Theological Studies (THE)
Ministry in a Multifaith World
This course explores the global character of the church and the practice of ministry in the multifaith and multicultural context of contemporary society. Attention is given to the wide diversity of religious traditions present in the potential ministry settings and considers how the church can serve with faithfulness and respect in a religiously pluralistic culture. Students will have the opportunity to develop their theological convictions in dialog with other religious traditions and gain skills in interfaith engagement as an expression of their Christian discipleship. This course is cross-listed as MIN 633NE. Offered on demand.
Independent Study in Theological Studies
Under the guidance of a faculty member, a student will investigate a specific area or topics in theological or religious studies.
[Prerequisite: advisor and instructor approval required and a GPA of 3.0]
M.A. Thesis in Theological Studies
This course is a research option for M.A. students in the field of theological studies. Students wishing to pursue thesis work must file a written petition with academic services formally requesting this degree completion method prior to registering for the course. (Students who have not completed the thesis project by the end of the semester will automatically be registered for RES 799NE-Continuation of Registration for Master’s Thesis, and charged a $250 fee every subsequent semester until the completion of the master’s thesis.)
Life and Ministry of Martin Luther King, Jr.
This course will survey the life and writings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Students will explore key words in King’s sermons and writings (e.g., agape and beloved community) and consider terms of value used in assessing King’s life and work. Concepts (e.g., personalism) that characterize King’s theological social ethics will be discussed, and the interpretation of King’s contributions in today’s world. Special attention will be devoted to King’s doctrine of God and how it influenced his social ethics. Using King’s philosophy and contributions as benchmarks, students will be challenged to think about and examine the relevance of King’s theological ethics for today and what it may mean within the context of their own ministry. This course is cross-listed as HST 710NE.
The Openness of God Debate
One of the most significant, often contentious, current debates in evangelical circles centers on what has been come to be called “Openness of God” theology. Proponents of this theological perspective, while affirming a high view of Scripture, do not view God as the all-knowing, all-controlling, unchanging being often portrayed in classical Christian thought. God is viewed, rather, as a being who does not have infallible knowledge of our future free actions and thus as a being who must work relationally with us day by day to help actualize the divine goals for us and our world. This course will take an in-depth look both at openness theology and the numerous critiques that have been offered in response to it. The main goal of the course will be to help each student come to a clearer understanding of her or his own theological perspective. Offered on demand.
Life and Theology of Martin Luther
This course explores Luther’s life, theology, and subsequent impact on society. The course is divided into three areas of study. The initial focus is a discussion of Luther in historical context. The medieval antecedents and early 16th century theology and social life provide a backdrop for Luther’s entrance onto the European religious and political stage. The second area is an examination of Luther’s dialectical theology. This course will explore his views on the sacraments, faith, government, women, vocation, and the role of government and just war. The final area for study includes an analysis of modern interpretations of Luther’s theology. A look at contemporary Luther studies includes an overview of current “hot” topics and possible applications of his theology in the area of social justice.
This course explores major theological themes of Wesleyan theology through the examination of primary materials. While focusing on Wesley’s theology of salvation as expressed in his sermons, the course also includes exposure to Wesleyan thought on such matters as the doctrine of God, anthropology, the person and work of Christ, the Church, ministry, the sacraments, and eschatology. In addition, consideration is given to the development of early Methodism in its historical context, its relevance for contemporary Methodist traditions, and its potential contribution to the Church at large. A secondary purpose of this course is to impart to the student an appreciation of the field of Wesleyan Studies and its present-day interpreters. This course fulfills the United Methodist Doctrine requirement for students preparing for United Methodist ordination.
Calvinism and Arminianism
This course will focus on the divergent views of Calvinism and Arminianism with significant readings in the primary texts they authored. The course will examine the overarching issues related to Calvinism and Arminianism from an historical, biblical, theological, and practical perspective. The issues will be presented in their clearest possible light in order that they might be discussed and examined with as much understanding and fairness as possible. Attention will also be given to how their successors interpreted and applied their teachings. This course is cross-listed as HST 727NE.
The Holiness Pentecostal Tradition
This course surveys the 19th and 20th century Holiness and Pentecostal movements in the United States, including principal and formative events, theological distinctives, and important figures. The course will examine the culture(s) of the movements, major controversies, and opportunities for ecumenical dialogue.
Suffering, Pain, and Evil: A Theological Response
Those in ministry must often respond to the following question: “Why did God allow that horrible event—that tragic accident, that terrible betrayal, that intense suffering—to happen?” After outlining the various responses (theodicies) available to Christians, this course will discuss how best to help those asking “why” determine what these responses have to offer. Included among the texts read will be the book of Job. Offered on demand.
Life, Theology, and Ethics of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a significant 20th century theologian, pastor, prophet, and martyr. This course examines Bonhoeffer’s response to Nazism from a historical and theological perspective. The primary areas of study include: a description and analysis of Bonhoeffer’s hermeneutic and ethical reflections on the significance of his call to discipleship and on his perennial question, “Who is Christ for us today?” His spirituality will also be discussed as a foundation for his ethics. Readings include Cost of Discipleship; Ethics; Letters and Papers from Prison and other selected writings representing Bonhoeffer’s theology and ethics. This course is cross-listed as SOC 732NE.
Sacramental and Liturgical Theology
This course examines the liturgical and sacramental life of the church as theologia prima (first theology). Attention is given to the historical and theological development of liturgical and sacramental theology in major branches of Christianity, as well as to the practical implications of liturgical and sacramental praxis for the formation of communal and individual faith. A particular focus of the course is on the Christological, ecclesiological, and anthropological dimensions of liturgy and sacraments.
This course explores foundational perspectives and contemporary trajectories of the Reformed theological tradition. Students are exposed to key themes in the theology of John Calvin, the confessional literature of the Reformed churches, The Book of Confessions, and selected contemporary thinkers within the Reformed tradition. Through the examination of the ecclesiastical, political, social, economic, and ethical dimensions of Reformed thought, this course seeks to prepare students to articulate the contemporary relevance of the Reformed tradition, to show how Reformed doctrine illuminates Christian faith and life, and to apply Reformed theology to the practice of ministry. This course is open to all students, but required for those preparing for ministry in the Presbyterian Church.
Theology of the City
The 20th century began as a predominately rural world. At the beginning of the 21st century, the world is predominately urban; by 2015, more than half of the world’s population will live in major urban centers. This massive demographic shift has created huge challenges for political and social systems and also for the Church. This course will develop a biblical theology for urban mission that will serve as a foundation for pastors and church leaders seeking to understand the city and will guide them in constructing and implementing effective urban ministry strategies.