Give Me That Book! A Primer for the Practice of Inductive Bible Study is a short guide that teaches a person how to move from the biblical text all the way through to sermon preparation. Enjoy the introduction to the book below and get a 25% discount if you purchase it today (10/24/14).
Within the Wesleyan tradition, the Bible has always enjoyed a place of priority. In the preface to his Standard Sermons, John Wesley said of the Bible, “O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God. I have it: Here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be a man of one book.”1 Of course, Wesley wasn’t speaking in a wooden-literal fashion here; the Bible wasn’t the only book he ever read. Instead, his words emphasize his deep and abiding appreciation for the Bible as the book above every other book.
I share Wesley’s conviction and it is because I share it that I am writing this book—an “other book.” My desire is to help readers of “the book” dive deeply into it and to do so in a responsible manner. This has long been a passion of mine and always will be. I co-authored a book on Inductive Bible Study (IBS) in 2012 and am grateful to have an opportunity to build on the work started there in this Seedbed Short.2 Most readers will know that Seedbed is firmly rooted in the Wesleyan tradition and so, as a United Methodist, I am pleased to participate in their mission of creating resources for church renewal.
Thus, as one might expect, the content of this book, which focuses on the skills of biblical interpretation, is squarely rooted in Wesleyanism. As any graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary knows, one of the hallmarks of the curriculum is Inductive Bible Study (IBS). Most Asburians are familiar with the names Robert Traina, David Bauer, David Thompson, Lawson Stone, Joseph Dongell, Fredrick Long, and Michael Matlock.3 Each of these great educators has carried on the tradition of IBS. I have had the opportunity to study under more than half of them and for that, I am profoundly grateful.
As an educator myself, my aim is to equip learners to take what they’ve learned and put it to use in their various contexts. What I have learned from some of the great IBS teachers, I have also adapted, nuanced, and added to. Every reader who engages this book should be aware of that. Therefore, I stand at once in a long line of Bible interpreters, but I also seek to branch out, nuance, and shape things in a way that I have found to work for me in a variety of contexts. One of my main goals has been to make IBS both known and accessible to more laity and preachers, perhaps those who have not had the luxury of studying at a place like Asbury. Having said that, this book will still be useful for current Asbury students and alumni alike who would like to use it as a sort of refresher resource or to supplement other IBS materials.
Following this brief introduction, this volume is divided into three main parts—the first part will walk readers through the first three movements of my IBS approach, the second part focuses on the last three movements, and the third part focuses on working through the sermonizing or lesson-creating process. Thus, this short work aims to assist readers in moving through the IBS movements, and then from the results of that study, creating a sermon or lesson. It should be kept in mind that what I am offering in each of the three parts of this book can work in an individual setting as well as a live-group setting. I have reaped tremendous benefits in my own personal study as well as in group studies from following this approach.
I should note here that with regard to IBS, I use the term “movements” quite purposefully. In my view, terms like “method” or “steps” are unhelpful in that they do not leave room for overlap. What will become clear is that as interpreters transition from one movement to another, there will almost always be overlap between the movements. Here are the first three movements, which I will take in order: 1) Observations/Questions; 2) Interpretation; and 3) Ancient Social Implications. The following three movements are: 4) Appropriation; 5) Modern Social Implications; and 6) Devotion. Taken together, these movements provide preachers, teachers, and all students of the Bible with an entry way into “the book.” My hope is that each reader of this work will reap great blessings and benefits from the insights provided here.