Are you an isolationist or a curator?

Two bible study errors:

The “isolationist” is the person who believes all they need is personal Bible study to grow in Godly wisdom. They don’t need hand-holding from a teacher or theologian – they just need a journal, a pen, a Bible and the Holy Spirit. The see any effort to systematize their reading of Scripture as an attempt to conform the wisdom of God to the wisdom of man, thereby distorting what was already pure and sufficient. In their zeal to elevate the importance of God’s Word, they misinterprets the idea of Sola Scriptura [scripture alone] to mean that no teaching outside of Scripture is necessary for their understanding.

At the other extreme is the “curator”, the person who, for all intents and purposes, believes they can’t navigate Scripture on their own at all. They find the Bible largely incomprehensible or boring, preferring the study of doctrine (through teaching, books, commentaries, podcast or topical studies) to the study of Scripture itself, substituting learning what others say about the Bible – for actually learning the Bible. While they may never have consciously intended to devalue personal study of Scripture, over time they grow increasingly content to be a curator of opinions about a Book they do not read, effectively operating under their own credo of Sola Doctrina [doctrine alone].

~ Jen Wilkin

I think we have to be careful with the second error more than the first [at least for myself].  Sunday School is a prime example.  Our theology driven study through The Gospel Project is excellent; but the danger is that taking one topic every week and expounding on it is not a substitute for systematic bible reading / study but a compliment to it.  If all we do each week is read the lesson [topical] we never get exposed to the over reaching narrative of God and how he reveals and deals with his people from Genesis to Revelation.

Don’t get me wrong.  Studying your Sunday School lesson is better than not studying at all and is an excellent place to start to establish a habit of bible study.  But as we mature and grow in Christ-like-ness we should be more systematic in our bible reading and begin to read God’s word as it was given:  one verse at a time from start to finish.  That is why I believe expository preaching [verse by verse] is superior to topical preaching.

By all means study your lesson each week, your teacher will appreciate it.  But, find time to pick up your bible – Chapter 1 verse 1 of any book and read it through.  You might be surprised what you might learn.

Bible study begins with reading. Yet, quite frankly, a lot of people never get to that point. At best, they nibble at the text. They may read books about the Bible or devotional materials loosely based on it, but they don’t read the Bible itself. Good Christian books and magazines that supplement your Bible reading are fine, but there is no substitute for reading Scripture.

~ John MacArthur

John MacArthur’s article on how to study your bible:  long but a very good explanation

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