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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Accuracy in Understanding the Bible

A couple of nights ago in the Dads Teach the Bible workshop, I was sharing how to do a book summary – during the workshop we work with several tools to observe and study 2 Peter.  We look at the book as a whole, then we look at each section of the book, and then we put the book back together so whole to parts back to whole – as I was saying I was focused on sharing how to do the summary.
How do you know if what you see in the Bible is right?  Thoughts at DTTB.
As I was finishing up one of the men observed that since there were eight men in the room that we would have eight different summaries.  He was not sure how that was going to be helpful and further how one determines which one is right.  I did a really poor job of addressing his question.  It does not really matter what I said but this is what I should have said…

We are focused on inductive study in the workshops.  Inductive study starts with the question, “What does the text say?”  The other method is deductive.  That method starts with an idea that I wish to validate and then I set about looking to see if that idea can be validated in the Bible.  The main focus of what we are covering in the workshop is to answer the question, “What does it say?” more effectively.  To that end we have introduced a number of tools that help one make more and better observations.

If that is the focus, “What does the text say?” while there may be differences in detail of what the eight men see, there should not be substantial differences in the substance of what they see.  We are not asking the questions, “What do I want it to say?” or “What do I expect it to say?”  That really is the challenge.  To look beyond what we expect or want to what is really there.

My experience has been over the past several years that when men ask that question, “What does it say?” they will pretty much come up with answers that are very closely aligned.

What I did wrong Tuesday night was focus on my experience rather than what made that experience a reality.

By the way I would submit that the source of most errors in understanding and applying the Bible are rooted in starting with a question other than “What does the text say?”  Most if not all of the controversy that faces us in the Body of Christ today centers on efforts to explain away or nullify what the text plainly says.  But that is a longer and more involved issue than we have space for…

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