What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Rhetoric’? Most likely you think of a slimy Presidential candidate that cannot be ‘candid’ as his title implies, but must cover all his speeches in a thick layer of lies. However, this is not what the ancient orators considered rhetoric, nor is it what we students at Stratford Classical Christian Academy are studying.
Rhetoric is for us, “the well spoken words of a Godly man, guiding others towards God’s wisdom.” In the days of Rhetoric’s formal invention, there were Sophists, men whose only duty was to persuade, and these were the men whom Paul spoke of, “ Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” As Christians, Christ is the ‘wisdom of God’, and leading others to Him in our speech can be our true rhetoric.
In the Liberal Arts, the art of Rhetoric is in close connection with Logic; If we do not present the Truth, in a well thought out way, our argument can be thrown out, seen through, and ridiculed. We must not only know the truth, but be ready to defend that Truth, and present it to the world.
We have the Truth of Christ, the Bible. We are to earnestly contend for the faith. We must study the Word to show ourselves approved. We must always be ready to give an answer. These are our calls to Rhetoric.
In the Rhetoric school at SCCA, we debate topics, and write and defend theses, discover the means of persuasion in the different kinds of oratory, and present our own; poems, exhortations, scripture passages, quotes, famous speeches, and deliberative arguments.
Luther wrote in his preface to the Ninety-Five Theses,
“Out of love and concern for the truth, and with the object of eliciting it, ……whoever cannot be present personally to debate the matter orally will do so in absence in writing.” So we also must present and defend our own well written scholarly theses at the end of our junior and senior year.
With the wisdom of God and our teachers, we learn Rhetoric to advance the cause of Christ. He is the Lord of Truth, the Lord of our lives, and Lord of our tongues. He is the Lord of Rhetoric.
~ Reuben Hénriquez