Don’t Skip This Word of Caution If You’re Writing a Bible Study Book
This week, we’re talking about the whats and how-tos of writing a Bible study book. So it only makes sense to open our Bibles for guidance about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.
Broken down to its simplest form, what Bible study book authors are doing is teaching God's Word. Which means that we become teachers when we step into the role of writing a Bible study book. That’s who we are whenever someone reads through the pages we present.
The Bible has a lot to say about teachers, both directly and indirectly. We have Jesus as our ultimate example incarnate, of course: Jesus who drew direct lines between good and evil, right and wrong... yet never became arrogant or pretentious about it.
That’s a pretty tall order, which might be why James 3:1 (NIV) says what it says.
Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.
That’s pretty direct. So is 2 Peter 2:1 (NIV), which says…
But there were false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves.
Let’s also consider this interpretation from Tim Chaffey on his website, midwestapologetics.org:
“With great power comes great responsibility.” Many movie-goers will recognize this line from the Spiderman movies, but the idea behind it can be traced back much further. Jesus said something similar: “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required” (Luke 12:48). Of course, the whole idea is common sense. If you are given the opportunity to impact many lives, then you have a great responsibility and should proceed with caution.
Admittedly, I know nothing about Tim Chaffey other than that he keeps a blog. But his commentary right there seems spot on, and with good reason. Most readers are automatically open to accepting the authors they read as experts on the subject matter they write about.
Which means they’re more open to accepting these authors’ conclusions.
This is a great honor. It’s a big deal. And it’s why we have the Writing Rule below that we do.
We touched on this in earlier posts this week (here and here), but it bears not only repeating but further exploration as well.
Writing a Bible study book is not a venture to be taken lightly.
When you’re writing a Bible study book, you’re dealing directly with God’s word. That’s instantly serious stuff. Making it even more serious is your intent to share your biblical conclusions with other people.
Whatever you do then, do not take that ambassadorship lightly. Do your absolute best to set your personal opinions aside and search out what God is really getting at in the Scriptures you’re highlighting.
Of course, without direct and intense divine intervention, it's impossible to fully remove your opinions from your writing. This doesn’t just apply to writing a Bible study either. Looking back through The Genuine Writer archives, you’ll see variations of that statement featured over and over again for so many genres.
Really, it could be stated for every single genre out there. Bar none. We’re individuals, so we’re going to come to individual conclusions. As well we should.
God is hardly looking for robots after all. He gave us brains and emotions and senses for a reason.
It’s just that he also gave us his Word. He gave us his Spirit. And he gave us truth.
(Yes, I promise. It really is out there.)
As teachers, it’s our job to seek that truth and promote it.
So let's boil it down to basics... If you’re thinking about writing a Bible study book, make a serious effort to set aside yourself.
It’s not yourself people should be looking to anyway.