an article from the Interview column of the Christian Research Newsletter, Volume 6: Number 4, 1993.
The Editor of the Christian Research Newsletter is Ron Rhodes.
Kay Arthur, along with her husband Jack, founded Precept Ministries -- an organization that provides inductive Bible studies for individuals, churches, and home study groups. Kay has recently come out with the International Inductive Study Bible, published by Harvest House. In this issue of the Newsletter, Kay is interviewed regarding why an inductive approach to Bible study is so important.
Newsletter: Kay, what is "inductive" Bible study all about?
Kay: Allow me to explain it within the framework of a frog. If I were going to do an "inductive" study of frogs, what I wouldn't do is go to the library and get a bunch of books on frogs. Instead I would go to a pond and get a frog, and I would bring it home and spend days and nights with it. I would observe it -- the way it sleeps, the way it eats, what kind of flies it wants, the whole works.
I would probably become very attached to that frog. Despite that, however, I would put it to sleep permanently. Then I'd dissect it; I'd cut it open and pull out its muscles, follow its nerves, and find out precisely where that fly went when the frog ate it. Then I would know about frogs.
What I've described above is an inductive study. Following this inductive study, I might go to the library and check out a selection of books on frogs. But when I opened them and read them, I would know from firsthand experience whether the author had ever truly known a real frog.
Now, here's my point: What I find is that people do a lot of reading about the Bible. They have many study Bibles that interpret the Bible for them, but how do they know whether that interpretation is right or wrong? They aren't going to know unless they know the Word of God themselves.
The problem is, so many people think, "I can't know the Word of God; I'm just an ordinary human being and I can't know." What they don't realize is that anyone who will get into the Word of God will, with the help of the Holy Spirit, be able to see truth for themselves from the pages of Scripture.
Newsletter: At the beginning of the International Inductive Study Bible, you point to three basic skills you need for effective Bible study: observation ("discover what it says"), interpretation ("discover what it means"), and application ("discover how it works"). Elaborate on what you mean by "observation."
Kay: To observe the text is to see what it is saying. I often liken it to interrogating the text, asking the five W's and an H:
Who is speaking to whom?
What is the subject (or event) covered in the chapter?
When do (or will) the events occur?
Where did (or will) this happen?
Why is something being said or mentioned?
How will it happen?
The International Inductive Study Bible helps readers watch for key words or phrases that are repeated in the text. In fact, at the beginning of each book in the Bible, key words or phrases are provided for that specific book. Then, as those words occur in the text, readers can mark those words. And as they are marked, the above-mentioned questions -- who, what, when, where, why, and how? -- can be asked of the text.
An example is 1 Peter 5 where suffering and glory are two key repeated words. We learn a lot about suffering and glory by asking who, what, when, where, why, and how in 1 Peter 5. We learn, for example, that glory follows suffering. By closely observing the text, readers can clearly see that Christ suffered, that the brethren suffered, and that we as Christ's followers are going to suffer. But we also see that God confirms, strengthens, establishes, and perfects those who suffer. So, by just observing the text, readers learn about what God says about suffering.
Newsletter: The International Inductive Study Bible teaches readers to use symbols to graphically portray ideas. What is the purpose of this?
Kay: Well, it has been discovered that people retain 10 percent of what they read, 20 percent of what they hear, and 50 percent of what they read, hear, and see. So, we teach people to mark the Bible -- to mark key repeated words.
For instance, I wrote a book on spiritual warfare. Before I wrote it, I studied every reference to the enemy in the Word of God. Every reference I found to the enemy, I marked with a red pitchfork. That way I am able to easily see if and where the Devil is mentioned on any given page.
When you're studying or reading what you've marked up, and it becomes familiar to you, it's like having signposts in your Bible. These signposts help you to keep track of key subjects and quickly identify significant truths throughout Scripture.
Newsletter: The International Inductive Study Bible has very wide margins and blank, fill-in charts. Talk about that for a moment.
Kay: I carry one Bible and take that one Bible with me everywhere. It's my Bible for my quiet time, for teaching, for listening to my pastor, and for going to seminars. Many people carry around a separate notebook. But sometimes they get separated from that notebook and all of a sudden they're lost.
So, when we put together the International Inductive Study Bible, we determined that this Bible would be all you would need. This would become your Bible and your notebook. And in this Bible there are many places for you to record the things you learn.
Take the Book of Revelation as an example. If you're going to understand Revelation, you need to understand the seal judgments, the trumpet judgments, and the bowl judgments, and how they compare. Well, in the International Inductive Study Bible there is a chart at the back of the Book of Revelation -- a blank chart -- where you can fill in what you learn about the seals, the trumpets, and the bowls.
