When I first became a believer, after leaving the traditional churches behind, I bought myself the Old Scofield Reference Bible. It was a beauty! Genuine blue leather with silver edged pages. Man I loved that Bible. I made short work of it and its notes, reading it cover to cover. Soon I was lead into Dispensationalism without knowing it. The one constant theme I found in scripture, didn’t matter if I was attending Christ’s Church (Anglican), St. Joe’s (Roman Catholic) or St. Nektarios (Greek Orthodox), the one major theme was God’s sovereignty and the purpose of the Cross. When I was a Dispensationalist I was still a ‘calvinist‘ in every sense of the term and I believe God brought me out of Dispensaitonalism because of this driving presupposition. I bought other study Bibles but soon became wary of the notes, the theological notes that pepper every page, I come to avoid. The power of the notes at the bottom of the page or comments found along side of the biblical text had more power over how I read the Bible then I first thought was possible. But does that mean all study Bibles are bad? Probably not.
My solution to this problem was to buy a plain reference Bible without notes. My study Bibles sit on the shelf collecting dust unless I need a specific theological perspective found in the notes. Essentially I use them like I would a commentary. After reading the biblical text and following the chain of references I pour over the commentaries of Gill and Henry. Both commentators offer tried and true exegesis of the verses and I read them only after I read, pray and think over the word of God.
This brings me to an interesting article written by a Pastor in the Reformed House Church movement worth reading.
A link and a quote to get you started:
“…every good gift from God can be abused. Of all the study tools, perhaps in our day the Study Bible is the resource that is most often misused. For example, many who have taught the Bible have felt the frustration when, instead of meditating on the passage of Scripture being taught, several in the group were busy reading and then sharing from the study notes at the bottom of the page!”