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Scripture in the Church:
Contemporary Issues of Biblical Interpretation and Theology

These topics deal both with larger issues of biblical interpretation in the church that have become contentious, such as the authorship of Isaiah, and also with issues that arise from misunderstanding or misinterpretation of specific biblical passages.

General

Confessions of an Adult Christian: What I Learned from My First Bible Class

Essay recounting an adult Christian's lack of knowledge or interest in Scripture, and her subsequent awakening to the relevance and depth of Scripture in a college Bible course

Beginning Bible Study

Reflections on the importance of critical Bible study and its challenges for beginning students.

The Millennium

A detailed look at the popular concepts surrounding the Second Coming, the millennial
reign of Christ, and the rapture with an analysis of their biblical basis from a Wesleyan theological perspective.

Christians and Urban Legends

A critique of the susceptibility of Christians to the phenomenon of urban legends, with a detailed analysis of one example concerning prophecy and Iraq.

Body and Soul: Greek and Hebraic Tensions in Scripture

Short essay dealing with the tensions arising between the dichotomous and trichotomous view of human beings grounded in a metaphysical dualism and the biblical perspective that does not assume such a view of reality.

Devotional and Exegetical Reading of Scripture [Available in .pdf ]

A brief examination of the differences between these two ways of reading Scripture, and the problems created when they are confused.

Problems with "Plain Sense" Reading of Scripture [Available in .pdf ]

Examines three major problems with assuming that the literal or "plain sense" of the text is the best way to read and interpret Scripture, also noting that the classical "plain sense" reading was in opposition to allegory and dogma, not careful biblical study.

A God of Strength:  Prayer and the "Perhaps" of God

A reflective look at prayer in light of our expectations for how prayer should "work" and some biblical perspectives.

The Modern Inerrancy Debate

A Discussion of the roots of the debate about biblical inerrancy, its impact on the church, the relation to various theories of inspirations, and inerrancy in relation to Faith Statements about Scripture.

The Problem with Autographs

An analysis of the logical and theological problems with positing inerrant autographs for the Bible. An Excerpt from The Modern Inerrancy Debate.

Evangelicals and the Bible

Some issues evangelicals face in interpreting Scripture, including assumptions, lack of historical knowledge, misunderstanding of the nature of Scripture, and lack of critical engagement with the text, along with suggestions for how to overcome some of these issues.

Doomsday Prophets: The Difference Between Prophetic and Apocalyptic Eschatology

A contrast of prophetic and apocalyptic perspectives on the future work of God, the confusion of which can lead to distortion and perversion of the biblical message.

Word of God and God's word

Brief discussion of the "word of God" including the difference between Jesus as the Incarnate Word and the Bible as God's word, and the use of logos in John's Gospel.

God as a Jealous God

A short article on the theological meaning behind the OT idea of God as a jealous God in light of modern misunderstanding of the description.

"He descended into Hell": Sheol, Hell, and the Dead

Translation and meaning of the Hebrew term Sheol and the Greek term Hades, especially in reference to the phrase "He descended into hell" in the traditional version of the Apostles' Creed.

Neo-fundamentalism: An Essay on Being Who We Are

An essay on the influence of basically Calvinistic fundamentalist and neo-fundamentalist agendas in Wesleyan churches, using the example of Focus on the Family's attack on the TNIV gender inclusive Bible translation; includes a brief definition of neo-fundamentalism.

Two Views of Theology

Short essay contrasting theology seen as absolute truth and theology understood as testimony conditioned by time and place.

Old Testament

Metaphors for God: The Plural "us" in Cultural Context

An analysis of four Old Testament passages that use 'us' to refer to God, concluding that they are cultural metaphors drawn from the imagery of God as a high king.

A Limited God? Genesis 18:20-33 and 22:1-12

An examination of two Old Testament passages that deal with God learning something about humanity, against the background of the traditional concepts of God's omniscience. Concludes that the biblical witness portrays a God who is dynamically interactive with humanity.

Yam Suph: "Red Sea" or "Sea of Reeds"

The traditional translation "Red Sea" in the Exodus account has led to unnecessary debate; the text actually reads "sea of reeds" and its location is unknown.

