The Expository Sermon—Cultural or Biblical? -- By: Robert A. Allen

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 02:2 (Fall 1998)
Article: The Expository Sermon—Cultural or Biblical?
Author: Robert A. Allen

The Expository Sermon—Cultural or Biblical?

Robert A. Allen

Associate Professor Of Bible
Baptist Bible College
Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania


Questioning expository preaching at the end of the twentieth century could be compared to questioning the use of automobiles for transportation. Certainly there are other ways to get around, but the convenience, comfort and comparative cost of the automobile give it unmistakable advantages over everything else from roller blades to private helicopters. In a similar manner the advantages of the expository sermon have been touted to the present generation of preachers. “The type of preaching that best carries the force of divine authority is expository preaching,”1 says Haddon Robinson. Walter Kaiser adds his recommendation of the expository methods when he writes, “A consistent and systematic exposition of the Scriptures will help restore order, end the habits of a violent society and repair damaged relationships at every level of society. I rest my case for an urgent return to expository preaching.”2

The question to be raised concerning expository preaching cannot be answered, however, simply by extolling the value of the method. In fact, it would seem possible to draw a distinction between the expository method, closely associated with the concept of hermeneutics, and the expository form, more closely associated with homiletics. This paper will sug-

gest that the expository method, as biblical, should continue to provide the basis for sermon preparation while the expository form, as cultural, should be recognized as only one of many forms an exegetically developed sermon can take.

This understanding will not necessarily disagree with either Robinson or Kaiser. Robinson seems to make room for such a distinction when he argues that the sermons of the apostles were each based on a single unifying theme and then remarks “that each idea received different treatment by the apostolic preacher.”3

The value in such a distinction, if indeed it can be made, will be in enlarging the repertoire of the preacher in relationship to form while at the same time restricting him to biblical fidelity in terms of content. This distinction could be of great value to a preacher faced with a cross-cultural situation or even with the encroachment of post-modern thought on his present audience. In order to explore that distinction, this paper will evaluate the forms of preachin...

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