The Need of Expository Preaching in the Twentieth Century -- By: Merrill F. Unger

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 111:443 (Jul 1954)
Article: The Need of Expository Preaching in the Twentieth Century
Author: Merrill F. Unger

The Need of Expository Preaching in the Twentieth Century

Merrill F. Unger

[Editor’s Note: The following article by Dr. Unger is taken from his manuscript “Principles of Expository Preaching,” which is scheduled for publication in book form by Zondervan Publishing House in 1955. This article is printed by permission of the publisher.]

It is difficult to exaggerate the far-reaching and beneficent influence the Christian pulpit has exerted on human society throughout the twenty centuries of its history. Careful unbiased study and reflection disclose that much of the moral, spiritual and social progress of our day is the direct result of centuries of Christian preaching. America in particular with its enviable heritage of freedom and individual opportunity owes an incalculable debt to the Christian pulpit. Perhaps no other one factor has been more potent in molding our democracy and in shaping the development of our free institutions than the voice of the man of God preaching the Word of God from the pulpits of our land.

The glory of the Christian pulpit is truly an illustrious glory, breathing the atmosphere of a higher world, and calling men from the sordidness of sin to God. But the glory of the Christian pulpit is a borrowed glow. Like the God-imparted radiance that shown upon the face of Moses, when the ancient lawgiver came out from the divine presence, was a reflection of God’s glory (Exod 34:29), the glory of the Christian pulpit is a reflection of the glory of the Word of God, which is the source of its message and the inspiration of its ministry. The exposition and authoritative declaration of the Word and will of God as revealed

in the Holy Scriptures must ever remain the splendor of the Christian pulpit. Where such exposition and authoritative declaration of the Word of God are abandoned, “Ichabod, the glory is departed” (1 Sam 4:21) must be written over the preacher and over the pulpit from which he preaches.

The Dearth of Expository Preaching

To an alarming extent the glory is departing from the pulpit of the twentieth century. The basic reason for this ominous condition is obvious. That which imparts the glory has been taken away from the center of so much of our modern preaching and placed on the periphery. The Word of God has been denied the throne and given a subordinate place. Human eloquence, men’s philosophies, Christian ethics, social betterment, cultural progress and many other subjects good and proper in their place have captured the center of interest and have been enthroned in the average pulpit in the place of the Word of G...

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