Thursday, July 30, 2020
Friday, July 10, 2020
Wednesday, July 8, 2020
More than a decade ago, my husband and I had the privilege of walking alongside a small group of bright students through 3 1/2 years of their high school journey. The Tuesday Night Tangent Society members are all grown up now. Some are married. One just completed his M.Div. and was ordained a deacon in the Anglican Communion.
We studied Ephesians, the beatitudes, the life of David, and 1 John. We divided the group by gender for some of the discipleship and prayer. If I had it to do over again, the element I would most like to add is training in Bible study methods. We did try to incorporate those principles in our lessons, to teach by example, but those concepts are so important that they deserve undivided attention. Time spent learning how to study the Scriptures will pay dividends the rest of one's life.
"The goal of Bible reading and study is worship. Not finding more rules to follow. Not finding reasons to feel good about ourselves. The goal is to see God in all his glory and to enjoy him" (p. 150).
Katherine Forster's 2019 release Transformed by Truth (Crossway) is the book I wish we'd had for that group. Forster, a National Bible Bee Champion, writes as a teen for teens, to inspire and instruct them to read and study their Bibles for themselves as a means of knowing and loving God more. That factor sets this book apart from other guides to inductive Bible study like Jen Wilkin's Women of the Word, Kay Arthur's How to Study Your Bible, and Howard Hendricks's Living by the Book. The principles she communicates are essentially the same as the ones in those books. The writing style, examples, and tone here lend themselves better to a high school or even early college audience. I had considered working through this with 11 year-old and 13 year-old family members this summer, but I think it would be just a smidge over their heads (and therefore frustrating).
For nearly half the book, Forster lays a foundation: why teen years are not too young to establish a personal Bible study practice, the relational and transformational goal of Bible study, the "big picture" of the Bible as one unified narrative, and the gist of inductive Bible study method. Then she dives deeply into observation, interpretation, and application with ample examples, tips, suggested free online resources, and questions that guide the reader in personal practice of the principles. (Those would work great in a small group setting.) Throughout, she emphasizes the need to saturate Bible study with prayer.
She does a good job of continually bringing the reader back to the goal of knowing and loving God, even through some academic and seemingly rote exercises:
Remember—the Bible is all about God. The ultimate end of our study should be to see him and delight in who he is. Making lists doesn't seem very worshipful or spiritual; it seems academic. But as you write down everything the text says about God, you'll see more clearly who he is. Aspects of his character that you never noticed may pop out to you. In writing everything down, you'll get a chance to slow down and meditate on God's character and works (p. 127).
The end notes and appendix listing recommended resources provide plenty of leads for further learning and do credit to the author's reading and study of her topic. As befits a Bible Bee champion, she also includes an appendix on memorization tips.
In summary, Forster has provided a well-written, accessible guide for teens and those who love them on how to love God more through studying His Word well. (As an added benefit, the same close-reading skills taught here and cultivated in inductive Bible study will improve reading of other material in all aspects of life.) I highly recommend Transformed by Truth to parents, youth leaders, and self-motivated teens. Adult readers will benefit too, even though the examples will not suit them as well. I only wish the target audience were a few years younger, but boys grow quickly, and they will soon catch up to this book.
If you’d like to delve a bit deeper before deciding, here are two free sample articles by Forster on the publisher's website:
Directly from the publisher: https://www.crossway.org/books/transformed-by-truth-tpb/
Amazon (affiliate link; at no extra cost to you, I will receive a tip for the referral): https://amzn.to/2C9Oqz8