Augustine’s 3 goals will score

Pattie Crider

WRT 305

Response  10

October 2, 2013

Augustine the party boy

Augustine the party boy


Augustine’s 3 goals will score

Augustine used rhetoric to achieve three goals: to instruct, to please and to persuade.  He believed in using three styles of speech, subdued, moderate and grand, to achieve his three goals.  The application of this rhetorical approach to Christian doctrine is an effective way to formulate a sermon and share with an audience. Augustine is now a saint, so he apparently knew what he was preaching about.

So does Augustine’s method work in the twenty-first century? Yes, it does, and this is how.  Augustine taught Christianity to an audience or congregation, in person, using the appropriate style to properly inform, please and persuade. Presently, preachers are doing the same, only now, they are on television or the Internet. The change of setting does not change the development process or the way the speech is delivered.

When a preacher wants to teach, they speak in a subdued tone, allowing the information to register with the listener. When a preacher wants to please an audience, such as retelling a Biblical story or passage, a more lively style of delivery is used to draw them in with their words. And when a preacher feels action from an individual is necessary, his words will be shared in grand eloquence, demanding the listening ear of the audience.

Augustine noted that the delivery of a speech seeking to achieve his goal may need to be adjusted depending on the audience. I understood that to mean, if his audience would benefit (learn) from a more or less dramatic speech, then it should be so adjusted. Preaching on television or online (and I haven’t watched much) seems to regularly be in the grand style. This could be for many reasons, possibly because the preacher knows the sermon can be viewed by an unlimited number of people.

I’m not a fan of preachers on television or the Internet because so many in the past have fallen short of being “good men” and failed miserably at having a “divine love” for God. Their motives seem driven by dramatic speeches in hopes of receiving monetary donations. Do all preachers who have a presence on television or even YouTube mean they are not “good men”? Of course not, but I would prefer to be taught, pleased or persuaded by a preacher that stands before their congregation and moves me to action in person with their language.

What I Have Learned About Rhetoric That I Didn’t Know Before

Pattie Crider

WRT 305

Response 1

August 30, 2013

rhetorical thinking

rhetorical thinking

What I Have Learned About Rhetoric That I Didn’t Know Before

I started this class having never given much thought to rhetoric- the definition or the origin of the word. It sounded Greek. I knew that it had to do with language and the manipulation of language, beyond that I was pitifully ignorant. What I learned is, there are endless definitions and examples of what and how rhetoric is used in language, with the intent to persuade a consumer. This did not surprise me, as all written word is bias, and has influence in some fashion to the consumer. The two most interesting things I learned in the reading were how important rhetoric became in spreading the word of Christianity and second, how long it took for women to be accepted as rhetorical thinkers.

Rhetoric has negativity permanently attached to it because of its ability to persuade people. The persuasive orators in history would use fact, logic and emotional appeal to capture and affectively change the thinking, or at minimum, cause a new type of thought, within their audience. The spread of Christianity was done primarily through oral speeches to massive crowds. The speaker, whether a priest, a disciple or Jesus himself, would lecture, and the crowd listen, open to learning about this new religion call Christianity. Not only did Christianity use rhetoric to inform and persuade, it influenced the composition of religious writing. In time, a “handbook” for Christians was created that was stylistic in format and text, using punctuation to make the written word clear to be read, rather than heard. This may very well be the most effective use of rhetoric in history as Christianity has managed to spread worldwide since medieval times.

I knew that it took until the Renaissance period for women’s writing to at least be acknowledged, but it surprised me to read that “almost all women were forbidden to speak in public.” I don’t know exactly what is written by the Apostle Paul that upset Margaret Fell in the late Seventeenth century, but I applaud her for aggressively defending the rights of women to have a voice among the dominating men. It was a start that took two more centuries to finally cause a change. Honestly, that blows my mind. Even in the Twenty-first century, males continue to be the dominant of sexes in positions that use rhetoric. Be it lawyers, priests or writers, women have not reached the same level of acceptance that men have been given since the first orator prepared, memorized and addressed the public with his speech.

Tragedy at Waco 1993

     David Koresh, leader of the Branch Davidians in Waco, TX, was an expert at making conventional Christian doctrine and ideology support himself as the second Christ.  Using the Bible, particularly the Books of Daniel, Psalms, Isaiah and Revelation, he preached to his followers about the impending apocalypse and his own involvement in causing its start.

     Koresh’s Biblical apocalypticism was based on sacred text, (The Bible) an inspired interpreter, (Koresh) and the fluid context which an interpreter finds himself in.  (The government controlled the context ie: hostage rescue)  Koresh and his followers were deeply devoted to studying Biblical text.  Drawing from the Book of Revelation Koresh’s message was “highly systematic, rigidly consistent, and internally logical.”  According to his interpretation, Babylon, found in the Book of Revelation was the “evil government” and the federal agents sent on the purposed rescue mission were representing the 5th Seal.  To Koresh and his followers, surrendering to anyone but God was out of the question unless Koresh received word from God to do so. 

     This delay caused by Koresh waiting to receive God’s instructions irked those in charge.  The FBI was frustrated at the stand-off and showed little interest in hearing what Koresh had to say.  To them his words were senseless and those of a man with psychological problems.  The letters Koresh had written to explain his ideologies were passed off as babble and very little attention was given to understanding Koresh’s true intentions. 

