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                                                     On Three Preaching Styles of Augustine

                                                                                                            Dr. Richard Park


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First homiletician in the christian history who wrote textbook of homiletic was st. Augustine. The book is titled as De Doctrina Christiana. Especially in book IV we find a lot of helps for preachers. Today I like to introduce you the major theory of preaching of Augustine. Augustine also learned his rhetoric from Cicero and applied for his theory.

"It has been said by a man of eloquence, and quite rightly, that the eloquent should speak in such a way as to instruct, delight, and move their listeners. He then added: ‘instructing is a matter of necessity, delighting a matter of charm, and moving them a matter of conquest."

“Dixit enim quidam eloquens, et verum dixit, ita dicere debere eloquentem ut doceat, ut delectet, ut flectat. Deinde addidit, docere necessitatis est, delectare suavitatis, flectere victoriae.” Augustine De Doctrina Christiana, R.P.H. Green Clarendon Press Oxford, p.229)

I realized this Augustine's theory is more than one of style. It has to do with all other canons of rhetoric. Easily speaking, preacher should teach, please and move the audience. Preacher should be like teacher or professor in the classroom. Preacher should be like novelist, poet, or comedian. Preacher should be like leader of demonstration and fighter for the justice like Che Gevara. For me, I apply this theory into our sermon composition. In our sermon, we have to have all these three aspects: teaching, pleasing, and moving. Preachers should explain well from the text exegetically and biblically like professor. Preachers should please audience using illustrations and metaphors and stories and images using imagination. Preacher should persuade audience to act and change their action appealing them to their emotion and action. In one sermon preachers should combine all these three strategies of preaching. 1/3 for explanation of text, 1/3 for illustration of message, 1/3 application of message! This has to do with invention of what to preach. In our sermon we have to have these three aspects: explanation of text, illustration of message and application of message to their lives. Do we have these three aspects in our sermon?

When you fill the blank spaces of Flower Preaching, you should think of these three aspects. You should have in your Flower Preaching explanations, illustration, and application for each points and movements. Or you can have these three moves in your sermon: 1. Explanation 2. Illustration 3. Application.

So now you see this theory of Augustine has to do with invention not only arrangement. Now I will show you this theory also has to do with style of preachers. When you write sermon, you should remember all the time your written style or speech style should have these three elements: Do your style have teaching style, pleasing style, and moving style? Can audience learn something from you? Can audience have fun to listen to you? Can audience be moved and persuaded by you? Remember when you write or preach to have these three styles.

Also this theory has to do with delivery. When you teach, your tone of delivery is low. When you please your tone of delivery is middle. When you move and persuade, your tone of delivery is high. It is like accelerating mountain! Your voice should have these three heights and tones. Not only one tone! Intentionally mark and practice that you have three different heights of tone in your sermon. Now practice. For me, after I wrote my sermon, while reading again and again I use blue and red pen to mark. I mark three arrows where I should raise my voice to move and emphasize to the highest volume. Now let us practice this! Practice to preach with three different tones! Some intelligent preachers always use their tone as low and make audience to sleep. Some delightful preachers always make audience to laugh but nothing to hear and nothing to change. Some always serious preachers make audience too tired with his always highest voice. Keep balance in one sermon!

Augustine analyzed each Bibles and holy authors who use all different three styles, and he also analyzed great preachers and their sermon with these three different styles, and found sometimes they mixed it. This is genius preaching theory of Augustine about three styles!