Reflections on Scripture: Biblical Study for Ordinary People


Stephen Bauer, Ph.D.


       In 2013-14, my denomination held a series of high-level committee meetings to study ordination in the context of the question of ordination and gender.  The committee was comprised of a mixture of "lay people" [i.e. those not trained in theology or for professional ministry] and theological scholars.  Those without some kind of professional training in theology lamented the complexity of the scholarly papers. They further expressed concerns over comments asserting that we cannot properly understand the biblical text without studying the historical backgrounds and archeological data as they feel this makes the scriptures inaccessible to the common person.  I sympathize with those concerns.  When I was a doctoral student one of my seminary professors argued that the Bible has enough background information in itself to properly interpret the text.  I believe this is true, but I also realize that outside historical and archaeological data can enrich our understanding of the biblical text.  I would illustrate the relationship between the text and outside data with the following analogy: The Bible has enough information in the text itself, and in its own stories, for the reader to discern an accurate black-and-white picture.  Archaeology and history can add color but should not determine the contents of the picture itself. 

       Others clamored for a "plain reading" of Scripture that when demonstrated in their papers,
seemed  more like proof-texting than sound biblical interpretation.  Proof-texting often indicates that one is forcing their own views into the text instead of letting the text speak for itself.  Reading one's own view into the text places the human above the Bible, undermining basic biblical authority even as the proof-texter claims to defend biblical authority. 

     The essays listed below seek to bring Bible Study back to the common people by working with just the text, Sola Scriptura.  Each essay seeks to discover the basic black-and-white pictures contained in the the text. 
These essays are my personal reflections on Scripture and represent no official organizational entity.  Because our committee was called to do biblical study regarding ordination and gender issues in ordination, my initial meditations are along these lines. I pray my reflections on important issues through various biblical texts will be a blessing to your study of Scripture.   

Essays (
Newest entries will appear at the bottom of the list):
1.  Headship in the Church (Part 1):  My Aha! Moment
2.  Headship in the Church (Part 2) Male headship and Female submission in the New Testament
3.  1 Tim 2:11-15Revisiting Female Submission and the "Creation Order" 
4.  1 Cor 11 and Headship 

5a. Genesis 2 and Headship-part 1
5b. Genesis 2 and Headship-part 2 

6.  1 Tim 3 and the Qualifications for Elder
 
7.  Gal 3:28 and Ordination 

After nearly a year off due to settling my late father's estate, I have a new addition.
8.  What is "the law" in 1 Cor 14:34? 
(New October 27, 2016)
 
Future Possibilities