4 Stars Out Of 5
Good foundation and good coverage
February 4, 2013
Breaking Free From Fear
A 6-Week, no-homework Bible study
I've heard good things about Kay Arthur, so when I had the opportunity to read and review one of her books I jumped at the chance. Granted, this is not a full fledged, narrative style, exposition of a topic; it's a question and answer style study. It doesn't reveal her skill as a writer, but it does reveal a part of her theology.
If the validity or accuracy of some of the answers seems questionable, you can gently and cheerfully remind the group to stay focused on the truth of the Scriptures. Your object is to learn what they Bible says, not engage in human philosophy. Simply stick with the Scriptures and give God the opportunity to speak. His Word is truth (John 17:17)! (Breaking Free, page vi)
One of the marks of a good teacher is how they view God's Word. Many will claim that their teaching is based on the Bible, but the real test is; do they actually preach from it? Kay Arthur follows through in this study.
Each section starts with scriptures relevant to the topic. In this case she pulls a multitude of scriptures dealing with fear. She is also careful not to pull single verses, but rather sections of text to maintain some context.
Kay also encourages Bible highlighting, inductive studying, rather than just cursory glances at the scripture. She encourages familiarity with the text.
With all that coming right at the front I was able to tackle this book with confidence. It was going to be a joy, rather than a struggle. In other words, I was ready to face my fear of examining a book dealing with an emotional topic.
Kay follows through on her stated premised of sticking to scripture. Each week of the study starts with a scripture passage, asks questions about that passage, and ends with a brief wrap-up by Kay. That's a proper balance. More of God, less of the teacher.
The questions themselves drive you back to the text first. There is no doubt that Kay wants you to understand what the Bible says first.
Kay follows through on the topic. She starts by revealing the types of fear mentioned in the Bible, the sources of those fears, the reaction to those fears both good and bad, and what options God gives us in dealing with those fears. For a short study, she covers a lot of ground and while the study is not exhaustive it is useful.
Any study on fear has it's own problems; few of us want to face our fears, fewer want to face those fears in a group, and fewer still want to touch the question about the fear of God.
The study does have a couple of those difficult to answer "describe a time in your life when" questions. Maybe it's just me, but when those questions come up in a group study my mind goes blank and I end up trying to find anything in my life that might possibly fit just so I'm not the odd man out not saying anything. If you don't have that problem feel free to move this paragraph up to "The Good" section.
Some of the questions can get repetitive. There were portions of the study where I caught myself saying, "Didn't I just answer that?" There can be good reason for this; to thoroughly examine the topic, to approach the text from different angles, or different words trigger different thoughts in different people. All these can be good which would likely imply the study is better in a group than on your own.
Kay does talk about the fear of death which brings up the topic of salvation. While she does explain that Christians need not fear death because the Christian will be with the Lord she doesn't quite close the loop on why. This can leave the door open to other avenues to find eternal life. What if I believe in Jesus, but I also follow the path of Krishna? In truth, there is no other path to God except through Christ. Our sins have separated us from God and as the Just Judge of the universe God must punish sin. We could never atone for our sin because we are sinful. The reason we need Jesus is because He was sinless. His death was the only sacrifice that could atone for our sins. His resurrection proved it.
In Kay's defense, my guess is that she fully believes that, it's just not clear to me in this book.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. (Proverbs 1:7 NIV84)
Kay hangs her study-of-fear hat on this verse and I couldn't agree more. The starting point, progression of the text and questions, and finally trusting God's wisdom far and away about her own is the mark of someone who has put a lot of time into studying God's Word. This is a valuable study that doesn't dwell on how you feel, but rather on how you react. It identifies the problem, explores the solution through scripture, and motivates trust in the Lord to overcome it.