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         Contemporary Rhetorical Theory

                                                               Invitational Rhetoric, Persuasion and Preaching

                                                                                                                                                           Richard H. Park(Ph.D/Homiletic)

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Violence, whether physical or verbal, destroys the peace and the wellbeing of a society. Ethical persuasion, unlike violent and manipulative persuasion, makes communities more peaceful and happier. 

Undoubtedly one of the worst cases of violent, manipulative rhetoric in modern history (that we may call nefarious sophistry) would be the Nazi rhetoric that coerced and manipulated the German populace to destroy the world peace and kill Jews.  Hitler had understood that, if he were going to attain power in Germany, he would have had to achieve it, not through the use of violence alone, but through the parliamentary procedure, which he detested.[1] Hitler knew the power of speech.  Haig A. Bosmajian thus explicates the Nazis' persuasion movement:

For twenty years the Nazi speakers had preached the National Socialist Weltanschauung to the German Volk. These were speakers who had been told that through speech they could awaken faith, harden convictions, destroy degeneration, bring out new ideas, and pull the masses from the old ways of thinking, these were speakers who had given their speeches to millions of Germans who listened through periods of inflation, depression, war preparation, and war[2]

Nazi rhetoric was persuasion leading to holocaust.  The Nazis knew how important and influential speech and persuasion were.  They manipulated their audience, but the audience liked it.  They preached killing, and the audience was persuaded to do it.  So, when evil uses persuasion for evil purposes, and when the good forsakes to preach resistance to evil because persuasion is thought as evil, then evil may prevail in the world. Therefore persuasion may be necessary to resist evil forces.  This is why Augustine involved the issue of persuasion in the antagonism between good and evil.

Since rhetoric is used to give conviction to both truth and falsehood, who could dare maintain that truth, which depends on us for its defense, should stand unarmed in the fight against falsehood? This would mean that those who are trying to give conviction to their falsehoods would know how to use an introduction to make their listeners favorable, interested, and receptive, while we would not; that they would expound falsehoods in descriptions that are succinct, lucid, and convincing, while we would expound the truth in such a way as to bore our listeners, cloud their understanding, and stifle their desire to believe; that they would assail the truth and advocate falsehood with fallacious arguments, while we would be too feeble either to defend what is true or refute what is false...[3]

Throughout this essay, I will argue that persuasion is necessary and essential to the welfare of human beings.  I will introduce the topic of Invitational Rhetoric in the light of the debate regarding whether or not it presupposes persuasion.  My conclusion is that Invitational Rhetoric is inevitably persuasion.  I will also propose that Rogerian Rhetoric is historically relevant because it gave Invitational Rhetoric theoretical foundation and resources.  I will also attempt here to analyze Rogerian and Invitational Rhetoric models in the light of Aristotle’s Classical Rhetoric, and determine whether or not the latter models are new and different concepts.  My conclusion is that, while Rogerian and Invitational Rhetoric models have precedents in the long history from the classical to the contemporary versions, they still remain essentially variations of the ancient practice.  On this point, I will also introduce some of the contemporary theories in contrast with Invitational Rhetoric and analyze the persuasion factor viewed in the light of ethical considerations.  Invitational Rhetoric traces many of its characteristics from both past and present; however, I argue that its methods and goals are identical to those of antiquity while other aspects have been re-created in contemporary image, reflecting more of our post-modern rhetorical situation and experience.  This is above all evident in the modern feminist rhetoric.  When seeking the implications of Invitational Rhetoric, necessarily I was led into the debate between Richard Lischer and Lucy L. Hogan of the post-liberal theology and the Incarnation theology regarding the theology of preaching.  My conclusion is that, as far as rhetoric is concerned, theology and the human factor should not be separated as two “from-above” or “from-below” entities.  In contrast with this established Western dichotomy, the reading of K. Barth in his later period,  according to Son Young-Jin's  interpretation, and the Catholic theology’s challenge to Protestant theology, provides a possible solution, which is not a “divided” Incarnational theology but one that “unites”  both “from-above” and “from-below” into one single entity.  To illustrate this point, I will use some “united” Incarnational models of preaching from Augustine, Wesley and Brooks. Thereafter, I will conclude this essay asking some of the crucial questions raised by Invitational Rhetoric that relate to preaching.


Invitational Rhetoric and Persuasion

             In this chapter, I will explore the new feministic rhetorical theory and the Invitational Rhetoric, and I will investigate whether it is virtually a new concept or a form of Classical Rhetoric.  Further, I will analyze what kind of progress, if any, the theory has registered, how critics have viewed it, and what is its theoretical and historical contribution.  Finally, I will try to determine who are those most inspired by this theory and to attempt to evaluate the theory from another feminist rhetorician's perspective.  I will argue in this chapter that the Invitational Rhetoric claims the persuasion factor not as an intrinsic, mandatory aspect of rhetoric but merely as a supplementation feature.

This essay will take a defensive stance on behalf of Invitational Rhetoric as I believe that, in spite of what some critics have said, the model proposed does not so much oppose persuasion in itself but the violent, coercive persuasion.

A superficial reading makes it possible to misunderstand Invitational Rhetoric.  The proposition of going “beyond persuasion,”  does not imply a negation of persuasion but rather adding another “communicative option” to the rhetorical history.

Sally Miller Gearhart, a well-known feminist communication scholar, for the first time, has attempted a new, feministic rhetoric, called “the womanization of rhetoric” (Women’s Studies International Quarterly, 1979), attacking the established conquest/conversion model of rhetoric which she sees as patriarchal and violent.  Later, on the basis of Gearhart's work, Sonja K. Foss and Cindy L. Griffin, both feminist communication scholars, have written  "A Feminist Perspective on Rhetorical Theory: Toward a Clarification of Boundaries” (Western Journal of Communication, 1992), where the rhetorical theory of the radical feminist Starhawk was contrasted with Kenneth Burke’s rhetorical theory, a patriarchal rhetorician so labeled by Foss and Griffin.

In the following year, at the Speech Communication Association Convention, Foss and Griffin presented their famous essay, "Beyond Persuasion: A Proposal for an Invitational Rhetoric,” which marks the emergence of the Invitational Rhetoric.  The essay was subsequently published in the Communication Monographs (1995).

However, Foss and Griffin's Invitational Rhetoric "Beyond Persuasion"(1993) seems to have been inspired also by Catherine E. Lamb's essay “Beyond Argument in Feminist Composition.”[4]   The two major works that lay out the theory of the feminist Invitational Rhetoric in recent times are Inviting Transformation: Presentational Speaking for a Changing World (2002/2003) by Sonja K. Foss and Karen A. Foss, and Invitation to Public Speaking (2004) by Cindy Griffin.

While the Invitational Rhetoric has had numerous followers, it also invited several critical voices, among whom are Irwin Mallin and Karrin Vasby Anderson with their essay “Inviting Constructive Argument” (Argumentation and Advocay, 2000) as well as Jessica Lee Shumake with her work “Reconceptualizing Communication and Rhetoric from a Feminist Perspective” (Guidance & Counseling, 2002).

