Rhetoric in the Life of the Church
WHO: James E. Beitler III, associate professor of English at Wheaton College.
HE SAYS: “Christians can enhance the persuasiveness of our witness as individuals and create a hospitable community for wanderers and wayfarers by paying careful attention to both the rhetorical tradition and our own liturgical practices.”
THE BIG IDEA: The arc of the book’s argument moves from a discussion of individual postures of Christian witness to a discussion of communal ones. The author studies five communicators—C.S. Lewis, Dorothy L. Sayers, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Desmond Tutu and Marilynne Robinson—to inspire reflection, discussion and even imitation
The chapters are arranged according to the times and seasons of the church year: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and Pentecost. After an introduction, the author dedicates one chapter to each Christian communicators mentioned above. Each case study chapter explores the rhetoric of that individual, focusing on their appeals to ethos or another closely related concept. The author concludes with a chapter that introduces readers to Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of heteroglossia.
“Their words are grounded firmly in the truth but they have been seasoned with the salt of the saints who went before them.”
Read more about Seasoned Speech in our interview with James Beitler III.