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Presentation of Inductive Bible Study Method

Recordings from 1994 of renowned IBS scholar Dr. Robert Traina. Though it was originally shot in VHS almost two decades ago, the content of these videos remains stellar.

Eugene Peterson, author of The Message, recently wrote, “A few days after arriving at the Seminary, I found myself sitting in a classroom led by a professor, Robert Traina, who over the next three years would profoundly change the Bible for me, and me along with it, in ways that gave shape to everything I have been doing for the rest of my life. This is not an exaggeration.”

Inductive Bible Study Method by Robert Traina

Note: Access all available videos by clicking on the menu in the top left corner of the video player. These files are presented as is. Though the video quality may be low at times, the content is rich.

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27 Responses

  1. Hi Guest. What should I call you?

    So…hmmm…are you attempting to equate homosexuality with incest, polyamory, or polygamy? If so, are you suggesting these relationships are wrong? If so, in what ethic or authority would you ground your disapproval? Certainly most of these relationships are patently endorsed rather than proscribed by scripture.

    Your intention seems to be to offend as a way to coyly express your moral disapproval of homosexuality (and of those who affirm queer people).

    Perhaps you could constructively add to the discussion by explaining why you believe people who are gay should be stigmatized, marginalized and/or oppressed; and explain what harm we pose to society that would warrant such maltreatment. Further, presuming you’re a Christian, can you explain why you believe the maltreatment of queer people is permissible in the context of the gospel?

  2. Hi Dr. Snyder,

    Ford is a nickname. My given name is David.

    I’d be curious to understand how you can agree that the human condition is not different for people who are gay yet hold to traditionalist doctrine that says we are commanded to be celibate. That seems contradictory to Genesis 2:18 and 1 Cor 7:9 (and myriad other examples).

    1. Thanks, David.

      I think the Bible is pretty clear that every human being stands in the same place before God, needing God’s grace, and a candidate for transformation into the image of Jesus Christ.

      1. Hi Dr. Snyder.

        Well, I have to give you an amen for that. I wholly agree!! But, I must confess, that’s an unsatisfying answer.

        You think I’m a sinner in part because I’m gay and in a relationship. I think one of the biggest sins in my life was denying God’s gift of sexuality. You think I am unrepentant in my sin. I believe you are tying heavy, cumbersome loads to people who are gay.

        I fully agree that disagreement is only meaningful in the context of agreement. But that doesn’t absolve us from reconciling our disagreement under the cross.

        The core of my question was this: how can you both recognize the full humanity of gay people and, at the same time, hold to a theology that diminishes that humanity?

        With due respect, I’d be genuinely interested in how you can profess that gay people are fully human yet hold that we are not intended to live into a fully human life.

        I have faith that eventually our differences will be reconciled as we come to know and are fully known. I just hate that, in the interim, beliefs like yours are driving gay kids to despair and self harm, are driving families apart, and are causing the marginalization of queer people in society at large.

        My sincere best to you,

        1. Thanks, David.

          I don’t believe I said that I think you’re a sinner, or unrepentant. That’s not for me to judge.

          I don’t intend to “diminish the humanity” of anyone, and certainly not yours. Jesus Christ restores us to full humanity in the Body of Christ, and leads us into wholesome relationships as we follow him.



  3. Thanks so much, David.

    I appreciate your candid comments and explanation. I have copied your note into a file to help me when I revise and update the book, which I hope to do before long.

    If and where I am wrong, I believe the Spirit will lead me.

    Have you read Jeff Chu’s book? I found it very helpful.



    1. Hi Howard,

      Yes, I’ve read Jeff Chu’s book. I think, for the most part, it was a grace-filled approach to the topic.

      At the risk of belaboring the point, the crux of my disagreement with your writing concerns the harm that has been caused by traditionalist doctrine. Are you willing to engage in that conversation?

      Is it morally-permissible for the church to knowingly inflict harm?

      I believe it’s a fair question being posed – one that, to my knowledge, you have not addressed.

      Best –

      1. David,

        No, I definitely don’t think it is morally permissible for the church to knowingly inflict harm.