We will look firstly at the critique of Invitational Rhetoric, in order to facilitate our focus on whether this rhetoric model has indeed rejected all persuasion and all Classical Rhetoric. Irwin Mallin and Karrin V. Anderson together introduced some of the criticism against Foss and Griffin's proposition.  This attack, however, seems to reflect a misinterpretation of Invitational Rhetoric as “an alternative to patriarchal modes of persuasion that have informed and governed rhetorical studies since the classical era.”[5]  Did Foss and Griffin mean to propose an alternative rhetoric to classical patriarchal approach?  This question, which we will attempt to answer in this essay, is crucial in understanding Invitational Rhetoric.  Reporting on the criticism encountered by Invitational Rhetoric, Mallin and Anderson note that,

Some resist what they characterize as a tendency for Foss and Griffin to bifurcate rhetorical strategies into gendered categories, reifying dichotomization. Others object to what they perceive to be Foss and Griffin’s rejection of argumentation as a viable or ethical rhetorical tool.[6]

While acknowledging the critique, Mallin and Anderson see the merits of Invitational Rhetoric in the potential to “facilitate constructive transformation, collapsing the dichotomy between “persuasion” and “empathy.”  They further note that, "when rhetoric is refigured in this manner, it can function to enable those who are marginalized by more adversarial formulation.”[7] The emphasis of the distinction between conquest/conversion rhetoric and the non-antagonizing Invitational Rhetoric may have so much preoccupied some critics that they misinterpreted the Invitational Rhetoric as completely giving up on persuasion as violent and evil.[8]

             Jessica L. Shumake also differs from Gearhart, Foss and Griffin’s position. Firstly, Shumake disagrees with Gearhart in that “using-the-intent-to-change model is not always a violation both of our own integrity and the integrity of others.”[9] Shumake argues using the subject of a Holocaust denier, claiming that, in that situation, intention to change others and resist is adequate.[10] She continues saying that,

My approach is preferable in the instance of dealing with a Holocaust denier, because I take the position that I can still attempt to maintain respect for the integrity of the person who professes a mistaken belief, and yet make a compelling case by offering reasons in support of the reality of the Holocaust.[11]

Shumake appears to see that there is a rhetorical situation in which a speaker has to accomplish change in opposing an evil act, and she takes exception from Gearhart’s “womanization of rhetoric.” Shumake also brings a direct criticism to Foss and Griffin's 1995 essay, "Beyond Persuasion," stating that she is not convinced that “inviting another to share her perspective is all that importantly different from trying to persuade someone to see the world as she does.”[12] She finds Invitational Rhetoric as “unrealistic”[13] because it concludes that all attempts to persuade someone stem from an effort to dominate and/or gain power over him or her.[14] She goes on to say that,

They (Foss and Griffin) oversimplify the task of developing a more adequate rhetorical model by demonizing persuasion as a patriarchal tool, and exalting nurturing or cooperative methods as the domain of the feminine. As M. Lane Bruner argues, to suggest that women cannot aggressively seek change while at the same time nurturing their communities disempowers women by creating a false dichotomy between seeking influence and caring[15]

Shumake seems to argue that feminists should not give up persuading in order to resist and confront “conflict and agitation … vital elements to women’s liberation.”[16]

             Then, did Gearhart, Foss and Griffin, as feminists, give up resisting, transforming and changing the injustices of the social system?  Did they neglect the cause of feminism and the effort for transformation?  Should their proposal, as another option to the classical and contemporary rhetoric, be understood as an authoritarian, dichotomous, either/or choice?  In order to answer these questions, we will move to Gearhart, Foss and Griffin’s own works.

It is appropriate to begin with Gearhart’s pre-Invitational Rhetoric, as it apparently inspired Foss and Griffin to create their concept.   In "The Womanization of Rhetoric," which specifically gave Foss and Griffin an affirmative springboard, Gerhart distinguishes patriarchal rhetoric from women’s rhetoric without constructing a new formal rhetoric model.  Although the dichotomization of rhetoric as men’s and women’s is theoretically problematic, from women’s experience and perspective it might be acceptable because a rhetorical situation creates a unique way of communication.

             Gearhart, in her proposal, pays attention to violence in communication.  She points out that “the fact that it has done so with language and metalanguage, with refined functions of the mind, instead of with whips or rifles, does not excuse it from the mind set of the violent.”[17]  For Gearhart, the most serious problem is the violent intention to change others, according to the speaker’s planned goal, which is a form of manipulation and coercion.  Gearhart is not to be misread to understand that her interpretation values a radical negation of persuasion itself.  According to her,

To change other people or other entities is not itself a violation. It is a fact of existence that we do. The act of violence is in the intention to change another.[18]

Gearhart appears to accept the need for persuasion as a tool of change, a necessary fact of existence, while at the same time acknowledging that the intent to 'change another.' is an act of violence. Gearhart quotes Mao Tse Tung’s metaphor of the egg and the chicken as the “internal basis for change”[19] in the proper environment.  Thus, for her, the act of communication, in view of maintaining respect for the human individual as a self-decision-making entity, should focus on constructing a better ethical relationship between speaker and audience, as well as an environment in which the communication takes place safely and equally. She maintains that,

Communication can be a deliberate creation or co-creation of an atmosphere in which people or things, if and only if they have the internal basis for change, may change themselves; it can be a milieu in which those who are ready to be persuaded may persuade themselves, may choose to hear or choose to learn.[20]

Gearhart, using feministic perspectives, proposes to create better milieu in which persuasion, directed to free agents of self-determination, may occur. Therefore, under this overarching perspective, Gearhart’s radical terminology such as “conquest/conversion,” “womanization of rhetoric,” and “patriarchal rhetoric” should not be misunderstood as being an absolute negation of  rhetoric as persuasion.

             I now turn to Invitational Rhetoric of Foss and Griffin (1992, 1993, 1995) and Foss and Foss (2002, 2003).  Along the way, there was some progress of thought that was followed by a modification of the theory.  In the same manner in which, when we interpret the theologian K. Barth, it is crucial to distinguish his early thoughts from his later views, these three feminists rhetoricians’ thinking also seems to have grown and developed with time.  In the acknowledgements of their book (Foss and Foss, 2003), the authors admit that, from the start, they did not have a clear idea regarding the project:

We never intended to write a public speaking book. In fact, for years, we steadfastly refused even to consider the possibility because we did not believe the world needed another public speaking textbook. There came a time, however, when we felt we had something to say about public speaking that had not been said before and that maybe needed to be.[21]


A comprehensive reading is helpful in gaining insight into the origins, the development and practical implications, if any, of these authors' proposed rhetoric model.

In “a Feminist Perspective on Rhetorical Theory: Toward a Clarification of Boundaries" Foss and Griffin seem to have most radically pronounced themselves against patriarchal conquest/conversion rhetoric, by contrasting feminist Starhawk’s rhetorical theory with Kenneth Burk’s,  whom they labeled as patriarchal.  According to Foss and Griffin,

Starhawk would agree with Burke that, in a rhetoric of domination, rhetoric is used primarily to attempt to change others’ perspectives—to persuade. The distinguishing feature of a rhetoric of inherent value, however, is not its persuasive capability but its affirmation of immanent value.[22]

Foss and Griffin adopt Starhawk's definition of rhetoric rather than Burke’s, which rhetoric  “would involve the use of symbols to maintain connection with and to value all beings.”[23]  Interconnectedness does not require persuasion of each other because connections already exist, but rather the need to understand and respect each other is emphasized.  Burke’s notion of division, which creates the drive toward identification, does not exist in the rhetorical theory generated by Starhawk’s perspective.[24]

An essay presented for the 1993 Speech Communication Association Convention shows a theory more developed than the previous year's article.  For the first time, Foss and Griffin categorize rhetoric as “conquest rhetoric, conversion rhetoric, advisory rhetoric, and Invitational Rhetoric,”[25] the first of which Gearhart had already introduced as “conquest and conversion mindset.”[26]  Here, Foss and Griffin expand the categorization to four rhetoric types.  Later, in their book Inviting Transformation (2003), they add one more model to their rhetoric list, the “benevolent rhetoric.”[27]  This demonstrates an increasingly discriminating view of the topic.  Moreover, the authors' rejection of rhetoric as persuasion appears to be mitigated in this later work.  While previously analyzing Burke’s rhetorical theory in opposition to that of Starhawk, the tone against persuasion was confrontational, the traditional rhetoric being dabbed patriarchal and violent and thus dispensable.  Nonetheless, their Convention proposal shows a shift to a more inclusive perspective, with the phrase “Communicative Options,”[28] starting to appear into the presentation.  Here the authors have started to build a range of discourse “beyond persuasion.”  From the dichotomy of rhetoric they have moved to a plurality of boundaries.  In their 1993 proposal, although the charge against a rhetoric of dichotomy abated somewhat and a flexible view of the variation of rhetorical circumstance is demonstrated, we will still find a definite boundary set between persuasion and non-persuasion rhetoric.[29] Foss and Griffin suggest that,

The exclusive focus on persuasion in rhetorical scholarship has limited the scope of the discipline and has hindered efforts to understand forms of rhetoric that do not involve the intent to change the behavior or beliefs of others… We offer a taxonomy of four rhetorics—conquests, conversion, advisory, and invitational—with the first three involving a conscious intent to persuade that is not present in the fourth.[30]  

However, this position changes quantitatively in the following book, Inviting Transformation (2003), in which Foss and Foss add a new form to the mainframe.

