A very popular, modern method of “Bible study” is for the participants to sit around in a circle and discuss a verse or short passage, chosen by the group “facilitator.” (Notice the absence of the word “teacher.”) Each member of the group takes his or her turn telling “what I feel this verse means to me.” All opinions are acceptable, as long as the individuals offering the opinions are “sincere.”
Such a method of “study” takes the emphasis off the objective truth of Scripture and places it instead on the subjective feelings and perceptions of the individual. In reality, God does not care what the passage “means to me.” What is most important is what it actually says. After we understand what it says, then we may need to work at determining what it actually means. A little secret here – unless there is figurative language, such as an obvious metaphor (“This is my body.”), there is no reason to look beyond what it says to determine what it means. Of course, we may need to do a little digging to determine the literal meanings of the words, but discovering nuggets of truth in the Word is worth the effort.
There is far too much focus today on “how I feel” and “what I think” and far too little focus on truth. I recently saw an online video in which the topic of discussion was the book, The Shack. (See my review of The Shack here.) You can see part one of this video here, and part two here. The basic thrust of the video was that Christians need to quit worrying so much about doctrinal correctness and realize that if a number of people are encouraged by such a book, it is clearly valuable, and it is wrong to criticize it. This is obvious foolishness, because the objective truth of God’s Word always trumps what any of us think or feel about it.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4, NASB). “But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1, NASB).