Theology Course Descriptions
THEO 210 Foundations ofChristian Spirituality (3)
This course covers: Christian belief in relation to the educational growth of young adults; belief-doubt relationships; key areas of conflict for the modern believer; sources of certainty. Prerequisite: BIB 101, 102; minimum grade of C in BIB 101, 102 for Theological Studies majors.
THEO 240 Theological Thinking (3)
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. Prerequisite: BIB 101, 102;minimum grade of C in BIB 101, 102 for Theological Studies majors.
THEO 251 Early and Medieval Christianity (3)
This class involves a survey of the institutional and intellectual history of Christianity from its beginnings until the 15th century. Particular attention will be given to the development of Trinitarian and Christological doctrine in the early church, Christian understandings of sin and grace, monasticism, sacramental theology and scholasticism. Prerequisite: BIB 101, 102.
THEO 252 Reformation and Modern Christianity (3)
A survey of the development of European Christianity in the Reformation and early modern periods. Attention is given to the reformations of the 16th century (Lutheran, Reformed, Radical, English, Catholic), to the subsequent development of Catholic and Protestant orthodoxy, rationalism, and pietism, and to nineteenth-century developments in mission and theology. Prerequisite: BIB 101, 102.
THEO 260 Introduction to Christian Ethics (3)
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. Prerequisite: BIB 101, 102.
THEO 300 The World of Early Christianity (3)
A 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.
THEO 310 Spirituality in the Christian Tradition (3)
An investigation of key texts in the classical Christian tradition, including works by Augustine, Athanasius, Chrysostom, the Desert Fathers, Bernard of Clairvaux, Julian of Norwich, St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Blaise Pascal, and Francis de Sales. Prerequisite: Minimum grade of C in THEO 210 or permission of instructor.
THEO 315 Theological Foundations of World Religions (3)
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. Prerequisite: Minimum grade of C in THEO 240, 251, or 252.
THEO 316 Theology and the Body (3)
An exploration of the embodied nature of human existence, considered according to the rhythms of the day (clothing, eating, work, recreation, bathing, sleep) and of human life itself (virginity, marriage, pregnancy and giving birth, nurturance, suffering, death).
THEO 325 Martin Luther (3)
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.
THEO 326 Calvin and Calvinism (3)
An introduction to some of the primary themes and emphases in the writings of Calvin himself, and will then trace Calvin's influence in the writings of English-speaking Calvinists in England and in America. The first half of the semester will be devoted to reading selections from Calvin's Institutes, his sermons and biblical commentaries, and his polemical writings. The second half of the semester will involve the reading of works by such English and American Calvinist authors as William Perkins, William Ames, Thomas Hooker, John Cotton, Increase Mather, Jonathan Edwards, John Nevin and Charles Hodge.
THEO 328 Karl Barth: Theologian and Witness (3)
An introduction to one of the most significant Christian 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 readings of secondary and primary texts, course discussion and through student précis presentations.
THEO 329 C. S. Lewis (3)
A study of the theological vision of C. S. Lewis through his own writings, both fiction and nonfiction. 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.
THEO 335 Global Christianity (3)
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.
THEO 337 Theology of Culture (3)
This course will look at the phenomena of human culture from a theological perspective. In particular, we will consider how culture and cultural plurality arise from interrelationships between God, humanity and creation, and that the ultimate purpose of culture is human flourishing and divine witness. At the end of the course this framework will be used to critique a selected aspect of human culture, usually through interaction with a specific text chosen by the instructor. Past selections have dealt with cultural pluralism and enhancement technologies.
THEO 341 God and God's World (3)
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 divine 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.
THEO 342 Jesus Christ: Savior and Lord (3)
This course will offer students a theological portrait of the person and work of Jesus Christ. We will consider Jesus as both mediator of revelation, creation and reconciliation and lord of culture and history. This goal will be accomplished 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.
THEO 343 On Being Human (3)
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. It will also involve reflection not only on assigned texts, but also film and music that suggest the unique tensions that characterize human life as finite, fallen, redeemed, social and cultural.
THEO 344 The Spirit, the Church and the Word (3)
This course will offer students a theological portrait of the person and work of the Holy Spirit and the nature and mission of the Church in the world. We will accomplish this goal through a consideration 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 world. These two themes will be considered in terms of their historical development, theological coherence and cultural significance.
THEO 360 Theological Themes in Children's Literature (3)
This course will explore a particular subset of children's literature, namely 20th- and early 21st-century British and American middle-grade and young-adult fiction (with a little bit of biography and memoir thrown in), with the dual intention of introducing students to this large and wonderful literature and of reflecting theologically on the stories told by these books. What questions do they raise about human life and love, about God and the world, about good and evil and sin and redemption, about fear and hope and happiness and one's place in the universe? How might they confirm or challenge or expand a Christian theological understanding of these questions and the possible range of responses that might be given them? And how do these books appear to function in the lives of the children (and others) who read them?
THEO 370 Catholics and Protestants in Conversation (3)
An exploration of the theological encounter 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, and the status of the Virgin Mary and the saints.
THEO 435 Modern Theology (3)
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. Prerequisite: Minimum grade of C in THEO 240.
THEO 436 Postmodernism and Pluralism (3)
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
THEO 437 20th Century Women Spiritual Writers (3)
An exploration of the writings of such authors as Roberta Bondi, Joan Chittister, Dorothy Day, Annie Dillard, Frederica Mathews Greene, Anne Lamott, Madeline L'Engle, Kathleen Norris, Virginia Stem Owens, Barbara Brown Taylor, and Phyllis Tickle, with particular attention given to these authors' perspectives on the themes of church membership and ministry (that is, ecclesiology) and one's life work (that is, vocation).
THEO 440 Senior Seminar (3)
Consideration of special topics in theological studies helpful for integrating theological knowledge and liberal arts studies. Prerequisite: Minimum grade of C in THEO 240 or permission of instructor.