A methodological correlation exists between one's theology of Scripture and one's homiletical theory. In order to demonstrate this methodological correlation, two theological positions on Scripture and two streams of homiletical theory will be analyzed to determine points of connection. David Buttrick and John Stott represent two divergent theologies of Scripture and theories of homiletics. Thus, their works provide evidence that certain theological convictions about Scripture lead toward certain homiletical theories. An investigation of the interrelation between a person's theology of Scripture and his or her homiletical theory establishes that one's theology of Scripture is a decisive factor for the development of his or her homiletical theory.
Preaching deals with biblical truth and ideas. A theology of preaching deals with the answers to biblical and theological questions that provide for the act of preaching. Theologically, preaching involves the coalescing of biblical and theological principles with the interpretive and practical aspects of the preaching task. The primary emphasis is on the ways the Bible informs the preaching responsibility.
Homiletical theory pertains to the devices advanced for sermon development. Among others, two broad streams of thought exist in the field of homiletics: the new homiletic and expository preaching. These two streams of thought favor different concepts of oral communication, hermeneutics, and homiletical theory. In general, the new homiletic tends toward audience-based rhetorical devices, an antiauthoritarian approach to biblical interpretation, and an inductive/narrative/psychological approach to homiletics. In contrast, expository homiletical thought inclines toward text-based communication, text-focused hermeneutical approaches, and propositional/deductive homiletical devices. Buttrick's homiletical theory is consistent with the presuppositions and conclusions of the new homiletic. In contrast, Stott's homiletic adheres to the concepts of expository preaching.
A clear line of reasoning may be developed from David Buttrick's theological beliefs about the Bible to his philosophical antecedents to his linguistic principles to his homiletical theory and finally to his homiletical methodology. Buttrick's homiletical works reveal that his theological beliefs have influenced his hermeneutical approach, which has in turn resulted in a homiletic that embraces the new hermeneutical approach to language. Buttrick's attempt to achieve such an integration relies upon the coalescence of phenomenology and rhetoric. Buttrick gives himself to this task as a result of the interpretive freedom that his theology of Scripture provides for him.
For Buttrick, preaching has its own inherent authority and power that are not anchored in the inherent authority and power of the Bible. Preachers are merely one group in a company of literary and oratorical professions that use the power of language. David Buttrick attempts to combine the philosophical theory of phenomenology with the preaching responsibility. His desire is to merge modern science and rhetoric so as to unlock the mind of the congregation.
Stott's theology of Scripture is rooted in the Scripture itself. His authority for making theological claims about the Bible are taken from the Bible itself. Stott believes the preacher's "task is to enable God's revealed truth to flow out of the Scriptures into the lives of the men and women of today." The challenge for the Christian communicator is to create a dynamic balance in preaching by refusing "to sacrifice truth to relevance or relevance to truth." Stott's homiletical theory seeks to provide his readers with a system for accomplishing this dynamic balance. Theology determines the preaching event. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)