MacArthur Study Bible….Are study Bibles a good idea?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by JonC δοῦλος, May 30, 2015.

  1. JonC

    JonC
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    I just used MacArthur's notes as an example since it's the one I engaged this morning. My questions concern study Bibles in general.

    I was reading a passage in John today, and for some reason looked it up in the MacArthur Study Bible. I agree completely with MacArthur’s notes, but the passage is in no way self-defining (there are other interpretations).

    If someone is using these study notes, however, is there a danger of merely “taking a pastor’s word for it”? Can this be elevating the pastor’s notes to the place of Scripture? I don’t always agree with the interpretations in the notes, and sometimes they are a minority interpretation with little evidence.

    My problem is that the MacArthur study Bible, and other study Bibles I’ve seen, simply present their views as being the right view. They do not, typically, explain why they believe their interpretation to be superior….and indeed, they do not even present the other positions. I have no issues with good commentaries, but the commentary of a study Bible is not good commentary (even if they come to the right conclusion, they don’t explain how you arrived at that conclusion). It seems to me that study Bibles short-cut the learning process and the reader is left with a belief that they don’t really understand (they cannot base their view on Scripture because they merely accepted the explanation of another).
     
  2. beameup

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    To a large extent (IMO) "doctrines" or "notes" get passed along, as one man builds upon another man's work. I've found a lot of things get passed-along without really deep thought about it. Thus certain "teachings" are just "assumed" to be "accepted" as doctrine, when in fact they are far from it.

    One example (IMO) is the false application of the concept of "backsliding" to the Body of Christ (ie: Church), rather than the correct application to Israel. Some "teachings" just get ingrained, generation-after-generation. Paul never uses this term, but he uses the DOCTRINE of "walking in the Spirit", which is almost never taught in Christendom.
     
  3. JamesL

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    I've only found one study bible to be objective, making an honest attempt to present multiple views without demanding one be correct. Nelson's NKJV Study Bible....

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002E2UX4A/?tag=baptis04-20

    The one in the link says "with complete study system"

    Not sure what that means, because the notes in the bible are only about a third of the notes they put together. There is (or at least was) a full commentary available in a separate book. This may be the complete system, but maybe not.

    That bible/commentary is worth 5 times the price
     
  4. JamesL

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  5. Greektim

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    Would you prefer that they present their views as wrong views? Everyone thinks his view is the right one or they wouldn't hold to.
     
  6. Greektim

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    Case and point... see his siggie
     
  7. Greektim

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    Should pastor's preach this way? Present a bunch of views but not advocate one?
     
  8. Van

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    Hi Jon C, study bibles give us insight into what study might bring. They sort of kick-start our study of a word, verse or passage.

    Could you please provide the verse or passage in John, and quote the study note, so we could see the problem you are presenting?

    If you are like me, when I see Calvinist leaning study notes, I think at least one of the opposing views should be presented. But when I see a study note that meshes with my presuppositions, I just accept it as spot on.

    The more we study the bible and form our own idea about what this or that verse says, the more we disagree with the views of others. I used to sit for a sermon and pretty-much agree with everything the pastor said. Now I agree with some assertions, but strive not to shake my head negatively when I disagree with an assertion.
     
  9. JonC

    JonC
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    No, I think that we all hold our views as correct....which goes to show that holding them as correct is not the same as them being so.

    My concern is that they are printed alongside Scripture. I can't tell you how many times I've heard "But my Bible says...." and then a reading of Scofield's notes. My concern is that it becomes a shortcut for legitimate study (that some will not take the notes for what they are and research a bit more).

    I also believe that we should read Scripture, initially, without the influence of commentaries. But sometimes we want the easy way out. For example, imagine reading Joseph Conrad, or better yet, Flannery O'Connor, with Cliffs Notes printed along side. You would be too influenced by the summary and commentary to appreciate the work itself.

    Maybe it's just my preference....which is all well and good (and correct because I hold it to be true :smilewinkgrin:)...but I prefer people to have to make more of a conscious effort to seek commentary.
     
  10. JonC

    JonC
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    It was John 3:5. I commented a while back on this passage and was reflecting on it this morning.

    “3:5 born of water and the Spirit. Jesus is referring to literal water here but to the need for “cleansing. The Old Testament sometimes uses water as a metaphor for spiritual cleansing or renewal. Thus, Jesus made reference to the spiritual washing or purification of the soul, accomplished by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God at the moment of salvation, required for belonging to His kingdom.”