        My concern is to be true to Jesus and his teachings, and that’s what I’m seeking to discern.

        Thanks again,


        1. If you have any interest, here’s a couple of links documenting psychological experiences of gay Mormons. I believe this research has applicability into the conservative church.

          One excerpt from the meta-analysis:

          “Beckstead’s 2001a study mentioned that 12 of 22 (55%) participants mentioned having thought quite a bit about suicide as a way out and 10 of 22 (45%) actually attempted suicide. Brzezinski’s study identified 15 of 21 (71%) mentioned suicidal ideation or plans for suicide while a third of these (N=5) actually attempted it. Schow’s study of Affirmation members in 1994 showed 45% (61 out of 136) had occasional thoughts of death and suicide and 6 % (8 of 136) had attempted suicide (unsuccessfully). Phillips included questions about suicidal thoughts in his interviews and found that virtually all of the men interviewed (N=71) had experienced suicidal thoughts and several had attempted suicide.”



          1. Thanks, David. Yes, I do have interest.

            At some point I’d also be interested to learn how you have come to reconcile homosexual behavior with the teachings of Scripture.



          2. Hi Howard,

            The broad strokes of my understanding are sketched in these comments to you and to “guest”. When you focus exclusively on the clobber passages to discern scriptural understanding of homosexuality, you reduce all of human sexuality down to sex. It’s essential to understand what scripture has to say about what it means to be human and how sexuality fits into that.

            The bible shows that:
            – We are created to be in relationship with others.
            – Emotional intimacy is a blessing – even emotional intimacy with the same sex.
            – Selfless physical intimacy deepens and enhances emotional intimacy.

            Most people who have studied scripture would agree that Pauline proscriptions on erotic homosexual behavior boil down to Romans 1 (as other references are abusive sex acts that happen to be homosexual in nature). It’s unclear (and unknowable) to what, exactly, Paul is referring in Romans 1; but the behavior he describes is born of lust and idolatry. It does not seem that Paul is discussing the selfless coming together of two homosexual people in a covenant relationship. This is a point that you dismiss out of hand in your book.

            Natural law arguments like the one you’ve outlined emphasize the procreative property of sex to the poverty of the unitive property. Sexual promiscuity is not problematic solely because it might lead to pregnancy; promiscuity also carries an emotional toll that potentially harms those who engage in it.

            The unitive property of sex is a profound way in which we bind ourselves to other humans. The absence of procreation in a homosexual relationship does not render homosexual sex meaningless. Knowing that we are created as relational beings, the conservative mandate for gay celibacy is, in fact, against nature.

            Further, healthy covenant relationships – gay and straight alike – model Christ and create stable communities. They require mutual self-sacrifice and care-taking; they wholly reflect 1 Cor 7 marriage. This is another point you dismiss with little comment. Your argument in section one part two (“The Issue of a Family Life”) is unconvincing because you are somehow suggesting that the health of relationships is unconnected with the stability of relationships and society. That’s just illogical. It’s an argument that boils down to “God’s way is best” (“God’s way” being defined solely as the traditionalist understanding of scripture).

            Finally, I don’t believe that which has caused such undeniable destruction is born of God. Tradition is important, to be sure, and should not be dismissed lightly. But all tradition is grounded in doctrine which is neither a moral certainty nor an eternal truth. As you point out, we’ve gotten it wrong in big ways before with regards to slavery and the subjugation of women. Doctrine is our best guess at what we’re staring at in the dark mirror. Doctrine impacts the lives of flesh-and-blood people. When doctrine causes demonstrable harm, I believe we are morally obligated to question our orthodoxy.

            When you told the story of your friend who died of AIDS, I thought about what his life might have been like if he believed a covenant gay relationship was available to him. Would his story have ended differently?

            How can we get stuck on doctrine that has caused the premature death of too many people? How can we reconcile the fractured Body of Christ, the broken families, and the split communities with the great commandment?

            If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to explore accommodation theology. It’s a non-affirming position that basically says that gay covenant relationships are not God’s ideal and are sinful, but they are morally permissible because they the most moral life available for most people who are gay. I personally believe that gay relationships are celebrated by God. But I appreciate accommodation theology because it honors the humanity of people who are gay, whereas traditionalist theology diminishes that humanity. Accommodation theology provides traditionalists with a way to believe that causes less harm.

