It’s with thanks to Harvest House Publishers for the opportunity to do a review of a book that taught me how to study the Bible inductively, The New How to Study Your Bible Exp Upd edition (Harvest House, 2010).
Some probably think I’ve gone off the deep end about all this Inductive Bible Study stuff, and if so, you’d be exactly right. I mean if it is good enough for Eugene Peterson, it’s good enough for me. He learned from one of the primary teachers and developers of the Inductive Method, the late Robert Traina. My guess is that Kay Arthur developed the method specific to Precept Ministries by putting things together from Guys like Irving Jenson and Robert Traina and others to form her own style that has ended up helping thousands around the world learn to study the Bible for themselves.
There are a lot of good ways to approach study of the Bible but I happen to agree with the folks at Precept Ministries that one of, if not the most effective way to do this, is through the Inductive Method. Why? Because it forces one to really slow down and look at what the Scriptures say. This happens when observing and asking a lot of questions of the text. It encourages one to read and read and read the text over and over so allowing a person to see stuff he or she might not have seen. The key factor about it all is that inductive study
draws you into personal interaction with the Scripture and thus with the God of the Scriptures so that your beliefs [and understanding] are based on a prayerful understanding and legitimate interpretation of Scripture – truth that transforms you when you live by it (11).
This is a very good and useful book that I think even many pastors should consider at least looking through because until one has really sat down on done a bit of study using the inductive method, it is nearly impossible to understand why it is an important means of learning the Bible and growing spiritually.
The book is broken down in five parts and has an accompanying workbook (The New How to Study Your Bible Workbook: Discover the Life-Changing Approach to God’s Word) that puts the parts to practice in a short inductive study of the book of Colossians, and parts of other types of literature from the Old Teastament: Exodus, Psalms, Jeremiah, Amos).
Part one talks about observation, learning to observe the text to see what it says byfollowing the rules of context, getting the big picture (key words lead to the subject which leads to the theme of the text under observation), and focusing in on the details (marking key words, phrases, ideas etc).
Part two deals with interpretation by learning how to search
for the meaning of the text being studied through basic word studies, letting Scripture interpret Scripture, understanding when one thing represents another (parables and symbols, etc), and so on.
Part three focuses in on application which has to do with learning to understand how to apply the text one’s own life or even the life of various communities of faith. Application asks “How does this passage or text apply to me or to us?” “What truths are to be embraced, believed, or to order our lives by?” “What changes should we make in our lives or in our belief?”
Part four focuses on organization where one can learn outlining and also something unique to Precept Ministries called “structuring” (*) which is a way of analyzing the thought stricture of a passage, chapter, or in some cases a whole book or letter such as Jude (the workbook has the structure of all of Jude)(also this is a new part of the book update). Additionally, this chapter deals with doing topical and character studies following the inductive method.
Finally, part five Is all appendices with special studies in reviewing the inductive process, using word study tools, doing “at a glance charts” and “observation worksheets” and recommended study helps.
The workbook deals with learning the basic approach to studying different genre such as the history, letters, and prophetic literature. There is also a full study of the book of Colossians.
This is a conservative Evangelical approach to Bible study though I am sure all you liberals out there could easily find ways to adapt the inductive process in your on study of the Bible! lol! This book encourages historical-grammatical approach to interpretation. This is not a bad approach in and of itself per se, I am just noting these things for those who may be in the “need to know” with these kinds of things.
I can’t recommend this resource to people or to many of my fellow pastors enough. The inductive process should and simply must be the foundation for all teaching and preaching done in the church. It simply must.
Try it, you’ll like it!
(*) Precept developed “structuring” following the approch of Robertson McQuilkin in his book Understanding and Applying the Bible Revised and Expanded(Moody Publishers; Rev Exp edition, 2009) – another must have book to assist in basic Bible study.