Become a community advocate who models Christ as an agent of social justice in the church and in other organizations.
- An understanding biblical texts in relation to God's call to justice and peacemaking.
- The ability to reflect on theological paradigms and theories of justice as they relate to present social concerns.
- The capacity for leadership in the church and society in promoting social justice.
- The ability to form appropriate strategies to respond to the effects of poverty, violence, war, sexism, and discrimination on families, society, and the world.
The following courses have been designed to allow you to master this competency:
Theology and Social Justice
BIB/SOC 621 | OT Prophets’ Cry for Justice | 3 Credits
This course examines the Old Testament prophets and their call for social justice. It offers opportunity for an in-depth examination of the prophets’ exhortations and teachings on God’s justice for the Israelite community. Particular attention is given to the Minor Prophets, including Amos, Hosea, and Micah. Reflection on this prophetic literature provides an opportunity to delineate the significance of the prophetic cry for justice for the Church today.
BIB/SOC 642 | Jesus & the Poor: Biblical Perspectives on Economic Justice | 3 Credits
Howard Thurman’s question, “What, then, is the work of the religion of Jesus to those who stand with their backs against the wall?” is a perennial one. This course begins in the New Testament with a study of Jesus’ relationship with the poor and his sayings regarding poverty, wealth, and discipleship. Topics also include exegeses on key biblical passages regarding economic justice in both the Old and New Testament and an examination of contemporary successes and failures of the local and global Christian Church to end economic oppression. The course explores the implications for applying a biblical ethic of justice to individual Christian discipleship and corporate church witness.
HST 650 | Women in Church History | 3 Credits
This course explores the lives and roles of women throughout church history, including biblical history. It will examine historical and social contexts of various women identified as having an impact on theology, biblical interpretation, cultural influence, and social justice. Individual women’s lives will be discussed in terms of their response to God’s call, their commitment to the Christian faith, and their contributions to the overall Christian Church. Another goal of the course is to provide analysis of the methods and resources women in various times and cultures used to have their voices “heard.” Students will be able to identify the diverse views of church leaders toward women’s roles as this course examines the support, obstacles, and beliefs of the historical Church. The final course section focuses on the current status of women in the Church and reflection on global challenges for women in the 21st century.
SOC 623 | Social Policy, Leadership and Community Change | 3 Credits
Creating social justice requires leadership skills and an understanding of the nature of the development of systems change. This course focuses on the history of social change movements, the development of social policy, and the role of the church in promoting justice in society. Students learn to recognize the roles of power and relational dynamics in the development of systemic struggles that ultimately lead to social policy and societal change. Students will have the opportunity to organize and implement a project that utilizes their leadership skills in the area of social justice in a local or larger community setting.
SOC 625 | Foundations in Christian Social Ethics | 3 Credits
This course is an introduction to the basic themes in Christian theology as they relate to contemporary social issues and public policy. The course provides a Christian global perspective that relates theology and ethics to ministry and service in the public realm. Topics include a survey of existing justice and moral theories that relate to cultural analysis and ministerial practice. Areas that will be explored include power, government, war, wealth and poverty, gender, and diversity. The goal is to provide students with both theological and ministerial tools to address important social issues in their churches, community, and larger society.
SOC 655 | Violence Against Women: Theological and Social Issues | 3 Credits
This course addresses the problem of violence against women from a Christian theological perspective. Violence against women is defined in both legal and spiritual language that provides a description of the problem and a framework for addressing this important issue. The course will provide an analysis of current theories and practices. Topics include violence against women as an international human rights issue, the responsibility of the Church in its prophetic role to provide a response, and exploring the biblical basis for addressing this issue.
SOC 735 | Social Policy Conference | 3 Credits
This course provides students with an opportunity to put into practice their knowledge, and skills as a social change practitioner. Students will identify one topic that has spiritual, social and communal relevance for those who have been socially, economically, and/or politically marginalized. Subjects for study may include any contemporary social concern. Students will become a task force that studies the identified subject, plans a strategy to create social change and then works together to implement this change. They will work to create change in social policy on both a local and State level. Their expertise and practice strategies will be presented at the BT Roberts Symposium that takes place biennially in the spring semester.
THE 724 | Life and Theology of Martin Luther | 3 Credits
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.
THE 726 | Wesleyan Theology | 3 Credits
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 meets the requirements for students preparing for United Methodist ordination.
THE/SOC 732 | Life, Theology, and Ethics of D. Bonhoeffer | 3 Credits
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.