            I would be happy to discuss any of these comments in further detail. If you’d like to take this conversation offline, feel free to reach out to me at the email address associated with this comment.

            I wish you peace –

          3. Thanks, David. Again, very helpful.

            I think that makes clearer the specific areas of disagreement.

            I believe that if we (any of us, including me and you) walk in the light as Jesus is the light, he will lead us into ever greater truth and faithfulness.

            My intent is not to judge you or your behavior, but to make clear my own understanding and belief.



          4. David,
            I plan to revise my little book.
            Regarding “accommodation theology” — would you mind if I quoted anonymously two or three sentences of your description of what “accommodation theology” is? I found it quite a clear and helpful definition.

          5. Of course there is no copyright on public comment. Feel free (should I cringe to think how you will treat the topic 😉

            I find the definitions in William Stacy Johnson’s “a time to embrace” particularly helpful….especially this:

            “Evangelical theologian Paul K. Jewett argues that, in a fallen world, the church may need to accept people and situations that it can neither celebrate nor bless.32 Though such relationships are disobedient in form, they may nevertheless be obedient in substance. That is, there may be many virtuous aspects of such relationships even though they depart from the perfect will of God.”

            Excerpt From: William Stacy Johnson. “A Time to Embrace, 2nd Ed.” Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. iBooks.
            This material may be protected by copyright.

          6. Dr Snyder – I neglected to tell you how much I enjoyed this mornings post. I fervently believe that we each have a unique contribution to make to the kingdom. I believe we are sanctified through relationship – by knowing and being known to one another, we are mutually transformed.

            Thanks for the encouragement today. I join you in your prayer.

            I wish you peace.

  4. Help me understand…. why is it “impossible for the Church to love people who are gay well and hold traditionalist doctrine at the same time.”

    Besides the fact that your argument has several logical fallacies, I will address what I think is the core misrepresentation. To state that the consequence of a belief determines negative behavior is to fundamentally misconstrue the nature of ‘in-use’ beliefs and the Gospel. If we believe that we, as Christians, (of which you count yourself as one) are new creations in Christ and are grace-aided morally free agents, then we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to act in ways consistent with our identity in Christ. However, this does not preclude the ability to act in ways inconsistent with that identity. In other words, If, as you propose, “we change our theology” what is to stop people from committing injustices to LGBT after the fact? Just because I change my theology does not mean my actions will automatically follow suit. But I hear you say, “BUT THEY SHOULD!” Of course they should, but “espoused belief” is not the same as “in-use” belief as we all know. The key is to close the gap between what we say we believe and what we live out (our actual in-use belief). Changing the theology will not automatically result in different behavior.

    So here’s the misrepresentation… Your belief that holding the traditional doctrine must result in injustice and harm is logically inconsistent. To assert that holding a belief necessitates a particular action is inconsistent with any notion of free will. I understand that there are many examples of injustice and harm, this is not denied and it is atrocious. But to conclude that it is logically necessary is false… As Christians, we do believe that the Gospel of Christ IS transformative. Jesus spoke clearly about showing love and grace in the midst of disagreement as a real possibility. He demonstrated it with the women caught in adultery… While he did not “condemn” (the biblical concept here meaning ‘condemn to death’, thus the nature of the leaders with stones to kill her) her, he spoke directly to that which he declared to be sin, “go and sin no more”. The principal here is that while there was a clear transgression being addressed, Jesus modeled a loving and gracious response.

    In no way do I compare myself to Jesus in this scenario, but I think that it is “impossible” to say it is impossible to hold to the traditional belief and not perpetrate injustice and harm. I don’t agree that active homosexuality is compatible with orthodox Christianity… but that does not necessitate that I will be less compassionate or gracious in dealing with anyone in the LGBT community. I am reminded that in all things, with those whom I disagree with, especially other Christians, that we share the experience of being under the Cross of Christ. Therefore, I extend compassion and grace as best as I can through the power of the Holy Spirit. However, it does not mean that because I disagree theologically with you that I will necessarily act in the ways you describe…. that disagreement is another matter entirely.

