Bible Study Without the Bible

If you’re going to do Bible study without a Bible, you might as well throw in a seance. You’ll have more fun.

I’m beginning to think pseudo-Christianity is a bigger problem in our world than atheism.

Yesterday someone told me about her adult son’s Bible study group. She attended it recently, and was rather put off to see that no one in the group had a Bible. When they wanted to cite or consult a verse of Scripture, they looked it up on their smart phones. That way you can get the verse you want in total isolation from the rest of the Bible, and you can get it to mean what you want it to mean.

They didn’t bring a Bible, but they are currently studying another book in lieu of the Bible–something called Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I haven’t read it, never heard of it, so I looked it up on Barnes & Noble and read some of the Customer Reviews. My friend described this book as “no substance, no current issues, no reality–just soft Jesus-loves-me stuff.” Some of the B&N reviewers were not so kind.

She added, “This week’s chapter is about giving away all your money, living below poverty level, and helping others.” She asked, “If everyone is poor, who will help the poor?”

We’ve been here before. In fact, we were just here a couple of days ago with GOP Presidential hopeful John Kasich saying that if you don’t support Obamacare, you’re probably gonna go to Hell ( ). He backs this up by taking Matthew Chapter 25 in isolation from the rest of the Bible, to come up with a theology of salvation through good works that the government forces you to do whether you like it or not.

But pseudo-Christianities abound. You’ve got Planned Parenthood’s “Clergy for Choice” groupies, who think Jesus wants you to cut up unborn babies while they’re still alive, and sell the parts. There’s President *Batteries Not Included, whose bizarre version of Christianity moves him to empower sodomites to go on anti-Christian witch hunts, to break the laws he took an oath to enforce, and to urge others to do the same. And you’ve got that whole Romans 13 crowd, who isolate that single chapter of the Bible to justify doing anything “the powers that be” tell you to do, no matter how abominable. They’d make good guards at a concentration camp.

All of this comes from ignoring the Bible and substituting for it the opinions of fallible, sinful men and women. Cherry-picking the Bible is as bad–maybe even worse–than ignoring it altogether.

Ignorance can be fixed a lot more easily than willful blindness.

Do you sometimes get the impression that the Church in America hasn’t quite done its job?

I’ll return to this topic another day.

8 comments on “Bible Study Without the Bible

  1. As I was scrolling through my unread emails, I discovered this had somehow escaped me. The sad fact is that we are witnessing the church of Laodicea in action. Truly, I have a sense of dread for the people who occupy the pews in these churches and for their deluded pastors and pray for them every night. God help us!

  2. The Internet has the potential to be a great bible study tool, but it has to be used wisely. I’ve learned (the hard way) that context is everything with regard to the Bible. If you “verse check” or even “chapter check” the meaning can easily be lost.

    the Bible is the history of God’s dealings with mankind, starting from the creation of the material realm and continuing into the early Christian Era. From the fall of mankind to the flood, babel and God’s choice of Abram to become the source of the lineage for the savior of all mankind, is not a collection of unrelated vignettes. but a cohesive narrative of a plan. Creation leads into the subject of the fall, which resulted in the Flood and a new beginning which took a turn for the bad quickly. Abram came forth out of this scenario and was uniquely righteous. Keep in mind also that lot put away his idols and chose the righteous path.

    All of that is context inboxed action. The choosing of Abram was not just some warm and fuzzy tale about a nice guy, it was an account of a man that chose righteousness in the context of a tsunami of wickedness. Babel was a place of wickedness and idolatry.

    The rest of the entire bible has to be understood in this context. A plan was put in place which would allow a select group of people to produce a messiah, and that group was prophesied to fall short with regard to faithfulness. This allowed the gentiles to be grafted in to the plan for salvation and fulfills the prophecy in Genesis that all nations would be blessed through Abraham’s seed.

    I’ve used iPads and the like as bible study tools, but you have to be careful. I don’t look up verses, I look up chapters. If I don’t understand the chapter, I look at earlier chapters until I can establish context. In my earlier days, much of the Bible study material I was exposed to seemed given to verse checking and this did not always work for the best. Some commentators seem to fall into the trap of carefully choosing verses (completely out of context) to add weight to their opinions. This isn’t bible study, it’s opinion study.

  3. The problem is with the word “study.” To look up a sentence from a book — any book — and talk about what it “means to me” without having read the whole book and placed the selected sentence in the context of the rest of the book is not to “study” the book at all. This kind of sentence-clipping from an online copy of, say, “David Copperfield” wouldn’t be a “David Copperfield study” in any sense of the term, and what these people are doing isn’t a Bible study either.

    I’m afraid most people no longer know how to make a true study of anything. It takes time and effort … and a big dose of humility.

  4. Powerful article, brother Lee! Not to be cherry-picking, but James 3:1 says Bible teachers receive stricter judgment – that should put the fear of God in people, don’t you think?

  5. Just as the Scriptures tell us, this “falling away” should be no surprise to us, but it is a great worry. We must do all we can to put the truth out there and urge everyone to compare Scripture with Scripture, and set aside every word that does not agree.

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