Preacher and Cross: Person and Message in Theology and Rhetoric
by Andre Resner, Jr.
Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1999, 205 pp $18.00. ISBN 0-8028-4640-8.
WHAT IS THE ROLE of the person of the preacher in Christian proclamation? Resner explores this persistent question from the perspectives of classical rhetoric and Christian theology. A rhetorical analysis of preaching stresses its persuasive intent and the decisive importance of the perceived character of the preacher (ethos) in achieving this goal. A major benefit of such analysis is its attention to the human factors influencing any attempt at communication. Its major risk is concentration on the messenger at the expense of the message. Theological analysis of preaching, on the other hand, inquires about the efficacy of the sermon, which depends primarily on God's action of self communication. The focus is on the message itself, a focus which may, in extreme cases, lose touch with the situation of the hearers for whom it is intended. Following the lead of Paul in I Cor 1-4, Resner advises against rejecting rhetorical techniques and urges instead "baptizing" them into the particularities of Christian proclamation. …