Included here are various topics that relate to theological issues, especially ministry and Christian growth in the context of the Church. Also included are historical documents of the Church, including many of the classic creeds and confessions of the Church, as well as contemporary Articles of Faith and position statements.
Short essay contrasting theology seen as absolute truth and theology understood as testimony conditioned by time and place.
A simple chart listing the major differences between the five points of classical Calvinism and corresponding Wesleyan-Arminian views.
Comparison of the basic perspectives of Arminianism and classic Calvinism, concluding that most modern-day churches that cling to Calvinism in doctrine are actually Arminian-Wesleyan in practice, as well as noting the need for balance between the extremes of either position.
Examination of the Christian doctrine of security, contrasting the two extremes of unconditional security and eternal insecurity, concluding with a middle position that emphasizes God's grace in mutual relationship.
A discussion of the logical and biblical problems with the idea of predestination and the absolute foreknowledge of God, with a proposal for an incarnational model of God rather than a metaphysical one.
Examination of the word "change" in Malachi 3:6-7a as a proof text for the immutability of God.
A detailed essay examining from a biblical perspective the tension between the death of Jesus as predestined by God, or as the result of human decisions; concludes by examining the implications of this tension for theories of the atonement.
The concept of the 'pre-existence of the Son' in systematic theology in relation to the historical dimension of the biblical witness to God, highlighting the differences in method and goals of systematic theology and biblical interpretation.
A discussion of the roots of the debates about biblical inerrancy, their impact on the church, the relation to various theories of inspirations, and inerrancy in relation to Faith Statements about Scripture.
An examination of the theological basis for the renewed emphasis on "word and table" as the structure for Christian worship in some historically low church traditions.
Short article distinguishing humanism from secularism and atheism, concluding that some of the the biblical perspective is humanistic, but is sacral humanism in which all of life is placed under God, which calls for a careful balance in how the term "humanism" is used pejoratively.
A reflection on the problem of natural evil in the world, challenging the common assumptions about God that force the question to be framed in certain ways, suggesting that the problem is actually created in how we view the nature of God and the expectation of how he should work in the world.
An analysis of biblical perspectives on the Second Coming of Christ, in contrast to many popular ideas of the rapture.
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.
A brief survey of some of the problems with the idea of a secret rapture and speculations about end times.
A series of ten biblical and theological questions that appear to have easy answers, but require a little more reflection to avoid folk theology.
A short article in outline format that compares the classical philosophical idea of ex nihilo creation ("out of nothing") with a more biblical model of creation out of chaos.
Theology and the Church
An essay on the Protestant Principle of "Faith Alone" traced through Habakkuk, Paul, Martin Luther, and John Wesley, concluding that genuine Faith is faithfulness in commitment to God despite circumstances and religious ideas about God.
Essay on the need for dialog in the Church of the Nazarene on homosexuality with suggested parameters for that dialog.
A brief survey of the inadequacy of traditional ways of expressing the doctrine of entire sanctification, proposing that the relational concept of love of both God and others provides an overarching and inclusive model.
A frankly negative evaluation of the current state of the holiness movement in traditional holiness churches, concluding with a positive outlook for the future of the holiness message and the rise of a new emphasis on holiness.
A reflective article based on Nehemiah 13 addressing the tendency of religious traditions to drift from their original purpose and vision as they move further away from their origins; suggestions for maintaining religious identity.
A biblically based reflective essay dealing with the mission of the Church and implications for ministry and education in the church in light of that mission. Note: If printed, this will take 25-30 pages.
Dr. M. V. Scutt is now retired, but served as the District Superintendent, Southwest Indiana District Church of the Nazarene. This is his 1995 Annual Report to the District Assembly in which he lays a theological foundation from the Wesleyan tradition for the evangelistic mission of the Church.
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.
Some people have a false view of God as vindictive and judgmental, when in fact God is presented in the Bible as gracious, loving, and forgiving.
A short article providing practical guidelines for ethical decision making based on biblical moral principles.
A reference archive and a short history of various creeds and confessions of the Christian Faith from all periods of Church History, including the Ecumenical Creeds, Creeds of the Reformation, Roman Catholic and Orthodox, the Reformed Tradition, the Wesleyan Tradition, Modern Faith Statements, and Various Position Statements.
A collection of biblical studies, theological reflections, and general articles that address primarily the topic of women in ministry, as well as other topics related to women in the Church.
Links to online articles dealing with the general topic of women in ministry.
Selected writings from the history of the church that address significant or relevant issues facing the church today. Since there are many sites on the web that contain the full text of many historical writings, those presented here will normally be limited to short excerpts that have particular relevance to ongoing discussions in the various forums, are not easily available elsewhere, or are presented in digested or edited form to make them more readable.
John Wesley's Sermon "Catholic Spirit" in modern English
John Wesley on Differences of Opinion Among Christians
The Question, “What Is an Arminian?” Answered by a Lover of Free Grace (John Wesley)
John Calvin on Infant Baptism
C. S. Lewis on Inerrancy, Inspiration, and Historicity
Women's Speaking Justified, Proved, and Allowed by the Scriptures (Margaret Fell Fox)
Female Ministry; or, Woman's Right to Preach the Gospel (Catherine Booth)
A series of articles examining the concern with the idea of holiness of heart and life in the history of the church.
