To study the Bible inductively is an adventure in humility. It’s a choice to place oneself under the authority of a God-inspired author of more than two millennia ago.
For this reason and others, my ideal incoming freshman would have been trained by her home church in OIA:
- Observation: Scrutinizing the text for its basic facts and grammatical construction.
- Interpretation: Discerning what the text probably meant in its ancient context.
- Application: Allowing the text to speak relevantly to one’s personal life and church.
Inductive is, of course, contrasted with deductive approaches which come to the text with prior-held conclusions that must be proven. Hence the phrase, finding “proof texts.”
Proof texts merely reinforce what you believed before the study began.
Inductive study, on the other hand, expands the understanding, is open to surprise.
Takeaways from the inductive method often involve “dawning” realizations such as:
- Wow, I never thought of Jesus that way before. Or,
- This passage is messing with my head.
On campus, we could use a lot more first-year students who’ve had these kind of light-bulb-on experiences in the Bible.