Inductive Bible Study
One of the skills we'd like our people to develop is the ability to do inductive Bible study. In this blog post, I will give a brief description of what it is.
Even if you've never heard of inductive bible study, you've probably heard of inductive reasoning. Inductive reason involves drawing conclusions through observations. Inductive reasoning is like doing a jigsaw puzzle. You assemble all the pieces and try to join them together to gain a picture of the larger whole.
Inductive Bible study is the opposite of being told by a person or book what a passage means. A person doing inductive bible study looks at all the information that she can find from the text and the context to determine what a passage of scripture is saying.
In contrast to a jigsaw puzzle, inductive bible study is not as simple as taking a known quantity of puzzle pieces and joining them. The pieces are more like clues in a detective novel. We explore, we think, we ask questions of the text, we assemble the parts, and then we start to see patterns emerge. We use lots of different tools to gather our clues. We use the text itself, multiple translations of the text, bible dictionaries, concordances, Greek and Hebrew reference works, cross-references, and other tools to get at what is there. We search the scripture for the immediate context and for broader contexts.
One of the ways we try to demonstrate inductive bible study in our church is through expositionally preaching. Many of the observations and conclusions in the sermon are arrived at inductively. This learning by example is also true in our Adult Bible Fellowships. We teach by looking at the text and asking questions of it.
But, a more direct way of learning is by taking a class or reading a book and doing self-study. At Grace, we have used a book called Pathways to give an introductory look at inductive bible study. This year we will be offering it as a small group study again. Watch for that. If we want to know God's thoughts, we have to read and study his word. Inductive Bible study is how we seek to unpack it.