Date of Award

12-2014

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Communication Studies

First Advisor

Steven Venette, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Communication Studies

Abstract

Though the connection between the study of rhetorical processes and the practice of expository preaching is obvious, academic cooperation between the two fields is lacking. This case study presents an example of the harmony achievable between the disciplines through the production of constructive criticism, a process known to communication scholars as rhetorical analysis, for a sample of sermons given by Pastor Melissa Scott in recent years. Scott, whose preaching style is uniquely centered on translation-based exposition, represents the modern pastor whose skill and technique might be improved upon with the implementation of recent and emerging communication theory. Specifically, this study demonstrates the ability of four theories known and taught by communication scholars to dissect the structure of an argument and detect its strengths and weaknesses. After analyzing the sample with the structural concepts behind the Toulmin Model, Monroe’s Motivated Sequence, transformative explanation, and metanarration, the research becomes capable of identifying and correcting the common mistakes in Scott’s sermons. The most prominent examples of these corrections included providing one’s audience with a visualization of successful implementation of one’s ideas and, when addressing a paradigm shift, acknowledging the merit of the popular opinion before demonstrating its inadequacy as thoroughly as possible. As a result, this study serves as a display of the usefulness of communication theory to those who preach, in hope that it will spur further interest in its dissemination to today’s pastoral rhetors.

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