What is authentic spirituality about? Our hearts, or our words and the power to use them persuasively? The ability to express religious thoughts and ideas is of course important.
But what of the inarticulate? What about those who stumble over words and can only express themselves clumsily? And those who cannot express their faith convincingly to skeptical questioners? Are they to be discredited? Is the quality and validity of their faith in doubt because of this? And then there is the other side of the question.
How do people come to faith? How are they finally convinced? Is it necessarily through a silver-tongued inspirational speaker, through powerful argument or incisive debate? The answer must be no.
But you will find a powerful element along the spiritual path who are skilled with words, and a significant number of travellers who have indeed been lured by eloquence alone.
As one who loves beauty in language, I myself have been drawn aside on my path by numerous gurus and spiritual teachers who have used the power of language to good advantage.
Personally, when I was investigating New Age philosophies, groups and lifestyles, I heard many alluring promises.
One of them was, "If you have been searching all your life and have so far not found what you were looking for, you have come to the right place.
'" I also found "the ocean of pure consciousness" of which certain meditation teachers spoke very seductive.
And so I discovered that inspirational speakers, gurus & esoteric teachers are, first of all, skilled in the use of words.
This is true of the Christian world as much as the New Age one.
Christians flock to festivals such as Greenbelt, Soul Survivor and Spring Harvest to hear some of the best speakers in the country.
These speakers fire up their listeners, inform and inspire and renew their faith.
These are artists in words, this is oratory of the highest standard.
But herein the danger lies.
We can idolize these brilliant speakers, come away believing their fluency alone qualifies them to be spiritual giants.
As one clergyman said to me once, "There are dangers for those of us who spend a large part of our time upfront.
" He acknowledged the risks - and that stands as a warning for great celebrity speakers on the Christian speaking circuit.
When asked to identify the birth of Christ in us, and consider all those who have played their part, who will we find in our list? I suggest there will be very few spiritual giants, or eloquent "super Christians"...
but instead, people whose godliness reveals itself in quiet ways; people who have turned and smiled; people who have sent an unexpected card; people who had the courage to break ranks and ask a different question, whose effect they could never have predicted.
One word, one smile, one card of yours may have a far greater effect on someone else's life than the most electrifying inspirational speaker.