Divine Apology

The Discourse of Religious Image Restoration

by Brett A. Miller


Examines strategies employed by religious figures to repair their images and reputations.

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May 2002


Pages 184
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Religion/General
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While the defense of public image in political, corporate, and celebrity rhetoric has been widely studied, religious image repair has been largely ignored. Divine Apology considers the unique circumstances facing religious figures in need of restoring their reputations by examining a blend of historical and contemporary defenses offered by various figures and groups. The author covers apologia as advanced by the Apostle Paul, Justin Martyr, Martin Luther, Jimmy Swaggart, evangelical opponents of the Jesus Seminar, and conservative leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention. He concludes that strategies used for religious image repair often differ significantly from those employed by politicians, corporations, and other public figures.

In this unique volume, Miller demonstrates that religious groups and individuals are as motivated as anyone else to purify their public images. The issues prompting defenses, however, are more likely to focus on epistemological conflicts and clashes of worldviews than on inappropriate behaviors. As a consequence, religious apologists are more likely to associate attacks against their beliefs as assaults against their characters. This causes religious image restoration discourse to manifest itself as more transcendent than defenses in traditional situations involving laypeople. Miller posits that the presence of God and religious antecedents as salient audiences, as well as other factors concerning audience and context, work to shape a form of apology that is characteristically religious.

Table of Contents

Foreword by William L. BenoitIntroduction: Saving Faith, Saving FaceThe Historical ApologistsPaul's Apostolic Apology in the Epistle to the GalatiansJustin Martyr's Defense of the Persecuted ChurchHere I Stand: Martin Luther's Defense Before the Diet of WormsThe Contemporary ApologistsSin, Sex, and Jimmy Swaggart's Sermonic ApologyJesus Crisis: Controversy in the Search for the Historical JesusStanding by Their Men: Southern Baptists and Women ScornedInterpretationImplications for Religious RhetoricImplications for Image Restoration DiscourseBibliographyAuthor IndexSubject Index



This book will prove useful to historians, journalists, and those interested in the rough-and-tumble of polemical debate. Recommended for upper-division undergraduates through faculty.—Choice

Explores religious leaders' efforts to repair damage to their public image, from St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians to Jimmy Swaggart's sermonic apology for sexual transgressions.—The Chronicle of Higher Education

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