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Publisher Description

Homiletics began in the United States when the rhetoric of the Scottish Enlightenment, with its particular way of construing the relationship between speaker, hearers, and speech, entered the American classroom. Recently, James F. Kay outlined this advent of homiletics and its effect on American preaching in his inaugural lecture as the Joe R. Engle Professor of Homiletics and Liturgics at Princeton Theological Seminary. (1) As he notes, "beginning with [John] Witherspoon [1723-1794], homiletics in America has generally operated within a rhetorical, rather than a theological, frame of reference." (2) Kay tells the story of homiletics, the broad outline of which is generally agreed upon by homileticians: First, homiletics was primarily rhetoric applied to the pulpit art. Second, some began to doubt that rhetoric could adequately account for the kind of persuasion and announcement spoken from the Christian pulpit. Third, Karl Barth transformed homiletics by divorcing it, or at least trying to, from issues of rhetoric, thus placing discussions of preaching and its role in the church appropriately back in the framework of theology. Fourth, we have realized that not even Barth could avoid rhetoric completely. New forms of the sermon must be--and have been--developed to achieve the appropriate hearing of the sermon. In this fourth stage, it is clear that preachers dismiss rhetoric to their own peril and to the peril of the religiosity of their congregants. Finally, because much narrative homiletics is necessarily wedded to theological liberalism, Kay suggests a theologically more appropriate way to retrieve the importance of context and rhetoric for the sermon.

Politics & Current Events
June 1
Lutheran School of Theology and Mission
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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