Semeiotic Preaching — an ancient-future homiletical model for preaching in a postmodern digitised culture
The central theological argument in this thesis is to prove that semeiotic preaching is an effective ancient homiletical model for preaching (i.e. communicating) more effectively to the audiences of the digitised culture. This is attained by applying the prevailing rhetoric, founded on a combination of left-brain facts and right-brain creativity. This research has therefore focussed on four major questions based on the research model of Osmer: How can a descriptive-quantitative empirical research on semeiotic preaching, from ancient Biblical times until now, contribute to better communication to a postmodern digitised cultural context? How can an interpretative investigation into insights from the fields of Liturgics, Linguistics and Social Psychology contribute to analyse the need for semeiotic preaching in the problematic praxis of a digitised culture? How can a normative evaluation of semeiotic preaching help improve the praxis of effective communication in Biblical preaching to a digitised culture? How can an ancient-future homiletical model contribute to a new praxis for semeiotic preaching in a Reformed context that will be in harmony with the language of the digital culture? Semeiotic preaching is not a new right- brain, post-rational and intellectual homiletical model, but a whole-brain form of rhetoric that is proven Biblically. The results of the quantitative empirical survey conducted for this thesis have indicated that church audiences are in favour of whole-brain memorable preaching. Human experience based on non-verbal language such as metaphors and imagination has become an important asset to knowledge but can also involve many risks. Utilising the whole brain enhances an eco-hermeneutical approach, inviting intra- and interdisciplinary subjects aimed at equipping the preacher with relevant techniques in order to address the problematic praxis, with subjects such as creativity, the art of persuasion, metaphors, narratives as well as ecclesiology, sacramental liturgy and missiology. A semeiotic sermon is an abductive incarnational act whereby one can hear, see and feel the message. A model such as visual-creative preaching can easily over-emphasise the focus on the preacher, the rhetoric or the entertainment of the audience. Therefore, semeiotic preaching is a balanced model. The new EPICx2 practical theory designed in this thesis endeavours to ensure that important balances between the right and the left brain are maintained, e.g. the balance, between passive listening, experiencing and participation. The triadic relationship between God’s will, human creativity (the art of persuasion, imagination, wordplay et cetera (etc.) and the work of the Holy Spirit is also an important principle to create a responsible ethics for semeiotic preaching. Some of the new techniques discovered include the following: the importance of whole-brain exegesis, the exegesis of metaphors and narratives, the praxis of the metaphorical image, the exegeting of the complete Biblical narratives. It also includes the inseparable relation between narrative and metaphor as well as the preaching and the liturgy, the use of imagination, creativity and the art of persuasion as rhetorical skills and the participation and experience of the audience. Semeiotic preaching does not aspire to increase either verbal or non-verbal information, but rather the experience\ing of creatively processed information with utilising more than one of the human senses. Much more could be done in this regard in future research and the term semeiotic preaching could possibly be changed to whole-brain expository preaching or homiletics.
- Theology