. In the garden of Eden, God formed the animals and birds and brought them to Adam to name. So Adam and all his descendents have been naming things ever since. Animals and plants are known to us by their popular names, but they also have scientific names in Latin. The common sunflower is technically helianthus . Daylilies were named so because the flowers only last a day, but the technical name is hemerocallis . Each of hundreds of varieties of roses has a name. The poet wrote that "a rose by any other name is still a rose." But it has to have a name. We human beings (technically homo sapiens ) name everything -- continents, seas, rocks, stars, storms, forests, lakes, rivers, roads, houses, and children. Not only do we name every natural phenomenon, we name ideas as well. We name attitudes like arrogance or sympathy. We name conditions like poverty or affluence. We name character qualities like courage or honesty. We name ideals like freedom and peace. Without names we couldn't talk about these ideas. As preachers we want to talk about theological ideas. But these ideas have to have names. The Bible interpreter is not expected to come up with new names for the ideas he encounters in the text. But to talk about those ideas, he must identify them as accurately and precisely as possible. His job is to discover from the text writer's words what he was talking about and designate it with the best word for communicating the idea to his audience. Thought and Language There is a basic assumption by mankind that our language can carry the thoughts in our minds accurately and clearly to the minds of others. At best, though, we are only partly successful. It is not that our language cannot handle precise communication. It is rather that we take our words for granted and don't always choose them with the hearer in mind. As preachers, however, we must take the communication task seriously. We cannot be satisfied with an indistinct, murky expression of what we believe is a message from God.
In oral communication the one speaking carries the greater burden for making contact in the thoughts of the hearer. We expect the preacher to cover most, if not all, the distance to his hearers to complete the communication connection. The hearer is seen as generally passive, not only expecting clarity from the preacher but interest as well.
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