Conquest and conversion modes of communication have their uses and their place. They are not, however, the only ways—and often not the best ways—for engaging in communication. The other available modes of rhetoric—benevolent, advisory, and invitational—offer additional ways to talk with one another and to create alternative realities.[31]

As shown above, from 1993 to 2003, their proposal to Invitational Rhetoric progresses from the combative and exclusive tone against rhetoric as persuasion, to the inclusive and pluralistic coexistence.  The Inviting Transformation (2003) even allows that conquest and conversion rhetoric may be inevitable in some situation.[32]

Now that Foss and Foss admit to five types of rhetoric and to each one’s utility, according to the situation, I do not see any reason for rejecting the word “persuasion” and replacing it with “presentational,” since  “presentational rhetoric” may also mean “presentational persuasion.”  Likewise, the apparent disparity in the semantics of the word “persuasion” used in Foss and Griffin is problematic. It seems that readers would have been better served by the addition of modifiers such as “violent,” “coercive,”  “conquering/converting,” or “direct,” in the case of “Invitational Rhetoric.” I have argued that Invitational Rhetoric is not an outright rejection of persuasion in itself, but against violent, coercive persuasion.

Rogerian Rhetoric and its Classical Roots

In this chapter, I will introduce another inspiration model for Invitational Rhetoric, the Rogerian Rhetoric, in an attempt to distinguish common grounds and place both the Invitational Rhetoric and Rogerial Rhetoric in historical perspective in comparison with Classical Rhetoric.  I will also argue in this chapter that, although Invitational Rhetoric and Rogerian Rhetoric are newly developed, they are not so much at odds in methods and goals with Classical Rhetoric as in their added emphasis on audience, ethics of speaker, relationship between speaker and audience, and milieu and attitude of communication.  Therefore, I argue that though Invitational Rhetoric challenges what has been neglected and marginalized in the rhetorical history.

Why do I introduce Rogerian Rhetoric?  It is because it has had an impact on  Invitational Rhetoric’s formation.[33]   It also seems that Rogerian Rhetoric lends several core assumptions to Invitational Rhetoric such as “understanding” as the purpose of communication, equality between speaker and audience, diverse perspectives as resources, change as self-chosen, and willingness to yield,[34] as well as creating an environment for transformation such as freedom, safety, value, and openness.[35]  These concepts are important contributions not only to Invitational Rhetoric but also to the rhetoric in general.

In 1996, very close to the time when Invitational Rhetoric came about, another interesting argument was made by Douglas Brent:[36]

…I believe Rogerian Rhetoric is more an attitude than a technique. The specific form of Rogerian discourse in which one must be able to reflect another’s point of view before stating one’s own is not just a technique to get someone else to listen to you. It’s a technique that helps students learn to connect with other points of view, explore them fully, and place them in a dialectical relationship with their own as part of a process of mutual discovery. [37]    

According to Brent, Rogerian Rhetoric is concerned with an “attitude change,”[38] and “presupposes a different relationship between ethics and rhetoric than does Classical Rhetoric.”[39] For Brent, “Rogerian training in speaking well helps to create a ‘good’ person by contributing to ethical as well as cognitive growth.  Good rhetoric is a precondition to virtue.”[40] Brent summarizes Rogerian Rhetoric as having three distinguishing features:

Rogerian Rhetoric also moves away from a combative stance, but is distinct from other models of argumentation in three ways. First, it goes even father than most other models in avoiding an adversarial approach. Second, it offers specific strategies based on nondirective therapy for building the co-operative bridges necessary for non combative inquiry. Third, and in my opinion most important, it has the potential to offer students an opportunity for long-term cognitive and ethical growth.”[41]   

As shown above, the position of Brent is that Rogerian Rhetoric is distinct in the history of rhetoric and is similar to Invitational Rhetoric.  As we have learned from the Inviting Transformation “understanding” as the purpose of communication,[42] Rogerian Rhetoric’s most significant contribution is “empathy” in the communication.

             However, Shumake who critiqued Gearhart and Invitational Rhetoric, also takes issue with the Rogerian model from a feminist point of view and argues that, “one criticism of Rogerian technique is that thinking of argument in terms of withholding judgment of the positions others advance can sound like a prescription for self-abnegation.”[43] Shumake, a feminist, is skeptical of Rogerian Rhetoric, because “Rogers seems to ignore the phenomenon of male linguistic dominance and presupposes an equal communicative exchange between males and females, when such may not exist.”[44] 

However, what Carl R. Rogers found from his studies is that “those clients in relationships marked by a high level of counselor congruence, empathy and unconditional positive regard show constructive personality change and development,”[45] yet, “clients in relationships characterized by a low level of these attitudinal conditions show significantly less positive change on these same indices.”[46]  Rogers distinguished “negative change” from “constructive change.”  Like Foss & Foss’ Invitational core values of “change as self-chosen and willingness to yield,” Rogerian Rhetoric facilitates or persuades clients (audience) to change by themselves constructively not coercively/negatively through other’s compulsion.  This also corresponds to the Invitational model in which an environment is created, and in which the audience is encouraged to choose and freely decide (freedom).[47] Also Audience is respected for “their intrinsic or inherent worth of each individual.”[48] The “invitation” changes and decides among the diversity of perspectives (openness),[49] without risk and threat to their identity (safety).[50]

             Thus Invitational Rhetoric seems to have drawn from two main sources, one from Starhawks and the other from Rogers.  In the 1993 Convention proposal, Foss and Griffin emphasize “human interconnectedness and autonomy” from Starhawks, and “a necessary and inevitable element of an environment conducive to growth and change” from Rogers.[51] Especially the concept of audience's “growth,” in the persuasion process, has an important ethical connotation as it implies positive regard and respect for the audience which is persuaded.  For Rogers, the personal “growth” of his clients (his audience)[52] was the goal of his interpersonal communication, divested of the speaker’s own interest. 

Another important element of Rogerian Rhetoric is “congruence” in the interpersonal relationships. To facilitate constructive change, a speaker should decrease the degree of defensiveness, but, without congruence between parties, there still remains a communication block between speaker and audience.  If someone feels incongruent, one would defend oneself against what is being communicated.  As Rogers holds,

The greater the congruence of experience, awareness and communication on the part of one individual, the more the ensuing relationship will involve: a tendency toward reciprocal communication with a quality of increasing congruence; a tendency toward more mutually accurate understanding of the communications; improved psychological adjustment and functioning in both parties; mutual satisfaction in the relationship.[53]  

Foss and Foss emphasize “the equality of speaker and audience.” They do not see the speaker as having “power-over” audience, rather “power-with.”[54]   It follows that the authority and its benefits should go to both parties ensuring mutual interests and reciprocal growth.  Moreover, “individuals gladly embrace a new way of believing or acting,”[55]  when, while being in congruence with the speaker, they make an attempt to “change as self-chosen.”[56]  Some of the most important features of Invitational Rhetoric are a respect for the audience, the renewed relationship between speaker and audience, ethical consideration, and an emphasis on the environment of communication.  Most of these aspects are consistent with Rogerian Rhetoric. Therefore, in answering the question — “Is Invitational Rhetoric new in the history of rhetoric?,” I would rely on the above stated commonality between Invitational and Rogerial approaches and draw conclusions from analyzing the resources available on Rogerian Rhetoric in relation to the Classical Rhetoric.   This allows me to overcome the scarcity of resources regarding comparisons between Invitational Rhetoric and the classical model.

