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Courses

Bible, History, and Theology

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.

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 uniquely contributes to the conversation about 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.

Biblical Languages: Greek and Hebrew

This course takes a unique approach to introduce New Testament Greek to those preparing for ministry in the 21st century. A basic assumption underlying this approach to the introduction of New Testament Greek is that the student’s goal is not to teach Greek as a scholar, but to use it in the study of the New Testament as a minister. The focus in this course is on gaining a conceptual understanding of New Testament Greek, not on memorizing all the paradigms, specific details, “rules,” and “exceptions” involved. Students will be required to memorize a basic vocabulary.

Students do reading or exegesis of Greek under the direction of a faculty member. [Prerequisite: advisor and instructor approval required]

This course will focus primarily on a selection of readings in Greek texts, representing different New Testament authors and books. Continued expansion of Greek vocabulary is another primary objective. The course will also provide an introduction to available tools, including their use in reading the Greek New Testament, exegeting texts, and pursuing word studies [Prerequisite: GRK 510NE]

This course takes a unique approach to introducing Old Testament Hebrew to those preparing for ministry in the 21st century. A basic assumption underlying this approach to the introduction of Old Testament Hebrew is that the student’s goal is not to teach Hebrew as a scholar, but to use it in the study of the Old Testament as a minister. The focus in this course is to gain a conceptual understanding of Old Testament Hebrew, not on memorizing all the paradigms, specific details, “rules,” and “exceptions” involved. Students will be required to memorize a basic vocabulary.

Students do reading or exegesis of Hebrew under the direction of a faculty member. [Prerequisite: advisor and instructor approval required]

This course will focus primarily on a selection of readings in Hebrew texts, representing different Old Testament authors and books. Continued expansion of Hebrew vocabulary is another primary objective. The course will also provide an introduction to available tools, including their use in reading the Hebrew Old Testament, exegeting texts, and pursuing word studies. [Prerequisite: HEB 510NE]

Business

This course examines the structural and environmental forces that influence management processes within organizations. Students will learn how to identify an organization’s type, relative readiness for change, and appropriate intervention and change strategies. Issues examined include power and resistance, human motivation and behavior, intervention in systems, group dynamics, team building, and the creation of change-oriented cultures. This course is cross-listed as MIN 510NE.

This course explores one focused topic of leadership. In the course, students will develop a theologically grounded approach to leadership in the contemporary world. Topics may include non-profit administration, church administration, leadership and contemporary culture, or executive leadership. This course may be repeated if topic differs. This course is cross-listed as MIN 685NE.

Under the guidance of a professor, the student pursues independent research in a specific topic of business as it applies to a ministry setting. [Prerequisite: advisor and instructor approval required and a GPA of 3.0]

Historical Studies

This course explores the lives and roles of women throughout church history. It examines the historical and social contexts of various women leaders 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 leadership development, and their contributions to the overall Christian church. The course provides an analysis of the strategies and resources women in various times and cultures have used to have their voices “heard.” Students will be able to identify the diverse global 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. This course is cross-listed as SOC 651NE.

Under the guidance of a professor, the student pursues independent research in a specific topic of church history or historical theology. [Prerequisite: advisor and instructor approval required and a GPA of 3.0]

This course is a research option for M.A. students in the field of historical 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.)

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 a 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 THE 727NE. [Offered on demand]

Written Communication

(For a more advanced theological writing course, see RES 690NE.)

This course provides additional assistance in the skills of academic research, writing, and critical thinking. These skills are practiced in tandem with course materials for another writing-intensive seminary course so that assignments for this course will contribute to the completion of assignments for another credit-bearing course. This course is recommended for students with a grade point average below 2.5, but is open to any student seeking tutorial guidance with writing.

Research Methodology

This course introduces the theory and practice of research in theological disciplines. Students will consider the role of research as a Christian ministry practice and the various forms research takes. The course includes practical skill development in theological bibliography, research, and writing. This course is required for the M.A. Theological Studies program and may be taken as an elective in other programs by petition.

Biblical Studies

This course introduces students to responsible interpretation (or “exegesis”) of the Bible (both Old and New Testaments). The course focuses on the hands-on, practical skills in reading the biblical text carefully in its literary and historical/cultural context, to understand its message for today. Students will be introduced to the process of exegesis, applying each step in the process to two significant biblical passages (one Old Testament and one New Testament). Significant attention will also be paid to researching and writing an exegesis paper as a basis for teaching and preaching in the church.

