A provocative title, for sure. What is Mohler talking about–expository preaching a bad idea? Isn’t Al Mohler an advocate for expository preaching in our day? Yes, he is. But in this session, part of the 9 Marks at Southern 2013 series, Mohler addresses the intentional eradication and marginalization of biblical exposition in the church by raising and addressing the common contemporary arguments against expository preaching.
He argues that there are a number of historical influences that have contributed to the near eclipse of expository preaching in the church.
- Pietism, Revivalism, and Pragmatism
- Liberalism, Existentialism, and Consumerism
So, why do some argue that expository preaching is such a bad idea? Mohler gives 7 common arguments against exposition:
- No one listens to a long or significant oration anymore. The age of speech is simply over.
- No one knows the Bible anyway. People know too little of the Bible to connect with it.
- It is too preacher-centric. Education today is not fostered by the “sage on the stage” but the “guide on the side.”
- It does not relate to my everyday life.
- It will kill a church.
- Not every text of Scripture deserves to be preached.
- It is based on outdate, outmoded ideas of authority.
However, every criticism leveled against expository preaching, Mohler says, is based on the assumption that human beings have changed fundamentally in their nature. That, however, is not the case. Sure, cultures change, and Mohler notes that “most often the cultural analysis [reflected in the arguments against expository preaching] is keenly correct. It’s just beside the point.”
The central issue in arriving at a right understanding of the proper mode of Christian preaching is the Scripture “as the oracular Word of God.” This one timeless and unchanging truth, he contends, implies and requires expository preaching.
The Reformers had it absolutely right. Not only is the shape of worship to be centered in the sermon. But the shape of the sermon is to be nothing other than exposition: the reading of the text and the explanation of the text in such a way that the people of God are shaped into the image of Christ as the Holy Spirit applies the Word to their hearts.
So, how committed are we to one of the worst ideas in the world?
Expository preaching is so bad that only a sovereign God would come up with it to show His glory in a fallen world by using it to call sinners to Christ and to mold believers into conformity with the image of His Son.