First of all, argument here does not refer to the equivalent of a verbal fistfight. Rather, argument refers to reasoning and rhetoric. It is generally persuasive in style, or at least should be, and should reasonably follow standards of logic or critical thinking. Argument is defining, expounding, and defending a proposition or premise. It may also be the reverse if it is aimed at deconstructing an erroneous conclusion.

Therefore, argument is of extreme importance to preachers. It is the preacher’s vocation to be defining, expounding, and defending the propositions of Holy Scripture. For that matter, every Christian is to conscientiously defend and contend for the faith and should be concerned about good argument evaluation and construction.

In this vein, I recommend A Rulebook for Arguments by Anthony Weston. This is a rulebook as the title suggests, but it is concise and readable. The book should be read through one time and then referred to often when analyzing or building arguments. Its brevity is one aspect of its value. You can refer to a section and quickly refresh your memory about some concept. The author does also give some sources for larger works if the reader is interested.

This book is geared toward argumentative writing but it is not really a rulebook for writing specifically. For this I would recommend Elements of Style by Strunk and White. Elements is likewise concise and readable. Both books are valuable resource to have for preachers even if you do not plan on publishing any of your own materials. A judicious use of both books will aid the preacher in the preparation of sermons.

About Jeff Short