Kay Arthur on Inductive Bible Study: Observation, Interpretation & Application
- Monday, August 01, 2011
While the inductive method is fundamental to Precept studies, Arthur did not come up with the method herself. Instead, it was something she discovered as a foreign missionary, when she was asked to work with teenagers. "I thought to myself, ‘they just need to know the Word.' Around that time, someone sent me the Methodical Bible Study by Robert Traina and Irving Jensen's Independent Bible Study. It was then that I began to see the importance of the context Scripture. Eventually, God just showed me how to write these courses. I don't have a background in education. Nobody showed me how to do it. In fact, I would say I didn't do it; God did it."
Arthur's passion for Bible study does not lie in a thirst for knowledge, however. According to her, we do not know Scripture unless we apply it to life, and Arthur herself can attest to how powerfully the Word of God helps people in difficult circumstances. She and the members of her team at Precept, who serve as writers, teachers and administrators, have all seen how the Word brings life in the face of trying circumstances. Arthur, whose first husband committed suicide shortly after she committed her life to Christ, has relied upon the healing nourishment of God's Word for most of her life. To that end, she believes that negligence of studying the Bible, and particularly the Old Testament, has left modern generations unequipped to face some of the life's hardest trials. "One of the reasons the church is not impacting our society more is because we don't know the Old Testament," she says.
Arthur's book on Jeremiah is largely born out of her desire to see more people studying the first thirty-nine books of the Bible, because, in her words, "that is where you meet God." She points out that the trials that have faced God's people through the ages are, in many ways, the same today as they were back then, and the answers found in Old Testament Scripture are as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago. "If we don't know the Word, we don't know God, and we're just tossed to and fro by any doctrine we are presented with. We've got to understand and know His ways, which also helps us to understand the times we're living in."
Scripture's ability to help people understand modern day circumstances was evident at a recent prayer gathering where Kay Arthur spoke. A woman came up to her afterwards to discuss some insights she had gotten while Arthur was reading from the book of Ezekiel. "She said, ‘when we were reading Ezekiel today, I noticed that it kept talking about the land, the land, the land.' And I said, ‘you're right. That's a very good observation.' We were reading it aloud, marking the text, and when you go through the Bible, starting in Genesis, and you mark every reference to the land of Israel (the land that God plans to give to Abraham as a covenant, as an everlasting possession) suddenly the Middle East situation and the idea of Israel giving away part of their land seems wrong, because they're going against the Word of God." In this way, students of the Bible develop their systematic or thematic studies directly from Scripture, rather than through the lens of a particular denominationally-based interpretation.
Equipping people to find truth for themselves through Bible study is a recurring theme for Arthur, who laments the fact that people, especially young adults, are in general reading less as time goes on, and therefore not studying the Bible. While she sees the value of teaching ministries, with her preaching on the radio and sermons available for download on the Internet, she is adamant that listening to teaching should never be a person's primary source for learning the Bible. "You can do it that way (listen to tapes, etc.) if you want to, but why would you prefer to listen to another person's take rather than teach yourself how to study and read the Word of God? I watch people's faces in the audience while I'm teaching, and many times, I can tell they are not thinking, ‘this is the Word of God.' Many times they're thinking, ‘I wish I had a dream, I wish I had a vision, I wish God would speak to me.' But He has spoken in the Word. Those are the very words of God, and if He's given me this Bible, why would I want to just sit and listen to other people teach?"
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