Rhetorical appeal and the uncertainty of hope

  • Dauglas Lawrie
Keywords: Rhetoric, Hope, Tragedy, Appeal, Belhar


The article examines an article that Dirk Smit wrote about rhetoric and theology against the background of other of his articles, particularly about the Confession of Belhar. It argues that Smit’s article is “judiciously sceptical” about rhetoric because he is committed not only to faith, but also to the uncertainty of hope. This commitment is, it is argued, compatible with rhetoric, but only with a certain type of rhetoric. Such a hopeful rhetoric, which does not accept the closure of tragedy, reaches out to others across tragic divisions as the Confession of Belhar did. The final section examines how Smit’s article is itself a rhetorical act and tries to identify the particular appeal he makes on readers.