Dietrich Bonhoeffer posed a question to the church of the early twentieth century: “Who is Jesus Christ for us today?” This perennial question shaped Bonhoeffer’s ecclesiology and understanding of church mission. This same question provides the course framework for exploring God’s call to the church from the nineteenth century through our time. The course is organized around conversations focused on the relationship of historical theology, church mission, and culture.
Reflections on current trends, and exploration for application to student church context are a central theme of the course. Within these course conversations are topics that are revisited in each century and unit of study. These themes include: racial and gender identity, social change movements, the relationships of worship and service, spirituality, ecumenism, and church leadership. Strategies for understanding these historical theological themes include reading primary texts that bring “alive” the conversations that were occurring during these time periods. Emphasis is on critical analysis and interpretation of the central Christological question, and application to contemporary church mission. This course fulfills the Mission of Church in the World requirement for students preparing for United Methodist ordination.