Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Is Expository preaching really a need?

Yesterday I read an article by Preaching magazine endorsing what the author called "topical exposition." In effect, he found verse by verse expositional preaching to be lacking in his own personal experience. Specifically he noted that such areas of doctrine as baptism, the Lord's supper, etc. need to be treated topically, or the congregation will suffer. His definition of topical exposition is, well, just topical preaching with a new name. Understand, I have no real problem with the occasional topical sermon, in fact I preach one every now and then myself (and then repent, immediately!). But a steady diet of topical messages will not develop a healthy church. Christians need to be exposed to the Word in its context. They need to understand the apostle's argument in the epistles as he moves from one paragraph to another. They need to grasp the larger themes of the NT books and how each paragraph and sentence fits into those themes.

Much of the superficiality and ineffectiveness of the modern (or postmodern if you wish) church can be blamed on the weak topical talks that pass for preaching. Most pastors justify this approach by claiming they are meeting the felt needs of the people. That if we can meet those needs then we can bring them to faith in Christ. I commend any effort to bring lost people to Christ. It's just that preaching to felt needs is to miss the mark. People who are lost, and even carnal Christians, have a convoluted understanding of what their needs truly are. They think their problems lie in their marriages, their jobs, their finances, or whatever; but in reality what they need is repentance and forgiveness. Preaching the Word of God in its context, line by line and verse by verse exposes our real problems and dispenses real help from the Gospel. Much of the amateur psychology that passes for preaching today is like putting a bandaide on a gunshot wound. It just doesn't help.

I hope that pastors will reclaim our grand duty to preach the Word. This involves a tremendous amount of hard work, prayer, and personal holiness; but it is the hope of the Word.


Anonymous said...

Your comments absolutely hit the target. Navigating in this new land of church methodology can be confusing especially when pastors are trying to figure out how to preach on the next hot topic. Take a Biblical book, pray, do a thorough exegesis on the pericope under consideration, write a sermon based on the text, and then go into the pulpit (not sitting on a stool) and preach the Word. Jesus Christ is Lord. Good job, Collin.

Walt Garlington said...

Bro. Collin,

With the release of The Da Vinci Code imminent, does the leadership of our local church (or the leaders of other churches/denominations) plan to distribute flyers correcting some of the distortions and lies this movie will introduce into society? I know there were flyers around FBC Swartz explaining some of the liberties taken with the biblical narrative in The Passion of the Christ. How much more do we need something to combat what will come from The Da Vinci Code.

Thanks for listening to my concerns.

Walt Garlington said...

Regarding the culture war and how to engage it mentioned in the Brokeback Mountain post, Casey Tripp suggested that we attempt to police television shows (and by implication other types of entertainment) to make sure they measure up to Christian standards and confront those networks and advertisers that do not. Using this method, I do not think we will ever be successful in reforming the entertainment culture (and as a result the culture at large). I think the only way to effectively do this is for Christians to offer entertainment alternatives of their own making that are good enough to draw large audiences (Christian and non-Christian). Then other studios will get in on the act--for profit, but the effect on the culture will still be beneficial even if the initial motives are not sound. This is happening to a certain extent (with films like The Passion of the Christ, Lord of the Rings, and The Chronicles of Narnia--and in the music industry as well), but it will take more variety and a sustained effort for it to really take hold. So I don't entirely disagree with you on strategy, Mr. Casey.

However, while I agree that voting with the pocket book is a great idea, I cannot object more to the idea of using the FCC to regulate what is said or shown on television. This agency could be turned against Christian programming in a heartbeat with the right people heading it. If you object to anything on television, please don't think that empowering a government agency that could be used against your interests is the right way to fight objectionable content.

There's my 7,993 cents. I hope I haven't scared anyone away from the Comments section.

Anonymous said...

A recent study has shown that movies with a Christian or family values oriented message always out-perform movies with foul-language or nudity. Here is that article:

Here is another article which shows that in spite of G-rated films produced 11 times greater revenue than R-rated, the movie industry produced nearly 12 times more R-rated films than G-rated films from 1989-2003.

Yet another article shows while Hollywood has produced 17 times more R-rated films than G (films) between 1988 and 1997, the average G-rated film produced eight times more gross profit than the average R-rated film.

This should show Hollywood is not concerned with making money. This begs the question as to why they would continue to make movies which are destined to make less money. They can no longer claim the old canard of being isolated in New York or California and not understanding Middle America (flyover country). Middle America has shown what types of cinema, and television it finds acceptable, by voting with their dollars. Since there is no profit motive, the only reason for them to continue making such products is to socialize our young people.

Reality television is one example. Children, who watch this drivel, are told this is reality, when not only, is it not reality, it is abhorrent to the morality of most of America.

One need only to do a rudimentary web search for Veggie Tales, to find one of the latest travesties. NBS will begin to air the popular Veggie Tales on Saturday mornings. However, in the name of tolerance, NBC will not air any Bible verses, or other Christian message. This from the channel who decries freedom of speech when confronted about airing live an upcoming Madonna concert, where the performer, is crucified on a sequined, mirrored cross. People who complain about the Madonna concert are told, “You do not have to watch. If you are offended, you can change the channel.” Wow this is great logic. I wish their logic was constant. What would happen if some Wiccan White Witch called in to NBC offended and upset by the Veggie Tales because her 4 year old wants to know why they worship trees, sticks, animals and feces, and not God like the cucumber on TV told them too. Would NBC tell her to just change the cannel, or would they take it off the air, and promise to have more shows for people of differing beliefs.

In this vein, I have a great idea for a show about diversity. A show with people with many different religious views, using things synomonous with their religion to fight together for the common good. You could have Imam Ahmed who flies around on his Muslim prayer rug. Glenda the Good Witch could plant seeds in manure. Father Francis uses his rosary beads as a lasso. Rabbi Chaim throws sharpened Stars of David. AND Baptist Pastor Collin Wimberly burns the evil doers with one of the most revered icons of Baptist beliefs, a covered dish of chicken and dumplings.

Sorry, just got a little off topic, but I hope you get my point(s).

Still ranting,
Casey Tripp