Too often, Christians are content to state a doctrine, list a few supporting Bible passages, and proceed on to the next. But are these doctrines truly derived from the Bible, or are we slotting verses into our pre-determined theological grids?
In Church Doctrine and the Bible, biblical scholar David Instone-Brewer applies his expertise in first-century backgrounds and culture to popular Christian doctrines. Peeling away thousands of years of theological development reveals how the Bible’s original hearers would have understood these doctrines and helps us resolve some of our doctrinal disputes and misunderstandings. Through this process, Instone-Brewer answers the question, “is this doctrine biblical?”
Church Doctrine and the Bible will help pastors, theologians, and laypersons see familiar doctrines with fresh, first-century, eyes. By restoring the revolutionary simplicity of the Bible’s teachings, we gain new insights into these doctrines and what they mean for the church today.
The Scripture in Context series is driven by the conviction that there is nothing as exciting, direct, provocative, and spiritually enlightening as the Bible when we read it as it was meant to be read. Each book in the series dives into the ancient cultural context behind Bible passages, examining the effect this context had on what the Bible writers were saying and how we should understand their words today. When we read the Bible in light of its context, it is anything but boring. Instead, God’s word can speak to us as powerfully as it did to those who first read it.
“Its purpose was to cleanse you from ceremonial impurities, rather than to wash off the dirt.” (Page 20)
“We should instead conclude that David wouldn’t have dared ask for God’s forgiveness if he had not already begged forgiveness from Bathsheba. If he had not done this, God would know that he wasn’t yet truly repentant.” (Page 186)
“He had called on God to do the impossible—to throw down his own mountain, his own fruitless fig tree—and it happened. Jesus wasn’t telling his disciples to make showy or frivolous demands of God by moving mountains. He was teaching them to pray for the things that God has already said he wants to do to advance his kingdom, even when they seem as impossible as the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, which had served its purpose.” (Page 108)
“John frequently includes these extra words to explain what it means: when we ask God for something, we are asking as servants of Jesus. This means we don’t ask for whatever we feel like having: we ask for things that Jesus wants.” (Pages 108–109)
“When Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod in 1752, the pope recommended it, but many churches refused to install one. They believed that it interfered with God’s sovereign right to strike down sinners.” (Page 83)
The Rev. Dr. David Instone-Brewer is a research fellow at Tyndale House, a research library in biblical studies located in Cambridge, England. He previously served as a Baptist minister. His books include Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible, Divorce and Remarriage in the Church, and Traditions of the Rabbis from the Era of the New Testament.