The Foundry has released a brand-new small group series called Shaped by Scripture.  Series creator Alex Varughese joins us on the blog today to explain the philosophy behind the Shaped by Scripture studies and the methodology at their core.

For some Christians, the daily reading of the Bible is an important activity during personal devotional time. They engage in a quick reading of a biblical passage and hope to find in it some word of encouragement, promise, comfort, hope, wisdom, or instruction from God before they start their work or other activities for the day. Though daily reading shows one’s commitment to living a life that is connected to God, it often results only in a partial hearing of God’s word to us. Our attention can become focused on a verse or thought we find particularly relevant to the circumstances of our lives in a single day. When this happens, the entirety of God’s message in a particular passage may escape our attention. We wanted to create a Bible study with the basic premise that faithful response to God’s Word is possible only when we faithfully hear the entire message in a given biblical passage.

The question “What does the Bible say about . . .” a particular issue or topic seems to be the focus of many group Bible studies. Participants want to have biblical instruction on matters that are critical to their lives, but the firm values and convictions we already hold tend to play a role in the way we hear the message of the Bible. Human beings are political and social creatures. We are interested in and loyal to certain political, economic, and social systems and structures. We tend to view everything around us through the lens of our ideological commitments to these systems and structures. The massive disagreement between Christians today on critical issues—such as war, abortion, refugees, immigration, healthcare, guns, and more—can all be traced back to differing loyalties and commitments to various political, cultural, economic ideologies.

Unfortunately, often without even being aware of it, we tend to submit God’s Word and its message to the demands of the ideologies to which we already subscribe. As a result, we hear God’s Word only partially. In the worst-case scenario, reading the Bible through the lens of our loyalties to worldly systems results in a distorted understanding of God’s Word because we have permitted the world to shape how we see the Word, instead of allowing the Word to shape how see the world.

The goal of the Shaped by Scripture series is to address the question of how we study the Bible in such a way that it plays an active role in shaping our thoughts and actions in the world around us. The series methodology offers a simple, easy-to-follow method of systematically studying the Bible, aiming to shift focus from the usual question of the application of God’s Word to determining what our response should be to God’s Word. The hope of the series creators, writers, editors, and publishers is that a faithful reading of God’s Word will lead to a faithful response from God’s people.

Shaped by Scripture are seven-week studies that concentrate on individual books of the Bible in order to teach God’s people a sound strategy for faithful biblical study and interpretation. Studies currently available to purchase or pre-order include Genesis 1–11: In the Beginning, Genesis 12–27: And God Said to Abraham, and James: Consider It Pure Joy. Forthcoming summer/fall 2020 volumes include Ephesians: We Are God’s Handiwork and Acts: You Will Be My Witnesses.