What are some people saying about inductive Bible study?

Kay Arthur, “There are many ways to study the Bible, and there are many excellent study aids available to help you with specific books of the Bible.  But the most important thing you need to remember is that to find out what the Bible says, you need to read it yourself in a way that will help you discover what it says, what it means, and how you are to apply it to your life.  And the best way to do this is through the process called inductive study.  Inductive study doesn’t tell you what the Bible means or what you should believe.  Instead, it teaches you a method of studying God’s Word that can be applied to any portion of Scripture at any time for the rest of your life” (p. 7) – How to Study Your Bible (1994).

Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart, “The key to good exegesis, and therefore to a more intelligent reading of the Bible, is to learn to read the text carefully and to ask the right questions of the text.  One of the best things one could do in this regard would be to read Mortimer J. Adler’s How to Read a Book (1940, revised edition, with Charles Van Doren [New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972]).  Our experience over many years in college and seminary teaching is that many people simply do not know how to read well.  To read or study the Bible intelligently demands careful reading, and this includes learning to ask the right questions of the text” (p. 26) – How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, third edition (2003).

Skip Heitzig, “Here’s the bottom line on Bible study tools: I have traveled in many parts of the world where even the best-equipped pastors have only a study Bible, a concordance, and perhaps a Bible dictionary.  Three or four books at most—and no computer resources at all!  These pastors have learned how to study the Scriptures inductively on their own, without relying on commentaries or other tools” (p. 26) – How to Study The Bible and Enjoy It, Revised and Expanded (2002).

Howard G. Hendricks and William D. Hendricks, “Let’s begin with a definition.  I define method in Bible study with three statements. . . . Method is methodicalness, with a view to becoming receptive and reproductive, by means of firsthand acquaintance with the Word (pp. 35-36) – Living By The Book (1991).

William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg, and Robert L. Hubbard, “In an extremely insightful essay, ‘Our Hermeneutical Inheritance,’ Roger Lundin traces the historical and philosophical roots of contemporary approaches to understanding.  He compares the deductive approach of Descartes with the more inductive one of Bacon.  He then shows how American Christians in the nineteenth century combined Scottish common-sense-realism with the scientific approach of Bacon to develop their basic hermeneutical approach.  Lundin observes, ‘To get at the meaning of the Bible, they merely employed the inductive techniques exploited with considerable success by the natural scientists.’ He argues that ‘inductive Bible study’ was very much the product of historical processes, particularly the assimilation of Enlightenment thought in America, and not necessarily the only, or a self-evident and universally superior method.  Interestingly, Lundin observes how this fascination with the inductive approach to biblical interpretation opened the door for any individual, group, denomination, or cult to sanction its beliefs based on its own exacting study of the Scriptures” (pp. 155-156) – Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, Revised and Expanded (2004).

John MacArthur, “If you have visited your Christian bookstore lately, you know there are dozens of Bible study helps on the market.  You can soon become swamped in reading the titles and, after choosing a book, you can spend hours familiarizing yourself with its contents, and still not really be into actual study of the Bible!  My solution is something you may have heard of—inductive Bible study” (p. 173) – Why Believe the Bible? Second Edition (2007).

Robertson McQuilkin, “Induction – A reasoning process that begins with specific, individual items and puts them together to form a general principle or conclusion” (p. 362) – Understanding and Applying the Bible, Revised and Expanded (2009).

Grant R. Osborne, “The inductive study of the Bible takes place primarily in the charting of the book and paragraphs in order to determine the structural development of the writer’s message at both the macro (book) and micro (paragraph) levels.  The result is a preliminary idea regarding the meaning and thought development of the text.  This is important so that we interact with exegetical tools (commentaries and so forth) critically rather than uncritically, merely parroting the views of others (an all too common problem in term papers)” (p. 30) – The Hermeneutical Spiral, Revised and Expanded (2006).

Howard F. Vos, “The inductive method is in a peculiar way designed to enable one to develop rapidly in the ability to do independent Bible study” (p. 16) – Effective Bible Study, A Guide to Sixteen Methods, Fourteenth Printing, (1975).

Rick Warren, “Chapter Analysis, when done with the Book Survey and Book Synthesis Methods, enables you to understand the Bible in the way in which it was written—in whole books.  It is also a method in which you use limited outside helps, thus enabling you to learn the Scriptures on your own.  Dawson Trotman, found and first president of The Navigators, believed that this method was the major means of a Christian’s intake of the Word of God.  Hundreds of men and women in the early days of the organization were trained to do chapter analysis, and received a biblical education comparable to that available in Bible institutes and colleges” (pp. 173-174) – Personal Bible Study Methods:  12 Ways to Study the Bible on Your Own (1981).

Roy B. Zuck, “Several factors point to the importance of giving attention to the grammar of Scripture (the meaning of words and sentences and the way they are put together).  If we believe the Bible is verbally inspired, as discussed in chapter 1, we believe every word of Scripture is important.  Some words and sentences may not hold the same degree of importance other words or sentences have in the Bible, but all words and sentences in the Bible serve a purpose.  Otherwise why would God have included them?  Only grammatical interpretation fully honors the verbal inspiration of Scripture.  If a person does not believe the Bible is verbally inspired, then it is inconsistent or at least strange for him to give much attention to the words of Scripture” (p. 99) – Basic Bible Interpretation:  A Practical Guide to Discovering Biblical Truth (1991).

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About Todd Wood

I am a servant of Jesus in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Join me in seeking Jesus in this city.
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