             Paul Bator analyzes Rogerian Rhetoric as new and distinct from classical Aristotelian rhetoric. For instance, he compares “ethos” of Aristotle and “ethics” of Rogerian Rhetoric. According to Bator, “the ethos of the speaker-listener relationship, in Aristotelian terms, is set by the speaker alone. Ethos is a concept associated with the rhetor; it is the quality of the rhetor’s character which can be one of the most potent of all the means to persuasion.”[57] Bator interprets Aristotle’s ethos as a persuasive method that presupposes

an antagonistic speaker/audience relationship, and its aim is to win advantage through discovery of psychological weaknesses in the audience. The Aristotelian rhetor thus seeks to establish and control the emotions and expectations of the audience in an effort to persuade them to his own point of view.[58]  

             Andrea A. Lunsford, however, thinks differently.  Lunsford believes that  Aristotle’s position stresses the importance of understanding a given audience, that the good speaker must get the audience in a right frame of mind, and that he can do so only by evincing a proper character—one of a conciliatory, honest, understanding speaker—to his audience.[59]   Lunsford also adds that “nowhere is this attitude clearer than in Aristotle’s discussion of love or friendship,”[60]  suggesting that “these passages are very close both to the first step of Rogerian argument, and to Rogers’s entire notion of empathy and unconditional positive regard.”[61]              

In terms of enthymeme and audience analysis, Aristotle’s rhetor starts out from the opinions of the audience, establish areas of agreement, and value different positions.[62] Also considering “Aristotle’s accommodation to audience and his use of the enthymeme (which is based on premises, opinions, or values common to both parties in an argument),”[63] Rogerian Rhetoric may in fact find its antecedent in Aristotle.[64]  From this analysis, Lundsford concludes that Rogerian Rhetoric (Invitational Rhetoric) is not new and not an alternative, but rather supplementary to the classical approach, and it has been developed from the concept of a Classical Rhetoric which is seen not so much combative as co-operative.

             Maxine Hairstone points out that some controversial arguments such as racial and sexual matters, moral questions, personal and professional standards of behavior requires invitational rhetoric. “Where there is dispute about this kind of issue, communication often breaks down, because both parties are so emotionally involved, so deeply committed to certain values, that they can scarcely listen to each other, much less have a rational exchange of views.”[65]  Hairstone proposes that in those situations, Rogerian Rhetoric may work when most conventional strategies fail.[66]  However, we should note here that Hairstone did argue the role of Rogerian Rhetoric not as an alternative but a supplement, as Foss and Foss have already admitted. The other available models of rhetoric may offer additional (supplementary) ways to talk with one another and to create alternative realities.[67]  

             From this investigation, I conclude that Invitational Rhetoric, in light of Rogerian Rhetoric, has its long history and roots in the Classical Rhetoric but has developed from the need to supplement traditional rhetoric.  It is a rhetoric that emphasizes the ethics of the speaker, values the audience and its participation, creates consensus between the speaker and audience, and organizes a propitious communication environment. Therefore, Invitational Rhetoric is still a persuasion but a persuasion seeking non-violence, non-coercion, non-manipulation.                                                                

               Implications for Contemporary Homiletics

Concluding that Invitational Rhetoric is non-violent “persuasion,” I would further like to seek implications in contemporary homiletics.  Invitational Rhetoric has been misinterpreted in its process of development.  In its feminist experience, we can understand how such interpretation model was born from the necessity to re-adjust the social paradigm of the oppressors versus marginal voices, as the latter have been persuaded violently to accept the power/speaker’s violence, prejudice, and injustice.  From a feminist perspective Invitational Rhetoric is a means of resisting the use of speech that has violent, oppressive intent.  It is another communicative option that makes human communication rich and pluralistic.  Invitational Rhetoric, since its early stage, has been recognized as anti-persuasion, although it seems that the word “persuasion,” as it is used in its context, has limited negative connotations.  Expanding the semantics to include modifiers with various connotations raises another series of questions: “Can rhetoric become non-persuasive?” or “Can we survive without persuasion?”  When applied to theology and church proclamation, “Does the church need persuasion?” The questions that Invitational Rhetoric raises are also serious questions for theology and homiletic, and they have been asked for a long time in the history of the church from antiquity to recent years.

In his dialogue Meno, Plato asked: “Can virtue be taught? Or is it not teachable but the result of practice?”[68]  Through the dialogue between Socrates and Meno, Plato establishes an anthropology that has immanent value as the immortal soul itself.  According to Plato, “the truth about reality is always in our soul, and the soul would be immortal so that we should always confidently try to seek out and recollect what we do not know at present.”[69] Isocrates answers: “he will know it without having been taught but only questioned, and find the knowledge within himself.”[70]  

An understanding of Plato's anthropology may be facilitated by Starhawks’ anthropology that applies to Invitational Rhetoric.  Foss and Foss, in order to distinguish women’s rhetoric from the patriarchal rhetoric, appeal to Starhawk, a feminist writer, activist, and practitioner of Wicca.[71] Starhawk's view that every “being is sacred” and possesses inherent value, which does not have to be earned, acquired, or proven, is inherent to our existence.[72] Therefore all of human beings, each having the same immanent value, share the same nature, and are equal and interconnected. This insight gives feminist rhetoricians such concepts as equality, freedom to decide, and valuing of other individuals.

Once we recognize the diversity of situations in which communication takes place, we face the necessity to categorize different approaches. Aristotle had categorized rhetoric as deliberative, epideictic, and judicial,[73] On one hand, the advocacy-rhetoric situations such as political, praise/blame, forensic may require a winner-loser model or interaction.   As far as virtue is concerned, like Plato, Foss, Foss and Griffin seem to believe that it cannot be the subject of persuasion or teaching.  Hairston, on the other hand, suggested[74]  there may be different rhetorical circumstances where the winner-loser dichotomy, ambiguity and pluralism, and impossibility to teach (probability) is not presumed, such as in the case of religious or ethical controversies.  In those situations, Invitational and Rogerian models may work as supplements to Classical Rhetoric. In those cases, a conquest/conversion model of persuasion may not work properly. Furthermore, when the issue of theology is involved, this problem is exacerbated.  What about the topics of religion, theology and ethics? Can or may we “persuade” those topics as we should win in the speech game? Can humanly rhetoric persuade divine virtues? Can theology and rhetoric get along together?  This is our next, final question in this essay.

James J. Murphy introduces a short history of the controversy between theology and rhetoric in the early church history. Many of the church fathers showed hostility against rhetoric as secular, human effort to persuade the divine virtue. For example, Tertullian wonders:

What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What concord is there between the Academy and the church? What between heretics and Christians?[75]

However, some of other fathers such as St. Basil and St. Ambrose, according to Murphy, had “mixed feelings”[76] on using secular disciplines, mostly rhetoric and philosophy, and recommend “gathering roses among the thorns of pagan literature.”[77] This is a cultural debate such as the one posed by Niebuhr’s cultural ethics, an issue wide enough to encompass many aspects of human anthropology.  How we think of the world and of ourselves has to do with how we accept theology as revelation and human persuasion.

             When we seek implications of Invitational Rhetoric for theology of preaching and homiletics, there are several aspects to contemplate. Invitational Rhetoric, as Richard Lischer states, upholds the necessity of critically accepting the conclusions of the cultural anthropologists and philosophers.[78] Lischer poses the following question: “Given the antitheses of humanity’s relationship to God, in which the person is friend and enemy, partner and saboteur, but always creature and child—what is it about this relationship that makes public speech about God both possible and impossible?”[79] Lischer goes on to argue that,

Indeed, Barth argued that the form of the sermon served only to obscure the Word of God. Rhetorical form exists only for the sake of persuasion, which is but another attempt to supplement the intrinsic eventfulness of the divine Word with a human technique.[80]

Lischer draws distinction between the “from above” theology of Lutheran and neo-orthodox churches, and the “from below” theology of liberalism and its appreciation of the human sources of revelation.[81] Then, naturally, there would be two kinds of homiletic: “from above” homiletic and “from below” homiletic according to Lischer’s categorization. Lischer asks: “And what of preaching-from-below? The event it describes also mediates an experience of revelation. Where preaching (from-above) flows from Christology, preaching (from-below) operates with a more general view of revelation.”[82] Also Lischer, like one of the anti-rhetoric church fathers, states, “Preaching is not represented as one person’s persuasive address.”[83]  Lischer sees the possibility of rhetoric being used as “rationalistic, exclusivist, coercive or manipulative.”[84] In his essay, “Why I am not persuasive” he asked another question: “How does the speech adhere to God’s revelation on which it is based?”[85] He concluded that “I believe the word of God will grow and multiply when it is grounded in the church’s mission and not a rhetorical theory.”[86]                