    There are at least 3 interpretations of this passage. I agree with MacArthur in his interpretation, but what Jesus said was “born of water and the Spirit.” Looking only at the notes, however, why should MacArthur’s interpretation be accepted? He doesn’t address the other two prominent views, and he doesn’t provide a reason to accept his interpretation. That’s what I don’t like about study Bibles.

    1 John 2:2 is worse (partly because I disagree with him and if I were wrong I would change my view so that I was right....so I know I'm right :smilewinkgrin:). Here he ignores the object of the verse, places it as “sins” and goes on to redefine “world.” Here, I believe, his theology is dictating his interpretation and he has abandoned all together the text in order to defend what really doesn’t need defending in that passage. I know that’s a separate debate….which probably has been debated at least once here on the BB. But regardless of your stand on the issue, it is a poor commentary to present someone studying Scripture.
     
  11. OldRegular

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    Study Bibles can be useful as long as one understands that the notes are prepared by fallible man and his understanding may be no better than yours. I thoroughly enjoy many of MacArthur's books but I don't have MacArthur's Study Bible. I have looked through it and his interpretation of John 5:28, 29 is flat wrong. If my memory is correct his first edition avoided that passage completely.

    My opinion is that the Thompson Chain Reference Bible is the best of all study Bibles.

    Also I would say that study Bibles should not be given to children but used only by mature Christians. I have found through teaching that some people confuse the notes with Scripture!
     
  12. go2church

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    Those study bibles are expensive, in most cases only one persons opinion and not all that easy to carry around. I would say your better at spending money on commentaries and a good text only bible. Many in my congregation are going digital. I still like the feel of a good floppy leather bible in my hand while preaching. If you must get a study bible, get one that has multiple article authors and editors, dissipates bias.
     
  13. Revmitchell

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    :thumbs::thumbs:
     
  14. wpe3bql

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    I purchased a MacArthur study Bible about a year ago. As with most any study Bible I've seen, you'll usually always find some type of theological slant in many of the notes.

    MacArthur is "good" on some things...."not so good" on others----just like all the other study Bibles I've seen down through the half-century of my Christian life.

    Some one once told me that a study Bible is like eating chicken: Eat the meat, spit out the bones!! :thumbs:

    I've listened to MacArthur on occasion on the radio. He preaches similar to the way his notes are printed.

    The MacArthur study Bible I have is in the ESV. It's not the "inspired, authorized 1611 KJV," but I didn't find any very obvious "errors" in it.

    "Just my $0.02 worth!!"
     
  15. Jkdbuck76

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    Study Bibles should be taken with a grain of salt. You're getting someone's opinion. I'm ok with them, but I know that a person's opinion is merely an opinion. It is not inspired.

    Sent from my KFTT using Tapatalk
     
  16. JamesL

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    Depends on the setting...maybe.

    During a bible study, there should be no problem in presenting a variety of views. Doing that can help others see why a particular view is preferred.

    It might also allow better interaction with the scriptures if lay people knew there were more views. Challenging, most probably. Edifying, most likely.
     
  17. Greektim

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    I didn't say presenting various views. I said presenting various views but not advocating one view or another.
     
  18. Revmitchell

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    A study Bible is a study tool like anything else. If you limit yourself to just one single tool you will miss out on a balanced study. Use multiple tools and become proficient in their use. Oh and do not forget about prayer and reliance on the HG. God will bless your studies and you will know Him better.
     
  19. JamesL

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    I know that. But there are two elements in what you asked.

    Should a pastor present various views? Yes.

    Then there is situational context to consider. That's why i said...maybe.

    A study bible should (imho) help people study. To find out, not to be told.

    Is the pastor telling people, or helping people to find out?
     
  20. Van

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    Thanks Jon C. Here is my study note from Zondervan: Born of water and the Spirit. A phrase understood in various ways:
    (1) It means much the same as born of the Spirit, verse 8; cf Titus 3:5.

    (2) Water here refers to purification.

    (3) Water refers to baptism - that of John 1:31, or that Jesus and His disciples, v 22; 4:1-2. ​

    In addition to these three, several others views can be found. For example, my Ryrie Study note includes these other ideas:
    (1) Water refers to baptism and thus supports the idea that we must be water baptized to be saved. However this would contradict many other passages.

    (2) It stands for repentance, just as John the Baptist's baptism was for repentance.

    (3) Water refers to natural birth, and so we must also be born anew spiritually.

    (4) Water refers to the Word of God as in John 15:3.

    (5) Water is a synonym for the Holy Spirit, and thus might be translated "by water, even the Spirit."

    One truth is clear, the new birth is from God through the Spirit. ​
     
    #20 Van, May 30, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: May 30, 2015

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