The Doctrine of Election
Reasearch Question: “What is Romans 9 trying to teach about election?”
You would present the possible answers you come up with in your research. These should include:
-Romans 9 is teaching corporate election unto salvation.
-Romans 9 is teaching about election to earthly service and privilege, but does not directly connect to salvation.
-Romans 9 uses examples of election, earthly or otherwise, to teach that God specifically elects individuals to salvation.
You weigh these, AND ANY OTHERS, options with the evidence from the text and prove one to be correct.
The Purpose of a Theological Research Paper
The goal of a research paper is not merely to report about your readings or to piece together a string of quotations (or paraphrases) related to your topic. Instead, a research paper must be a creative theological reflection on a relevant issue while recognizing the established scholars who helped you in that endeavor. Research papers must attempt to prove a point (thesis). They are not “surveys” of material. They must be thoroughly documented. Your opinion is not asked for until the conclusion. Note that “opinion” here is being used in the precise sense of “self-report.” A supported, documented view of an object is not an opinion. “I like Calvinism” is an opinion. “After a careful review, the language of Romans 9 is better support for Calvinism than Arminianism” is not.
“Creative theological reflection” implies staying away from those academic cardinal sins:
Plagiarism: Literally “kidnapping,” to steal and pass off the ideas or words of another as one’s own, to use another’s work without crediting the source (Webster). To steer clear of such “accidents,” you must reference all direct quotes, paraphrases, and original ideas borrowed from someone else. Avoid close paraphrase, as discussed in Turabian, and be sure to use quotation marks to distinguish verbatim use of the words of another.
Recycling: Submitting a paper that was originally written and/or submitted (whether in the current shape and form or not) for another course without your instructor’s permission.
Excessive direct quotations: A research paper is not intended to be just a collection of direct quotations of works that are not your own (even if they are well documented) with your only contribution to the process being well-formulated transitions between quotes along with an introduction and a conclusion. Quotations are evidence you provide in support of the argument you are making, but you must make the argument. As a rule of thumb, only quote when necessary. This is when you cannot paraphrase the author’s words without losing the substance of his/her thoughts or when your argument requires the exact wording of the writer. Note that your argument does require the exact wording to provide evidence to support key critical points you make.
Research Papers must be 12–15 pages. They must be written in current Turabian format. Misspellings, grammatical errors, poor syntax, excessive use of the first person, or failure to comply with all structural/content criteria will count against the grade.
The paper will be screened through software that checks to make sure your composition is original. Be sure that you have properly documented everything that you found in the sources you used in your research and composition of your paper.
The content of this paper must focus on 4 specific areas. First, you must identify a specific theological foundation of the Christian faith (see broad topic above). Second, you must summarize the key doctrinal aspects of your chosen topic. Third, you must prove something (your thesis) about this chosen theological foundation as it relates to the ongoing conversation within historic and orthodox Christianity. Finally, you must demonstrate competence in interpreting biblical texts according to historical-critical literary standards as well as integrity in properly representing and documenting theological positions related to the chosen topic.
You must use current Turabian style, a standard for seminaries, for this research paper. Since this is a graduate-level course, papers must be written to a near-thesis standard. That is, minimum format standards must be met, as defined below. English grammar, idioms, and spelling must be up to graduate level (you are writing a research paper, not a casual letter). Qualities valued include clarity, succinctness, and precision.
Your paper must include the following (according to the current Turabian format):
? Title page
? Table of Contents: must show a clearly defined outline that will also be visible throughout the paper.
? Introduction: strong paragraph that introduces your topic and clearly reveals what you intend to show to the reader (must include the substance of your thesis statement).
? Thesis Statement: Included in your introduction, this is a sentence or two that expresses your answer to your research question and declares what your paper will prove. It should be followed by a map of the argument for that thesis.
? Section Headings: formatted per the SoD writing guide, must follow table of contents.
? Body: its structured development must mirror your outline. This is where you prove your point while honestly interacting with opposing views and major objections.
? Transitional Sentences: clear transitions to ensure a flow and sense of unity from paragraph to paragraph.
? Conclusion: it must not be a mere restatement of your thesis. Instead, your conclusion must be a synthesis of the information presented in the body. It must bring the reader to the full level of understanding of your topic that you have reached.
? Footnotes: Use the footnoting tool provided with Microsoft Word. Format per Turabian and the SoD writing guide.
? Bibliography: including at least 25 sources—not including the Bible or course textbooks.
? Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013. ISBN: 9780801036439.
? Fee, Gordon D. Paul, the Spirit, and the People of God. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers Inc., 1996. ISBN: 9780801046247.
? Hoyt, Samuel L. The Judgment Seat of Christ. Rev. ed. Milwaukee: Grace Gospel Press, 2015. ISBN: 9781939110152.
? Schreiner, Thomas R., and Shawn Wright. Believer’s Baptism. Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2006. ISBN: 9781943965540.
? St. Gregory of Nazianzus. On God and Christ: The Five Theological Orations and Two Letters to Cledonius. Crestwood: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2002. ISBN: 9780881412406.
? Page numbers
? Top, bottom, and side margins are 1-inch
? Double-space (approximately 3 vertical lines per inch, 27 lines per page)
? Times New Roman font, 12-point
? Indent paragraphs 0.5 inch
? No extra line-feed between paragraphs (Just indent the paragraph as shown above)
A Word about Sources
In order to gather sources for a research paper of this magnitude, one might be tempted to go to an Internet search engine like Google, type a keyword related to one’s topic, and collect sources from the first 20 to 30 hits displayed. You must resist such temptation (since we know that temptation is not from God). As a rule, the Internet is not an acceptable resource for research papers (there are very few exceptions). Instead, it is recommended that you primarily use the following type of sources* while making sure that you cite all works used in your research paper and that you include only works cited in your bibliography.
? Scholarly journal articles: These are useful for their survey of the critical issues related to the subject and their bibliography, which could give you useful leads on the top scholars and works in the field.
? Primary sources: These must take precedence over secondary sources. A primary source is a firsthand account or direct evidence concerning a subject matter under examination while secondary sources present an assessment or an interpretation of primary sources (e.g., Augustine’s own work City of God is a primary source about Augustine’s view of the struggle between good and evil while Augustine of Hippo: A Biography by Peter Brown is a secondary source).
? Scholarly works: These include books, monographs, serials, and manuscripts written by experts in the field as opposed to dubious works whose value cannot be ascertained (ask yourself if the critic’s credentials and works suggest that he/she is qualified).
*This list is not intended to be exhaustive. You may use other types of sources, including secondary sources, but you must make every effort to reference only those works that document the subject matter faithfully and accurately.