Ironically Lischer sides with a pagan discipline: “the poets are our friends!”[87] Also he seems to have an inclusive attitude toward culture by saying, “I think it’s important to read not only about the Word from which we proclaim but also to try to keep informed about the people and the culture to which we preach.”[88]   Furthermore, in his proposal for “Theological Rhetoric,” Lischer shows his pragmatic view on using rhetoric.  He argues that “in the discussion of promise as a rhetorical form we maintain a balance between the absolute priority of God as the source, content, and life of all sermons, and an appreciation of the rhetorical shape in which that life is transmitted to us.”[89]      

Lischer seems to understand rhetoric as win-lose persuasion, just as  Foss, Foss and Griffin viewed it.  Lischer asks in his apologetic essay, “Why I am not persuasive,”: “Why would anyone wish not to be persuasive, especially a preacher, of all people, whose success depends on his or her ability to win an audience?”[90] He deplores that “in the culture of persuasion, biblical commands, as well as the historic doctrines of the church, are held hostage to the speaker’s ability to win assent to them.”[91] Lischer seems to have a limited perspective of rhetoric and persuasion. Like Foss, Foss, and Griffin, he claims, “I don’t reject persuasion as a paradigm for preaching because I disapprove of it for being rationalistic, exclusivist, coercive and manipulative.”[92]    

On the other hand, Lischer emphasizes the “interplay of the Holy Spirit and the preacher within the bounds of language.  By means of the Holy Spirit the great gulf between God’s Word and our words is bridged.”[93]   For Lischer, form is integral to the sermon. The Holy Spirit uses all forms but is bound by none.[94]   

Lischer acknowledges the serious gap between human and God, and consequently that human anthropology is impotent before the Holy Spirit works within. So, for him, human persuasion without Spirit and revelation would appear useless.  Lischer's views seem to adhere to those of K. Barth and the post-liberal theology.

             However, John Thornhill, in “Is religion the enemy of faith?”(1984), scrutinizes K. Barth’s theology and its “incomplete mission.” Thornhill discloses the problem of the Protestant theology this way:

The intrinsic logic of this understanding of justification through a “passive” faith leaves little place for the saving value of man’s acts once he has been justified: Good works are excluded from the economy of salvation precisely because human nature is powerless to perform them…in a way which merits the forgiveness of sin and the beatitude of the soul.[95]

Thornhill introduces Barth’s difficulty in maintaining “the consistency of his theological principles. One is reminded of the difficulty which Luther met at this same point. Barth acknowledges that the event of revelation eliminates neither man nor religion (as man’s self expression).”[96] According to Thornhill, Barth “draws a parallel between the humanity of Christ, assumed into union with the divine Person of the Son, and man taken into an identification with Christ’s righteousness.”[97] On this point, Thronhill constantly asks a question: “What of those works which human persons perform as the fruits and expression of their being taken into Christ’s own righteousness?”[98] Thornhill also argues that “our human reality has been saved and owned by God in Christ is the basis of the incarnational and sacramental genius of the Catholic tradition’s interpretation of the Christian mystery.”[99] Consequently Thornhill concludes that “Barth’s position, when it is understood according to the methodological assumptions he has made, is incomplete rather than erroneous.”[100]  It seems to me that the problem of Luther and Barth is the intrinsic conflict between the human as theological entity (powerless, justified and saved through God) and as anthropological being (self-willed, justified and saved through embracing the humanity of Christ).  While Protestant theology emphasizes anthropology before justification, the Catholic theology places justification last. 

Regarding Thornhill’s critique of K. Barth and Protestant’s theology, I introduce Son Young-Jin, a Korean theologian who interprets “late” Barth in the Church Dogmatic.[101]  The following is a brief summary and translation from his presentation.

Son analyses Barth’s Christology as a dual concept, consisting in both “from-above” and “from below.” The ‘Anhypostasis (against the person)” Christology has rejected the upward vertical approach while, on the other hand, “Enhypostasis (into the person)” Christology both upward and downward directions can coexist, because the humanity of Christ exists in the union with the divinity of Christ.  In other words, the theory of Enhypostasis does not exclude the divinity of Christ and, at the same time, includes the humanity of Christ. I don’t attempt to address all of Son’s Christology, but the most important is that Son, revolutionarily in the history of interpretation of K.Barth in Korean theology, has captured Barth in light of his late "Church Dogmatic."

Son reads Barth’s "Church Dogmatic" in two different stages. First there is early Barth who emphasizes the radical gap between God and man, and disavows the possibility of natural theology; and then comes the late Barth who opens the door of natural theology and the shift of Christology from divinity to humanity.  Son stresses on Barth 1956’s lecture “The Humanity of God” and its turn to the humanity of Christ, which he had previously strongly rejected because of the 19th century liberalism and the two wars heralded by it.  According to Son, Barth, 30 years later, recognizes that reconciliation occurs not only within the church but also without the church.[102] The revelation of Christ and the power of reconciliation are so strong that they cannot be blocked within the church.[103]  There is no excuse for one’s unbelief. The word of reconciliation is so powerful that it continually pervades the secular world.

In conclusion,  Son argues that “from-above” Christology is for Barth a sine qua non, but alone not sufficient, as he recognizes the necessity of the “from-below” factor.  Thus, Barth’s Christology is Enhypostasis, a Christology of union of divinity and humanity that is incarnational.  Hogan’s understanding of Incarnational theology of preaching would seem “from-below” alone, but Incarnation happens “from-above,” making possible anthropology in/with Christ into divine.  Thus, Incarnational theology of preaching should be characterized by the unity of divinity and humanity, as God the divine became human in order to make us divine.

Therefore, anthropology in Christ means following Jesus Christ, a model of all human beings, union of divinity and humanity. This unity of divinity and humanity is crucial in understanding our problem of human anthropology and its relation to theology and rhetoric, since it opens the possibility of inclusiveness of worldly things as it belongs to Lord. 

             From this discussion of K. Barth’s theology regarding Christology, now we can look back at Lischer’s theology of preaching, colored by early Barth, who was so determined to accept an unbridgeable gap between God and man.  While acknowledging the totality of Barth's view and, in the light of it, a question comes to mind:  If late Barth admitted the possibility of revelation through nature, why not through rhetoric?  If late Barth recognized the human expression through which God can work, why not through human persuasion?

             Next, Hogan analyzes Lucy Rose and Richard Lischer in terms of their rejection of persuasion. According to Hogan, Rose disavows persuasion since she understands persuasion as manipulative;[104]on the other hand, Lischer rejects persuasion because it hinders God’s power of revelation by human work.[105] Hogan constructs a clear definition of persuasion not as coercion or manipulation but as ethical persuasion.[106] Like Foss and Foss, Hogan also suggests “a communicative option” because persuasion itself suggests the option to persuade, to evaluate critically, and respond freely,[107] as Invitational Rhetoric’s core assumptions are freedom to decide and willingness to change.  Persuasion itself, unlike violence, is option.

I would disagree with Hogan's suggestion that Invitational Rhetoric is “an alternate model of persuasion.”[108]  Rather, it would be more correct to say, “A supplemental model of persuasion.” Hogan seems to propound Invitational Rhetoric of Foss and Foss as an alternative to that of Rose and Lischer, yet, as we have discussed so far in this essay, Invitational Rhetoric fosters certain flows which need to be filtrated out before being offered as an ideal model.  By identifying persuasion with conquest and conversion, the model may prove limiting.  Invitational Rhetoric as a Feminist rhetoric would be related to Rose’s conversational homiletic, and vice versa.[109]

Cicero himself has introduced three debatable issues surrounding rhetoric: Whether or not rhetoric is an art, the immorality of rhetoric, and the knowledge necessary for oratory.[110] Until recent years, philosophers and theologians have attacked rhetoric as immoral, claiming it had been used wrongly, without any philosophical knowledge and truth.[111]  This sounds very much like the rejection of rhetoric by theologians who consider it as being distant from revelation (truth) or community conversation/formation. Isocrates, in Against the Sophist, distinguishes himself from unscrupulous Sophists or teachers of rhetoric who are concerned only with teaching tricks.[112] This objection against Sophists is analogous with the objections raised against it today, on account of being manipulative and unethical.

