I’m always surprised at how various theological circles would say they practice expository preaching when how they teach seems to suggest otherwise. Sometimes it seems as if some literatures on expository preaching can serve as just cheerleaders for expository preaching rather than explaining the actual mechanics of expositional sermons. Those who are hungry to learn the “how-to” of theologically sound teaching would find Toward an Exegetical Theology helpful.
Walter Kaiser’s book makes the conscious attempt of bridging the gap between the raw work of exegeting the Word of God with the finished product of preaching the Word of God. As a young Seminarian, one of the thing that I regularly think about is how do I make the transition from the analysis of the biblical languages to the next phase of preaching preparation. A crucial element in that transition process is finding the main proposition of the specific passage, a task that can seem easy to some but daunting to others. Personally, the book on page 152 offer the most helpful advice for me in writing out the main proposition: “Thus, it is imperative that each main point (one per paragraph please, unless the scope of our exegesis and message is only one paragraph) avoid the use of the past tense of the verb (a reporting style) and the use of all proper names (with the understandable exception of God’s names).”
A significant portion of the book is devoted to what the author called the Syntactical-Theological Method. Those who are familiar with the historical-grammatical approach should appreciate Kaiser’s nuance interest with syntax. The book’s Syntactical-Theological Method placed a heavy emphasis that the most important key to understanding a particular text is its structure/syntax. Here in the syntax is an essential bridge from the passage to the sermon: the syntactical structure of the text will also serve as the structure/outline of the homiletical message as well.
The second key element in the Syntactical-Theological Method is what the book called “Antecedent theology.” Kaiser was weary of what can be called the “right truth, wrong text” fallacy, and especially of reading future concepts found in later progressive revelation back into an older text of something that was not there and thus doing injustice to the text by preaching Scriptural passage with a common theme in the same fashion. Furthermore, Kaiser was also concern for those who interpret Scripture by any non-Scriptural “analogy of faith”. If there is a need for theological analysis in our preaching and Christians must abide by the principle of Sola Scriptura, Kaiser’s solution to this dilemma is to preach with an “analogy of faith” based upon previous theology from earlier revelation. Here the reader would see Kaiser has put some thought to the proper relationship of biblical theology and expositional preaching, where biblical theology through antecedent doctrines would inform the preacher’s theological analysis of the text.
Other area in the book that might be helpful is part three of the book where Kaiser discusses various literary forms in the Bible and how to preach from them. Concerning prophecy, Kaiser observed how the conditional nature of prophecy should lead preachers to preach two alternatives of judgment and hope. Since narratives can at times be descriptive rather than prescriptive, this would be a good example of where antecedent theology is needed to inform us of how to properly interpret the text. Concerning poetic literary form, the book shares various syntactical cues that expositors should note in order to focus their preaching on what the text really is focused on.