Notes on 'gospel vehicles' and rhetoric
Rev. John Payne, executive director of development for San Francisco Theological Seminary, was prompted to share a comment after reading yesterday's blog, "How to bridge into new cultures."
He related a point Rev. Louis M. Evans made to him years ago in Tulsa: "John, the message of the Gospel is constant, never changing. But our understanding of the Gospel changes as we mature in the faith; and the vehicle by which the Gospel is shared with different generations and cultures must change so people can hear in their own language."
Dr. Corey Schlosser-Hall, director of communication for Seattle Presbytery wrote to say, "One of the most influential communication scholars of the 20th century -- Kenneth Burke -- said that 'rhetoric' (meaning communication with the intent to coordinate or move to action, alter belief, change attitudes) is not about 'persuasion' as much as it is about 'identification.' By identification, he meant what you are saying -- building a bridge with an audience so that they can see themselves participating in the identity you are inviting them to adopt. Starbucks invites the French to an American coffee with French pastries -- building a bridge of identification -- making it inviting for folks to try on the coffee by accompanying it with something they already identify with. I often think of words like clothing. When I try it on does it fit? And change happens when the language, image, practice inspires us beyond fit to something greater than ourselves. That nudge, stretch, synapse between fit and something new is the space in which this art you are talking about becomes, well, mysterious -- artful not scientific, Godís room to move."
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-- Dave Hackett