Monday, November 2, 2009

Grammar isn't what you think it is!

The criteria for being used by God do not always include being highly educated. The difference between Peter the fisherman and Saul of Tarsus make the point. Peter was an uneducated working class man, a humble fisherman. He was certainly not university trained. Saul, on the other hand had had great learning and was highly educated.

What was common to both was that they had had a radical encounter with Jesus of Nazareth. Peter became the apostle to the Jews, and Saul became Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. It seems God can use anyone, whatever their formal education (or lack of it). The story of John Benton from the early days of the Primitive Methodist movement makes the same point.

John Benton was a local preacher, and a coal miner by occupation. His command of the English language was inadequate, and his poor use of grammar in public speaking was considered by some to be offensive. It is an understatement to say he was uncouth in the way he spoke. One local preacher sharply reprimanded him “You are bringing a scandal on the cause of Jesus Christ, you have had no learning, you do not even understand grammar”.

Shortly after this critic made these comments, Benton was preaching on Good Friday. His audience was a group of coal miners and he began with the text “it is finished”. When he had preached nearly half his sermon there was a move of the Holy Spirit in the congregation; some groaned; others shrieked; some fell from their seats; and the whole congregation was thrown into consternation. The Spirit of God was present in a powerful way.

As Benton closed his Bible, and moved to pray for those being convicted of sin, he saw his friend and critic, the local preacher, standing and looking on in amazement. Benton said to him, ‘This is grammar!’ To which his astonished critic replied, “I never saw such a meeting as this."

How true it is that God’s ways are higher than our ways.

Abridged from “Biographical Sketches of some Preachers of the Primitive Methodist Connexion”, p275-276 originally published in 1855 and republished 2002 by Tentmaker Publications 121 Hartshill Rd, Stoke-on-Trent (

No comments:

Post a Comment