There’s an intentional and probably obvious play on words in my title. I don’t at all question the authority or inspiration of Scripture. But I think it’s not only okay, but essential to question the Bible in an interrogative sense. There’s probably no better way to study the Bible.
Recommending this approach to Bible study, John Piper asks a probing question:
Can any of us at one reading grasp the logic of a paragraph and see how every part relates to all the others and how they all fit together to make a unified point? How much less the thought of an entire epistle, the New Testament, the Bible! If we care about truth, we must relentlessly query the text and form the habit of being bothered by things we read.
Do at least some of the things you read in Scripture bother you? They should. Piper goes on to give examples of things that ought to bother us and force us to ask questions:
More recently I have asked, What does it mean that Jesus said in Matthew 5:39 to turn the other cheek when struck, but said in Matthew 10:23, “When they persecute you in one town, flee. . .”? When do you flee and when do you endure hardship and turn the other cheek? I have also been pondering in what sense it is true that God is “slow to anger” (Ex. 34:6) and in what sense “His wrath is quickly kindled” (Ps. 2:11). (Read the whole article.)
Stephen Altrogge recently posted a great list of questions (taken from a hermeneutics class) that are designed to help you get the most out of your Bible study:
1. Who is the author of the passage?
2. Who were the recipients?
3. What is the historical background of the passage?
4. What is the outline/structure of the passage?
5. Are any words repeated? Any significance to the repetition?
6. Are there any unusual words in the passage that call for more exploration?
7. How does the passage fit into the surrounding paragraph? Chapter? Book?
8. Why did the author place the passage here and not somewhere else?
9. In one sentence, what is the main point of the passage?
10. How would the original audience have been affected by the passage?
11. How does this passage connect to the overall storyline of the Bible?
12. How does this passage reveal Jesus as savior?
13. How does God want this passage to function in my life?
14. What kind of response does this passage call for?
There are also some helpful additions to those questions in the comments, including this list by Rick Gamache geared more toward personal application of a passage:
What does this mean for me today?
What does this mean for me for how I spend my money this week?
What does this have to do with what I look at on television and on the Internet and in a movie theater?
What does this say about how I spend my leisure time?
What does this have to say about how I love my wife (or husband or child or neighbor)?
What does this have to say to me about how I honor my parents?
What does this mean about the clothes I choose to wear as the weather gets warmer?
What does this have to do with how I respond to people who sin against me?
Question your Bible to get the maximum benefit from it!