Theological Studies (THEO)
This course is designed to support the student in their journey to better understand their unique spiritual gifting through methods used in the discipline of self-introspection and spiritual formation. Students will be introduced to various personality,mental, emotional, and spiritual attributions to increase their awareness and appreciation for their uniqueness and hardwiring. Moreover it will provide ways to understand their attributions from the perspective of ministry and for sustaining themselves in ministry. This course will also introduce the students to concepts and a theology relating to God's call process.
A study in practical theology, this course will examine Christianity as a coherent vision of life. We will explore how central biblical and theological themes, such as community, fall, cross, and new creation, are to be embodied in the lives of Christians. We will focus especially on how the confession that Jesus is Lord ought to inform our approach to the ethical issues and controversies of our day.
This course explores the historic foundations of the Christian spiritual life. It considers key biblical texts and selected classical Christian writings in order to understand the nature and development of mature Christian faith, the connection between faith development and human development, the relationship between Christian faith and the various doubts and conflicts faced by contemporary believers, and the significance of classical spiritual disciplines in the formation of authentic Christian character.
This course will explore the ideas and practices introduced in Theology 210 (Introduction to Christian Spirituality)-such as contemplative prayer, pilgrimage, Sabbath, lectio divina, etc.- in more depth as well as how they have evolved as they were passed down throughout Church history. Students will be introduced to key figures and movements of the contemplative tradition, including "contemplatives in action" that have brought about serious reform in both the Church and the world. They will explore how each branch of Christianity, regardless of denomination, has contributed to the practice of spirituality. Finally, the class will provide opportunities for students to integrate these insights into their own faith journey and today's world.
A survey of the main themes of Christian theology from both systematic and biblical perspectives. Special emphasis is on the development of responsible theological thought. Such topics as the basis of authority, the nature of God, human nature, the person and work of Christ, the Holy Spirit and the Church will be treated.
This course introduces the students to community assessment, engagement and the concept of transformational development. The course will utilize readings, discussions, research, and written assignments to expand student awareness of the role of the Church within a community, and its development. It will also build the student's exegetical skills. While exegesis is most often spoken of in terms of proper examination of Scripture, this course expects the studeant to invade their context of ministry, and learn about the needs and assets within their communitites.
As a capstone this course is designed to apply the skills of assessing a ministerial context, designing a plan for ministry (a "pastoral") and gaining the competence in nurturing leadership in the church by using the skills of the discipline of supervised ministry.
An historical and theological exploration of key figures, events, movements and themes in the development and expansion of the early Church. Prerequisite: Minimum grade of C in THEO 210 or permission of instructor. Offered in alternate years.
A study of the development of classical Christian theology in the particular historical context that shaped it. Attention will especially be given to the distinctive features of patristic, medieval, and Reformation theological traditions, and to Eastern (Orthodox) and Western (Catholic and Protestant) traditions. Prerequisite: THEO 240
An investigation of the Christian doctrine of God in its biblical foundations and its historical development, with particular attention to the life of God as Trinity and to the relationship between God and the world. Specific topics may include the relationship between transcendence and immanence, the efficacy of natural theology, the impassibility and immutability of God, the character of divide foreknowledge and providence, the nature of divine "personhood" and the debate over "social trinitarianism", and the relationship between equality and order among the divine persons.
A detailed exploration of the explicit and implicit theologies of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam, aimed at grasping the internal logic and coherence of each tradition. Special attention will be given to comparing and contrasting these faiths with historic Christianity.
An exploration of the embodied nature of human existance, considered accordingly to the rhythms of the day (clothing, eating, work, recreation, bathing, and sleep) and of human life itself (virginity, marriage, pregnancy and giving birth, nurturance, suffering, death).
In this course, students will have an opportunity to reflect Christianly on the institution of marriage. This will include examining how attitudes toward marriage are shaped by our upbringing in our families, in the church, and in society; thinking and talking in detail about Christian scripture and tradition as they relate to marriage; and considering a variety of aspects and challenges to marriage that confront people who are married or who may be considering marriage. We hope that this will help those of our students who are unmarried to make wise decisions about whether and whom to marry, will help those who are married, and those who will eventually marry, live out their marriages faithfully and well, and will help all our students to mature in ways that will enable them to better live out their Christian vocations in either the married or single state.
Addiction is widely acknowledged as a serious individual, interpersonal, and social problem. But what is addiction? Is it a brain disease? A sin? A problem of will, or of knowledge? Does addiction have primarily to do with individuals, or is it constituted or maintained in intimate relationships or on a societal level? Do addictions necessarily involve psychoactive substances, or can we properly speak of addictions to activities like gambling or shopping, or even eating or sex? Who is susceptible to addiction, and why? If a person stops engaging in addictive behavior, is he or she still an addict? Christians and others offer a variety of answersto these questions, and a similar diversity of opinion exists where treatment for and recovery from addiction are concerned. In this class, we will explore, first, some Christian theological voices and biblical and historical resources for understanding how Christians have understood addiction in the past and more recently. Secondly, we will read three current books treating aspects of addiction that are often neglected in Christian treatment of addiction. Finally, we will read one or two personal accounts of addiction and recovery, and consider how a Christian response to addiction might incarnate the prophetic values of justice, mercy, and humility.
