Publication details [#10711]

Timmerman, David M. 1994. Rhetorical acts, redescription, and identification: A study of the rhetoric of Bill Hybels. West Lafayette, I.D.. viii, 174 pp.


Christian preaching and Christian religious services are rhetorical acts that redescribe the Christian faith for their auditors. These rhetorical acts are contingent on a number of contextual variables including the preacher, the preacher's hermeneutic, the audience, the historical period and its concerns, the culture, and language. The redescriptions offered not only redefine Christianity for auditors, they reconstitute it. This investigation employs a perspective based on Richard Rorty's conception of redescription and a method of criticism based on Kenneth Burke's conception of identification. It also uses Burke's notions of form, entitlement, metaphor, synecdoche, and perspective by incongruity. An analysis of the rhetoric of Bill Hybels and the Willow Creek Community Church Seeker service is performed in an effort to: (1) characterize the redescription they present; (2) reveal how these rhetorical acts promote identification; and, (3) demonstrate how identification promotes the adoption of redescriptions. This study informs both rhetorical theory and Protestant homiletical theory in that it demonstrates how identification functions in rhetorical acts and in that it demonstrates the usefulness of viewing rhetorical acts as redescriptions. (Dissertation Abstracts)