James Herrick Writes Book on
English Deists' "Radical Rhetoric"
Posted September 9, 1997
HOLLAND -- James Herrick of the Hope College
communication faculty has had his book "The Radical Rhetoric
of the English Deists: The Discourse of Skepticism, 1680-
1750" published by the University of South Carolina Press.
The book examines the Deists' approach to
challenging the Church of England's doctrine that biblical
accounts of miracles were literally true. The controversy
rocked England, according to Herrick, and also had an impact
on Continental Europe and Colonial America, because such
accounts, including that of Christ's resurrection, were
central to the faith.
Herrick holds that Deism--a philosophy embraced by
many of the Founding Fathers--generally owes its lasting
significance to the rhetorical skill and persistence of the
early Deists who challenged the church's teaching, despite
the potential of imprisonment.
Lester C. Olson of the University of Pittsburgh
calls Herrick's book "An important contribution to
scholarship on rhetoric and religion because it examines the
role of reason and evidence in issues dividing the Deists
and Anglicans in matters of Christian spirituality. It
sheds light on the role that style and evidence--especially
ridicule and testimony--played in the controversy."
Herrick, who is also chair of the department of
communication at Hope, has been conducting research on the
topic since working on his dissertation for the doctorate he
completed in 1986. He has received support for his research
through a variety of grants and awards, including a
prestigious "Summer Stipend" awarded by the National
Endowment for the Humanities in 1992, believed to be the
first made to a Hope professor.
Since joining the Hope faculty in 1984, he has
presented more than 20 papers at professional conventions
and has had numerous articles appear in scholarly and
popular publications. He is the author of three other books
concerned with argumentation or rhetoric: "The History and
Theory of Rhetoric: An Introduction" (1996),
"Argumentation: Understanding and Shaping Arguments" (1995)
and "Critical Thinking: The Analysis of Arguments" (1991).
Herrick has been a member of the Hope faculty
since 1984. He earned a B.A. from California State
University in 1976 and an M.A. from the University of
California in 1978, in addition to the Ph.D. he completed at
the University of Wisconsin in 1986.
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