    1. Hi Rob –

      Thank you for taking the time to respond and for engaging in this conversation. This is a big topic – much bigger than any combox. I apologize in advance for the length of this comment.

      If I’m tracking you correctly, you’re saying that holding beliefs based on traditionalist doctrine does not necessitate animus toward or maltreatment of people who are gay, and changing theology will not necessarily change the hearts of those who act in destructive ways. In other words, you’re saying that it is entirely possible for a church to hold traditionalist beliefs and still love gay people well.

      I disagree. You may be correct as far as you go; overt homophobia does not necessarily flow from conservative theology. But, after being involved in the conversation about faith and sexuality for years, I’ve come to believe that the traditionalist doctrine is both emotionally and spiritually abusive. There is harm inherent in the theology.

      There’s a conversation to be had about the morality of theology that diminishes the humanity of an entire peson-group. At it’s core, traditionalist theology pathologies gay people, says our suffering is necessary for the flourishing of humanity, and says the relationships we form are inferior and immoral and therefore forbidden. This is contrary to God’s creative intention for humankind. For the sake of brevity, I’ll refer you to the other comments in this thread.

      From a pastoral perspective, this engenders internalized homophobia in the gay people who receive this message. The fourteen-year-old gay kid in the front pew is being told that s/he is uniquely and profoundly flawed (internalized as sick and twisted), that s/he is unworthy of the blessings that flow from loving and being loved – of knowing and being known – intimately. They are forbidden from creating a family like their parents and grandparents. The typical response of kids is to retreat to the closet with its attendant emotional detachment and depression. Is it any wonder that most gay Christians report a season of desperately pleading with God to make them straight? Many are desperate to the point of suicide. [The gay Mormon study I linked to in another comment shows the LDS model for sexual identity formation which actually builds suicide ideation into the model – should theology drive God’s children to despair this way?] This is harm that flows directly from the traditionalist belief.

      I’ve had conversations with scores of middle-aged gay people who pursued chastity through celibacy. Almost invariably, they’ve been emotionally crushed by the isolation and the loneliness. Many of them considered (and some attempted) suicide. Many of them lost their faith entirely – they chose life over faith. I’ve got to believe that God will show mercy. The traditional ethic is a heavy, cumbersome load indeed.

      There’s emerging data regarding mixed-orientation couples – i.e., gay people who marry a straight partner. These relationships are marked by lower rates of relationship commitment and partner-focused forgiveness which results in lower relationship quality (http://psychologyandchristianity dot wordpress dot com/2013/12/17/new-study-published-on-mocs/). Anecdotally, if you spend any time in this space, you’ll hear heartbreaking stories of failed mixed-orientation marriages and the emotional devastation of the parents and children. Some of these gay people married because they were closeted due to social and religious pressure, others were open about their sexuality and pursued heterosexual relationships as an expression of faithfulness. This is harm that flows directly from
      traditionalist belief.

      Further, when a gay person reconciles their faith and sexuality in a way that conflicts with the ethic of the traditionalist faith community, the community is required by their beliefs to stigmatize and exclude that person (which is obviously contrary to the example of Christ). I receive comments all the time questioning my faithfulness (“The Spirit convicts Christians of their sin and they repent, you’re rebelling against God”, “You’re making your identity something that God calls an abomination”, etc.). Certainly, I would be barred from membership and service in most churches with a traditionalist stance. For someone who grows up in a traditionalist faith community, they are effectively excommunicated. This is injury that flows directly from the community’s belief.

      Finally, if you look at the fruit of this particular doctrine, it’s undeniably bitter– lives lost, families and communities torn apart, believers driven away from the cross. This doctrine is not generative. How much harm has to occur before we’re willing to re-examine our cherished orthodoxy? There’s an argument to be made that the church is idolizing this particular doctrine because it’s become a proxy for societal morality. But I believe the (big C) Church will be held to account for the harm we’re causing. If the Church is serious about loving gay people better, we must believe in a way that doesn’t cause harm. Rob, I invite you to join me on that journey.

