Persuasion: Beyond the “Burp Effect”

February 29, 2016

by Scott Oliphint

I am not at all sure exactly when or why the topic of persuasion began to preoccupy my thoughts. I am sure that there must be a number of influences in my past that, cumulatively though somewhat subconsciously, were catalysts in my own thinking.

The one event that I do remember was an illustration that Os Guinness gave in a lecture that I attended many years ago. He illustrated the difference between “just telling the truth” in our communication of the gospel, on the one hand, and persuasion, on the other. A concern for “just telling the truth,” Guinness said, produced what he called “The Burp Effect.” “The Burp Effect” is demonstrated when we are content simply to “burp” the gospel on someone. The result is that, like a burp, we might feel much better, but our audience is inevitably offended!

The point of the illustration highlights the “how” of gospel communication. There is a way to communicate the truth of the gospel that is automatically offensive, and there are ways of communicating the truth that lessen the risk of offense. . . .

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Read More On Apologetics, persuasion

Scott Oliphint

Dr. Oliphint (PhD, Westminster) is professor of apologetics and systematic theology at WTS.

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