The Christian faith depends to a great degree on persuasion. In one of his letters to early Christians, the apostle Paul wrote, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone” (Col. 4:6). Yet rhetoric—the art of persuasion—has been largely ignored by most Christians.
In this book, James Beitler seeks to renew interest in and hunger for an effective Christian rhetoric by closely considering the work of five beloved Christian communicators: C. S. Lewis, Dorothy L. Sayers, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Desmond Tutu, and Marilynne Robinson. Moreover, he situates these reflections within the Christian liturgical seasons for the essential truths they convey.
These writers collectively demonstrate that being a master of rhetoric is not antithetical to authentic Christian witness. Indeed, being a faithful disciple of Christ means practicing a rhetoric that beneficially and persuasively imparts the surprising truth of the gospel. It means having seasoned speech.
It is often very hard to see the obvious—that is, something as basic as the eloquence required for the proclamation of the gospel. But Beitler helps us recognize that the simple truth has an unmistakable eloquence, which is why it matters that we take lessons from the classical rhetorical tradition. Readers of this book will discover that the rhetorical task and questions of the truth of what we believe cannot be separated.
—Stanley Hauerwas, author of The Character of Virtue: Letters to a Godson
In Seasoned Speech, James Beitler gives us a deep and subtle meditation on the many rhetorics of Christian witness—the enormously varied ways that the language of extraordinary and ordinary saints bear forth the gospel. To read this book is to be impressed by the author’s scholarship but still more by the love with which he explores the relationship between our words and the Word.
—Alan Jacobs, distinguished professor of humanities, honors program, Baylor University
This is an enlightening and fascinating exploration of five witnesses to the Christian faith and gospel. Even more, these diverse truth bearers—C. S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Desmond Tutu, and Marilynne Robinson—function as lenses through which James Beitler III shows how the Word, liturgy, and life weave together rhetorically in faithful witness in differing contexts. Beitler’s treatment is itself a keen example of seasoned speech, an embodied and intensely personal witness tinged with liturgical overtones. The effect of Beitler’s evocative analysis is twofold: to encourage the reader to a self-examination of one’s own Christian self, and to invite the reader to participate in the kind of embodied witness that Christian existence entails
—André Resner, professor of homiletics and liturgics, Hood Theological Seminary
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