Last week, the Gospel Coalition published a piece I wrote called “My Love-Hate Relationship with Bible Study Tools.”
What if I were to ask you to solve 30 long-division problems? One thing, though: there’s no calculator. Sure, you probably remember how to do it by hand, but since you haven’t since childhood, you’re rusty. As a result, the whole idea seems a little threatening and needlessly difficult, doesn’t it?
Thanks to the blessings of the modern age, nobody does long division by hand anymore. We’ve become dependent on the tool. Why go to all that intellectual effort when you can punch a few buttons and have an answer at your fingertips in a matter of milliseconds?
I love that we have access to calculators. I don’t even mind that using them has permanently atrophied my math skills. But I refuse to let modern Bible study tools—as great as they are—do the same thing to my Bible study skills. I never want to become so dependent on these tools that I forgo the deep joy that comes from sitting down with a Bible, plus a pen and some paper, and simply digging in. I never want to pretend that reading the fruit of someone else’s Bible study efforts is the same as plumbing the depths of God’s Word myself. And no matter how biblically wise or learned I may become, I never want to train anyone to rely on me more than they rely on Scripture.
What’s more, I’m convinced that if the New Testament authors were alive today they would back me up: modern Bible study tools are a great blessing—but if you rarely or never study the Bible without them, you’re not only doing it backward, you’re seriously missing out.