Bible, History, and Theology (BHT)
BHT 513NE (Core Course for 92-credit M.Div. and 52-credit M.A.)
The Protestant Era: Reformation and Revival in the Church
This course studies the Church in the tumultuous 16th—18th centuries, which led up to the modern era. During the Protestant Reformation and Great Awakening, the Christian Church experienced massive upheavals as it wrestled with the doctrine of salvation. Many new denominations and movements emerged as the contestants joined battle and reached differing views on such issues as: the way in which people become Christians; the manner in which Christians are to live; and the nature of the true Church in polity, the sacraments, public worship, and the ordained ministry and mission.
[Prerequisite: successful completion of BHT/PSF 511NE, BIB 511NE and, if your program requires it, BHT/PSF 512NE and BIB 512NE] [Corequisite: must be taken with PSF 513NE]
BHT 514NE (Core Course for 92-credit M.Div. and 52-credit M.A.)
The Modern and Postmodern Era: The Church in an Age of Science, Technology, and Secularization
This course surveys the history and theology of Christianity in the 19th and 20th centuries. Specific attention is given to the prominent theologians, theological movements, and the ecclesiastical developments of the modern and postmodern eras. This course exposes the student to contemporary theories of biblical interpretation, the impact of social location on theology, and problems of religious pluralism and secularization.
[Prerequisite: successful completion of BHT/PSF 511NE, BIB 511NE and, if your program requires it, BHT/PSF 512NE, BIB 512NE, BHT/PSF 513NE, and BIB 513NE] [Corequisite: must be taken with PSF 514NE]
Being in the Story
The entire biblical story or metanarrative stretching from creation to eschaton articulates a vision of God’s intentions for this world, beginning with creation, and continuing after the fall, as the Creator works through Israel, Jesus, and the church for the world’s redemption, until that day when there will be a new heaven and new earth, in which righteousness dwells. This narrative vision of the missio Dei provides a non-negotiable framework within which we live out our faith.
A clear understanding of this biblical vision is of great value for interpreting individual biblical texts, especially for those engaged in pastoral leadership, which typically involves interpreting Scripture in various contexts. Without a solid grasp of the foundational biblical vision of reality we are in danger of (mis)reading Scripture in light of our own contemporary assumptions. This course, therefore, aims to help Christian leaders grasp the basic contours of the overarching story the Scriptures tell, with a focus on exploring the logic of salvation as holistic—for the whole person, and even the entire created order.
Being in the Word
The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are crucial to the life and ministry of all followers of Christ. They are central to the preaching and teaching ministry of the church. Furthermore, the Scriptures undergird our ethics at work and home. They reveal to us the nature of God, what it means to be fully human, and our role in the mission of God. But in order for Scripture to play the formative role that it is designed to play, we must know these Scriptures well. Moreover, to know these Scriptures well we must understand the context in which they were composed. This is true not only of the popular books of the Bible, but also for the parts of the Bible that are often ignored. This class will introduce students to the Bible in all its complex and multifaceted glory. Students will gain an understanding of the major sections of the Bible (the Torah, the histories, the Psalter, the Prophets, The Gospels, the Letters of Paul, etc). They will discern the major themes in these texts and their relevance for ministry in the 21st century. They will also discuss issues of authorship, setting, and the major interpretative approaches to these texts throughout church history. The goal is to open up the whole Bible as a resource for ministry and spiritual formation.
What does the fact that God became incarnate as a human being in Jesus Christ reveal about God’s priorities for what it means for us to be human persons? What do the Christian scriptures and the historic church have to say about what it means to be human? How do we nurture and attend to our basic human qualities in imitation of our Lord Christ?
This course will lead students through an exploration of what Christianity has to uniquely contribute to the conversation of what it means to “be human.” It will assist students in developing a framework for discerning and integrating formational insights from various fields of study that contribute to human flourishing, emphasizing that to do so is to attend to and cooperate with the redemptive work of the Holy Trinity. It will also provide students with opportunities to explore and reflect on classic Christian practices of nurturing attentiveness to and cooperation with God’s work in their own lives and in the world at large.
Reflecting on the formative era of the Christian church, this course takes up the conversation about what it means to be and to become Christian. Much like today, the early church found itself in a religiously plural context, which shaped the development of Christian identity. In this course, students will consider how Scripture, context, and spirituality shaped early Christian communities, the formation of doctrine through early church councils, and the ways in which these conversations continue to shape the church throughout the world today.
In this course students enter into the ongoing conversation on the nature of God’s restorative grace in human life, with a particular focus on the church as the people of God. Through a focus on the theological perspectives of the Catholic and Protestant Reformations and the Great Awakening, the course moves toward contemporary understandings and application of such questions as how people come into a restored relationship with God and what it means to be to people of God in today’s world.
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.