3 Common Pitfalls of Topical Studies & How to Avoid Them
Topical Bible studies are so appealing. When a question is burning in your heart, you want to discover Scripture’s answer. Topical studies are a great tool but don't use them as a shortcut.
Doing your own topical study is a great way to grow in your faith walk. There are many great topical studies available on Amazon. Hopefully, the study's author has already eliminated these pitfalls. Pick Bible study guides from authors you trust.
However, this blog post is about common pitfalls of doing your own topical Bible study and, of course, how to avoid them.
One danger in doing a topical study is what you may call “proof-texting”. Let's just say that you can take just about any position on most topics and find some Bible verses that seem to support it. The problem is those verses may be taken out of context or misinterpreted.
So how do we avoid proof-texting? Topical Bible studies are great, but I also recommend studying Scripture chronologically. Have a decent grasp on what the Bible is all about.
If you recognize that's the first step you need to take, check out the Scripture Confident through the Bible study guide. Not only will you get a thorough understanding of the Bible’s story, you'll also learn how to study the Bible inductively. You can learn more about it at scriptureconfidentliving.com/scb.
When you study a topic in the Bible, do more than just looking for a few verses that use that specific words. Brainstorm your topic and how it may be addressed in Scripture with other words or emphasis’.
2. Reading vs. Studying
Closely related to proof-texting is the idea of reading versus studying Scripture. Topical Bible studies should be more than reading a few verses on a subject. You need to study each passage carefully and consider how it relates to your topic of interest.
When you avoid proof-texting and study rather than merely read the Bible, you make sure that you get a thorough understanding of the topic at hand rather than just a small glimpse that will leave you even more confused and can even mislead you.
Taking the extra time to learn how to truly study Scripture independently and understand each passage in front of you, will help you with both topical studies as well as any other Bible study. It makes you a good steward of the Word of God.
3. A book or the Book
Could you just skip the Scripture and go straight to a Christian author’s summary of everything that the Bible says on the topic you're curious about? Well, it wouldn't be much of a Bible study then, would it?
On the other hand, I don't want you to be shy to check out a book on the topic of your interest. Usually, the authors of these books have thoroughly researched their topic and ideally will show you what Scripture led them to their beliefs.
When you do consult a Christian book on a topic, I highly recommend to continually go back to Scripture and see if their arguments pan out. Are they reading verses in context? Are they remembering the heart of God? Are they keeping in mind the story of the Bible?
In essence, Christian books are good. It’s a blessing to have all of these resources available to us today. At the same time, we can't always let other people study Scripture for us. We want to continually come back to Scripture and study it for ourselves.
Don't shy away from picking up your Bible and studying exactly what you want to know about today. Read a good book on the subject, sure, but always come back to Scripture and study it with care.
Have you ever done your own topical study? What did you learn? Tell me about it in the comment section below.