This paper makes use of rhetorical criticism on a difficult, non-narrative text: 1 Cor. 4.18-5.13, the situation of a person within the Corinthian church caught up in severe sexual immorality.
Paul, as the founder of the church and its pastoral mentor, had to address the situation since it related not only to the issue of internal church unity, but also to the question of the church’s mission in the community. If left unchallenged, the situation would spread like yeast through dough, Paul argued. Like a cancer left untreated, if the problem was not addressed head-on and dealt with, the sin would negatively affect the life and mission of the church. Thus he advised the Corinthians to engage in church discipline, which is always a difficult task for a wide variety of reasons.
Beyond looking at the passage itself, this paper also explores the question of how to make use of such a study for preaching, and particularly for newer, more emerging and postmodern forms of dialogical, open-ended and participatory preaching. Such preaching styles lend themselves much better to emerging generations, who desire participation and open feedback before, during and after the preaching event.
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