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Theology Research Papers

Theology Topics

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 Also included are historical documents of the Church, including many of the classic creeds and confessions of the Church, as well as contemporary Articles of Faith and position statements.

Theological Issues

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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During the first week of classes you may experience a great deal of anxiety about the numerous assignments that you will have to complete by the end of term. Don't panic; if you gauge your time, you will finish your work by the due date. The research paper is often the main component of many courses so it is important that you know how to get from the idea to the written paper. This guide offers seven steps for writing a good research paper.


1. Allow Yourself Enough Time

  • Take time to develop the thesis, do research, distill the information and write the paper.
  • Profit from the process by learning more about the subject area and developing valuable skills.

2. Define the Scope of Your Essay and Write a Clear Thesis Statement

a. Check potential topics

  • Check the course syllabus for paper topics suggested by the professor.
  • Choose a topic that interests you, since it will motivate you to do the paper and your enthusiasm for the subject area will be evident.
  • The sample topic for this case study is "Solutions to the Synoptic Problem."

b. Narrow down the topic

  • Focus in on the key elements of the topic by asking some basic questions.
  • Ask questions such as, "What is the Synoptic Problem?" "What are the various solutions to the Synoptic Problem?"
  • Select one particular solution to the Synoptic Problem, such as the Griesbach Hypothesis (the Two-Gospel Hypothesis), as the focus of your paper.

c. Write a provisional thesis statement

  • Determine the aim of the paper or what you intend to argue by developing a provisional thesis statement, such as, "The Griesbach Hypothesis is an inadequate solution to the Synoptic Problem."
  • Remember that as you research and write, your thesis could change.
  • Check with the professor or the T.A. to ensure that your topic is acceptable.

3. Do a Thorough, yet Focused Search for Research Materials

  • Use your thesis statement as a guide for selecting relevant information.
  • Consult the following items:

a. Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

  • Consult the Anchor Bible Dictionary under "Synoptic Problem," "Griesbach Hypothesis" or "Two-Gospel Hypothesis." This will provide you with a good summary article and an excellent bibliography.
  • Record some the key terms concerning your topic, e.g., "Synoptic Problem," "Griesbach Hypothesis," etc.
  • Be aware of the author's biases.

b. Books

  • Check the terms you have noted in the LCSH (Library of Congress Subject Headings), available on the library reference shelves.
  • Look up "Synoptic Problem," in the LCSH and you will find BT (broad term) "Bible. N.T. Gospels-- Criticism, interpretation, etc." and NT (narrow term) "Griesbach Hypothesis."
  • Do a subject search in the online catalogueusing the narrow term "Griesbach Hypothesis."
  • This will give you at least 7 hits.
  • Use other terms in your subject search, such as "Synoptic Problem", which gives about 80 hits.
  • It is not advisable to use the BT "Bible. N. T.-- Gospels--Criticism, Interpretation, etc.," since it yields over 1000 entries.
  • Locate your books in the various campus libraries.
  • Check the table of contents and index to ensure that your subject is addressed.
  • Read the introduction, if you have time, to see if the author's discussion will be applicable.

c. Periodicals

  • Use the ATLA (American Theological Library Association) Religion Database to find relevant periodical articles.
  • You may use similar search terms as identified above.
  • Start your search by entering the subject "Synoptic Problem." This search will give you over 500 entries.
  • Limit your search by selecting language and record type, full-text etc.
  • Go through the records to determine which articles will be most relevant. Some may have the full text of the articles, while others may only give the basic bibliographic citation, which you can email to yourself by selecting and exporting the relevant selections.
  • Consult other periodical indexes such as New Testament Abstracts, Old Testament Abstracts, and Catholic Periodical and Literature Index which you can select individually as part of the ATLA suite of databases, or you can search three together, if you wish.
  • Check for the location of your journal articles by searching by journal title in the online catalogue.
  • Determine the relevance of the article(s) prior to printing or photocopying.

d. Bibliographies

  • Check for any bibliographies on your subject by doing a subject search, i.e., "Synoptic problem--Bibliography" in the online catalogue.
  • Consult Thomas R .W. Longstaff, The Synoptic Problem: A Bibliography, 1716-1988 (Macon, GA: Mercer UP, 1988), library call number Z 7772 .M1 L66, to find additional resources.
  • Check for other relevant bibliographies in the Z section of the reference collection.

4. Read Research Materials and Take Notes

a. Read the relevant books/articles

  • Read selectively by consulting the table of contents and the index for the sections that are most applicable to your topic.
  • Read critically by being aware of the author's argument or possible bias.

b. Take helpful notes

  • Take focused research notes, remembering the limits of your paper.
  • Summarize the author's argument and copy relevant quotes.
  • Record relevant bibliographical information in order to properly cite material in your paper (see Books on Style and Grammar below).

c. Develop a provisional outline

  • Develop an outline for your paper and organize your research.
  • A provisional outline could look like the following:

"The Griesbach Hypothesis: An Appraisal"

  1. Introduction
  2. The history of the hypothesis
  3. Major arguments of the hypothesis
  4. A critical appraisal of the hypothesis
  5. Conclusion

5. Write your Paper

  • A solid thesis statement and a clear outline will enable you to move through the writing stage more efficiently.
  • Be flexible in your approach to writing. Sometimes you may feel like shaping a crucial paragraph until it is just right, while at other times you may do speed writing to get your ideas down.
  • Fully document any idea or direct quote that you gained from another author. If in doubt, footnote it. Do not plagiarize.
  • Compile a complete bibliography of all the resources that you consulted.

6. Edit your Paper

  • Read your paper, preferable aloud, to see that your argument makes sense and flows well.
  • Carefully check for any errors in style, spelling, grammar or logic.
  • Rewrite, edit and rearrange your paper. A good paper should go through several drafts.
  • Do some additional research if you think that you are lacking in a certain area.
  • Have someone else read your paper. Another person's discerning eye can pick up any errors that you may have missed.

7. Print your Paper and Hand It In

  • Use a font that is both readable and the appropriate size.
  • Make a title page that has the correct information.
  • Check your printer's ink cartridge or toner to ensure optimum printing.
  • Submit your paper.

Other Resources on Writing Research Papers

a. Books on Style and Grammar

  • The Chicago Manual of Style. 15th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.
  • Strunk W. and White E.B. The Elements of Style. 4th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2000.
  • Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. 7th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

Original version by James Knight October 1999; revised by Tom Power, Nov. 2012.

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