Why Must Paul Preach (Write) With Clarity?
“At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.” Colossians 4:4
How can Paul say he “ought” to speak clearly? Does it really matter? Isn’t God’s word sufficient to do the work? Doesn’t Paul trust in the “power of the word?”
Of course he does! But unlike us in the reformed mold, he doesn’t see any tension between the power of God’s word and our ethical obligation to clarify it.
“But doesn’t God love to work with poor communicators?”
If by “poor”, you mean unimpressive to unbiblical Greco-Roman standards of rhetorical flourish, perhaps.
But if by “poor” you mean unclear, then clearly the answer is “No. He does not.”
“Well, it’s not like I’m preaching to my English congregation in Spanish! I’m contextualizing!”
Well, Paul goes further – he’s not praying that he might preach in Greek, as he ought – he’s asking for prayer that he speak greek in a way that will best enable his hearers to understand. Furthermore, he sees this as his ethical duty.
Why? Because a failure to clarify is a failure to love.
Maybe that’s the root of much of our pseudo-reformed rhetoric, in the end.