Preaching: Emotional Manipulation

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Of course an eager evangelist might argue that getting a person down the aisle to make a public profession is always in the “best interest” of the professing person, but the millions of inactive religious converts suggest that some of those lured down the aisle hated themselves and the evangelists the next morning. Seduction was the way of the serpent, not the way of Christ. The use of conversion statistics for personal promotion implies a scalp-gathering mentality that is for the advantage of the persuader. In a sermon contrasting the orthodox and liberals, the preacher climaxed his harangue with the emotionally charged story of a family trapped in a burning car and a bystander who let the family die rather than become involved. Theological differences were portrayed as absolutes with life and death meaning. The story was not germane to the subject and apparently included only for sentimental appeal. Another popular pulpit orator reported the scene of a hotel tragedy where “a man leaped out the window.… Women took babies to the windows and dropped them to certain deaths below.… Grown, intelligent people leaped to their deaths from those windows.” The scene is then used as an analogy for the experience of hell.
~ Raymond Bailey, Handbook of Contemporary Preaching, ed. Michael Duduit (Nashville, Tenn.: B&H Academic, 1993), (Kindle Locations 11296-11305).

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