This course focuses on hands-on, practical skills in reading the biblical text carefully in its literary and historical/cultural context to understand its message for today. Focus will be placed on one or more New Testament Epistles as case studies in exegesis. Significant attention will also be paid to the process of researching and writing an exegesis paper as a basis for teaching and preaching in the church. This course may be repeated if topic differs. [Prerequisite or corequisite: BIB 511NE]

This course focuses on hands-on, practical skills in reading the biblical text carefully in its literary and historical/cultural context to understand its message for today. Focus will be placed on a New Testament Gospel as a case study in exegesis. Significant attention will also be paid to the process of researching and writing an exegesis paper as a basis for teaching and preaching in the church. This course may be repeated if topic differs. [Prerequisite or corequisite: BIB 511NE]

This course focuses on hands-on, practical skills in reading the biblical text carefully in its literary and historical/cultural context to understand its message for today. Focus will be placed Old Testament narratives as case studies in exegesis. Significant attention will also be paid to the process of researching and writing an exegesis paper as a basis for teaching and preaching in the church. This course may be repeated if topic differs. [Prerequisite or corequisite: BIB 511NE]

This course focuses on hands-on, practical skills in reading the biblical text carefully in its literary and historical/cultural context to understand its message for today. Focus will be placed on Old Testament poetic and prophetic books as case studies in exegesis. Significant attention will also be paid to the process of researching and writing an exegesis paper as a basis for teaching and preaching in the church. This course may be repeated if topic differs. [Prerequisite or corequisite: BIB 511NE]

This course will examine the books from a rigorous historical perspective, but it will be constructed to find a “middle way”: the students and professor will together examine the theological trajectory of the books—especially the ways in which they point to their fulfillment, and Israel’s fulfillment, in Christ and his Church. The students will not simply be left with the stories, finally, as disparate units, but as narratives constructed—in their pre-Christian context—with tremendous theological sensitivity. A bridge will be made between the theological sensitivity and meaning of the Jewish writers and redactors on the one hand and, on the other hand, the historic Christian theological interpretations of these books. No reading knowledge of Hebrew will be required. This course is cross-listed as THE 607NE.

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. This course is cross-listed as SOC 621NE. [Offered on demand

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. This course is cross-listed as SOC 642NE.

Throughout the history of the Church, the unique character of St. John’s Gospel has intrigued and inspired countless theologians, philosophers, historians, and believers. The poignant, specific, and three-dimensional character of the materials selected and the author’s subtle and understated theological insights make for a rich meditative experience in Scripture study. This brief but substantive course will pay particular attention to two important aspects of the Gospel, while at the same time, demanding mastery of the basic content: (1) how the Gospel has been read and interpreted over the centuries by the Church; and (2) the sacramental orientation of the Gospel, which pervades its meaning. Reading the English text, lecture, and class discussion will be part of the weekly rhythm. This course is cross-listed as THE 644NE.

This is an independent study course in which the student will, under the guidance of a professor, conduct an in-depth study of a biblical theme, collection of biblical books, or a single book. Typically this course is available to students during the second, third, and fourth years of study. The course may involve independent research, reflection papers, and classroom instruction. [Prerequisite: advisor and instructor approval required and a GPA of 3.0]

This course is a research option for M.A. students in the field of biblical 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.)

This travel course is designed to help students discover ways that biblical events can be placed in their proper geographical, historical, and cultural context. Under the guidance of a seminary professor, the course combines traditional study methods (readings, lectures/discussions, and map work) with a tour of a biblical region such as the Holy Land, Turkey, Greece, or Rome. Students are responsible for all travel costs and fees in addition to the tuition for this course. This course may be repeated if topic/location differs.

This is an advanced seminar course especially designed for students doing the M.Div. with a focus in Advanced Biblical Studies and for those doing M.A. thesis research in Biblical Studies. The course is open to anyone who has completed the biblical interpretation competency courses, or by permission of the instructor. Participants will be expected to present the fruits of their research in a seminar format.

