Participation Type

Paper

Presentation #1 Abstract

Perhaps the most reliably documented of John Wesley’s eighteenth-century evangelical revival sermons is Scriptural Christianity, the Methodist movement founder’s controversial sermon delivered at Oxford University, in St. Mary’s Church, on August 24, 1744, for which he would permanently lose his University preaching privileges. This paper briefly offers an introductory profile of the setting and occasion, then analyzes the sermon text’s rhetorical form and features. Rhetorical analysis reveals that Wesley devises a primarily antithetical rhetorical pattern of argument by contrasting the common characteristics of early Christians, the primitive church, and the eschatological church with the lack of these essential characteristics in his present audience. In conventional neoclassical sermonic style, Wesley energizes his crescendo conclusion with emotive appeal, but attaches an atypical evangelical challenge which largely produces the academic audience’s rejection of his message. The contributions of this paper are its general profile of the eighteenth-century neoclassical Anglican sermon, its attention to the dynamic of audience expectations in sermonic setting, and its broader proposal that antithesis is the primary rhetorical characteristic of Wesley’s sermonic style.

At-A-Glance Bios- Presenter #1

Jim R. Coleman (PhD, University of Manchester, England; M.Div., Asbury Theological Seminary; M.A. Speech Communication, Missouri State University) is Assistant Professor and Chair of Religion at Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro, KY. Rev. Dr. Coleman is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church and has pastored congregations in Georgia and Kentucky.

Start Date

10-21-2017 2:00 PM

End Date

10-21-2017 4:00 PM

Share

COinS
 
Oct 21st, 2:00 PM Oct 21st, 4:00 PM

Text and Performance in John Wesley's Final Oxford Sermon: Antithesis and Appeal in Scriptural Christianity

Perhaps the most reliably documented of John Wesley’s eighteenth-century evangelical revival sermons is Scriptural Christianity, the Methodist movement founder’s controversial sermon delivered at Oxford University, in St. Mary’s Church, on August 24, 1744, for which he would permanently lose his University preaching privileges. This paper briefly offers an introductory profile of the setting and occasion, then analyzes the sermon text’s rhetorical form and features. Rhetorical analysis reveals that Wesley devises a primarily antithetical rhetorical pattern of argument by contrasting the common characteristics of early Christians, the primitive church, and the eschatological church with the lack of these essential characteristics in his present audience. In conventional neoclassical sermonic style, Wesley energizes his crescendo conclusion with emotive appeal, but attaches an atypical evangelical challenge which largely produces the academic audience’s rejection of his message. The contributions of this paper are its general profile of the eighteenth-century neoclassical Anglican sermon, its attention to the dynamic of audience expectations in sermonic setting, and its broader proposal that antithesis is the primary rhetorical characteristic of Wesley’s sermonic style.