David S. Cunningham
In Faithful Persuasion, David S. Cunningham offers the contemporary era’s first sustained account of the relationship between rhetoric and Christian theology. Cunningham argues that Christian thinkers should abandon their attempts to codify argumentation within the canons of formal logic and suggests that they should instead come to a more organic understanding of the process of persuasion. This rhetorical approach to theology can cast new light on longstanding theological controversies and establish a new agenda for the study of the methods, sources, and norms of Christian theology.
Drawing chiefly upon the rhetorical insights of Aristotle, and on the reappropriation of Aristotle’s views by numerous modern rhetoricians—ranging from John Henry Newman to Kenneth Burke and Chaim Perelman—Cunningham establishes a firm foundation from which to support his central assertion that ‘Christian theology can best be understood as a form of persuasive argument.’ In addition, he explores the implications of a rhetorical method for studies in doctrinal formulation, biblical exegesis, and church history.
Written for theologians, clergy members, and laypeople with a strong interest in theology, this book will introduce readers to the richness of the rhetorical tradition and its important implications for the discipline of Christian theology.
“This book is an important contribution to theological method and one that deserves a wide reading. Cunningham has explored a dimension of theology that has been almost entirely overlooked in the history of its disciplinary self-understanding, and he offers imaginative suggestions for the implementation of the approach he commends.” —Theological Studies
“This work will be widely appreciated by many. Certainly it falls within the great learned tradition of Cardinal Newman and Oxbridge theology over the last hundred years.” —Journal of Religion