Newsletter: Inductive Bible study is something even a child can do, isn't it?
Kay: Yes. In fact, I've been going around the country and teaching people how to use this Bible. We've had anywhere from 800 to 2,100 people in the audience at a time. So, I get the kids out of the audience -- any child that can read -- and I bring them up to the platform. They bring a pen, and I give them a Book of Haggai excerpt from the International Inductive Study Bible.
After they've read the text, I ask the children: "Okay, what did you learn about God from Haggai?" One of them said, "Well, God judged the people." I said, "Wait a minute, God judged them? How did He judge them? What do you mean when you say, 'God judged the people?'"
And he said, "Well, He called for a drought." I said, "Wait a minute, that's not the kind of God people like, is it? God's a God of love, isn't He? If we have a drought, that means people are going to go hungry; are you saying that?"
This little kid piped up -- this 10-year-old on a platform in front of 2,000 people -- and said: "Well, the people were taking care of their own houses and they weren't building God's house."
So I said, "But you're saying that God called for a drought. Why?" I began interrogating this little 10-year-old kid. Here I am -- a 59-year-old woman interrogating this youngster. I kept saying, "But why, why do you say that?"
Finally he said, "Because the Bible says so!" And I turned around to the audience and said, "That's where your children have to be. That's where all of us have to be. We have to be able to stand up against whoever and say, because the Bible says so."
It doesn't matter whether you're a seminary graduate or not. Everyone can study the Word of God. You see, the Holy Spirit is within all Christians; He leads and guides all of us into the truth. Anybody that will simply allow the text to speak for itself while relying on the Holy Spirit's guidance can understand the Word of God. I'm a perfect example. I don't have a seminary degree, but I study the Word of God. I tell our students, "Look, if I can do it, you can do it."
I've had people come up to me after learning how to study the Bible and say, "I never knew I could understand God's Word like this." Some students, after studying the Bible inductively, will say, "You know, I just don't agree with...," and they mention some outstanding Bible teacher on that particular point. Where do they get the boldness to say that? They get the boldness because they're learning the whole counsel of God for themselves straight from the Word of God.
Newsletter: This is similar to the Bereans mentioned in Acts 17.
Kay: Right! The Bereans checked out everything the apostle Paul said. And how did they check up on him? They searched the Scriptures for themselves.
Newsletter: Following each book in the International Inductive Study Bible is a "At a Glance" chart. What is the purpose of these charts?
Kay: Well, as a backdrop, most people couldn't tell you what any particular book of the Bible is about chapter by chapter. The "At a Glance" charts are designed to meet this very need.
Newsletter: Do we fill in the charts ourselves?
Kay: Right. The person reads the chapter, then thinks it through and asks himself, "What is this chapter about? What is its primary truth? What is the point it is getting across? What historical event is it describing?" Then they can write that down in the "At a Glance" chart in the back of that particular book. After they've finished every chapter in that book, they can easily see how those chapters come together in segments of topics.
Newsletter: How does all this relate to applying what we learn from the Bible to our daily lives?
Kay: Many people apply Scripture without first understanding it. One day I was praying to God and I asked Him, "Where do I find principles for application?" God took me to 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which says, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." Contrary to this verse, what I often hear people say today is, "Listen, let's forget about Bible doctrine. It's just important that we love one another."
Well, of course we must love one another. But if I truly love you, I'm not going to prostitute the Word of God, or lead you astray doctrinally. I've got to know what Scripture says. We can describe doctrine in a simple way with the question, "What does the Bible teach?" That's what doctrine is all about.
Now, if I'm going to apply what the Bible teaches to my life, this means that when I'm faced with a doctrine, if I see that I've been taught wrong, if I see that I've believed wrong, if I see that I've acted wrongly, then I need to make a change in my beliefs and actions based on what I learned. That's what 2 Timothy 3:16 means when it says Scripture is "useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." Scripture shows me what is wrong in my life and shows me how to make it right.
The goal of Bible study, then, is not just knowledge -- knowledge is important, because I live according to what I believe -- but it's really transformation. God tells us in Romans 12:2 that we're not to be conformed to the world, but transformed by the renewing of our mind.
If you would like to contact Kay Arthur, you can write her at Precept Ministries, P.O. Box 182218, Chattanooga, TN 37422.
End of document, CRN0059A.TXT (original CRI file name), "Inductive Bible Study" release A, July 15, 1994 R. Poll, CRI
A special note of thanks to Bob and Pat Hunter for their help in the preparation of this ASCII file for BBS circulation.
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