During my years at the university studying philosophy, I studied the topic “Deductive and Inductive Argument.” I realized this while writing about inductive Bible study. It is only possible to make an argument or show how to do something using inductive or deductive reasoning. Inductive Bible study looks at specific cases to see what happens when the same thing happens again.
Bible study can be approached both inductively and deductively. Even though our primary aim in this article is to analyze the inductive Bible study method, we’ll reference deductive Bible study, too, to spot the difference.
Don’t worry; you will learn everything about inductive Bible study and how to study the Bible inductively.
History of Inductive Bible Study Method
The inductive Bible study method is associated with Rainey Harper, a professor of the Old Testament at Yale University, and Wilbert W. White of the Bible Seminary in New York. This method of Bible study by White was introduced in 1899. It looks at how seminaries and Bible schools answer questions about the Bible and why they spend more time reading books about the Bible than studying the Bible itself. Since the inception of this approach, it has been of great help to those engaging in Bible study.
What is an Inductive Bible study?
In logic, inductive statements are statements that derive their conclusions from studying a single example. With one example, one can learn it and use it to arrive at a logical conclusion.
Inductive Bible study is a step-by-step, careful look at the Bible’s literature and theological elements that help people understand what they read and what it all means. It requires care and chapter-by-chapter linkage to reach a logical and reasonable conclusion.
It is the most well-known way of studying the Bible
Going by the life of Jesus Christ and the things he did while he was on earth, one will use those things to generalize his supremacy over the universe. It comes through careful observation and other processes followed by scholars of the Bible.
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How To Study the Bible Inductively
To understand what inductive Bible study is, let us pick a scripture and examine it inductively:
Mark 10:46–51: When Jesus got to Jerusalem, he went towards a blind to a, confident man who had been blind. He was by the roadside begging for alms when he heard the voice of Jesus Christ and shouted, “Jesus of Nazareth, have mercy on me.” Jesus heard him and, seeing that his faith was strong, healed him.
Now let us elaborate on this inductively. Seeing Jesus Christ heal a man by saying, “Go, your faith has made you free,” it will be right to conclude that faith is the principal thing needed in the kingdom for one to receive his or her miracle. The conclusion can be drawn from careful observation of instances of Jesus healing the sick.
Looking at the word of Jesus Christ, it is not your duty to start seeking proof of how something happened. Jesus Christ is the healer of men, and he needs our faith to be alive for him to work out his miracles in our lives.
How did we arrive at this conclusion? We observe and ensure we read each word in the scripture carefully to understand what it rightfully says. Inductive Bible study is the best approach a believer should embrace, and both new Bible students and advanced ones can understand it.
Deductive Bible study, on the other hand, has to do with picking a particular topic and then searching the Bible to find passages that support or talk about the issue. Just as with deductive reasoning, you need to confirm many hypotheses before you can draw a conclusion.
How to do inductive Bible study
Steps on how to using Inductive Bible Study
In this phase, you are not reading the scripture with pre-conception, you are reading the Bible as if you are sent to carry out some investigations in it, and you are trying to gather facts. You here have to know the main intent of the writer of the Bible verse. Doing this, you have to consider:
Who wrote the Bible?
What was he really talking about?
Where did he stay to write this scripture? (Environment)
When did he write it? (The time)
Why did he write it that way (Reasons)
How did he get to such a conclusion (Process)
Your understanding of these W’s and H’s will give you an excellent knowledge of how to study the Bible inductively without being wrong about your position.
You can not ignore observation in your Bible study and expect to get something reasonable and tangible from it. It is impossible. And you can not say that you are observing things when you cannot consider these outlined points.
As you are doing this, kindly take note of some keywords found in the scripture; those are words you will use in drawing a reasonable conclusion but wait. Wait to draw conclusions, and you are just trying to observe at this stage. All you will have to do is write down everything you have observed in the course of studying that Bible verse.
This is where our journal comes in, and you could write out everything you observed here in your study journal. Once you understand what was written there, you can go ahead and move to the next step.
Looking at the first stage, you will understand that all we did was observe, with no taking of sides whatsoever. In this stage, we are trying to discover what the writer meant in every word he used in the scripture.
To be able to have a better interpretation of the scripture at this stage, there are some questions you need not ignore, and they are:
1. What else do I tend to know about this passage or the author
2. What are the historical contexts behind this passage?
3. What other scripture might give more understanding to this passage?
Have I made some assumptions or overlooked some words?
In layman’s terms, what does this scripture actually mean?
In doing this, a lot of people tend to make these mistakes that need to be corrected:
They twist the passage to suit their interest. This should entirely be avoided if you want to understand the Bible wholly.
Do not build doctrines around obscure passages. Try to read another passage about a similar thing to see how they tackled it. People make doctrines based on parts of the Bible they don’t fully understand, which causes trouble and danger in the world today.
Allow the Bible to help you understand other Bible passages, do not try to use your inclination to learn.
Try to connect each word found here to another to give it significant meaning to you.
Try using the most straightforward interpretation before looking for confusing or symbolic meanings. This way, you will have a clearer understanding of what you are teaching.
Application is the last stage of inductive Bible study, and this step can not be achieved without moving from the first step to the second too. You need careful observation to determine a thing and a cautious statement to interpret an item in your way. It should not stop here. Try to apply what you have learned.
We should not study the Bible just to gain knowledge alone; we should study the Bible to apply what is written in it. That is what differentiates us from other people.
Applying this approach to your study makes you outstanding and gives you in-depth knowledge of what the Bible teaches.
Overall, inductive Bible study exposes you to the knowledge of the Bible and how it is supposed to be known; since it involves a careful and step-by-step study of instances and points.
It helps to widen the understanding of the person involved and makes sure you do not commit fallacies you should have avoided ordinarily.
Start studying the Bible inductively today, and start seeing your spiritual growth in the word of God. Inductive Bible study will give you a good understanding of what the Bible is all about and how to answer Bible-based questions without fear of being wrong or out of context.