The Cane Ridge Revival drew nearly twenty thousand participants, sparking the transformative Second Great Awakening. Barton Stone was the minister who organized and shared preaching responsibilities for the revival, and eventually, his disciples formed one of the largest American religious traditions, the Stone-Campbell Movement. In this paper, I examine portions of nine fictional dialogues published by Stone during the final year of his life, wherein he explicitly outlined the parameters of effective rhetoric or “useful preaching.” I argue that Stone developed a rhetorical theory that rebelled against authority by granting agency to the audience even in the processes of invention and interpretation, a theory that produced idiosyncratic theological convictions and a movement practically incapable of confessional unity.

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