Katherine Forster. Transformed by Truth: Why and How to Study the Bible for Yourself as a Teen. Wheaton: Crossway, 2019. 197 pages. $14.99 (paperback).
While there are numerous introductory Bible study books on the market, the target audiences are usually either aspiring ministers or lay adults. Rarely, if ever, do these books intentionally focus on equipping teens to learn, love, and live God’s word. In Transformed by Truth, Katherine Forster, lead writer and managing editor for TheRebelution.com, National Bible Bee champion, and herself a teenager, looks to fill this gap in the “how to study the Bible” literature by providing teens with the encouragement and tools they need to read, understand, and apply the Bible for themselves.
As its subtitle implies, Forster’s work divides into two parts, with the first part arguing for why teens should study the Bible for themselves and the second part outlining how to carry out that study. In the first part, Forster recounts her own personal journey from seeing the Bible as simply a book to be studied to recognizing the God who loves her and longs to meet her in its pages. Against the claims of modern culture, Forster rightly contends that teens are not too young or too busy to study the Bible for themselves. On the contrary, she argues that only through a deep and personal study of the Bible will teens find meaningful answers to their most pressing questions, such as “Who is God?,” “Why am I here?,” and “What is God’s will for my life?”
In the second part of Transformed by Truth, Forster builds off her justification for why teens should study the Bible by providing a plan for how they can do so. Before embarking on specifics in methodology, Forster first offers practical advice on issues that often derail the best of intentions, such as when to read, how to avoid distractions, and the role of community as a support for individual study. She also highlights the importance of biblical, historical, and cultural context as a critical tool in the Bible study process. Those familiar with inductive Bible study will immediately recognize the tripartite Observation, Interpretation, Application methodology; but the way in which Forster explains each of these elements, provides examples, and offers guiding questions for self-study will encourage teen readers not only to read about how to study the Bible, but to immediately put it into practice as well. Forster also provides an appendix of Bible study resources, nearly all of which are free and available online.
Secular culture makes a never-ending sales pitch for the souls of teenagers; yet for all its glitz and glamour it remains unable to provide satisfying answers to life’s biggest questions, answers found only in Scripture. Beginning personal Bible study can be a daunting undertaking for anyone, let alone teens caught in the crosshairs of culture. Against this backdrop, Forster’s Transformed by Truth provides an excellent resource to help teens move from seeing the Bible as a boring book to recognizing in it the way to eternal life.
CBS book notices provide brief descriptive summaries and assessments of new publications in biblical studies and biblical theology. The present book notice was written by Andy Lee, research assistant for the Center for Biblical Studies.