There is a great need in the modern church and world for wise and faithful Christian leadership. This course examines the Bible with an interest in how the whole message and story of Scripture develops a theology of leadership. Four areas, in particular, are of significance in view of such leadership: character (the lifestyle of the leader), care (the ministry of the leader), catechesis (what leaders should teach and pass on), and crises (how leaders handle challenges). Other course topics include: leadership systems and structures in Scripture, key biblical metaphors that shape leadership, and women in leadership in Scripture.

Personal Spiritual Formation

Building on a foundation of the central pastoral acts of prayer, Scripture reading, and spiritual direction, this course seeks to assist the student in the development of a method for ongoing theological reflection in ministry. Among the issues explored are the spiritual and theological foundations of pastoral work, the discovery of a pastoral identity, the meaning of ordination, and the office and functions of the pastor.

What is spiritual formation? What makes spiritual formation distinctly Christian in relation to other religious and ideological spiritualities in our world? What dynamics are involved in Christian spiritual formation? This course seeks to address such questions and to be both formational and informational as it does so.

First, students will be guided in developing an appraisal framework that is truly holistic as well as conducive to and compatible with the Christian revelation. This appraisal framework, based on the Formative Spirituality of Adrian van Kaam, will provide students with specific perspectives by which to reflect upon human experiences in order to discern various dynamics of spiritual formation. Second, students will be guided through a survey of classic Christian texts from a variety of Christian traditions throughout history in order to deepen their appreciation for the rich and varied ways, unique and communal, in which people have experienced knowing the Holy Trinity. Third, this course will engage students in several classic spiritual practices throughout the course, including: Scripture reading, reading Christian devotional texts, prayer, journaling, and retreat. Through these and other means, students will nurture their attentiveness to the presence and work of God in their everyday lives, thus complementing the seminary experience of learning “about” God with the experience of growing in their attentiveness to and their love for God.

Faith will be explored from a life cycle, developmental perspective, from infancy through senior adulthood. Autobiographical, theological, and theoretical perspectives will be examined. Students will narrate/map their own faith journeys. Strategies for facilitating faith development in the church setting will be discussed.

The use of Scripture in meditation and prayer is key to both a close relationship with Jesus Christ and to a faithful ministry. John Wesley considered meditation upon Scripture and prayer like the air we breathe. He used Lectio Divina and journaling as the means by which he traced the movements of God in his life in order to “walk according to the Spirit.” The student will learn about and experience Lectio Divina, other prayer forms, and journaling in the course. Students will learn about the rich spiritualities which influenced Wesley and his life of prayer and ministry. [Offered on demand]

Spiritual direction is one milieu in which we find another person of faith who will invite us to pay attention to our experiences and responses to God’s action in our daily lives. This course will provide a basic introduction to spiritual direction as well as an experiential understanding of what it is, what it is not, its benefits, and differences between it and pastoral counseling or clinical therapy. It will address the history and practice of spiritual direction as well as its place in 21st century spirituality.

This course is a study of the intersection of faith and social justice and relationship of the first two great commandments. Students will study relevant spiritual writings that include application to social justice and peacemaking. Included are readings by Henri Nouwen, Dorothy Day, Gustavo Gutierrez, Teresa of Avila, and others. The disciplines including prayer, simplicity, confession, and worship will be studied in relation to the Christian call to mission and creating social justice. Students will explore practical ways to live out the call of Jesus to worship God and love their neighbor. This course is cross-listed as SOC 624NE.

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 and THE 633NE. 

This course will provide students with an opportunity to explore the relationships between spiritual formation, personality, and leadership. Students will benefit from standard personality and leadership assessment tools to gain insights into their own personality and leadership style. In addition, students will enhance their understanding of the biblical foundation of leadership and the significance of spiritual formation for today’s Christian leaders. The expected outcomes of this course will be a well-developed theology of ministry within the context of the individuals’ personality, spiritual giftedness and leadership style. Students will develop an informed sense of calling to their unique place in the Kingdom of God and will begin to consider a strategy of continuous personal growth to enhance their effectiveness in ministry for years to come.

