The Adoption of Communication Theory in Homiletics

Communication theory grew out of the mathematical theories of Claude Elwood Shannon and Warren Weaver. In the two decades that followed, their theories were carried forward by the likes of Fearing Franklin, Milton Dickens, Wilbur Schramm, and others. Since then, numerous homileticians have taken notice of communication theory and adopted theorized models for speech-communication and mass-communication into their own homiletics writings. Examination of relevant works in homiletics reveals the communication models adopted in the last fifty-five years have remained mostly unchanged in that time. The present article reveals the extent and the static state of the adoption of communication theory in homiletics.

When Clergy Preach and Teach on Suicide: Do Listeners Hear?

Clergy have a key role in suicide prevention by ministering to people struggling with suicidal thoughts and behaviors and performing suicide funerals and memorial services. However, it is not clear if clergy preach or teach on suicide-related topics and if congregants hear them preach on these topics. It is also unclear if clergy and congregants in three religious traditions differ. Convenience samples of U.S. Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant participants (471 clergy and 703 congregants) completed online surveys on 15 preaching and teaching topics. Five topics were
clearly suicide-related (moral objections to suicide, asking about suicidal thinking directly, how to care for loved ones after a suicide death, why people of faith have mental illness, and how
they heal) and the rest were topics that covered protective factors for suicide but were less clearly related to suicide (why people suffer, how to manage suffering, why/how life can have meaning, reasons for living life, how to build a life worth living, why/how religious people have hope, the importance of belonging, how to manage conflict, self-esteem and self-care). Clergy reported preaching and teaching and congregants reported hearing significantly more topics that are perceived as unrelated to suicide as compared to suicide-related topics. Clergy reported preaching and teaching on all topics (both suicide-related and those perceived as non-suicide-related) significantly more than congregants reported hearing the same list of topics. Catholic and Protestant clergy and congregants reported that their clergy preached and taught more on all topics compared to Jewish clergy who may preach more on striving to live a moral and ethical life. While Protestant clergy reported they preach and teach on all topics, their congregants do not report hearing the suicide-related topics

Book-Level Meaning: A Neglected but Essential Tool for Preaching

In the realm of homiletics, much attention is given to the understanding of the particular details of a passage, as well as how that passage speaks Christologically, within its canonical context. While these are needful elements of the hermeneutical and homiletical enterprise, one must also understand a passage within the context of the book it is contained in. Book-level meaning allows authorial intent to be guarded at the macro-level, considering not merely a passage or chapter, but how such a unit of thought fits within the entirety of the author’s distinctive approach and argumentation. This article will contend that book-level meaning serves as a key hermeneutical tool that should be used in preaching in ways that are exegetically faithful and witness to Messiah and our calling to follow him in accordance with the author’s intent

Biblical Language and the Language of Preaching

Language changes—not just the English language, but every
language. Some languages change more rapidly than others. In
general, the more contact with other languages, the more rapid the change; in our time, the more language is mediated by advertising agencies and the entertainment industry, the more vapid the change. In a decadent culture, media-conditioned to the lowest standard of verbal intelligence, a degeneration of meaning and diminishment of comprehension corresponds to our evident loss of cultural memory. In a Christian sub-culture such as ours, this puts the very foundations of our faith in peril, for if the Scriptures are not received with understanding a vacuum is created and that vacuum tends to get filled with rubbish.