 Back to Isocrates, he says “anything bad is contemptible, so in my opinion rhetoric is contemptible, while saying although sophistry and rhetoric are essentially different.”[113]   Augustine, who has converted from Sophistry to Ciceronian philosophical rhetoric,[114]  poses the question: Can rhetoric become nobler? However, for Augustine, rhetoric is neither good nor bad, but neutral.  Rhetoric has only a functional faculty to anyone who uses it. When Hogan says that “there is no such thing as a neutral statement,”[115] it seems that she does not deny the neutrality of rhetoric, rather of the speech-product of the rhetorical process. Aristotle was also a functionalist regarding rhetoric:

Its function is not to persuade but to see the available means of persuasion in each case, as is true also in all the other arts; for neither is it the function of medicine to create health but to promote this as much as possible.[116] 

Contemporary rhetoricians also see rhetoric as functional and ontological: human being is a rhetorical being.  First, Kenneth Burke, in his “A Rhetoric of Motives,” states, “Wherever there is persuasion, there is rhetoric. And wherever there is ‘meaning’ there is persuasion.”[117]  Also, Foss, Foss and Trapp, in “Contemporary Perspectives on Rhetoric,” introduce Burke’s definition of human being.  They point out, “The concept of the symbol-using animal references Burke’s notion that the possession of a symbol system separates human beings from animals”[118]  When using symbol, there should be interpretation and then meaning and then persuasion should be there.  Burke’s claim that humans are inevitably rhetorical beings leads to a rhetoric model which is inherently functional.  In the same vein, Richard M. Weaver, in the Language is Sermonic, also define our being and language as eminently sermonic, or, for that reason, rhetorical.  He maintains that “we are all of us preachers in private or public capacities. We have no sooner uttered words than we have given impulse to other people to look at the world, or some small part of it, in our way.”[119]  Richard M. Weaver sees human beings as persuasive entities.

Similarly, Chaim Perelman and L. Olbrechts-Tyteca, in the chapter of Argumentation and Violence of The New Rhetoric: A Treatise on Argumentation, declare that humans have only two options when communicating, speech (persuasion) and violence. They contend,

One can indeed try to obtain a particular result either by the use of violence or by speech aimed at securing the adherence of minds. It is in terms of this alternative that the opposition between spiritual freedom and constraint is most clearly seen. The use of argumentation implies that one has renounced resorting to force alone, that value is attached to gaining the adherence of one’s interlocutor by means of reasoned persuasion, and that one is not regarding him as an object, but appealing to his free judgment.[120] 

In opposition to Invitational Rhetoric, Perelman and Tyteca, see persuasion not as violence but, on the contrary, as recourse to non-violence. Craig R. Smith, also, in the Rhetoric & Human Consciousness: A History, defines humans as rhetorical beings, because “what makes us human also makes us rhetorical. We are decision-making creatures capable of overruling our own instincts.  Developing the habit of making good decision is critical to human existence.”[121]  Like functionalists such as Augustine, James A. Herrick explores the “social function of the art of rhetoric.”[122] Herrick warns us, “Bear in mind that rhetoric’s misuse is more likely when the art of rhetoric is available only to an elite, when it is poorly understood by audiences, or when it is unethically practiced by rhetors.”[123]  In addition, Herricks categorizes six functions of rhetoric: 1) testing ideas; 2) assisting advocacy; 3) distributing power; 4) discovering facts; 5) shaping knowledge; 6) building community.[124]   It appears that much philosophical controversy ensued from a lack of consensus as to the meaning, the function and the scope of rhetoric.  Herrick’s categorization may be of help.   The Invitational Rhetoric, with its five categories, may also be viewed in the light of a functional approach.[125]  

In the light of Herrick’s functional rhetoric theory,  which divests itself of the conflict regarding  persuasion, Karlyn K. Campbell[126] follows the same trajectory of Invitational Rhetoric as woman’ liberation rhetoric without the self-contradictory issue raised by the approach of her predecessors.   As rhetoric is seen as multi-functional, one can work with it from a feminist standpoint. Sometimes, feminist rhetoric assists advocacy and at other times it distributes power.  Feminist advocacy rhetoric endures with the intent to achieve social injustice, and feminist Invitational Rhetoric invites diverse opinion in an environment of freedom, safety, value, and openness. 

This investigation of contemporary rhetorical theories confronts us with the inevitability of utility of rhetoric because we, human beings, are naturally rhetorical. Even though philosophers and theologians sometimes have attacked rhetoric and denied its essence and partnership quality, when seen from contemporary perspectives as well as from the classical standpoint, rhetoric is sine qua non to human communication.

We have investigated contemporary rhetoric to learn how essential rhetoric is to humans.   Opposing Lischer’s position regarding theology and rhetoric (as persuasion), Hogan suggests “an Incarnational theology of preaching.”[127] Hogan differs from Lischer regarding theological anthropology, in the light of the dual aspect of Christology, “from-above” and “from-below,” as seen in Barth’s post-liberal theology and Protestant liberal theology, or it may be different because of Lutheran Christology and Catholic/Episcopal Christology. Hogan admits that “Lischer and I seem to have a profoundly different view of the human as redeemed.”[128] She analyses that “from-above” Christology and anthropology would become “docetic” theology, while she proposes “from-below” Christology and anthropology as Incarnational theology.[129]  However it seems that Hogan still maintains the western dichotomy of “from-above” and “from-below.” Hogan's discussion ends inconclusively.  

However, from the investigation of Barth’s theoretical development of Christology, his theological anthropology, the Protestant theology’s problem (“from-above”), and the Incarnational theology as a union of divinity and humanity, we find some answers to Lischer and Hogan’s dichotomy problem.   Furthermore, we witnessed contemporary rhetorical theories’ overwhelmingly accepting humans as rhetorical beings.  Consequently, given the nature of human communication,  preaching of an Incarnational theology that is not “divided” but “united” is what we preachers should undertake.

Revelation of God and human interaction with it produce the incarnational theology.  In Augustine, we see the ideal unity of these. First of all, Augustine, a converted Sophist, relies less on oratory and cherishes the power of persuasion of God, through the Holy Spirit, which is revelation from-above. In his De Doctrina Christiana, Augustine emphasizes that:

He should be in no doubt that any ability he has and however much he has derives more from his devotion to prayer than his dedication to oratory; and so, by praying for himself and for those he is about to address, he must become a man of prayer before becoming a man of words.[130]  

And elsewhere:

Whether they are going to speak before a congregation or any other body, or to dictate something to be spoken before a congregation or read by others who are able and willing to do so, speakers must pray that God will place a good sermon on their lips…[131] 

They should also pray, after receiving it, that they themselves may present it effectively and that those to whom they present it may absorb it effectively. And they should also give thanks for a favorable outcome of their address to the one from whom they do not doubt that they received it, “so that anyone who boasts may boast” in the one whose hands hold us and our sermon alike.[132]

However, as we have shown earlier in this essay, for Augustine, oratory is a neutral, functional tool. Persuasion is used for good and evil causes according to rhetors. Augustine expresses his wish that the powerful tool of oratory be employed in ethical manner. "Oratorical ability, so effective a resource to commend either right or wrong, is available to both sides; why then is it not acquired by good and zealous Christians to fight for the truth, if the wicked employ it in the service of iniquity and error, to achieve their perverse and futile purpose?[133]   For Augustine, there is no difficulty in uniting revelation and human persuasion. Augustine’s theology of trinity strengthens his theology of Incarnation for the purpose of preaching.  Augustine and “late” Barth seem to share the same theological perspective of Lord’s ownership over the entire world beyond the boundary of the Church.  Thus, he states:

A person who is a good and a true Christian should realize that truth belongs to his Lord, wherever it is found, gathering and acknowledging it even in pagan literature, but rejecting superstitious vanities and deploring and avoiding those who though they knew God did not glorify him as God and give thanks but became enfeebled in their own thoughts and plunged their senseless minds into darkness.[134] 


Augustine would seem to accept, in agreement with many modern theologians, the natural theology or “from-below” Incarnational theology, but he also warns against its danger. He encourages us to praise and thank God the creator and, at the same time, the Son who incarnate into the world.  David Hesselgrave, in the “Gold from Egypt: The Contribution of Rhetoric to Cross-Cultural Communication,” introduces one of Augustine’s goal in his project: “To effect a rapprochement between revelational truth and those aspects of pagan intellectual achievement not inherently antagonistic to that truth.”[135]   

             Wesley also preached with a model of Incarnation.[136]  His book explicates what Incarnational preaching is: 1) when the preacher adheres faithfully to God’s Word, the Bible, 2) when the Holy Spirit saturates the preacher, 3) when the preacher’s life represents the life of Christ.[137]   According to Wesley, God communicates through a person, so it is crucial for incarnational preaching to keep “the balance of the human and the divine.”[138]  Therefore, Jesus, truly divine and truly human, is our communication model.[139] Here is where Christology and Incarnational theology meet the theology of preaching. Following Augustine and Wesley, Phillips Brooks defines preaching incarnationally.