Speaking the Language of Canaan [Available in .pdf ]

An analysis of the Israelite appropriation of metaphors, symbols, and conceptual categories from the "pool" of ancient Middle Eastern culture, noting both the similarities and differences, and the implications both for understanding the OT, as well as for addressing the modern conflict of science and religion.

Comparison of World Views: Perception of the Physical World

A graphic to go with the article "Speaking the Language of Canaan," comparing various ways of understanding and talking about the physical world.

Did God Order the Massacre of Canaanites?

Examines God's apparent orders in Scripture for the Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites; from the perspective of the nature of the biblical witness to God, as well as the cultural and literary aspects of the Old Testament.

Jephthah's Rash Vow

Short article dealing with the problem of Jephtheh's vow to sacrifice his daughter (Judges 11:21-40).

The Unity and Authorship of Isaiah: A Needless Battle

A survey of the evidence for seeing the Book of Isaiah as a dynamic witness to God's work in the community of faith across 250 years of history, including an examination of the assumptions that have caused this topic to be so divisive in the church; this article takes the position that there is a theological unity to the book rather than a historical unity.

The Circle of the Earth: Translation and Meaning in Isaiah 40:22

An analysis of the meaning of "circle of the earth" in Isa 40:22, concluding that the word translated "circle" refers to the horizon.

Prophets Today?

A reflective essay on the role of Israel's prophets, and what role a prophetic voice might play in the church today.

Criteria of False Prophets: Notes on Deuteronomy 18:22

A brief analysis of Deuteronomy 18:22, examining the claim that it proves Old Testament prophecy is primarily predictive.

Prophecy and Prediction

Essay on the role of Old Testament prophets as covenant mediators and interpreters of history rather than seeing prophecy as absolute prediction of the future.

The Third Generation:  Nehemiah and the Question of Identity

A reflective article addressing the tendency of religious traditions to drift from their original purpose and vision as they move further away from their origins; based on Nehemiah 13, in which the crisis of identity and survival facing the post exilic community became the stimulus for some rather strong action by Nehemiah.

Satan: Context in Biblical Interpretation and Ministry

An examination of some facts about the use of satan in the Old testament, reflections about cultural context, concluding with observations about the relationship of cultural context and ministry.

New Testament

Born Again Christians?

Examination of the popular idea of "born Again" used by some evangelicals, its biblical background, and what the biblical and traditional concept of "new birth" means.

The Keys to the Kingdom: Binding and Loosing, and Biblical Interpretation

A concise contextual analysis of the church's responsibility to 'bind' and 'loose' related to modern ethical application of biblical principles within a Community of Faith.

Word of Faith and Commanding: Contextual Analysis of Matthew 21:21

A contextual analysis of Matthew 21:21 in terms of the common "word of faith" interpretation.

Jesus' "Cry of Dereliction" and Psalm 22

Brief comments about Jesus' cry from the cross, suggesting that the traditional interpretation that God abandoned Jesus is inadequate.

James and the Law: Ethics in the Christian Life

Examines the assumed tension between Paul and James on the law; concludes that they are addressing different issues with the supposed tension arising from the Reformers projecting their own context into the text.

The Use of "Father" and "Rabbi" - Religious Titles and Jesus' Teaching

Brief examination of the meaning of Jesus' comment in Matthew 23 not to call anyone "father" or "teacher," in light on anti-Catholic bias.

Unequally Yoked: A Study in Context (1 Cor 6:14)

A contextual and theological examination of Paul's advice to the Corinthians, "do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers" in light of modern legalistic use of the verse.

The Millennium - Revelation 20:1-10

A detailed look at the popular concepts surrounding the Second Coming, the millennial
reign of Christ, and the rapture with an analysis of their biblical basis from a Wesleyan theological perspective.

To the Ends of the Earth: Proclamation and the Second Coming

Short essay dealing with the misperception that every person must hear the Gospel before the Second Coming of Jesus can occur.

For other topics that might be relevant, see Short Bible Topics

-Dennis Bratcher, Copyright © 2014, Dennis Bratcher - All Rights Reserved
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