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This book review was written by Cassie Watson (http://casswatson.com/)
Teenagers are underestimated in the church. Even if they’re fed with solid biblical teaching at youth group, we don’t always teach them to feed themselves from the Word. We assume they won’t understand the deep things of God—or don’t want to try.
In Transformed By Truth: Why and How to Study the Bible for Yourself as a Teen, Katherine Forster upends these expectations. She states the purpose of her book: “My hope is that you'll come away from this book with a renewed vision of why Bible study is important and with the tools to pursue it on your own.” (p. 16)
Three reasons why teens should read this book
This book isn’t just about instructions and tools. For the first half of the book, Forster carefully lays a foundation in our hearts and minds. She sets out a vision of why Bible study matters for teenagers—and for everyone! She calls teens to a higher purpose than merely succeeding at school and work. Why is it worth putting in all the time and effort necessary to study the Bible? Forster answers:
“If the Bible is merely one more book written by men, then all of this is a waste of time. You had better go read a textbook or a novel. However, if the Bible is what it claims to be—the very words of God himself—then it holds the answers to our biggest questions and deserves all of our attention.” (p. 32)
In Part 2 of this book, Forster gets practical. She doesn’t set up high expectations for teenagers and then let them stumble along on their own. Instead, she fills up a toolbox for teenagers to use when they study the Bible.
Forster starts with the big picture, helping readers to explore the biblical, cultural and historical contexts of the passage they’re studying. She walks them through the three kinds of questions to ask of a passage: observation, interpretation, and application. All through these chapters, Forster refers to external resources like dictionaries and commentaries. Many of these are available online for free, which makes Bible study more accessible for teenagers.
There are also detailed examples along the way, and questions at the end of each chapter which help readers to practice these skills for themselves. Reading this book doesn’t just give teenagers knowledge, but builds their confidence in studying the Bible.
Forster shows teenagers that studying the Bible on their own is possible and rewarding, even though it’s not easy. Her tone is gentle as she encourages them towards a vision for lifelong learning:
“Familiarity with the whole story takes time. But as you make a habit of studying God's word, digging deep and discovering his truth for yourself, you'll grow in your understanding of Scripture as a whole.” (p. 118)
Scripture isn’t about finding quick-fixes to change our lives. As we grow to know God better through the Bible—which takes time—he works in us by his Spirit so that we also love and obey him better. Through Transformed By Truth, teens will be encouraged to take a long-term view of God’s Word. The tools they learn here will form the foundation for the Bible study they’ll do for the rest of their lives. It’s important to start well, and this book will help them do that.
I’d recommend Transformed By Truth for any teenager, whether they think they know the Bible well or not. I’m planning to study it alongside a teenager from my youth group so I can help her learn and apply these tools. Why not buy a copy for a teen you know, or even offer to read it with them? You’ll learn plenty that you can apply to your own Bible reading too.
Why and How to Study the Bible for Yourself as a Teen