     Sadly, the FBI promoted the persecution of Koresh and charged that he was a cult leader, child abuser, and rapist.  During the stand-off no proof was ever found to back these vicious statements.  As with Early Christians, persecution of new ideas was common.  Koresh expected to be persecuted just as Jesus Christ himself had been.  The Early Christians were prisoners to Roman Authority and now in 1993, Koresh who declared himself the second Christ based on Psalms and Isaiah mentioning the second Christ by the name Koresh, was under the same threat.   He believed and convinced his followers that they were being taken prisoners under governmental authority. 

      The whole scenario of this hostage rescue situation has an apocalyptic theme.  Preaching of the immanent return of Christ has taken place ever since his death.  It is a violent, fiery prediction based on the Book of Revelations.  In Koresh’s eyes, the attack of his fortress could only be viewed as the start of apocalyptic times.  There was no other way for this group of devoted Christians to view it as anything but the end.  The only statement Koresh gave to the FBI was they would leave the compound when God told him it was time.

     During the stand-off Koresh spent the majority of his time reading The Bible and trying to understand for himself what was taking place.  The letters he wrote and gave to his lawyer were passed on for examination to a college professor with no religious background,.  His determination that a peaceful end to the stand-off was not possible led to the FBI’s use of a gas attack on the compound.  The attack was tragic as the compound caught fire, trapping the innocent people inside and taking their lives. 

     There are many ways this stand-off could have gone differently.  Had the FBI made sincere attempts and sent agents with religious backgrounds to handle the negotiations or even brought in an outsider with knowledge of The Bible, perhaps this could have ended peacefully.  I don’t believe Koresh was purposely trying to cause the 5th Seal to be broken thus leading the government to attack.  Based on the reading, Koresh appeared to be forth-coming with his beliefs and reasoning for the accumulation of weapons.  The FBI was angered by Koresh’s absolute refusal to surrender to them and chose to take matters into their own hands.

     The entire rescue mission, based on false information of abuse ended the lives of 130 men, women and children.  Clearly these were unnecessary deaths at the hands of government intent on forcing a man to follow their commands.  Had someone in charge had the sense to send in people open to understanding a new religious ideology, this tragedy could have been avoided.  This incident left a black mark on our government’s historical record of backing religious freedom and ended the careers of many high level figures of the U.S. government.


Indulgences For Sale

Yo Pope! We don't need no stinkin' indulgences!


Pattie Crider

Group 1 Response 4

Luther’s 95 Theses

 Indulgences for sale!  Get your Indulgences!

      The clearest concern found in Luther’s 95 Theses is the issuance of indulgences by the papacy.  At least 54 of the 95 clearly are directed at the receipt or issue of indulgences.  Luther believed the Catholic Church was greedy for taking money from even the poorest people.  In exchange the Pope forgave them of their sins in the name of God.  This is a clear problem in Luther’s opinion and his 95 Theses addressed this issue with bold words and new perspectives.

      Luther was thought of as a rogue priest in his actions of nailing 95 Theses to the Catholic Church door on the eve of All Saints Day.  This document was certain to raise a stir as Luther addressed his concerns.  These concerns would cause a serious financial issue for the Catholic Church.  Luther stated a true believer does not need to purchase his/her salvation.  Also, salvation cannot be bought for someone who is deceased.  The Church found this threatening because the sale of indulgences was a major source of its income.  The building projects in Rome during the early 16th Century were financed by the sale of indulgences.  To Luther, this was the church “selling grace” and from his perspective, unacceptable.  (Chidester pg 316)

      Luther’s 95 Theses was viciously biting toward the Pope.  He clearly had issues with the papacy and the payments they received for pardoning the transgressions of Christian sinners.  That is, the sinners who had enough money to buy an indulgence.  Luther raised this question to Christians: Does the Pope truly have the authority to grant forgiveness?  He also directly questioned the Pope on why his personal funds are not used in establishing new church construction. 

      Luther did not stop at just stating a believer didn’t need to purchase an indulgence.  He wrote that purchasing indulgences does nothing to save your soul and instead condemns it.  Further, he instructs Christians to provide for their families before paying the church for an indulgence letter and followed that with telling Christians the act of giving their money to help the poor is more pleasing to God than the purchase of indulgences.  He also explained that buying an indulgence letter is strictly voluntary.

     The perspective of all people having the ability to be saved by God without the means of purchasing a letter of indulgence seriously conflicted with what the Catholic Church was teaching.  Luther’s statements, especially his razor-edged cuts at the papacy certainly put their robes in a twist.  The Pope wanted people to believe their sins were forgiven through an indulgence letter because the Churches financial security depended on it.

      According to Luther, there were no guarantees in these indulgence letters.   Also, one should not take them so seriously that they lose their fear of God.  The fear was that humans would use the indulgences to assure themselves they are in good graces with God.  In doing this they would no longer fear the wrath of God and the possibility of eternal suffering in hell.  Luther believed it was in vain to think these papers would get you a golden ticket to Heaven. 

     To at least limit the churches influence on Christians concerning indulgences Luther wrote that preaching about indulgences for half or more of a sermon is injurious to God’s Word. He compares the receipt of indulgences to the nets of fisherman which now fishes for the wealth of men.  These are harsh words against the powerful papacy.  The controversial 95 Theses spread quickly by means of the printing press and the church had to respond.

     The Catholic Church found their priest to be a heretic and erroneous in his theses.  Luther was given the chance to take back all he had written but instead he showed he could be even more defiant.  His life was spared but he was excommunicated in January 1521.  (Chidester pg. 317)  Though he was kicked out of the Catholic Church, Luther’s perspectives carried on.  It was his Christian ideologies that led to the establishment of the Lutheran faith.

PS. I received an A on this paper.  🙂

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