The Most Dangerous Question You Can Ask When Studying the Bible

“What does this passage mean to me?”

“Why is this a dangerous question to ask? It’s because the question itself implies a level of authority for you or me that we simply don’t have. It supposes that you and I have the right to determine what a passage of Scripture means to us. And what it means to me might not be what it means to you, but that’s okay, because each one of us determines the meaning on our own.”

 

I believe in questions. I believe in them because they help us learn. Because they encourage our imagination and our sense of wonder. Because they exercise our creativity. And because asking questions, both to other people and to ourselves, helps us personalize information.

I believe in questions. And I believe in questions when studying the Bible. In the same respect, questions help us dig deeply into the meaning of Scripture. Questions help us meditate on the truth we find there. And questions also help us move our time in God’s Word from being just an educational exercise and into the realm of training in godliness. So it’s good and right, I believe, to ask all kinds of questions when we are studying the Bible. But there is one question we should avoid. It’s a question that is, in fact, dangerous for us to ask:

“What does this passage mean to me?”

Or, if you are leading someone else in Bible study, the question looks like this:

“What does this passage mean to you?”

Why is this a dangerous question to ask? It’s because the question itself implies a level of authority for you or me that we simply don’t have. It supposes that you and I have the right to determine what a passage of Scripture means to us. And what it means to me might not be what it means to you, but that’s okay, because each one of us determines the meaning on our own. And so we find ourselves on the slippery slope of relative truth in which we are all living under our own lordship. Of course, when we ask that question to ourselves or to others we might not be intentionally alluding to this, but Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither is a worldview formed in a moment, but only over the course of time with repeated questions like this.

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