R-1 Research, Tools
In introduction to this series we introduced the topic of self-directed education which we defined as:
Self-directed study is education without the guidance of masters (such as teachers and professors) or institutions (such as schools). The student chooses the subject he or she will study, his or her studying material, and the studying rhythm and time. A student may or may not have formal education, and his or her study may be either a complement or an alternative to it.
From there, we talked about informal self-directed education and then formal self-directed education under The Noah Plan. Part 1 concluded with an introduction to the Basic Steps of Learning, the 4 R’s. These “Four R’s” are: Research, Reason, Relate, and Record.
In Part 2, we will look at R-1, Research. This section will focus on research tools.
There are many sources for research. We will consider both Christian and secular sources for research:
Christian Resources include:
- The Bible
- Bible study aids
- Confessions of faith
- Denominational studies
- Christian books
- Christian advocacy group materials
Secular resources include:
- Wikipedia / encyclopedias
- Books by secular authors on technical subjects
- Secular advocacy group materials
The Bible is the ultimate resource because it is God’s word to humankind. As stated in 2 Timothy 3:16 &17, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished for all good works.” The Bible is the first source for the Christian’s research onto any topic. There are many references to creation concerning God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Bible is free from the emotions and agendas of the current creation discussion.
The Bible may be used to:
- Establish definitions of creation related terms.
- Understand the attributes of God and how they relate to creation.
- Establish a Biblical timeline of history from creation.
- Find and record references to creation from Genesis to Revelation.
Bible study aids
Bible aids such as an exhaustive concordance are most helpful. An exhaustive concordance will provide word definitions in Hebrew and Greek.
Confessions of faith
Confessions of faith are summaries of what various Christian churches consider as important summaries of Biblical truth. Confessions of faith were developed by study groups often over a period of years. Presbyterians consider the Westminster Standards (The Westminster Confession of Faith, Larger Catechism, and Shorter Catechism) to be the best summaries of what the Bible teaches on important Bible Doctrines. The great confessions of faith were developed during the reformation and thus are free from the emotions and agendas of the current creation discussion.
The Westminster Confession of Faith documents that a Reformed view of Bible interpretation is based on the plain meaning of Scripture and the perspicuity of Scripture.
Denominational studies can be a helpful research tools. The Report of the Creation Study Committee (PCA Report) is a very significant and helpful study. It was presented to the 28th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) in 2001. The PCA Report was a document of consensus that reflected views of creation within the PCA at the time it was published. These views included the Calendar-Day view (this view is also termed the Literal view, Traditional view, Twenty-Four-Hour view and Days of Ordinary Length view), Day-Age view, Framework view, and Analogical Days view.
Denominational studies have limitations. The researcher needs to be aware of the times and circumstances of in which a study was prepared. The PCA Report was written at a time when other views of creation were accepted within the PCA. However, it was written before theistic evolution became accepted within the PCA.
Any book reflects the view of the author. Within the Christian community there are differing views of creation ranging from the Traditional view of creation to theistic evolution.
The Bible states that “He that is first with his own case seemeth just; but his neighbor commeth and searches him” (Prov. 18:17). Therefore, our view of creation should not be based on a single human author.
Books on creation can be very helpful. However, the student needs to know:
- The viewpoint of the author
- Techniques used by author
- The time the book was published and the publisher
Christian advocacy groups
Christian advocacy groups generate a lot of material in books, websites, and DVD. Advocacy groups also have speakers who present their group’s view at churches and in other venues. As with books, a range of views of creation ranging from the Traditional view to theistic evolution are presented.
As with books, the resources of Christian advocacy groups can be very helpful. However, the student needs to know:
- The creation view of the group
- Techniques used by the group
- The structure, organization, and finances of the group
The self-directed student should not avoid secular sources. However, the student needs to be discerning in using them. Common grace allows secularists to make good observations and record them. However, a basic problem with secular materials is that the producers of the materials and the materials themselves will never acknowledge the God of the Bible. A key Bible verse for understanding secularists is Romans 2:14: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them: because they are spiritually discerned.” Secular sources include:
Dictionaries are helpful in providing secular definitions of words. However, these definitions can be influenced by the author and the culture of the time of publication
Wikipedia / encyclopedias
Wikipedia is a very useful resource for obtaining basic information. It is also helpful in obtaining the secular viewpoint(s) on almost any subject. Encyclopedias are more difficult to access but can be useful.
Books by secular authors on technical subjects
Books by secular authors can be very helpful for obtaining basic facts. However, the interpretation of the facts will always lead to a naturalistic explanation.
Secular advocacy group materials
Secular advocacy groups include websites. Often the materials on these websites use ridicule and unsuitable language.
To be continued ….. Next we will look at the products (deliverables) of research.