Let us first consider the Deductive approach.Looked at objectively, most church activities and gatherings which examine the Scriptures are based upon deductive approaches. By this I mean that even great expository preaching (again, I must comment, a growing rarity in the face of the emergence of ‘relevant’ preaching), small group ‘bible study guide’ based ministry, Sunday school curricula, and so on, can be observed to be deductive in approach. All have a point to make and use deductive methods to make it. This approach is by far the most efficient at disseminating understanding and doctrine in limited time since a knowledgeable source provides reliable information in a predigested form, at an appropriate level. This is also the basic structure of most formal educational frameworks.
In the church setting, however, this is often the only participatory Bible study that most participants will experience. With that in mind, what is the result? The result is an assembly of believers that, though possibly well versed or even articulate in selected verses and theologies, are almost completely dependent upon some more knowledgeable, authoritative source for the ideas which support their beliefs. Their ability to think through or articulate that underlying support structure is very limited. This renders them not only largely unable to defend their beliefs at any depth, but more significantly, at least somewhat shaky in their own hearts about those beliefs. One must ask if this was what intended in our receiving the Scriptures? Moreover, to be more pointed in the our question, was the Reformation and the placing of the Bible directly into the hands of God’s people accomplished only to yield a future where those people look primarily to a new magisterium for edification rather not to the Bible directly? I think not.
Even more ominous is the question – What is to happen to this flock in the tribulations to come? When false prophets and doctrines abound, preached in the name of the Lord, with a false magisterium in place, how will these discern the truth for themselves? Though the sovereign surety of salvation is not in question, the roughness of the ride definitely is.
With these considerations in mind it must be concluded that only deductive study, even the best of it, is not sufficient to equip God’s people for fully actualized faith and practice. Recalling also that the Confessions of the Protestant church (in all their variations) consider the Scriptures fully sufficient in all matters of faith and practice, the personal equipping of each Saint to receive that instruction is of paramount importance.
Let me close this section on the deductive approach with a comment on the need for expository preaching. Some of the above discussion might lead one to think that I may not consider it vital. In the words of the Apostle Paul “May it never be!” (Romans 2:6a).
Good, solid, bible based, unvarnished, unadorned, undramatized, unmodernized expository preaching is an ABSOLUTE necessity for the edification of the faithful. It enhances (note, enhances not replaces) the personal understanding of Scripture, supports correct doctrine and much, much more. It is also sadly rare, and growing more so, as the church considers it insufficient for today (but that is another article for another time).