Theological and Rhetorical Perspectives on Self-Disclosure in Preaching -- By: Jeffrey Arthurs

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 157:626 (Apr 2000)
Article: Theological and Rhetorical Perspectives on Self-Disclosure in Preaching
Author: Jeffrey Arthurs


Theological and Rhetorical Perspectives on Self-Disclosure in Preaching

Jeffrey Arthurs

Andrew Gurevicha

This article arises from the conviction that preaching from the Bible is “standing between two worlds,” a communication between the ancient biblical text and modern listeners.1 Preachers are bridges for the truth of the Word. The bridge-building metaphor leads to the fact that preaching involves self-disclosure. The speaker and the message are inseparable. As Arnold states, in oral rhetoric the speaker “stand[s] with his symbolic acts.”2 God has ordained that His truth be communicated through human agents. His treasure is in earthen vessels (2 Cor. 4:7). Paul knew this and was glad to share with the Thessalonians not only the gospel but also his life (1 Thess. 2:8).

The term “self-disclosure” means verbal or nonverbal revelation of the speaker’s feelings, values, and/or personal experiences.3 Powell lists four levels of disclosure.4

Level

Content of Disclosure

Example

1.

Cliché conversation

“Nice weather, huh?”

2.

Factual conversation

“I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me” (2 Cor. 2:12).5

3.

Revealing personal judgments

“Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God” (1:12).

4.

Revealing feelings

“I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there” (2:13). ...

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