Let us muse about modes of Bible reading and more particularly, study. What is sufficient to facilitate the fruits of being ‘in the Word’?
There would appear to be three approaches: Deductive study, Inductive study and modified plain reading. Just to be clear, we are not talking about devotional or casual scripture reading, though that certainly is important in its own right. We are examining how the believer can effectively and individually approach personal study – understanding and assimilating God’s Word for himself or herself.
Let us start by mentioning that in some branches of the faith this activity is in effect considered ill advised, improper, not possible, or worse. If we look at the Roman Catholic traditions (flowing from the pre-Reformation church and developed to present day), and possibly the Eastern Orthodox church, each of these huge groups do not consider study and understanding of the whole Bible by the individual to be reasonable or desirable, though for very different reasons. In the former case we have an authoritative magisterium based approach that led to the Reformation, while in the latter the emphasis is more apophatic, centered upon individually meeting God experientially, through worship (bear in mind here that I am not an expert in either area).
Post Reformation Protestant traditions, particularly Evangelical ones, place a high value upon individual Bible study and the meeting of God through His Word as given to us personally. If we are to experience this, and to be equipped for a Biblically based life, how is this to be facilitated?
Scripture states, speaking of the Bereans in Acts 17:11 “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” So here we have a model which lauds the ongoing study of Scripture, both individually and within community. Not only that, but surely we would want to be as the Bereans, as opposed to the Thessalonians.
Clearly we believe that we are called to study the Bible individually and in assembly.