I don’t suppose anyone actually pays attention to this blog. I certainly have a feeling of nattering to myself whenever I post…. which I haven’t done in quite a long time because… well, several reasons. Working on some other projects, feeling my mind drying up… having the nagging feeling it doesn’t make a bit of difference to the Grand Scheme of Things what I think so why bother?
Still, here I return, again and again.
Today I want to talk about getting your teeth into your Bible reading. Commonly, and erroneously, called “Inductive Bible Study,” is a method of going beyond the surface of a text into its heart, using a series of basic questions —- the good old Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? we learned in school, back in the day.
Now, I say this is an erroneous label. Actually, Induction starts with a premise, then seeks the details to support it. Kay Arthur of Precept Ministries coined this phrase and made it a brand name for her own Bible studies. Kay has some good stuff going, and I’m going to recommend some of her study techniques and notations — but keep in mind that, when you start with a point and seek to prove it (inductive reasoning), you can get all the points right and still reach an incorrect conclusion. Kay’s an evangelical Protestant, which means she misses the Catholicity of the Scriptures; she often has wrong conclusions of a passage; she too often misses the subtext. For example, II Corinthians is predicated upon the practice of Sacramental Confession — but as a Protestant, Kay would say that we confess our sins only to God, not to a priest; that the priest is extraneous to the Reconciliation process. She’s missing much of what’s actually happening underneath and behind the text and what it means for us.
I can say that without malice because I was blind to the Catholicity of the Scriptures for more than 25 years, myself. It’s just one of the weaknesses of Protestantism as a culture.
No, what we want to do is a bit different. I’m starting with a premise: the Scriptures are the Inspired Word of God (His written Word, since Jesus is also the Word, the Logos) — and it’s up to us to carefully, thoughtfully pull out the life lessons from there. What those lessons are is what we’ll be doing with our study.
Now — here’s how it works. I’m going to start with the Pauline Epistles of the New Testament (from Romans through to Philemon). Right now I’m re-reading the Book of Romans, which is a very good place to demonstrate a few ideas.
Now, let me point out one other thing, here. You will develop your familiarity with the Scriptures in LAYERS — I’d use an analogy, like building a Cornish pasty, but I’m typing with a Benadryl hangover and analogies are a bit beyond me right this minute. If you’ve read the Scriptures before, you’ve got a foundation, and you’ll build on it, and go deeper and see more every time you thoughtfully and prayerfully re-read. I’ve lost track how many times I’ve read some of these Books, so don’t let my enthusiasms or any of the points that follow daunt you. Okay? Promise?
A GENERAL OVERVIEW:
The Book is Paul’s Epistle to the Romans
WHO — who wrote this? to whom did he write it? (MUCH of this will carry through as the introduction to all of Paul’s epistles.)
Okay, that’s easy. The Epistle to the Romans was written by Paul. WHO was Paul? Well, we see in the Book of Acts that he was a Jew, a Pharisee, who’d been persecuting the Christians out of zeal for the Lord… and God blinds him and gives him this amazing revelation that Jesus of Nazareth really was/is the Messiah…. and he went and studied and then after 3 years was approved by Peter to take the Gospel to the Gentiles…. etc., etc. — Paul tells us a LOT about himself in his letters. Why he does this is important, and we’ll look at it as we go.
So… who were the Romans? Well, the Romans were citizens and residents of Rome who’d converted to Christ.
And so it goes.
In the interest of brevity, let me move to a new post for what I have on my mind and think is important enough to write about it: Who were the Gentiles? And What difference does it make, anyway?