Preaching is the communication of truth by man to man. It has in it two essential elements, truth and personality. Neither of those can it spare and still be preaching. The truest truth, the most authoritative statement of God’s will, communicated in any other way than through the personality of brother man to men is not preached truth.[140]   

Brooks goes on to emphasize the incarnational character of preaching. Brooks proposes,

Truth through Personality is our description of real preaching. The truth must come really through the person, not merely over his lips, not merely into his understanding and out through his pen. It must come through his character, his affections, his whole intellectual and moral being. It must come genuinely through him.[141]  

Unlike early Barth, Augustine, Wesley and Brooks combine the preacher’s humanity, which includes his own persuasiveness, with the divine persuasion of God, the Trinity. From this, Christian persuasion survives again in the midst of contemporary test-ordeal.


In this light, Invitational Rhetoric can have meaningful applications for the theology of preaching. The immanent values that Invitational Rhetoric proposes can apply to our preaching values and core preaching assumption.   What about our preaching?  Has not our preaching often attempted the conquest of the unbeliever and of the already-believer through imposition of the preacher’s prejudice? Has not our preaching aimed to convert without valuing free will and the willingness to change, in disregard of patience and ethical persuasion? Have not preachers considered themselves in a position of superiority over audience equal with them? Have preachers been preaching a divided faith, only “from-above” or only “from-below”? Have preachers invited diverse perspectives as preaching resources rather than designing sermons on the basis of preacher’s own themes? Have preachers attempted to create an environment that is safer and more respectful towards the audience, rather than focusing only on straightly speaker’s concern? Have not preachers preached violently, coercively, and manipulatively benefiting themselves and ignoring mutual satisfaction and reciprocal growth and change? Invitational Rhetoric grants us these crucial questions and the possible implications that may come from raising them!

[1] Haig A. Bosmajian,  “The Nazi Speaker’s Rhetoric,” The Quarterly Journal of Speech 46 (1960), 365.

[2] Ibid., 371.

[3] St. Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana  (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995) IV, ii 3.

[4] Catherine E. Lamb, “Beyond Argument in Feminist Composition,” College Composition and Communication 42 (1991).

[5] Irwin Mallin and Karrin Vasby Anderson, “Inviting Constructive Argument,” Argumentation and Advocacy 36 (Winter 2000), 121.

[6] Ibid., 121.

[7] Ibid., 123.

[8] Invitational Rhetoric is not the first to distinguish rhetoric and speech in terms of power and relationship between speaker and audience. For instance, Brockriede categorizes the arguer as “rapist, seducer and lover.” See Wayne Brokride, “Arguers as Lovers,” Philosophy and Rhetoric 5 (1972). Also Brownstein has already mentioned that “the methods of the speakers are the methods of the lovers, for the non-lover is a kind of rapist.” Confer, Occar L. Brownstein, “Plato’s Pahedrus: Dialectic as the Genuine Art of Speaking,” the Quarterly Journal of Speech 51 (1965), 392. Simons, also, in the “The Emerging Concept of Communication as Dialogue" (The Quarterly Journal of Speech 57/1971) introduced Martine Buber’s ‘lover’s talk’ defined as  I-Thou relation, emphasizing I-thou mutual equality, 373-382.

[9]Jessica Lee Shumake, “Reconceptualizing Communication and Rhetoric from a Feminist Perspective,” Guidance & Counseling 17 (Summer 2002), 99-104.  Source: Database ‘Academic Search Elite’ (Orradre Library: Santa Clara University)

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid., For more critiques regarding Invitational Rhetoric, Cf. M.L. Bruner, “Producing Identities: Gender Problematization and Feminist Argumentation,” Argumentation and Advocacy 32 (1996) 185-198.

[16] Shumake, ibid.

[17] Sally Miller Gearhart, “The Womanization of Rhetoric,” Women’s Studies International Quarterly 2 (1979) 195.

[18] Ibid., 196.

[19] Ibid., 198.

[20] Ibid., 198.

[21] Sonja K. Foss and Karen A. Foss, Inviting Transformation: Presentational Speaking for a Changing World  (Illinois: Prospect Heights, 2003) v.

[22] Sonja K. Foss and Cindy L. Griffin, “A Feminist Perspective on Rhetorical Theory: Toward a Clarification of Boundaries,” Western Journal of Communication 56 (Fall 1992) 338.

[23] Ibid. Schlueter suggests a “Feminist Homiletics” like Starhawks, noting “interdependence of nature and all human beings,” that is a narrative imagination which tells stories and experiences of people, above all, women. See Carol J. Schlueter, “Feminist Homiletics: Strategies for Empowerment,” in Women’s Studies: Theological Reflection, Celebration, Action (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1995) 138-151.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Sonja K. Foss and Cindy L. Griffin, “Beyond Persuasion: A Proposal for and Invitational Rhetoric,” presented at the Speech Communication Association Convention (1993).

[26] Gearhart, 196.

[27] Foss & Foss, Inviting Transformation, 5.

[28] Foss & Griffin, “Beyond Persuasion,” (1993) and Foss & Griffin, Communication Monographs 62 (1995) 7. The paper presented at the convention was later republished.

[29] Foss & Griffin (1993).

[30] Ibid.

[31] Foss & Foss, Inviting Transformation,  9.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ibid., 10.

[34] Ibid., 10-15.

[35] Ibid., 35-39.

[36] Douglas Brent, “Rogerian Rhetoric: An Alternative to Traditional Rhetoric” in the Argument Revisited, Argument Redefined: Negotiating Meaning in the Composition Classroom. Ed. Barabara Emmel, Paula Resch, and Deborah Tenny, (Sage, 1996), 73-96.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Ibid.

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Foss & Foss, Inviting Transformation, 10.

[43] Shumake, “Reconceptualizing Communication and Rhetoric (2002).”

[44] Ibid.

[45] Carl R. Rogers, “The Interpersonal Relationship: The Core of Guidance,” Harvard Education Review 32 (1962) 425.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Foss & Foss, Inviting Transformation, 36.

[48] Ibid., 38.

[49] Ibid., 39.

[50] Ibid., 37.

[51] Foss & Griffin, “Beyond Persuasion(1993).

[52] Rogers, “The Interpersonal Relationship” 426.

[53] Carl R. Rogers, On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1961).

[54] Foss & Foss, Inviting Transformation, 10-11.

[55] Ibid.,13.

[56] Ibid.

[57] Paul Bator, “Aristotelian and Rogerian Rhetoric,” College Composition and Communication 31 (1980) p.428. Cf. Aristotle’s Rhetoric. i. 2.

[58] Ibid., 428.

[59] Andrea A. Lunsford, “Aristotelian vs. Rogerian Argument: A Reassessment,” College Composition and Communication 30 (1979) 148. Cf. Aristotle Rhetoric ii, 1.

[60] Ibid.

[61] Ibid.

[62] Aristotle, The Rhetoric of Aristotle, trans. lane Cooper (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1960)

II, ii, 22 p.156.

[63] Lundsford, “Aristotelian vs. Rogerian Argument,” 149.

[64] Ibid., 150.

[65] Maxine Hairston, “Carl Rogers’s Alternative to Traditional Rhetoric,” College Composition and Communication 27 (1976) 373.

[66] Ibid., 373.

[67] Foss & Foss, Inviting Transformation, 9.

[68] Plato, Meno (Cambridge: Hackett Publishing Company, 1976) trans. G.M.A. Grube, 3.

[69] Ibid., 20.

[70] Ibid., 19.

[71] Cf. Starhawk, The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1989).

