Monday, 27 June 2011

Preaching in an amnesic society


eds D. Doyle & E Hill, New City Press

For Saint Augustine (354-430), wisdom and truthfulness always had to come before eloquence. Nevertheless he remodelled Cicero’s (106-43 BC) ideas of rhetoric so that they might be used in the service of the Gospel. According to Cicero the orator must teach, delight, and persuade. Augustine in his preaching added a conscious effort to get the listener’s attention and maintain the listener’s’ active interest. These rhetorical skills, however, were always subservient to Christ the ‘interior teacher’ who speaks to the heart of the believer. As Augustine put it ‘We preach, but God instructs’ (sermon 153.1).
In an effort to think through how rhetorical skills might serve contemporary preaching I've produced a kind of amalgamation of Maurice Halbwachs and some of the wisdom of Saint Augustine on the PreacherRhetorica website. Suggestions and comments welcome. 

1 comment:

David Herbert said...

That is a very helpful list on preacherrhetorica. A reminder that there is an ancient art of rhetoric with some good practical hints about how preaching can do its work. Thank you for this post.