Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sacred Hamburger

In many churches Expository Preaching is a sacred cow. But David Fitch has reduced it to hamburger in his book The Great Giveaway.

I have made several posts in an attempt to explain his argument. (Here is the
initial post.) But the discussion has taken several turns and had become somewhat confusing. So I thought that I would do a quick summary.

First, expository preaching assumes that the text has an obvious, objective meaning once the work of exegesis is done. Because of this assumption, those who take a different interpretation are considered ignorant or heretical. (If you need examples of this look here, here, here, here, and here.)

Second, expository preaching gives the false security of objective truth. There are several subjective elements that are hidden to the producers and the consumers of expository preaching. There is cultural bias read into the text. There are modernist assumptions built into the method. There are personal agendas that seem to be “right there in the text.”

Third, expository preaching treats the text as an object. The preacher operates on it through exegesis. The listeners consume it as a lecture or a motivational speech. This has the effect of robbing the Bible of its authority.

I also presented the case that the historical-grammatical method is not the “perfect method” for discerning biblical truth. It most certainly has its place. But the
writers of the New Testament did not use this method when interpreting the Old Testament. And meaning cannot be calculated by plugging grammatical and etymological data into an equation.

I also argued that the meaning of the Bible must always be determined
within the context of the Church. This is not to say that individuals should not be doing interpretation, but it is to say that they should not be doing it as “Lone Rangers” disconnected from participation in the Body of Christ.

All this is to describe the problem(s) with expository preaching. I haven’t yet begun to suggest a solution to the problem(s). One reaction might be, “But what other reliable method is there?” Another might be, “So anyone can make up any interpretation he wants without reference to the objective meaning of the text?”

I’ll do my best to answer these and other questions.

Pastor Rod

“Helping you become the person God created you to be”


David Fitch said...

You have really sunk yourself into a deep and important comversation here. There is alot of background I give in the chapter that is needed to understand where I am coming from. So I feel like I have been misunderstood often by evangelicals (I consider myself an evangelical) who have reacted to the chapter (not you BTW).

All I can add quickly to confim the problems with expository preaching that you have already addressed in your blog is maybe two examples that reveal why expository preaching is not all it often claims to be.
1.) It claims to follow the text and its meaning closely. But we know, by looking through any commentary that for almost every verse in the Scriptures, there are contested meanings and contested issues of grammer. The preacher is forced to make those decisions in his preaching. So it is the preacher who is determining meaning here, (if we follow exegetical expository methods). But we all know, it is the history of interpretation with the church and our various traditions (mine is Christain and Missionary Alliance) that determine how we read texts. Historical faithfulness is one of the ways we are enabled to do interpretation faithful to the revelation of God in Christ in Scriptures.Not historical-critical exegesis.
2.) We all know, as preachers, that many walk out of church on Sunday morning having heard something different, even contradictory to what I as pastor thought I was saying. This is why true Scriptural church takes engagment with Scripture as a community, in community settings, small groups, community Bible studies and spiritual formation groups. But does expository preaching encourage the listener that he or she can hear the Word of God as an individual without a community engagment like this? I think so.

Much more to be said. But maybe this helps...

Blessings Rod, on your ministry, the church you serve .. and the furtherance of Christ's Kingdom down the road ...
David Fitch

Pastor Rod said...


Thanks so much for stopping by. I appreciate your comments.

God Bless,


Pastor Rod said...


Those who are here because they think I'm perceptive are slightly ahead of those who are here because they think I'm a total idiot.