The summer issue of Leadership, due in mailboxes soon, will focus on the impact of consumerism on our faith and ministries. To get the conversation started, in this post, pastor/professor and regular Ur contributor David Fitch discusses how expository preaching can make Scripture into a commodity that people consume. You can read more about Fitch's critique of consumer driven ministry at his blog, The Great Giveaway.
There is a myth surrounding expository preaching among North American evangelicals. It goes like this: if the preacher follows the text more closely in his preaching, both he/she and the congregation will stay true to the Word of God. No other agendas or human wisdom will slither into the preaching. Implied is, if the preacher but applies the exegetical historical-critical skills learned in seminary and studies the text in its original language, (s)he can arrive at the meaning of the text all by him/herself. This is the mythology I believe is behind expository preaching in the evangelical world.
Why do I label this a mythology? Well first of all, the historical-critical method in the hands of individuals has not yielded a singular meaning as "intended by the author" in over 100 years. Instead what we have is thousands of commentaries on the Bible that present numerous unresolved options for interpreting practically every verse in the Bible. Historical-critical exegesis hasn't generated more unity over Scripture; it has generated less.
In reality what guides interpretation is not individual analysis of the text. It is the broad consensus interpretation for the biblical texts found in the ongoing history of church doctrine. The myth that expository preaching is more faithful to the text is simply not true. There ...