What do Christian solitaries in the Egyptian desert, mothers of rebellious teenagers, monks in community in the mountains of France, missionaries to Japan, and charismatic worshipers in a megachurch all have in common? They all provide a glimpse of people seeking to follow Christ faithfully in their different geographic and cultural contexts. This course surveys the myriad ways in which Christians across the globe have found themselves redeemed and enlivened by the Spirit of God, and celebrates the diverse expressions of our shared Christian faith. 

Students will engage art, music, film, stories, and various texts in order to explore both the diversity and commonalities of the ways people seek to live as faithful Christians, and will reflect on the ways in which their cultural and historic situatedness influences their own expressions of faithfulness.

Through guided studies and spiritual readings, the student is given the opportunity to investigate additional or assigned areas of personal spiritual formation—current and historical. [Prerequisite: advisor and instructor approval required and a GPA of 3.0]

This course is a research option for M.A. students in the field of personal and spiritual formation. 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.)

This course is an experiential introduction to the classic Christian practice of personal spiritual direction. Students engage in one-on-one spiritual direction with an approved spiritual director throughout the semester. In addition, activities of preparation for and reflection on the sessions are required. Note: extra expense required (approx. $400).

Building upon the work of PSF 731, this course expands the student's experiential engagement with the classic Christian discipline of one-on-one spiritual direction. Students engage in spiritual direction with an approved spiritual director throughout the semester. In addition, activities of preparation for an reflection on the sessions are required. Note: extra expense required (approx. $400). [Prerequisite: PSF 731NE]

This course provides guidance and supervision in the practice of the ministry of spiritual direction. Students serve as a spiritual director for at least three different people over a four-month period (a minimum of 48 hours of providing one-on-one direction). Students engage in a monthly supervision group and training videos throughout the semester. Note: extra expense required (approx. $300). [Prerequisite: PSF 732NE and PSF 621NE]

A continuation of PSF 733, this course provides continued guidance, experience, and supervision in the practice of one-on-one spiritual direction. Students serve as a spiritual director for at least three different people over a four-month period (a minimum of 48 hours of providing one-on-one direction). Students engage in a monthly supervision group and training videos throughout the semester. Note: extra expense required (approx. $300). [Prerequisite: PSF 733NE]

Social Ethics

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. This course is cross-listed as BIB 621NE. [Offered on demand]

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.

This course is a study of the intersection of faith and social justice and relationship of the first two great commandments. Students will study relevant spiritual writings that include application to social justice and peacemaking. Included are readings by Henri Nouwen, Dorothy Day, Gustavo Gutierrez, Teresa of Avila, and others. The disciplines including prayer, simplicity, confession, and worship will be studied in relation to the Christian call to mission and creating social justice. Students will explore practical ways to live out the call of Jesus to worship God and love their neighbor. This course is cross-listed as PSF 624NE.

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.

Howard Thurman’s question, “What, then, is the word 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. This course is cross-listed as BIB 642NE. 

This course is designed to help those in, or entering, ministry to understand better their own ethical perspective and apply it to significant ethical questions facing society today. Issues to be covered include: approaches to ethical decision-making (both general and explicitly Christian), bioethical issues (reproductive technology, genetic screening, and physician-assisted suicide), social issues (pornography, sexual harassment), and business issues (job discrimination, capitalism). This course is cross-listed as MIN 649NE. [Offered on demand]

Human cloning is very near. Healthcare rationing is an increasing reality. Comfort care for the dying increasingly hastens death. This course is designed to help those currently in, or entering, ministry to understand better their own ethical perspective (their own general approach to ethical decision-making) and how this perspective applies to bioethical tensions such as those mentioned above. Students will have the opportunity to prepare and present a detailed analysis of an ethical issue they perceive to be of particular social significance. This course is especially recommended for hospital chaplains. This course is cross-listed as MIN 650NE. 

This course explores the lives and roles of women throughout church history. It examines the historical and social contexts of various women leaders 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 leadership development, and their contributions to the overall Christian church. The course provides an analysis of the strategies and resources women in various times and cultures have used to have their voices “heard.” Students will be able to identify the diverse global 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. This course is cross-listed as HST 651NE.

This course addresses gender violence from a global, structural, and Christian theological perspective. Gender violence is defined in legal, psychological 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, practices, and leadership strategies. Topics include gender violence as an international human rights issue, the responsibility of the church in its prophetic role to provide a response, and exploring the possibilities of creative responses with the goal of gender reconciliation. The objective is to develop leaders who help create a cultural and theological shift that recognizes the dignity and equality of both women and men.

