There seems to be no shortage of options when shopping around for Bible study materials. Publishers and retailers provide a host of materials originating from a host of theological convictions. There is quite an array of Bible study books written by Reformed teachers and authors as well. How do you, and how does your church, pick out its Bible study materials? As the saying goes, you can’t judge a book by its cover.
Choosing Bible study books was a recent topic of discussion among the Reformed Fellowship board. One of our board members observed that in former days choosing Bible study materials was taken very seriously. In confessionally Reformed churches it was required that the elders reviewed and approved all material before it could be used. This board member feared that many churches in our day have fallen away from such a practice. Group leaders, it seems, are often left to choose material of their individual preference.
It might be an interesting and perhaps a revealing project to survey the readers of The Outlook to find out what materials your churches are using for Bible study. Who are the publishers and the authors of the materials being used? One Reformed Fellowship member that we know did just that in his church. The result is that they are now exclusively using materials published by Reformed Fellowship.
Besides the content in choosing Bible study materials, it is also necessary to research the writer. In our day that has been made simpler by way of the Internet. There usually are also reviews available that can give clues to trustworthiness of the writer and the material. Even if the author is Reformed, he or she may espouse views that are considered to be contrary to the Reformed confessions and creeds. This is a concern, because there certainly are such views and writers also within the greater Reformed community.
Reformed Fellowship offers twenty different Bible study books. They have been written by known and trusted teachers, like William Boekestein, Michael Brown, Daniel Hyde, L. Charles Jackson, Brian Najapfour, John R. Sittema, Cornelis Venema, Mark Vander Hart, Henry Vander Kam, and Tony and Arley-Ann Zekveld. “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them” (2 Tim. 3:14). By using the materials these authors have written, and provided by Reformed Fellowship, we can continue in the things we have learned and have become convinced of, because we know from who we are learning. Reformed Fellowship would be happy to produce more Bible study material according to demand.
Mr. Myron Rau is president of the Reformed Fellowship board.