Research News

John McClure awarded Luce Fellowship in Theology

McClure (Vanderbilt)

John S. McClure, a Vanderbilt Divinity School professor who teaches and writes about preaching, worship and communication, has been named a Henry Luce III Fellow in Theology for 2015-2016.

McClure, the Charles G. Finney Professor of Homiletics, will use the Luce Fellowship to continue his project “Speaking Together and with God: Liturgy, Preaching and Communicative Ethics.” Its focus is on discovering resources for respectful communication across multiple differences in Christian worship and preaching.

“With this particular research, I hope to identify liturgical and homiletical practices that support more hospitable forms of communication and social interaction,” McClure said. He has a strong interest in communicative ethics, also called discourse ethics.

“There are dynamics of listening, speaking, being truthful and more that need to be learned if people are to communicate in a way that will help us achieve consensus or at least come to terms with each other’s views on important issues,” McClure said.

One of the five Christian worship practices McClure is studying is intercession, defined broadly as the act of praying for other people. “If one of the ingredients of effective communication is empathy, in other words, ‘being able to get into the other person’s shoes,’ what does intercession contribute to our empathy for others?”

Other worship elements McClure will study in the context of communication and social interaction are the performative rhythm between confession, lament and praise in the liturgy; the reading and interpretation of Scripture; the sermon; and the Holy Eucharist (Communion).

McClure earned his doctorate from Princeton Theological Seminary after receiving masters’ degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary and the University of Glasgow. He earned his undergraduate degree from Sewanee: The University of the South. His books include Mashup Religion: Pop Music and Theological Invention.

McClure is one of six scholars in the 22nd class of Luce Fellows appointed by the Association of Theological Schools and The Henry Luce Foundation. The program is supported by a grant that honors the late Henry Luce.

At the conclusion of their research year, the fellows will gather at a conference to present and critique their work and to discuss with both current and past Luce Fellows how their work may impact the life of the church and the broader society.