Reflection on Conservative Uses of Scripture

Ann Monroe refers to " mutually accepted amalgam of teaching, culture, and instinct that [evangelical Christians] call biblical faith. It's a way of looking at the world and the reality of God that's firmly buttressed by concepts drawn from the Bible, but which does not seem to be, at least in this discussion, the result of a direct encounter with it" (The Word, 115). Monroe grudgingly acknowledges a few of its strengths, yet after some time with it she misses "the crotchety richness that, for me, makes the Bible a place where that encounter [with God] happens" (118).

Your task in this assignment is to reflect on "the conservative evangelical Bible" as you have encountered it at Westmont, church, school and/or home by looking at it through a favorite evangelical biblical passage.

Choose one of the following passages:

Gal. 2:11-21
Phil. 3:2-16
Rom. 7:13-25

Investigate common evangelical ways of interpreting your passage. You might interview conservative evangelicals who are not in this class and ask for their interpretations. You might look for sermons on the passage from evangelical churches (perhaps your own), from mainstream evangelical websites, from popular evangelical literature, or from Monroe's reporting. Do not at this point consult a Bible commentary, even an evangelical one.

Now study the passage yourself. Draw on what you have learned so far in lectures, on Johnson, and on either Fisk (at least as a guide for reading another letter of Paul's) or Hays and Howard-Brook. You may optionally draw on other sources such as commentaries.

Based on these readings of the passage, evaluate the mainstream conservative biblical hermeneutic. In what ways, if any, is it a reliable guide to understanding Scripture? In what ways, if any, is it not? In what ways, if any, might it even get in the way?

Please keep your paper three pages. Follow the directions in my handout for writing papers. Remember, I want to see proper style, clear writing, a thorough answer to the question, and explicit citations of course materials.

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