Psalm 51 and the Language of Transformation (Dennis Bratcher)
Holiness in the Early Church (Jirair Tashjian)
The Holiness Movement: Dead or Alive? (Keith Drury)
Sin and Holiness (Brad Mercer) [Dutch]
The Holiness Manifesto
-Dennis Bratcher, Copyright © 2013, Dennis Bratcher - All Rights Reserved
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Issues, opinions and essays on Christianity and faith topics
I have been a Christian since 1993 (turning to Christ at age 18). While I will always have a lot to learn - after 25 years of following Christ, I've had a lot of firsthand experience to offer some credible viewpoints on topics that are rife with myths, speculation and outright falsehood in the circles of public opinion, media and skepticism. I've put faith in Christ to the honest test over the past 9 years, and found it to be solid, evidence-based and logical. I humbly submit these essays and blog posts in the hope that you will hear a voice of reason in today's world of doubt. For a list of my personally recommended links to in-depth resources on Christian apologetics, see this page. If you have never heard what the Gospel is all about, view my The Message page.
- The undisputed historical facts about Jesus; judging by evidence or conjecture?
What the real experts in the field of New Testament scholarship and first century history agree on, and a short commentary on the currently popular phenomenon of conjectural skepticism.
- A list of must-watches for anyone questioning Christianity
Even if these excellent factual videos don't convince you toward Christianity, they should at least bring you up to speed on the realities that go against some common "internet myths" on the subject.
- Quick reference: The failure points of popular skepticism
These are what I have found are the 'fatal flaws' of popular skepticism, in other words, facts that are devastating to the claims of the most popular and vocal atheists and skeptics today.
- Miracles and the 'black hole' of naturalism
Thoughts on the tragedy of crossing a personal 'event horizon' of naturalism.
- Disdain for the "Word of Faith" / Prosperity Gospel
I have more respect for atheism than I do for "Word of Faith". Yes, it really is that bad.
- Popular skepticism of Christianity & conspiracy theorism: remarkable similarities
It has occurred to me over the years that most skepticism of Christianity - at least the most popular kind - has an uncanny, if not identical, resemblance to your garden-variety conspiracy theory. Here's why.
- The myths of 'organized religion'
'Organized religion' is seen by today's popular culture as a system designed to fleece followers and guilt-trip them into submission. Is that really the truth?
- Determinism: naturalism's (atheism's) elephant in the room
The realities of determinism should shatter the Atheist worldview, or at least temper its perceived moral superiorities. Despite the gravity of what naturalism actually means for the world, the implications of determinism go largely undiscussed.
- The mostly-unacknowledged implications of naturalism and atheism, part 2
Naturalism is the default atheist position, yet few are willing to acknowledge, much less deal with, the profound implications of what naturalism would mean for us.
- The skeptic's responsibility
People are free to be skeptical of anything, including Christianity. But a sincere search for truth should include disciplines that are severely lacking in today's world of skepticism, deficiencies that fall short of true logic and reason.
- Value of human life: a naturalistic absurdity
In a cold, indifferent, Godless universe, the idea of human life having value would be one of existence's greatest absurdities.
- Probable causes of a distrust in science
What is behind reports that a consistent phenomenon exists of a general distrust in science by the public-at-large?
- Variants of self-deception
If you want to value human life in a Godless universe, you'll have to pick your deception.
- Arguments from personal incredulity in belief and unbelief
"Arguments from personal incredulity" are a kind of logical fallacy that befalls people of all faiths and positions, and unfortunately are used by Christians and atheists alike.
- The fallacy of using science to assess matters of faith
Science's capabilities are limitless when it comes to the natural world, but not beyond it.
- A personal statement on "God of the Gaps"
No aspect of correctly-applied faith handicaps one's science in any way.
- To those troubled with their faith: an appeal to reason
The tendency to "go off the deep end" during a period of doubt is common today.
- The deliberate ignorance of New Atheism (why New Atheists won't read this)
Despite the objections to Christianity/theism having sound answers that are readily available to anyone willing to do a short Google search, vocal New Atheists plow onward with their blog posts, internet radio shows and social media rants as if that information didn't exist.
- Believing means nothing to lose, everything to gain
In a worst case scenario, what do Christians have to lose?
- OK with atheists
About contentment with the existence of atheists, but not some of their tactics.
- Some more thoughts from the journey
Some perspectives from experience in testing the validity of Christianity and the Bible.
- Thresholds of actionable probabilities
How certain do you need to be of something before you take it seriously?
- Pass the Test
"Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you--unless, of course, you fail the test?" -2 Corinthians 13:5
- Why I'm still a believer
A summary of my reasons for staying a Christian.
- Pathways of strictly natural interpretations
What would it take to explain a supernatural event in purely naturalistic terms?
- Loving or In Love?
Lamenting the increasingly prevalent depiction of a Christian's relationship with the Lord containing a romantic element.
- A few quick thoughts on skepticism
A few perspectives on skepticism from the viewpoint of a believer.
- How can I be sure where I am and where I'm going?
On the issue of assurance of a beleiver.
- The cost of being Christian
Does becoming a Christian solve all of your problems here in this life?
- What happened to the book of Ephesians?
Thoughts on a troubling trend in the church today.
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