In my circles it’s a cliche to say that you’re committed to ‘systematic, expository preaching’ – preaching through whole books or sections of books passage by passage, or perhaps verse by verse.
Here are two articles from respected conservative evangelical Christian writers (both called Iain) who are questioning that practice.
Expository Preaching (pdf) – Iain H Murray
This is not an argument that the whole concept of consecutive preaching through a passage is wrong, simply that it must not be allowed to have an exclusive place in pulpit ministry. Let each preacher find what he is best able to do, and let it be ever remembered that, whatever the method of presenting the truth, it is men filled with faith and the Holy Spirit who are needed most at this hour. More than correct teaching is needed: we need messages that will move congregations and even sway communities.
Some thoughts on pulpit method – Iain D Campbell
I am not trying to advocate a method, simply to raise questions about what appears to me to be the prevailing methodology in contemporary evangelical ministry. I am also wanting to ask whether it is possible that the power which attended Spurgeon’s preaching might just be related to his methodology? Might there be some added benefit for our congregations if they came to church next Sunday wondering in what part of the fields of their Redeemer they might be gleaning?
In my estimation, this is not a question about method, but about style. Both writers are advocating a lively ‘preached’ style, as opposed to what they see as the more ‘lecture’ style of some systematic expository preachers.
What do you think?
I’ve found this question keeps coming up. Essentially your thinking about how much should we work for visible unity between local churches depends on your answer to this question.
Some links I’ve found helpful:
The One, True Church – John Frame in ‘Evangelical Reunion’
We must first be assured that Jesus Christ established on earth one church, not many denominations. Further, the unity of the church is not merely “spiritual,” but also organizational.
The Church and Denominations – David Broughton Knox
The Epistle to the Hebrews makes clear that the assembly, or church, which Christ is building now is primarily a supernal heavenly assembly.
The Locus of the Church: Heaven or Earth? – David Peterson
Most seriously, I believe, Giles has played down or denied the heavenly locus of the church as it emerges from certain key passages in the New Testament. This is a failure to highlight the way the ascended and enthroned Christ is at the centre of the church, gathering people to himself on the basis of his redemptive work to form a community whose citizenship is in heaven. It is a failure to see how the inaugurated eschatology of the New Testament should be applied to the church concept to deliver us from the earth-bound and organizational focus of much contemporary ecclesiology.
Assembled in Heaven? – Andrew Errington
In the twentieth century, the notion that the basic reality of the church is “assembly” was articulated by Sydney Anglican evangelicals Donald Robinson and D. Broughton Knox in response to the world ecumenical movement. They, and others who have since followed, argued that church fundamentally involves actual gathering, such that the church finally exists in two basic ways in the present—as the one heavenly gathering around the ascended Lord Jesus, which is in “continuous assembly”, and in local assemblies of believers, which “come and go” (Robinson 1965, 14). The notion of the present heavenly gathering is, however, highly problematic, and I would like here to offer a critique.