      I wish you peace

      1. David,
        I appreciate and hear your point(s), but again, I disagree with
        the notion that the traditional doctrine (TD) on the subject is inherently
        abusive emotionally and spiritually.

        In order for your rationale to hold true, it would have to
        be true of any other orthodox Christian doctrine. For example, if it is true that the TD is emotionally abusive, then we must also say that being a sinner (i.e. one born subject to Original Sin/depravity) is also emotionally/spiritually abusive.

        Now I would grant that the way the Church has communicated
        the doctrine of original sin has caused individuals to suffer emotionally from
        the internalization of the doctrine, but that is as a result of the way in
        which the doctrine has been taught/practiced and received… not based on the proposition of the doctrine. Effectually we could say, “what’s
        the difference… it’s doesn’t matter what was intended, only what was done!” It does matter, and that is part of the ‘sin’ committed by the church … teaching biblical truth in condemnatory ways that distorts the truth and grace of God that leads people into self-loathing rather than an understanding of new creation that provides hope and redemption. For example, although depravity is a biblical proposition of truth, it does not mean that it is our core identity, therefore, to focus on this as the ideal of self-understanding is to misunderstand Creation, the Gospel and Grace.

        I would submit that a large part of the problem revolving around the TD for both Christian LGBT and non-LGBT is the fact that sexual orientation has illegitimately become a primary identity marker much in the same way that “sinner” has become the primary identity of many Christians, especially for those who struggle with who they are as Christians at their core. As Christians, our primary identity is in Christ (Gal 3; Col 3), from that perspective all other markers (race, gender, social class, and even sexuality- although I do not give sexuality the same standing as the other three) are inconsequential in the economy of Kingdom reality. Now this does not mean they do not exist, but that I am no longer viewing people according to these distinctions (1 Cor 5). And for me, this is the vantage point from which I appropriate doctrines and live out my theology.

        I disagree that the TD requires churches to stigmatize the LGBT, although it has done so in many, if not most, cases. I don’t, and I know plenty of churches that don’t take that approach…including the one I attend – which affirms the TD as well as other moral issues. But I also believe that a large part of the behavior of Christians toward Christian (and non-Christian) LGBT is because the Church has not dealt with the doctrinal/Scriptural
        issue (see below). By ostracizing, many in the church are able to keep the issue at arm’s length until such time as there seems to be a consensus on what the Church is going to do. This is not to give an excuse, but to express what I think is behind the bad behavior.

        The experiences you cite of individuals within the church and the suffering of Christians who identify as LGBT is wrong and tragic. But experience nor culture determines propositional truth, if we are inclined to believe that the Scripture is revealed truth as given by God. This is the fundamental
        tension for Christian LGBT with the TD. And for most the rub is based on the whether the Bible is revealed truth and the source of our understanding of morality. And this is where I believe the conversation needs to start… There will be no agreement until we deal with this issue first and then work out to praxis. If we do agree that the Scripture is the revealed truth of God, then one cannot simply demand that the doctrine be changed any more than one can demand that you stop being gay. That does not respect or try to understand where each other are coming from. Wrestling with the Scripture through dialogue, prayer, exegetical study, praxis, and the
        leading of the Holy Spirit are all necessary for the those who are looking to
        understand the best and faithful way forward, a way that is faithful to Christian orthodoxy (as a whole) that traces itself back to Christ- not just a reaction to contemporary circumstances. But if we do not agree that the Scripture is the revealed truth of God, then we are at an impasse and most likely will not come to a solution that is agreeable to both sides. The starting point is critical and will determine the way forward.

        Grace and Peace,

        1. Hi Rob –

          Thanks again for engaging.

          Both of our perspectives have been well laid, and I doubt that we will have less disagreement; but I do value these exchanges because it helps my understanding.

          There’s a lot to unpack in your response. Let me react to just a few key points.

          To a large degree I agree with you about teaching original sin. When total depravity is taught in such a way that one can only see sin and not imago dei, when we are robbed of our agency because we completely disparage our own intellect, then the teaching has become abusive. You posit that the purpose of the total depravity doctrine is not to engender profound self-loathing (presumably it is intended to underscore our reliance on our Savior). What, then, is the generative purpose of the traditional sexual ethic? If it is not intended to cause suffering and harm, then what is it intended to do? How can it be tempered and taught in a way that doesn’t result in emotional devastation for people who are gay? I believe that to be an impossible task.

