The following context comes from the book "Black Rednecks And White Liberals" by Thomas Sowell:

By contrast, religious services in colonial Massachusetts developed what has been called the “meeting and lecture” approach, where the “style of preaching was a relentless cultivation of the plain style.” these “addresses tended to be closely argued statements of great density, in which Puritans reasoned as relentlessly with their maker as they did with one another." This intellectual approach to religion carried over into their daily lives.

What is the meaning of this sentence? Especially the phrase plain style. What does it mean to cultivate the plain style. (PS. I know what cultivate means so you don't have to explain that)

  • 1
    Avoiding ornate and emotionally-charged language. Jun 19, 2022 at 21:17

1 Answer 1


From https://preachingsource.com/blog/what-is-a-plain-style/ :

Plain preaching is defined as much by what it lacks as what it contains. Plain preaching gets to the core of the message without an embellished style which calls attention to its own ostentation. It is not a mere exercise of human ego. Plain means simple and to the point. Plain preaching praises the Master rather than the medium.

[The article goes on to describe the five elements of plain preaching.]

From https://www.ligonier.org/posts/plain-preaching-puritan-evangelism:

The Puritan "plain style of preaching" avoided all that was not clear or perspicuous to an ordinary listener. The greatest teacher of this preaching style was Perkins. Perkins, often called the father of Puritanism, wrote that preaching "must be plain, perspicuous, and evident…. It is a by-word among us: It was a very plaine Sermon: And I say again, the plainer, the better."

There is a scholarly article on the subject here at JStor.

  • And in a more general sense, this.
    – PPH
    Jun 20, 2022 at 12:25

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