[72] Foss & Griffin, “A Feminist Perspective on Rhetorical Theory,” 334.

[73] Aristotle, On Rhetoric: A Theory of Civic Discourse, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991) trans. George A. Kennedy, I, 47-118.

[74] Hairston, “Carl Rogers’s Alternative,” 373.

[75] James J. Murphy, “Saint Augustine and the Debate about a Christian Rhetoric,” The Quarterly Journal of Speech 46 (1960).

[76] Ibid. 403.

[77] Ibid.

[78] Richard Lischer, A Theology of Preaching: The Dynamics of the Gospel (Nashville: Abingdon, 1981) 82.

[79] Ibid., 83.

[80] Richard Lischer, “Preaching as the Church’s Language,” in Listening to the Word: Studies in Honor of Fred B. Craddock (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1993) 122.

[81] Ibid., 121.

[82] Ibid., 122.

[83] Ibid., 128.

[84] Richard Lischer, “Why I am Not Persuasive,” Homiletic 24 (Winter 1999) 15.

[85] Ibid., 16.

[86] Ibid.

[87] Richard Lischer, “Interview with Richard Lischer & William Willimon,” Homiletic 20 (winter 1995).

[88] Ibid.

[89] Richard Lischer, “Preaching and the Rhetoric of Promise,” Word & World 8 (1988) 71.

[90] Lischer, “Why I Am Not Persuasive,” 13.

[91] Ibid.

[92] Ibid., 15.

[93] Lischer, “Preaching and the Rhetoric of Promise,” 68.

[94] Ibid., 70.

[95] John Thornhill, “Is Religion The Enemy of Faith?” Theological Studies 45 (1984) 256. Cf. Thomas McDonough, The Law and the Gospel in Luther: A Study of Martin Luther’s Confessional Writings (Oxford University Press, 1963) 27.

[96] Ibid., 260.

[97] Ibid.

[98] Ibid., 268.

[99] Ibid., 270.

[100] Ibid., 271.

[101] Son Young-Jin, “Is Christology of Karl Barth ‘from-above’?” presented at the K.Barth Society in Korea (February 2000). I translated and summarized from Korean. Cf.

[102] Son quotes, Die Kirchliche Dogmatik,  IV/3,1 106-188

[103] Ibid., IV/3.1.131.

[104] Lucy Lind Hogan, “Rethinking Persuasion: Developing an Incarnational Theology of Preaching,” Homiletic 24 (Winter 1999), 4.

[105] Ibid., 5.

[106] Ibid.

[107] Ibid., 6.

[108] Ibid., 8.

[109] For instance, Rose also emphasizes “the partnership between preacher and congregation”(89) and “mutual transformation (102).” She also states that “This nonhierarchical ethos perhaps leads those who are ordained to resist monopolizing the pulpit and to re-envision their role as ensuring that preaching occurs.”(123) See, Lucy A. Rose, Sharing the Word: Preaching in the Roundtable Church (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1997).

[110] Cicero, On the Ideal Orator(De Oratore) trans. by James M. May, Jakob Wisse (Oxford, 2001) 23.

[111] Richard Park, “Cicero and Augustine,” A Term Paper for the Graduate Class (Classical Rhetorical Theory 200: Professor Caroline Humfress, Fall 2001, UC Berkeley) 6. In this essay, I have written a chapter dealing with a philosophical quarrel, a short history of philosophers' assault on rhetoric since the antiquity.

[112] Isocrates, “Against the Sophists” Course Reader for Rhetoric 200 (UC Berkeley, Fall 2001) 41.

[113] Plato, Gorgias (Oxford, 1994). trans. Robin Waterfield, 463a.

[114] Charles S. Baldwin, Medieval Rhetoric and Poetic (Gloucester, 1959) 7.

[115] Hogan, “Rethinking Persuasion,” 9.

[116] Aristotle, On Rhetoric(Oxford, 1991), I.1.14.

[117] Kenneth Burke, A Rhetoric of Motives  (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1950) 172.

[118] Sonja K. Foss, Karen A. Foss, and Robert Trapp, Contemporary Perspectives on Rhetoric (Illinois: Prospect Heights, 2002) 212.

[119] Richard M. Weaver, Language is Sermonic: Richard M. Weaver on the Nature of Rhetoric, ed. Richard L. Johannesen, Rennard Strickland, and Ralph T. Eubanks (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1970) 224.

[120] Ch. Perelman and L. Olbrechts-Tyteca, The New Rhetoric: A Treatise on Argumentation (London: University of Notre Dame Press, 1969) trans. John Wilkinson and Purcell Weaver, 55.

[121] Craig R. Smith, Rhetoric & Human Consciousness: A History (Illinois: Prospect Heights, 2003) 4.

[122] James A. Herrick, The History and Theory of Rhetoric: An Introduction (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2001) 15.

[123] Ibid., 16.

[124] Ibid., 15-23.

[125] Lucy L. Hogan and Robert Reid, in Connecting with the Congregation: Rhetoric and the Art of Preaching (Nashville:Abingdon, 1999, p.19) state that homiletics must make “rhetorical turn” because “no body of inquiry can escape the fact that it conducts its talk and research by way of words and persuasion,” recognizing that the phrase used across the disciplines, as I have shown, is applicable to contemporary rhetoricians’ perspectives so far. Also, reflecting late Barth and Augustine’s ‘united’ Incarnational theology that binds “from-above” Christology and “from-below”, Kay’s understanding persuasion as just human and even ‘Pelagian’ seems flawed (James F. Kay, “Reorientation: homiletics as theologically authorized rhetoric,” Princeton Seminary Bulletin 24/2003, pp.16-35). Furthermore, Klemm argues that “theology is eminently rhetorical—and in need of new rhetoric.” He states, “Hence theology must rely on figurative uses of language to speak about, to, from God. This draws theology into the domain of rhetoric, for doubleness of meaning is at the heart of both.” Klemm reminds us of Burke’s statement, “where there is meaning there is persuasion.” See David E. Klemm, “Toward a Rhetoric of Postmodern Theology: Through Barth and Heidegger,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 55 (1987) 444. Moreover, Harrick’s perspective of functional rhetoric, the suspicion towards modern liberalism may be paraphrased as ‘testing its ideas’ and  “building community,” which are two additions to the five functions of rhetoric. Even Son Young Jin understands Barth’ Christology not so much as “linear” or “from-to” as “circular” because it has been built on the theology of the Trinity. Son understands the Christology of Barth as “divided” into the three functions of priest, king, and prophet, but at the same time “unified.” (Son Young Jin, “Is Christology of K. Barth “from-above”?")


[126] Although, even Campbell, a feminist rhetorician, argues that “the rhetoric of the women’s liberation is distinctive stylistically in rejecting certain traditional concepts of the rhetorical process—as persuasion of the many by an expert or leader.”(400)  She admits that “this rather anti-rhetorical style is chosen on substantive grounds because rhetorical transactions with these features encourage submissiveness and passivity in the audience—quality at odds with a fundamental goal of feminist advocacy, self-determination”(Ibid). See, Karlyn K. Campbell, “The Rhetoric of Women’s Liberation,” in Contemporary Rhetorical Theory: A Reader (New York: The Guild Press, 1999) edited by, John L. Lucaites, Celeste M. Condit, and Sally Caudill.

[127] Hogan, “Rethinking Persuasion,” 10.

[128] Ibid.

[129] Ibid., 10-11.

[130] Augustine, De Doctrina Christiana, IV, xv 32.

[131] DDC., IV xxx 63.

[132] Cf. Corinthian 1:31; Wisdom 7:16.

[133] DDC., IV ii 3.

[134] DDC., II xix 28.

[135] David J. Hesselgrave, “’Gold from Egypt’:The Contribution of Rhetoric to Cross-Cultural Communication,”  Missiology:An International Review  4 (1976) 89.

[136] Charles W.Carter, R. Duane Thompson, and Charles R. Wilson ed.  A Contemporary Wesleyan Theology (Grand Rapids: Francis Asbury Press, 1983).

[137] Ibid., 806-807.

[138] Ibid., 807.

[139] Ibid., 808.

[140] Phillips Brooks, The Joy of Preaching, (originally Lectures on Preaching) (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1989) 25.

[141] Ibid., 27.