I recently read a church charter in which they listed one of the preacher’s responsibilities as providing expository preaching. That term, expository preaching, is popular in many fundamentalist circles. In laymen’s language, expository can be taken to mean exposing the meaning. By implication, if it takes a preacher engaged in exposition to explain the meaning, then the meaning must not be all that clear. Apparently, the preacher is supposed to have greater insight because of formal training, diligent personal study, or divine intervention. Somehow he or she must be able to explain the difficulties in understanding or expository preaching is not possible.
I suspect that many church attendees seek such explanations because they honestly want to understand the Bible but find it mystifying and incomprehensible in many places. It seems natural enough for one raised in a religious tradition that includes a paid clergy to expect them to decipher the unintelligible parts.
The real mystery for me is why the Bible requires deciphering in the first place and why we need professionals to perform the exposition. After a couple thousand years of study by various groups and scholars, why hasn’t it all been figured out and set in stone? Of course, some probably feel that they have unraveled everything, but certainly not to the agreement of many others.
The basic question remains. Why is the Bible so difficult? Is it a revelation or a puzzle? If its understanding is critical, why isn’t that understanding simple, not requiring exposition? The very idea of expository preaching demonstrates why the Bible cannot be what Orthodoxy claims, i.e. God’s roadmap to heaven.