Friday, July 25, 2008

Akin: on expository preaching


In Danny Akin's article, "Some Reasons I Believe in Seminary and Theological Education," he states the following:

"Southeastern Seminary believes there is really only one valid model for preaching for an effective ministry. That model is exposition. We recognize that exposition can be done in different ways, however, the faithful preaching of God’s Word, book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, and word by word cannot be neglected if the church is to be dynamic, vibrant and alive."

Is there any record of any preacher in the Bible who practiced expository preaching? I don't see John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, or Paul expounding the Scriptures book-by-book, chapter-by-chapter. Am I overlooking something?

In light of the fact that the Bible does not apparently prescribe or even exemplify a particular method or style of preaching, it is rather unseemly, in my judgment, for "expository preaching onlyists" to be so dogmatic in their esteem for this preference.

Danny Akin is not the first I have read who said as much about this style of preacher, and if Brother Danny Akin and these others are right about "expository preaching onlyism," this would conceivably eliminate even C. H. Spurgeon as having practiced "the faithful preaching of God's Word" in his ministry at his London pastorate from 1854-1892.

I think it is utterly preposterous to insist upon expository preaching "book by book, chapter by chapter, verse by verse" as the "only one valid model for preaching for an effective ministry" so as to have a church which is "dynamic, vibrant and alive." To me, this is nonsense. If that's what they are teaching the young men at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, then that is another reason why I don't believe seminary training is "all that it's put up to be."

Two of the most notable expository preachers in London in the 20th century, both of whom I knew personally, were Martyn Lloyd-Jones and his successor R. T. Kendall, two very smart gentlemen and good speakers. Their expository preaching was perhaps as good as it comes, yet in due time it helped make Westminster Chapel a virtual "dead, orthodox" religious mausoleum, intellectually impressive perhaps, but apparently of little inspiration in evangelism, soul-winning, and vibrant witnessing to the lost -- such features seen in Spurgeon's ministry.

Kendall reports in his book, In Pursuit of His Glory, that he preached 23 consecutive Sunday mornings on the Book of Jonah (Feb-Oct 1977), 37 consecutive Sunday mornings on Jude (Oct. 1978-Sept. 19 79), 82 consecutive Sunday mornings on James (Oct. 1979-Nov. 1981), etc. I don't think I have enough "grace" to have endured listening to that type of pulpiteering.

If Spurgeon had preached according to this method, we would not have the great sermons to read that we have today. Spurgeon was a textual and topical preacher. His brief expositions of chapters were done prior to his sermons, and you can read some of those expositions in the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volumes 38-63.

If expository preaching is the only way one knows how to preach, then have at it. But I would advise young preachers to read Spurgeon's sermons and try to develop other approaches and not get "bogged down" or become slavish to one particular method of preaching the Word of God.


At Saturday, July 26, 2008 10:45:00 PM, Blogger Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Bob:

You and I have chatted about this topic and we are one on this also.

I too dislike this idea that "expository preaching," meaning, preaching where one goes through a book of the bible, is the best, preferred, or only profitable way to preach the gospel.

I like the preaching of Spurgeon, the topical and textual type. Expository preaching or teaching has its place, but should not be the primary type.

Who among the great soul winning evangelists used this method? Yes, there are a few, like the late J. Vernon McGee, but they are few.

I would like to think that a Baptist preacher ought not to have his sermons mapped out weeks in advance, as do the Catholics with their yearly calendar of sermons. If I see a need through the week, as a pastor, should I not teach on that? But, if we are glued to a program, how can we be led from week to week on what is most needed by the church?

Expository preaching is more for Sunday School and bible classes, not for weekly evangelistic services. Also, I find my mind more interested in topics and particular texts, more than on hearing an exposition on several chapters.

God bless and keep up the good work.



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