"Spirituality" has been a hot topic over the past few years. In this course we want to explore together a specific type or model of spirituality practiced by Christians living from roughly the third to the seventh centuries. How, for example, did these early Christians pray? Were there other spiritual disciplines that formed part of the rhyme and rhythm of their spiritual lives? How did they deal with temptation? What was their understanding of Christian character? Who were the "desert fathers?" What was their particular contribution to Christian spirituality? How can the insights of these early Christians be translated into the context of the modern world? What possible mistakes did they made that may be avoided by later generations of Christians? These and other questions and issues will form the heart of the course.
Study of the life and thought of this founding figure of the Protestant Reformation, with attention to the historical background but mainly focused on readings in Luther's own writings. This course will prepare students to understand the nature and fundamental convictions of Protestant theology.
An introduction to one of the most significant Christan theologians in the history of the Church, and certainly the most significant Christian theologian of the 20th century: Karl Barth. The historical background of Barth's life and key themes in his thought will be explored through close reading of secondary and primary texts, course discussion and throughstudent precis presentations. Prerequisite: Minimum grade of C in HONR 240, THEO 240, THEO 251 or THEO 252.
A study of the theological vision of C. S. Lewis through his own writings, both fiction and non-fiction. Special attention is given to the features of Lewis's thought that make it an integrated whole, and also to aspects that are not widely known, or that are controversial, or that have made a distinctive contribution to Christian theology in the last hundred years.
What is prayer? How does one pray? How have Christians prayed throughout the church's history? What are the different kinds of prayer Christians have practiced for over two thousand years? In this course, we will explore and develop a theology and practice of individual and corporate prayer, particularly studying different models of prayer offered to us by the church in its own practice across the years.
Western forms of Christian faith are becoming increasingly marginalized as the church grows dramatically in the southern hemisphere, where highly contextual, conservative and charismatic forms of the faith abound. This course will explore how the Christian faith is being embodied and carried forth in these contexts though the close reading of texts that consider how these communities read the Bible and contextualize the theological themes and liturgical forms that characterize the Christian tradition.
This will be a course on the theological origins and purposes of human culture, setting human culture-making within the broad contours of the Christian story. We will be considering three fundamental theological ideas that account for the reality and importance of human culture: God as triune Creator, the created order as contingent, and the human person in the image of God. The notions of justice and flourishing will be explored both theologically as well as practically as integral to understanding what culture is and how it is meant to function. These explorations will be done in conversation with those in the social sciences who work on injustices related to class (poverty), race (racism), and ethnicity (nationalism) in particular. The particular issue explored will vary from section to section.
This course will offer students a theological portrait of the human person as a creature created in the image of a triune God. Interpreting this phrase and noting its implications will occupy a great deal of our time in this course. Along the way we will consider how the creation of humanity in the image of God compares with alternative visions of the human creature (its constitution and vocation), the implications of our material and immaterial constitution for questions related to ethnicity and identity, sin, the soul, reconciliation and the vocation of the human creature as an ethical and cultural being.
An investigation of the Christian doctrine of God in its biblical foundations and its historical development, with particular attention to the life of God as Trinity and to the relationship between God and the world. Specific topics may include the relationship between transcendence and immanence, the efficacy of natural theology, the impassibility and immutability of God, the character of divide foreknowledge and providence, the nature of divine "personhood" and the debate over "social trinitarianism", and the relationship between equality and order among the divine persons. Prerequisite: Minimum grade of C in THEO 240 or 251 or 252.
This course will offer students a theological portrait of the person and work of Jesus Christ as the key to understanding the nature and activity of God, the nature and activity of human persons and the nature and telos of the created order. As such, we will consider Jesus as both mediator of revelation, creation and reconciliation and lord of history. We will accomplish this goal through a consideration of the central Christological(person of Christ) and soteriological (work of Christ) doctrines of the Christian faith: their historical development, theological coherence and cultural significance.
The course examines the central figures, themes and movements in theology during the 19th and 20th centuries with particular attention to what is distinctive about modern theology, how it is related to philosophical and cultural developments and how traditional Christians may critically appropriate modern insights.
A critical, theological study of contemporary postmodernism and religious pluralism, aimed at developing an appropriately complex understanding of Christianity's truth and of Christianity's place in a diverse religious world. Prerequisite: Minimum grade of C in THEO 240.
An exploration of the theological background between Roman Catholic and Protestant Christians over the past five centuries, aimed at understanding the key points of disagreement, such as the relationship between Scripture and Tradition, the nature of justification, the status of the Virgin Mary and the saints. Prerequisite: Minimum grade of C in THEO 240 or 251 or 252.
This course will offer students a theological portrait of the person and work of the Holy Spiritand the nature and mission of the Church in the world. The themes of the identity and function of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Jesus Christ and the formation of the Christian community as the body of Jesus Christ in the work will be considered in terms of their historical development, theological coherence, and cultural significance. Offered alternate years.
Consideration of special topics in theological studies helpful for integrating theological knowledge and liberal arts studies.