          You say you don’t stigmatize people who are gay, but I would argue that you have done just that in your comments. You suggest that people who are gay have made our sexuality a primary identity marker rather than making our identity in Christ. It is a judgmental posture to suggest that gay Christians have not made Christ the center of their life (implying that if they had, they would not be pursuing physically intimate relationships). Your belief requires you to call covenant gay relationships, and by extension the people in them, immoral.

          Further, I would argue that the only reason sexuality has become an identifier is because it’s anathema to people with traditional views. When society in general, and the (small c) church in particular, berates us for this immutable aspect of our personhood, the backlash has been “we’re here, we’re queer, get over it.”

          I have a non-rhetorical question around this idea of not stigmatizing. If my husband and I were to attend your church regularly, would we be welcomed knowing we often hold hands during worship or give each other a peck on the lips when we meet up? [I’m putting the issue of exclusion aside, but it’s still an important one that needs to be considered.]

          I do believe that scripture is the revealed truth of God. I do not believe that any given doctrine is, in and of itself, eternal truth or morally certain. Doctrine is our best guess at what we’re seeing reflected in the dark mirror.

          You seem to be suggesting that non-traditionalists (or revisionists if you prefer) are simply rejecting God’s will as revealed in scripture. I disagree. You may be unconvinced by exegesis that finds covenant gay relationships morally permissible; but it’s uncharitable to suggest that those who believe differently than you are not taking a high view of scripture or are not faithfully going through the discernment process. Such a judgment conveniently sets others up as weaker believers which makes it easier for traditionalists to maintain a sense of moral superiority.

          I wholly agree with you that “Wrestling with the Scripture through dialogue, prayer, exegetical study, praxis, and the leading of the Holy Spirit are all necessary for the those who are looking to understand the best and faithful way forward, a way that is faithful to Christian orthodoxy (as a whole) that traces itself back to Christ- not just a reaction to contemporary circumstances.” And I think that’s exactly what’s happening in the Church. It’s been amazing to see the Holy Spirit working to change hearts and minds about the sinfulness of covenant gay relationships.

          Scripture is the revealed truth of God. We are called to continue to discern God’s will on this and all matters. After all, we are marching toward Shalom but we have not yet reached our destination. The “contemporary circumstances” do need to be considered. We have new information about sexual orientation. Covenant gay relationships now exist openly. I’m afraid that traditionalists have decided that this is a settled matter and are generally not willing to re-examine their orthodoxy. I fear that they have shut out the Holy Spirit behind the door of moral certitude.

          But ultimately, when applied doctrine is measured with a body count, it’s impossible to deny that it’s toxic. The Church is morally obliged to end the indisputable harm caused by this belief.

          My sincere best to you,

          1. David, I am sorry I have not responded. There is a lot to chew on there and my schedule has been insane…. I will get back to you. This discussion for me is very helpful in processing my thoughts and gives me hope that while there is some disagreement we can still dialogue without hostility or ad hominem arguments.

            grace and peace,

  5. I am trying to order a copy of this book, but the online ordering process is terrible. It keep telling me I do not know my own address for shipping. Please contact me at mark@firstb.net so I can actually order a copy of this book. The book looks amazing. The ordering method is frustrating and unhelpful.

    1. Dave, I do, and I try. Condolences on Ruthie’s passing – but I understand it was a deliverance. I remember her, as does my sister Nancy. Shalom!
      Incidentally, and expanded and revised edition of this little book is in the works – should be out soon. I think it’s better.

  6. Traditional Christian doctrines on morality can seem a cumbersome weight. Unless and until one has had the experience of having been changed, at his core, from one nature to an all together new one. Its our journey and our life’s amazing adventure!
    If Christianity is not this, it is a farce.
    Transformation is our calling. It is our purchased right in Christ.
    ” If any man be in Christ he is a new creature. Old things pass away. Behold; all things are becoming new.”

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