Vance Havner once said, “If you ever see a seven foot man, dressed in black, and playing a flute, walking towards you, that’ll be high fluting.” There is a tendency amongst some preachers of the Gospel to use words that sound marvellous to the ears, but actually do nothing in the souls of the congregation. A minister here in Liverpool was criticised for speaking above the heads of the people, to which he replied, “Then they better stretch their necks!” Why say something in super-educated words that few will understand, when down-to-earth language will touch everyone’s heart and life? The answer is simple; the preacher who uses highfaluting words seeks only to amaze his listeners with his wisdom rather than to feed them the Word of God. But I want to say that highfaluting and ostentatious preaching does great damage to the cause of Christ.
It Weakens the Message of the Cross
When a minister uses this form of speaking then his congregation need to bring a dictionaries as well as their Bibles to the service. Notice that those who adopt high-flown words of man’s wisdom instead of the simple vocabulary of every day life, have little or no understanding of the cross of Christ. Even when taught it is lost behind pretentious words. The apostle Paul declared that he preached the cross of Christ “not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ be made of none effect” (1 Corinthians 1:17). Highfaluting preachers will have a very hard time edifying the church or winning souls. The preacher of truth should use words that the snobbish clergy find foolish … “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God … it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:18,21).
It Weakens the Manifestation of the Holy Spirit
It is my belief that the Holy Spirit takes a back seat whenever a preacher exalts himself by using affected speech. He may thrill his audience, for that is all they are, with his oratory power, but he will certainly not have the anointing of the Spirit of God upon him. We need to imitate Paul, for in 1 Corinthians 2:4 he states, “My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” Excuse me for saying it, but, God’s people need the simple truth, from simple preachers, using simple words. Use the Queen’s English if you ever get the chance to preach to Her Majesty, but until then allow the Holy Spirit to put unction into the simple words of everyday life.
It Weakens the Might of Faith
We all want our church members to be mighty in the faith, standing firm in the doctrines of God, and unmoved by the heresies that abound today. Biblical faith cannot be developed in the hearts of believers through pompous preaching; it must get there by receiving “the sincere milk of the word” that they “may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). Paul asks, “How shall they hear without a preacher?” Therefore our congregations need to hear us as they listen, for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:14,17). In 1 Corinthians 2:4 he writes, “That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” Again in 2 Corinthians 3:12 he declares, “We use great plainness of speech.”
Both John Wesley and John Bunyan adopted the advice of Paul when they stood up to preach. They refused to speak with the educated words of the world, since the common man would not understand them and as a result would not come to Christ. Instead they used “great plainness of speech”, so that both the educated and uneducated would learn the truth, repent, and take Christ as Saviour.