I have recently begun releasing books in a new series of short works addressing various passages of Scripture and topics of interest in theology and biblical interpretation. My goal for this Applying the Bible series is that these short books serve as quick reference guides on the subject matters that they discuss.
The book lengths will be significantly under a hundred pages—most frequently in the 25 to 50-page range—and are not designed to serve as detailed scholastic, exegetical resources. Rather, my intent is that they serve as tools for acquiring a broad understanding of the topic discussed and a general awareness of the differing authorities and opinions surrounding the subject matter addressed.
While I formulate my own arguments and provide my own conclusions, I attempt to do so in such a way that alternative points of view are adequately surveyed with the hope that each work can serve as a springboard for deeper study.
The Purpose of the Applying the Bible Series
I have found that short guides addressing matters of theological interest are often difficult to find. Many of the materials on the market today are either too academic to be easily accessible to the average reader or are too detailed to answer the most pressing questions quickly.
My purpose is to provide detailed answers to very specific questions as briefly as possible without undercutting and oversimplifying the subject matter. Of course, my goal is not to shorten the work by cutting out critical information, but rather by focusing on smaller, more specific subjects.
Each of these works will therefore address a brief passage of Scripture or a very specific topic of theological interest. My goal is to produce short books that will provide the reader with a much greater understanding of the subject matter and the tools necessary to discuss the topic intelligently with their church leaders and fellow believers. I also hope that each books provokes further questions that lead to deeper study, setting the stage for a delving into more detailed, scholastic resources available on the market today.
In addition, I end each book with a “So What?” chapter that addresses specific ways in which the topic is directly applicable to our individual lives today. Studying Scripture means little if we do not understand how to apply it to our daily walk, and so I attempt to provide practical advice on how to appropriately respond to the Scriptures studied.
The first book in the series, entitled The United Church, provides a detailed discussion of Romans 5:18–21 and addresses such topics as God’s continuing purpose for Israel, the modern place of the Mosaic Law, and Paul’s understanding of Christ’s atoning work on the cross. My purpose in writing this work was to condense the extraordinary large amount of material in Pauline scholarship touching on these subjects into a quick, easy to understand introduction of the Pauline worldview through a detailed evaluation of these four verses in Romans.
The second book in the series, The Husband of One Wife, addresses the controversy raging in many churches over whether divorcees should be permitted to serve in positions of leadership. In this book, I provide an in-depth discussion of the three verses in the Pastoral Letters that have inspired this controversy, thereby providing a very specific answer to this very specific question.
Future books will address, among other topics, whether God changes his mind and the debate regarding predestination versus free will stemming from Romans 9–11.
As I note in these books, while I do have formal theological training, I am a lawyer, not a biblical scholar, and so I approach my Applying the Bible series from that perspective. This means that I approach the topic by weeding through the applicable authorities, evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the differing arguments on the subject, and formulating a practically applicable conclusion.
My goal is to help believers apply the Bible to their own lives, not to engage in biblical scholarship. That is to say, my intent is not to usurp the invaluable role of the Ph.D., and so I encourage those who want a more scholastic take on the subject matter to explore the bibliography at the end of each book.
My hope is that this Applying the Bible series will serve as a good resource to Sunday School teachers, small group leaders, and other lay ministers within the church as well as providing a starting point for further study for those just getting started with the Bible. I welcome your questions and comments and hope my work serves you well.