Common Sense Bible Study Ground Rules

The Ground Rules of American Torah's Common Sense Bible Study series

Who is this series for?

People who want more.

This series is for Christians, Jews, and Messianic believers who have had enough of going to church or synagogue to hear a sermon, just to go home, forget it all, and go on with life as usual. It’s for people who yearn to go a little deeper, but don’t know where to start. It’s for people who want more out of the Bible than you can get from casual reading, but don’t have time for college classes and language study.

People who have questions.

It’s for people who are tired of being told what to believe and want to find the truth for themselves. It’s for people who have heard an interesting, shocking, or just plain weird thing about what the Bible says and want to know whether it’s true or not. It’s for people who are confused by the thousands of denominations and conflicting doctrines and don’t know how to weigh the competing claims.

What are the prerequisites?

I know that there are all kinds of people out there who want to know more about the Bible and how to understand it: Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, Atheists, you name it. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I’m capable of communicating effectively with every possible student in the same study. I would approach the topic of Bible study very differently for a Hindu or atheist than I would for an evangelical Christian. So that I don’t waste everyone’s time, I have to set some minimum requirements for my readers. Of course, anyone is welcome to read this series, but if you don’t meet these prerequisites, you will get limited value from it.

I am going to assume that you believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I don’t particularly care if you’re a unitarian or a trinitarian, a preterist or a premillenialist, a Catholic or a Coptic. What exactly you believe about God isn’t as important as that you believe he exists and that you want to worship him and know him.

I am going to assume that you believe all 66 books commonly included in the Bible were inspired by God and accurate in their original forms and languages. If you’re Catholic, Mormon, or of some other sect that holds additional works as authoritative, you will still be able to get significant value from this series. I’m not aware of any Christian* denominations that don’t accept the core 66 books, even if they might add a few others.

If you are Jewish and don’t accept the New Testament books as authoritative, you too can get significant value out of this series. Almost all of the principles of study that I will be discussing work equally well when applied only to the Tanakh. However, I will be assuming that my readers believe that Jesus, aka Yeshua, is the Messiah and that the New Testament is as authoritative as the Tanakh.

I am going to assume that you are willing to be wrong about some of your most tightly held assumptions about God and religion. If you think you already know everything, I doubt there’s anything that I can teach you. But you already knew that, right?

What will you get out of it?

Here’s what I hope you will get out of this series:

  1. Confidence that you can read and understand the Scriptures for yourself.
  2. The ability to decide whether or not a doctrine is solidly biblical, plausible, or completely nuts.
  3. The ability to weigh the relative importance of a doctrine, to tell what’s core to the faith, and what is peripheral.
  4. Confidence to stand up to Internet crazies who want to drag you into the theological weeds of irrelevancy or paranoia.

Most of all, I hope you will gain a better understanding of God’s Word and, through it, God himself. I hope that you will spend more time studying the Bible and that it will draw you closer to the Author of everything.

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What I need from you…

You can help make this series better by sending me feedback. I want to hear about what is confusing you, what is bothering you, what questions you need answered, and what I can do better. All you have to do is reply to one of these emails. I can’t promise to get back to you right away, but will do my best to consider your thoughts and to respond to your questions.

May God bless you as you study his word!
Jay Carper

* Different sects have different definitions of “Christian”, but I think the statement is true for most of us.

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2 Replies to “Common Sense Bible Study Ground Rules”

  1. I lived in Brenham from 1993 to 2016! I attended First Baptist Church there. I am a Messianic Believer,

  2. Wow! I wish I had known. We’ve been in Brenham since 2008 and we started meeting with other Messianic believers about 5 years ago. We’ve done a terrible job of letting people know we’re here, but we’re trying to rectify that now.

    (BTW, make sure you confirm your subscription by responding to the confirmation email. You’re address is in “pending confirmation” status right now.)

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