In an article in the May-June 2012 issue of Books & Culture, Cornelius Plantinga Jr. points to the importance of preachers reading widely and well as a way to enhance their own use of language. He notes that reading fine writers “will tune the preacher’s ear for language, which is his first tool. From the masters of language the preacher can learn conciseness, rhythm, euphony and rhetorical devices such as consonance. He can learn to change up his sentence length and sentence functions…

“From fine writers the preacher can learn one skill that lies beneath all the others. I mean diction. Diction includes pronunciation; and to learn it well, preachers need to listen to good pronouncers…But the other half of good diction is word choice, and from the masters of it blessings flow. Precision, coherence and transparency depend on it, of course, but so does everything else in a sermon. Saying good preaching depends on good diction is a little like saying good cooking depends on choosing good ingredients.”

Plantinga identifies two advantages of good diction for the preacher: “it lets the preacher choose his rhetorical register, whether highbrow or lowbrow; and it gives our preacher a whole world of power and beauty opened up by the evocativeness of the words he chooses.”

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