New Testament Pattern

Supplementary notes

/// The monologue culture

In my attempt to keep this article as succinct as possible I have not elaborated much in many areas but I do think I need to clarify a few points and add a few miscellaneous notes, so here are some brief but important notes...

Note about context

As with all things we read in the New Testament concerning Christian living and church life they are designed to work as a whole. Don’t just imagine interactive teaching in the context of a typical institutional church service. The normal, regular church meeting in the New Testament took place in the intimacy of relatively small numbers of believers gathered in homes. It is in this environment where ‘dialogue’ as opposed to ‘monologue’ fits entirely naturally.

Hands up, stand up, step forward!

In this article I’ve focused solely on the verbal aspects of the culture of monologue, well, a monologue by very definition is concerned with speech of course. However, there are frequently other supplementary features that go hand-in-hand with the monologue culture; I shall call this one the ‘get a visible response culture’. In short, I am referring to the technique used to visibly bolster the supposed authority of the delivered oration. This usually involves asking the audience to raise their hand, stand up or come forward. Like so many church traditions, I’ve no doubt that once upon a time, somewhere, on some occasion (maybe?) it was a spontaneous and perfectly apt gesture but this has long since become another vain and harmful practice. Over the years I’ve seen multitudes of people stand up, who should have remained seated, I’ve seen people go forward, only to go forward again the following week. Given that God ‘does business’ with us at the level of our hearts, a deep and ‘hidden’ response to Him is on most occasions far more likely to be of meaningful, lasting effect. Yes, there are times for public declaration but a man-led call (often with considerable forcefulness) to demonstrate our response to a monologue has less to do with the actual lasting effect on the listener and is much more likely to bloat the ego of the monologist. Please note that I am not judging the motives of every man who uses this technique, as with so many traditions it is just handed on and so men just do what they see others do. Also bear in mind that in respect of the note above, the ‘get a visible response culture’ doesn’t so naturally fit in a home environment, it is yet another outworking of the entire setup of institutional-style church.

HEBRAIC & GREEK (Eastern & Western ‘Thinking’)
In view of an email that arrived whist I was working on this article (this topic was not under discussion) I’d like to just mention that at a more academic level the differences between biblical, interactive teaching and monologue lecturing is essentially one of Hebrew and Greek culture. Jesus and his apostles, despite living in a highly Hellenised world (the extant Roman Empire being very much ‘Greek’ in their culture and philosophy) deliberately adopted the Hebraic methods of teaching. As it was so succinctly put to me: “One teaches what to think the other how to think.”

A note from me to you

In creating this website and publishing my own studies and articles I understand full well that I am very much ‘teaching’ – albeit to a non-captive audience who are free to come and go as they please from these pages. I am also mindful that a written message is in part akin to a monologue in some ways but it also affords the opportunity for pause for thought, sharing and discussion with others (at any stage) and you are very welcome to dialogue with me anytime. If you agree with the above article or wish to comment on and provide me with some welcome encouragement I will be so glad to hear from you. If, on the other hand, you believe that I have erroneously concluded something (about this or other matters) I equally, honestly would be very glad to hear from you. I just ask that if your communication is for the purposes of correction or query that you still be kind and please be sure to reference the relevant Scriptures that I may look again and learn. Thank you!

The origins of church sermons

For some kind of completeness sake I feel I should say something about the word and the origins of ‘Sermons’ – and I believe I promised as much at the start of the article. I really should, however, this article is already starting to look like the beginnings of the ‘whole book’ which I do not wish to write at the present time and there is already an abundance of writing these days dealing with this topic (online and in book form). Furthermore, the research done by others who have academic resources and support beyond anything I can achieve is already more than sufficient. I’ll simply offer my most succinct summary of the matter and then add a further section with a book extract for those who may wish to delve deeper into this.

In short, sermons were a highly esteemed practice of Greek Sophistry. Sophists gave lively, stimulating discourses on all manner of subjects – for cash. Sometime following the New Testament writings some ‘Christians’, being impressed by the polished professionalism of sermons introduced the ‘Christian sermons’ into some church meetings. In process of time, monologue sermons became the norm, at first replacing interactive/participatory teaching methods and eventually, for the Protestant Churches at least, became the major focal point of church ‘services’.

The Monologue Culture

The monologue culture