What type of rhetoric do you find more persuasive—long, carefully crafted arguments or concise, easy-to-remember soundbites?
By “soundbites,” I mean brief, catchy comments or sayings that convey the essence of your message and stick in the minds of your audience.
Effective persuaders use soundbites.
Do you remember the main points President Kennedy made in his inaugural address? Most likely not, but I bet you recall these 17 words: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”
That’s a soundbite.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt died before most of us were born, but we can still sum up his first inaugural address in 10 memorable words: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
We don’t recall the details of President Reagan’s June 12, 1987 Berlin speech, but we can’t forget this 6-word soundbite summary: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
Lawyers use soundbites: “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
Commercial advertisers use soundbites: “Where’s the beef?”
Public service advertisers use soundbites: “Click it or ticket.”
In the area of religion, Jehovah’s Witnesses are used to thinking in soundbites because the Watchtower uses them all the time and repeats them over and over.
If you have talked doctrine with Jehovah’s Witnesses at any length, no doubt you have heard some or all of these Watchtower soundbites which are partial quotations of various Bible verses:
- “The dead are conscious of nothing at all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5)
- “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:26)
- “Abstain from blood.” (Acts 15:20)
- “The earth remains forever.” (Ecclesiastes 1:4)
- “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 15:50)
- “No one has seen God at any time.” (John 1:18)
- Jesus is “the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15)
- Jesus is “the beginning of God’s creation.” (Revelation 3:14)
- Jesus called his Father “the only true God.” (John 17:3)
- The light gets brighter and brighter.” (Proverbs 4:18)
In order to get through to Jehovah’s Witnesses, we need strategies for dealing with Watchtower soundbites.
We also can find it helpful to come up with some soundbites of our own—soundbites that will get through to Jehovah’s Witnesses and effectively challenge and counter Watchtower dogma.
Accordingly, this is the first in a series of blog articles regarding what I call “soundbite witnessing.”
Soundbite witnessing means sharing or defending one’s faith through the use of short, memorable statements, questions, or scripture quotations.
I’ll be talking about countering soundbites—how to get past Watchtower soundbites in order to get Witnesses to examine Watchtower teachings more closely.
I’ll also discuss creating soundbites—how to generate soundbites of our own to explain and defend what we believe.
What additional Watchtower soundbites came to mind as you read this article?
Share your thoughts in the comments.