Pseudo-Expository Preaching – Part 2

Yesterday we saw how it is possible to preach a pseudo-expository sermon by failing to live up to all four elements of an expository preaching definition.  We looked at preaching without relying on God’s Spirit (making it a human-powered exercise).  We looked at preaching from a text, but not really preaching the text (a common form of pseudo-expository preaching).  Now for the other two elements:

3 – The issue of effective communication. I suppose this is somewhat subjective, but I would argue that a preacher deliberately not improving in their ability to communicate (perhaps due to a misunderstanding of 1Cor.2:1-5), is undermining their own stewardship of the ministry opportunity.  Furthermore it is worth noting that our communication is not just about logos and pathos during the delivery, but the ethos of the entire life.

4 – The emphasized relevance of the passage. It is not the preacher’s job to “make the text relevant.”  It already is relevant.  But it is our job to underline, to emphasize how it is relevant to the particular listeners before us.  Pseudo-expository preaching that is pseudo because of inadequacy in this respect is easier to spot if you’re looking for it.  The text is explained, but application is ignored.  “Now may the Spirit of God apply to our hearts the truths we have seen in His Word . . . “ that’s a confession of pseudo-expository preaching!  The whole thing is the Spirit’s work, not just this bit.  The issue of relevance and application part of our task as preachers.  We have to be concerned about the text and about the listeners.

I suppose we could deploy a task force of pseudo-expository detectives.  Some pseudo-expository preaching is blatant and as easy to spot as a daylight ram-raid on a high street jewellers.  However, other pseudo-expository preaching would require a team of detectives with forensic back-up (I’m thinking of the “sneak thieves” in that great children’s book, Flat Stanley!)  But it is not our task to deploy task forces of pseudo-expository detectives.  Instead, let’s imagine such a task force visiting us.  What would they find?  Would they unearth some aspect of pseudo-exposition?  Could they, in grace, of course, put their finger on a lack of spirituality, or exegetical rigor, or communicative effort, or concern for listeners in need of biblical encounter with God?

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2 thoughts on “Pseudo-Expository Preaching – Part 2

  1. Peter,you wrote this long ago, I hope you spot this comment.
    What would be so bad with psedo-expository preaching beyond academic imprecision? By that I mean failure to satisfy one or more proper elements of a true exposition. Surely a failure in any of these respects would not make the sermon a work of the devil!

    • Thanks Absalom – you are right in your over-statement. The real question is not academic imprecision, but our stewardship of God’s wonderful communication. I don’t think God invites us to do what we like with His Word, but to handle it well for the sake of those who hear. I think we all should review the list of pseudo-expository approaches with a humble and prayerful attitude, wouldn’t you say?

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