Chapter 3

Find Clarity in Simplicity

Reality is complex. Here's how to write sermons that are clear and simple without being simplistic.

What is simplicity?

Simplicity is certainly related to clarity. The more complex the message is, the more likely it won't be clear. But there's something about simplicity that has to do with the cleanness of the message, the cleanness, the unclutteredness, of the ideas.

Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity." In this quotation you have two simplicities. The simplicity on this side of complexity is oversimplification. It's simple, but it gets at simplicity the cheap way, by refusing to take into consideration all the complexity of the subject. And so it winds up simpleminded.

I don't like that kind of simplicity. Maybe it's the academic in me, but I thrive on nuance, clarity, genuinely doing justice to the complexity of the subject. I'm looking for the simplicity on the other side of complexity. Such simplicity takes complexity ...

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