Sacred Rhetoric: Preaching as a Theological and Pastoral Practice of the Church

Sacred Rhetoric: Preaching as a Theological and Pastoral Practice of the Church

Sacred Rhetoric: Preaching as a Theological and Pastoral Practice of the Church

Sacred Rhetoric: Preaching as a Theological and Pastoral Practice of the Church

Synopsis

Modern approaches to preaching today are largely fixated on how-to's--how to make preaching more relevant, more interesting, more entertaining. Michael Pasquarello suggests that this fixation may stem from a preaching imagination more beholden to technical, scientific reason than theological wisdom. Rather than devising new techniques or strategies for effective speaking, Pasquarello offers something more salutary--portraits of ten exemplary preachers from the Christian tradition. Included in Pasquarello's gallery are Augustine of Hippo, Gregory the Great, Benedict, Bernard of Clairvaux, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Erasmus, Hugh Latimer, Martin Luther, and John Calvin. These excellent preachers conceived of Christian speech as a unique theological practice learned through prayerful attention to the Bible and aimed at communion with God. Sacred Rhetoric invites readers to join an extended conversation with the past in order to become faithful preachers of the gospel in a post-Christian society. Preachers, seminarians, and students of Christian history will find much to learn from Pasquarello's fresh perspective and passion for the past.

Excerpt

Sacred Rhetoric: Preaching as a Theological and Pastoral Practice of the Church is an essay in homiletic theology, a description of the enactment of Christian witness, the performance of God’s Word through the ministry of preaching. Selected sketches from the Christian tradition display the practice of preaching as shaped by theological wisdom, a form of primary theology that creates and sustains the church by nurturing and testing its faith. Focusing on the work of salutary exemplars within the communion of saints, this book is an invitation to join an extended conversation with the past in order to become more faithful speakers of the Gospel today. It is written with the conviction that our recovery of the homiletic tradition is integral to the restoration of a robust, unreservedly Christian witness for the task of evangelization and ecclesial formation in the post-Christian, missionary situation in which we find ourselves.

Because a single picture has increasingly held captive the homiletic imagination of the church in late modernity — that of technical or sci-

1. For assistance in thinking through this project, I am indebted to Stephen E. Fowl and L. Gregory Jones, Reading in Communion: Scripture and Ethics in Christian Life (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991). On the significance of describing the history of Christian practice as a guide for the present, see George A. Lindbeck, “Atonement and the Hermeneutics of Intratextual Social Embodiment,” in Evangelicals and Postliberals in Conversation, ed. Timothy R. Phillips and Dennis L. Okholm (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1996). See the argument for the recovery of tradition in Jaroslav Pelikan, The Vindication of Tradition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1984).

2. See the excellent summary in James Kay, “Reorientation: Homiletics as Theologically Authorized Rhetoric,” Princeton Seminary Bulletin 24, no. 1 (2003): 16-35. See also

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