At a time when Bibles are more available than ever before (at least in the U.S.), it's ironic that there's very little serious or sustained study of God's Word among Christians. In fact, recent studies and polls suggest that fewer and fewer Christians actually read the Bible at all, let alone pore over carefully from beginning to end.
There is nothing more important for anyone to study than God's Word because it his self-revelation to us, the only place where he tells us what we need to know about him, ourselves, the cosmos, and what we must do to be saved. In the "Getting Started" section of The Most Important Thing You'll Ever Study, Starr Meade points out that we often spend much more time, however, studying for tests, or reading classic literature, or learning math.
Because it's a book, the Bible can be studied in some of the same ways we study books like Moby-Dick or A Tale of Two Cities. But it must also be studied as the direct words of God to us, and that requires a different kind of understanding. Meade leads students through both kinds of Bible study (both literary and theological) from Genesis to Revelation.
How Do These Work?
The Most Important Thing You'll Ever Study is a series of four workbooks—two for the Old Testament and two for the New Testament, along with a single answer key. Teen students (Meade suggests 12-16 year olds are the ideal audience) can and should work on their own, though discussing what they've learned with a parent or teacher can only help. The point, though, is to help students learn to study the Word of God on their own.
There are two ways to use the books. Students can read the Bible passages listed in bold at the beginning of each assignment, or they can read the longer passages appearing in the gray boxes before completing the assignments. With the second approach, users will end up reading the entire Bible, which is preferable.
A number of questions follow up each Bible passage, with more questions for more significant or difficult passages. Most of the questions relate to details and facts, though many of them are doctrinal as well. All questions are written, with both short answer and fill-in-the-blank. Both types of questions also appear in the periodic tests, along with multiple choice. There are no chapters per se, and no timetable for completion; students work at their own pace, becoming familiar with the scope of the biblical narrative.
If you're looking for something flashy or "fun," look somewhere else. Meade isn't interested in keeping students entertained, nor does she feel the need to include illustrations, sidebars, or any other distractions. Instead, she provides Bible passages and questions, along with some text to help students understand what they're reading in the form of introductions to each biblical book along with some text scattered among the readings and questions.
Meade is Reformed Baptist, though you won't find denominational distinctives—just the truths of Scripture all Christians affirm. That doesn't mean there aren't emphases: Meade uses a covenantal model for interpreting the biblical story, and her soteriology (doctrine of salvation) is candidly Reformed. There's an unstated focus on biblical theology (the unfolding of God's revelation), the connection of all Scripture to the other parts, and the God-centered focus of the whole text.
Readers are never addressed with condescension. She doesn't assume previous knowledge of God's Word, but Meade treats her readers (assumed to be teenagers) as able to deal with the depth of Scriptural teaching. This is plainly meant as an introduction, but both those familiar with the Bible and those who've never read it straight through will benefit.
Our Honest Opinion
There isn't much like this available. It is essential the Christians know their Bibles, though it's also universally acknowledged that such understanding and familiarity takes work and guidance. Meade undertakes students to navigate the often complex narrative of Scripture with a minimum of frustration and confusion.
Again, teenagers are the projected audience of this course, but because it's so straightforward and biblical illiteracy is so widespread, The Most Important Thing You'll Ever Study is excellent for adults, Sunday schools, Bible studies, school classes, and many other situations as well. Affordable, in-depth, and straightforward, this Bible study course is highly recommended.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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