Most of us who have been associated with evangelical or fundamentalist churches have been encouraged to study the Bible as part of our religious experience. As I consider that request now, I ask this question: what is the purpose of that study. Do I ever reach a point where I no longer need to study?
In general, I have heard that Bible study is a life long duty for the Christian. That being the case, it would be reasonable to assume that there are never ending new things to learn or new ways to comprehend old things.
As I have noted countless times before, the church insists on certain unequivocal Bible facts or teachings, so by implication any further individual Bible study cannot address these doctrinal points. In fact, for the most part the church will claim that a denial of or revision to these biblical points will endanger the soul of the student. For sure, that mindset is not one to promote any kind of real study.
So with all that noted, what is the church's purpose in promoting Bible study among its members? Of course, references will likely be made to II Timothy 2:15 implying that we study because God demands it. Well, that is a partial answer; but it still does not address the issue of what we accomplish by studying when certain subjects are off limits as far as the church is concerned.
I suspect that the few who really do study approach that as an effort to confirm what they already have been taught and therefore believe. In that respect, once you know all the verses necessary to lend support to each doctrinal point of your theology, further study is really superfluous. This concept of biblical study is certainly evident in the subject matter and instructional techniques of many weekly sermons. Honestly though, the typical sermon audience has a vastly varied Bible background and knowledge, so the preacher can be forgiven for avoiding deeper subjects.
My question is this: what happens if Bible study is really turned loose with no taboo subjects and without the constraints of the church's traditional understanding? Does mankind go down the spiritual tubes, or do we begin to glimpse a deeper reality to which the Bible has always pointed. If we want to honestly be called Bible students, I don't see how we can continue to avoid just that measure of openness.
Making the Bible a collection of historical facts combined with a doctrinal treatise has brought us to this point, but is that as far as God intended? When I look around, my heart says absolutely not.