Raising Some Concerns Over The “Inductive Method” Of Bible Study -- By: David G. Moore
RAR 9:4 (Fall 2000) p. 65
Raising Some Concerns Over The
“Inductive Method” Of Bible Study
In college I learned a method of studying the Bible that was immensely helpful. A few years later while attending Dallas Theological Seminary I honed my understanding of the method of Bible study popularly called the “inductive method.” The threefold process of observation, interpretation, and application/correlation was extremely valuable to learn. I continue to believe that it is a good approach to Bible study as long as certain considerations are kept in mind. My concern over the teaching and learning of the inductive method, however, is that important cautions and clarifications are not always given. The result of learning this particular method of Bible study without the proper perspective can give a misplaced confidence in how clearly God’s Word speaks on certain1 doctrinal themes/issues. A brief look2 at a church history will hopefully illustrate these concerns.
During the Medieval Period, Peter Lombard (ca. A. D. 1100–1160) wrote his famous theological work, Book of Sentences (A. D. 1158). Lombard’s work was the first major attempt to use “the logical method to arrive at a definition of orthodoxy.” He sought to give a “coherent, objective statement of Christian belief.”3 Book of Sentences was the major theological text used by candidates in theology at European universities until Aquinas’s Summa Theologica replaced it during the seventeenth century. It is noteworthy to observe that from Lombard and Aquinas “modern theology derives its systematic urge ....”4
RAR 9:4 (Fall 2000) p. 66
The study of theology in the Western church also moved from the monasteries to the universities during the Medieval Period. Theology increasingly became a separate discipline that one studied in the university classroom.
In the Eastern tradition, theology has never left the monasteries and churches. Theology is “learned” in a worshiping environment, not as a separate field of inquiry. In the Orthodox tradition, there is a popular saying that, “The rule of prayer is the rule of belief and action.”5 In other words, there is no dichotomy6 between what one “knows” and what one does with that knowledge.
In the Western tradition of the Church we find a spate of systematic theologies. In the East, there is clearly a ret...
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