In Inductive Bible Study, the authors give five reasons why inductive Bible study is important. I agree with the authors that Evangelical churches do not typically do a good job of “equipping God’s people to study his Word” (44).
One of the ways we can do that is by preaching expository sermons, which enables the congregation to learn how to read through books of the Bible themselves. Another way we can equip people to study the Bible on their own is to provide some avenue (class, small group study, or church-wide book reading program) in which to teach people how to study the Bible inductively. Inductive Bible Study is a great resource for that (although if laymen were to read it they might find the technical jargon a bit much and might need some encouragement and guidance to get through it).
The authors on pp. 42-44 give some good reasons to study the Bible inductively which I’ve summarized below. Some need to hear this for the first time, and all of us need to be reminded of how we ought to approach the Bible.
1) Studying the Bible inductively comes from an attitude that wants to discover what God has to say to us, not what we want him to say to us. One can see the distortion done to the Bible from the deductive attitude brought to the text by advocates of certain social issues in America today.
2) Inductive study allows for cyclical (or dialectical) interaction between one’s observation, interpretation, and application of the text. While gathering data, one inherently interprets and begins applying, and that interpretation may influence later observations, while later observations can also correct misinformed early interpretations. The result is the “hermeneutical spiral.”
3) Readers can study the Bible inductively no matter what level of biblical literacy they have. The hermeneutical spiral enables the reader to continually refine presuppositions and interpretive conclusions, while beginning readers can implement the steps to begin their study.
4) The inductive method is flexible. Its principles and method can be followed precisely or steps can be skipped or delayed as needed. A deductive method, on the other hand, must follow through step by step from the general principle to the specific.
5) The inductive method encourages the development of one’s own Bible study skills. The method equips readers to study the Bible on their own but also to consult useful sources and even to evaluate the conclusions of others based on the available evidence.
What do you think? What other reasons are there for studying the Bible inductively?