A Rhetoriographical Analysis of Argumentum ad Baculum in the Published Sermons of George Whitefield

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A Rhetoriographical Analysis of Argumentum ad Baculum in the Published Sermons of George Whitefield

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Title: A Rhetoriographical Analysis of Argumentum ad Baculum in the Published Sermons of George Whitefield
Author: Melton, Frankie Joe Jr
Advisor: Vogel, Robert A.
Abstract: This dissertation examines the use of argumentum ad baculum

in preaching in general and the sermons of George Whitefield in particular. Argumentum ad baculum

has traditionally been considered an informal fallacy of relevance. The fallacy can be

defined as an appeal to force or an appeal to fear. Chapter 1 discusses the relationship of

argumentum ad baculum with the empirical study of fear appeals and the rhetorical use of

pathos. Attention is also given to the preaching of Whitefield and his place in the history

of preaching as an innovator. Whitefield's role in the shift to a more passionate and

emotional sermon style is noted. The chapter also addresses the challenges a study of

Whitefield's sermons presents.

Chapter 2 is devoted to defining argumentum ad baculum, examining the

history of the phrase, the two ways it has been defined, the nature of it as a fallacy, and

fear appeals as a part of the definition. The chapter includes a discussion of source

credibility in relation to fear appeals.

Chapter 3 analyses the sermons of Whitefield to identify his use of fear

appeals. The types of fear appeals he used in his sermons are listed along with

evidentiary sermon material. The types of material Whitefield used to formulate the

appeals are also discussed.

Chapter 4 gives attention to the effect of Whitefield's fear appeals on his

auditors. In order for an appeal to be effective, it must first arouse fear in the recipients

of the appeal. Historical narratives are examined from Whitefield himself, eyewitness

accounts, and personal testimonies of those who were present at his meetings. The

chapter provides evidence of the general and specific effect of Whitefield's fear appeals.

Chapter 5 concerns the ethicality of Whitefield's appeals. The chapter surveys

a number of standards for ethical judgment. The chapter argues that Whitefield's use of

fear in his published sermons was ethical, primarily because of the intention with which

he used them.

Chapter 6 offers guidelines for the contemporary use of argumentum ad

baculum in preaching. Modern audiences are unaccustomed to the use of fear for

persuasive means. However, this type of argumentation can be used ethically and

effectively.

URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10392/3802
Date: 2010-05

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