Don’t Call It a Bible Study (and some news)

On March 25-26 several luminaries will be participating in Heather Elizabeth’s Safer Spaces Virtual Summit, designed to help church and ministry leaders understand abuse and make their spaces safer. I’m privileged to join them. In my talk, I’ll be giving an overview of several Scripture twistings and presenting what the Bible really says.

You can get more information about that here. (Scroll almost to the bottom of that link to see all the bios.)

In April I’m honored to be one of the breakout speakers at Joy Forrest’s Called to Peace Ministries Women’s Retreat in the Asheville, NC, area. Talking about Untwisting Scriptures again for some reason? Haha.

That retreat will be Thursday evening April 7th through Sunday April 10th at noon. If you’d like to come but can’t afford it, you can ask for a scholarship–I’d love to see you there! More information here.

And my biggest news is that yes, I’ve been working on Untwisting Scriptures book #4 and hope to be finished with it within a few weeks. What do you think of the subtitle “Hypocrisy, Idolatry, Sin Leveling, Wolves, Grace, and Righteousness”?

Ha, I’m going for the “longest book title of the year” award. I was going to subtitle it “Righteousness and Wickedness” but figured that didn’t sound interesting enough.

News flash and update: My assistant has suggested that I make a “book title poll” on my Rebecca Davis Untwisting Scriptures Facebook page, so you can find that at this link here. (If you don’t want to darken the door of Facebook, believe me I understand that. Maybe you can suggest to me what social media platform would be a good substitute.)

Right now this book looks like it will have four sections (but this is subject to change, of course):

Part 1: God’s Children Are Not Vile and Disgusting, But Have Full Access to Joyful Righteousness: This section has three chapters.

Part 2: Instead of Sin Leveling, Understand Degrees of Sin: This section has five-ish chapters (I think).

Part 3: We Can Be “Wise as Serpents” about Wickedness and Hypocrisy: This section has around six chapters.

Part 4: We Can Flourish in Our Christian Lives: This section has just two chapters. I could have made it (a lot!) longer, but eventually I want to do an entire book on the Christian life, so this seems like enough for now.

For this book I’m digging through my website archives, as far back as eight years ago, and bringing up and editing articles, along with new material, that fit the theme of “Righteousness and Wickedness.” I’m excited about this one and hope it will be an encouragement to many.

I also hope I’ll have

(1) some subscribers who’ll be interested in reading the rough draft of the book in order to help it become a better book (my subscribers were amazing about that last time!!) and

(2) some subscribers who will help me with my Book Launch when that time comes.

If you’d like to read the rough draft when it’s ready (soon, I hope!), you can reply to this email and tell me so. That would be great!

***

It could be that my news section is longer than my actual blog post today. But here’s what’s on my heart.

Today, as I was working on Untwisting Scriptures #4 (long potential subtitle above), I decided to look up Jerry Bridges’ book Respectable Sins and read some reviews on it. (I’ve never read the book but might eventually read it and possibly do a critique of it.)

What immediately disturbed me about the reviews was the number of people who said, “We’re studying this book in our Bible study group.”

It reminded me of when someone asked me, “Rebecca, do you have a book to recommend for our women’s Bible study?”

I said something like, “I usually recommend that people start with one of the gospels. John has some amazing sermons that springboard off of miracles Jesus did.”

She said, “I didn’t mean a book of the Bible.” And she indicated that they were looking for a topical book by a modern Christian author.

I said, “Oh, then, what you’re doing is a book study, not a Bible study.”

awkwardly posed people pretending to be engaged in a book study

There’s nothing wrong with a book study. I’ve participated in a few, and I actually had a book to recommend to her.

But it’s not a Bible study.

Even if the book quotes from the Bible, it’s not a Bible study.

In Untwisting Scriptures #3, in the chapter called “Is it Righteous Anger or Sinful?” I critiqued some notes that the authors had written inside their extremely popular “study Bible.” I wrote:

“A word about study Bibles. . . . They can lead you astray. The Scriptures are the words of God, but the notes in study Bibles are the words of man.

I have an old wide-margin Scofield Bible from my youth, which through the years has been my main study Bible, but I’ve seen Scofield’s notes as no more authoritative than my own. At times I’ve vehemently argued with him in the margins. I’ve crossed out his headings and replaced them with my own.

Study Bibles can be useful if you see the notes as no more than another person talking to you. This might be someone who deeply knows God and His ways or someone who has been influenced more by the words of men than the word of God. It could be someone who understands the complexity of the human condition and can truly help, or it might be someone who has an agenda not fully in line with the Word of God.”

