Historically Christianity has placed great emphasis on Bible study and knowledge. The very act of study implies that there is something new and deeper which can be gained from that effort. Many would conclude that the Bible is a complex book which has numerous levels of meaning. Study, meditation, and prayer are generally recognized routes to these deeper meanings.
Given the implied purpose of study, isn’t it natural to expect that frequently we are going to discover something new and more meaningful which expands and modifies our earlier understanding? That being said, when was the last time you heard, read, or realized anything new and different from the Bible?
The emphasis on personal Bible study is ironic given the church’s strict adherence to orthodox theology, meaning the understanding of the past. On the one hand, we are encouraged to study ourselves and to thereby gain a greater knowledge and appreciation of the Bible and, on the other, warned against embracing anything that is not sanctioned by the church with its inherited theology.
The search for biblical understanding should be driven by a sense of need and incompleteness. Seriously evaluating and questioning our current understanding, especially in areas that don’t make sense and diminish our picture of God, is the essence of meaningful study. Much that passes for Bible scholarship does not meet this test. It amounts to no more than the regurgitation of past misunderstanding and never uncovers the true majesty of the God behind the Bible.