How to Learn, Not What To Think …
The most important thing we can learn to do, is to preach the Truth to ourselves. In my 18 years of teaching, I’ve seen educator after educator, and preacher after preacher assume that their audience knows the Word because they teach it to them. In my experience, it’s exactly the opposite. People don’t know how to learn, from our methods, only what to think. We sadly encourage some of this posture through some of our modern misuse of the “lecture.” Therefore people never really learn Truth correctly at all, nor can they sustain their own learning.
As a Professor, one of the first things I have to do, is cut through everyone’s bad ideas about “what they think Scripture means,” and I have to teach them how to approach the Scripture in a way to grasp what is the Bible’s own internal and intended meaning about itself. I think rather than telling people what to think, we need to teach people how to learn in our preaching.
For sake of brevity, I’m going to boil down a Seminary Degree into three words for you to help you do this. Each word represents three major theological systems: Look (Biblical Theology), Hook (Systematic Theology), Took (Christian or Apologetic Theology). If these systems are applied out of order, we will get some horrific problems.
The Look (Biblical Theology) is when one looks into and across Scripture to determine what the text’s ONE MEANING is. Yes, each text has one intended meaning and many principles or applications that can come from that one meaning. But, one meaning, nevertheless. In this phase, we let the Bible interpret itself. We try to understand the original audience, and what the author intended for that time and place, not “to us personally.”
Once we’ve discovered what that text means, and what the author was saying, now we surface a BIG IDEA, or the HOOK (Systematics) of the passage, and we can look across Scripture and into culture to see how this text might be developed, illumined, seemingly contradicted, or developed across the rest of Scripture. We now can do what the image above shows. We can cross the principlizing bridge, by taking the meaning and principles we learned, and applying them correctly. Then we might look out into culture to see how the same things might be going on today.
Lastly, we look out and across culture for the TOOK (Apologetic), in how we might apply Scripture in its intended meaning to the issues, hurts, needs, and worship of our people and culture today.
Many in our day read the Bible exactly the opposite. They go in this order: Took, Hook, and Look. They will take what they “think” life to mean by “experience” and they will get some BIG IDEA from that—usually wrong—and will seek to make Scripture fit into their thinking and worldview. This leads to heresy.
In order to preach to ourselves the truth of God, we owe it to our communities and families to learn to divide Scripture rightly. Now you try it. Try out the LOOK, HOOK, and TOOK, on the short book of Philemon.
*For further reading in the Bible: Philemon 1
Accompanying this study is over 300-Hours of video footage from 150 of today’s top Christian thinkers on culture, creativity, innovation, and invention at www.makejesusculture.com andwww.gardencityproject.com. We aim to help churches develop grass roots culture formation for their contexts. Go now!