I would be aghast if anyone told me they were studying one of my books for a Bible study. My books don’t replace the Bible. Nor does anyone else’s. All of our books—mine, Jerry Bridges’, even the Puritans’—are only our interpretations and restructuring of what we believe the Bible teaches.

But you have the source. You can actually go to the Bible itself. You can dig into it together with your study group. You can point out how this section in this letter reminds you of a section in the Old Testament that the author was alluding to. You can write your own cross references. You can ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to His truth.

Books can be very helpful—I’ve thanked God for certain authors who have helped me better know Him and His ways.

But these writings need to be judged against the whole counsel of the Word of God. And how can we judge them if we don’t really even know the Bible but only what others have written about it?

You have a great blessing—the Word of God is accessible to you. Study the Bible, and in there get to know the true God, the Lord Most High, the King of Kings, the Good Shepherd, Himself, through His own words. You have a rich reward awaiting.

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Amy Bechtel Kimball
6 months ago

I can’t wait to read a draft of your new book. I’ve bought several sets of the first three and given them away as well as linking your books on Amazon for my blog readers.
I’ve spent several years ‘undoing’ my reading the Bible through the lens of man’s words. Now I read through the lens of, “where is Jesus in this?” It’s a much better filter for reading the whole Bible!

Kimberly
Kimberly
6 months ago

Thank you for speaking truth! Our family has been led astray and into bondage by “Bible Studies” that used books not the Bible. A year ago I told the kids we were going to do something different by studying the Bible alone for Bible class instead of a curriculum and I thank God for opening our eyes through His truth. We had so much twisted theology we learned from books and teachings versus God’s Word alone. I have no issues with reading good books, but am very careful with what books we allow in our home. We do not want to be back in bondage where Christ gave His life to give us freedom and peace in HIM. Praying for you as you continue to speak truth and minister to others.

Pam Patterson
Pam Patterson
6 months ago

Thank you for encouraging Bible study over book study. Not reading the Bible is like throwing out the manual when you purchase a product that needs to be assembled.

Quietrunner
Quietrunner
6 months ago

I remember learning as a child that some people didn’t have the Scriptures in a language they could read or understand for themselves

Even as a small child, that seemed dangerous, scary and sad. I had no idea back then, how badly people could ” twist” the Scriptures, but i knew that sometimes i heard men say the Bible said things i HOPED with all my heart were not true.

I’m forever grateful the HOLY SPIRIT was promised to us all so that we can study the Scriptures ourselves and we can know about who the true and living WORD really is.

Stephanie
Stephanie
6 months ago

I’ve thought of this a lot. Questioned how I could have spent so much time in School and worship, Sunday and Wednesday evenings, Bible studies, women’s ministry, etc. and have had so little real knowledge of the Bible. I only came to really read it, to know it and Him, once I was away from that. There were huge portions of the Bible that I’d never read. So many verses that meant something completely different once in context. Not just with other verses around it, but the whole Bible and when read through the lens of God’s heart and character. All of that had been missing. It should not be.

Stephanie
Stephanie
6 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca Davis

Yes! This is so crucial. I’m thankful that with His help we can read and learn.

Bethany
Bethany
6 months ago

I would love to give feedback on the draft! I have appreciated the other three books so much.

Carrie
Carrie
6 months ago

I’d love to read your rough draft!

Rebecca
Rebecca
6 months ago

In one church I attended, the women’s Bible study group spent about two years studying the entire actual Bible. It was great.

Becky
Becky
6 months ago

Oh, I like the distinction. The only thing I would add for those in tense/abusive marriages, when getting on a video call with a book study group or heading out the door to attend a book study, it’s safer to say to the abusive spouse that they’re attending a Bible study…because “Christian” abusive husbands are usually are all for wives attending Bible studies. If it is referred to as a book study to be accurate, then there is a fear of being questioned about what book is being studied…if it’s a book about figuring out if you’re in a destructive or abusive marriage. Does that make sense?

David Connon
David Connon
6 months ago

Hi, Rebecca. I would be glad to read a rough draft of the fourth volume, if you need an extra set of eyes.

Victoria Whyte
6 months ago

I’m so glad that you’ve highlighted this issue; I’ve always been confused by the idea of a “Bible Study” that actually sounds more like a “Book Club”!

Kathy Hickey
Kathy Hickey
6 months ago

Just found this site. Are you Reformed?

Anyone who knows can answer!

Debbie
Debbie
6 months ago

Rebecca, I am thankful for you and for your work. I have read the first 3 books and look forward to the 4th.

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