Inductive preaching with clarity: Qualifying a preacher's employment of Jesus' parable method
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This dissertation examines Jesus' parable methodology as recorded in Matthew and asks if modern preaching that emulates his method requires any qualifications. Chapter 1 surveys the interest Jesus' preaching methods receive from modern homileticians and establishes the thesis that modern preachers must resist the temptation to preach purely inductive sermons that draw no definite conclusions simply because Jesus' parables often possessed an inconclusive quality. Chapter 2 examines various descriptions of Jesus' preaching style and surmises that presuppositions play an important role in one's view of Jesus' methods. Specifically, this chapter advocates two primary considerations for determining the form of a sermon: the audience and the purpose of the speaker. Chapters 3 and 4 look specifically at Jesus' words with the former examining Jesus' stated reasons for speaking in parables. The latter analyzes four representative sample parables from Matthew's Gospel. Chapter 5 explores Matthew's purposes for writing the Gospel. This helps establish a comparison between Jesus' stated reasons for speaking in parables with Matthew's reasons for writing. Chapter 6 surveys rhetorical devices employed by Matthew to persuade his audience of his beliefs about Jesus. Included in this chapter is a discussion on whether preachers holding to biblical inspiration must mimic the form of the passage in their preaching. Chapter 7 explores two sermons from the apostles Peter and Paul, specifically looking for inconclusive endings to see if they felt it necessary to emulate Jesus' methodology. In addition, a brief examination of the parable of the mirror found in James 1:23 provides an early church comparison to Jesus' parable method. Chapter 8 applies the conclusions of the previous chapters to modern preaching. It gives three components necessary for ensuring effective communication takes place. This dissertation contends that one of Jesus' primary purposes for speaking parables concealed his message from portions of his audience. In contrast, modern preachers must seek to clearly proclaim their message of Christ crucified to their audiences. Because of different purposes, those preachers seeking to emulate Jesus' parable methodology should modify his method by giving an interpretation of their parable to their audience in order to minimize misunderstanding.