This course surveys the development of Christian theological and ethical perspectives on just war theory and pacifism from the biblical period to the present day. Attention will be given to the crusades, the two world wars, and the unconventional warfare in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Students will examine the perspectives of their own denomination or faith group and apply their findings to one of the above wars. Finally, students will examine the meaning of conscientious objection and grounds for its approval in the military. Consideration will be given throughout the course to the formation of personal conscience in light of Christian traditions and in the context of responsible citizenship. [Offered on demand]

Under the guidance of a professor, the student pursues independent research in a specific social ethics topic. [Prerequisite: advisor and instructor approval required and a GPA of 3.0]

This course is a research option for M.A. students in the field of social ethics. 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.)

Theological questions concerning the role of church and state, Christian ethics and public policy, and the intersection of Christian spirituality and civic values are perennial questions that every generation within their own social, cultural, and political context need to address. This course examines Martin Luther's theology of the cross as a framework for addressing his two kingdoms paradigm, and subsequent understanding of the boundaries of temporal authority and church. Luther's construct is instrumental in the development of Bonhoeffer's Christology, his insistence on solidarity with the oppressed, and resistance to social and political evil. Martin Luther King, Jr. is deeply influenced by both Luther and Bonhoeffer, and further develops concepts that include strategies of active nonviolent resistance, the beloved community, and Christian reconciliation. These themes related to the role of church and state will be explored with an emphasis on application for the 21st century church. This course is cross-listed as THE 723NE.

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.

Theological Studies

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 and PSF 633NE.

Throughout the history of the Church, the unique character of St. John's Gospel has intrigued and inspired countless theologians, philosophers, historians, and believers. The poignant, specific, and three-dimensional character of the materials selected and the author's subtle and understated theological insights make for a rich meditative experience in Scripture study. This brief but substantive course will pay particular attention to two important aspects of the Gospel, while at the same time, demanding mastery of the basic content: (1) how the Gospel has been read and interpreted over the centuries by the Church; and (2) the sacramental orientation of the Gospel, which pervades its meaning. Reading the English text, lecture, and class discussion will be part of the weekly rhythm. This course is cross-listed as THE 644NE.

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]

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.)

This course will explore the Christian understanding of the human being as the apex of the Creator’s work according to Genesis 1—2, who was plunged into evil and misery according to Genesis 3—5. Significant attention will be given to selected biblical passages, the debate over “original sin” in the Western Church, the different descriptions of human sinfulness that distinguish the Eastern Church from the Western Church, and the implications of these teachings in pastoral work.

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]

Theological questions concerning the role of church and state, Christian ethics and public policy, and the intersection of Christian spirituality and civic values are perennial questions that every generation within their own social, cultural, and political context need to address. This course examines Martin Luther's theology of the cross as a framework for addressing his two kingdoms paradigm, and subsequent understanding of the boundaries of temporal authority and church. Luther's construct is instrumental in the development of Bonhoeffer's Christology, his insistence on solidarity with the oppressed, and resistance to social and political evil. Martin Luther King, Jr. is deeply influenced by both Luther and Bonhoeffer, and further develops concepts that include strategies of active nonviolent resistance, the beloved community, and Christian reconciliation. These themes related to the role of church and state will be explored with an emphasis on application for the 21st century church. This course is cross-listed as SOC 723NE.

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.

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. [Offered on demand]

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. [Offered on demand]

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.

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.

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. [Offered on demand]

Ministry

This course examines the structural and environmental forces that influence management processes within organizations. Students will learn how to identify an organization’s type, relative readiness for change, and appropriate intervention and change strategies. Issues examined include power and resistance, human motivation and behavior, intervention in systems, group dynamics, team building, and the creation of change-oriented cultures. This course is cross-listed as BUS 510NE.


Introduction to the narratives forming the personal and corporate identity of United Methodists today, including founders’ stories, phases of the denomination, personal representative of major developments, and stories that counter present perceptions. Fulfills the UM History requirement for election to probationary membership and commissioning in The United Methodist Church as specified in the most current Book of Discipline. Normally taken through Wesley Theological Seminary.

The constitution and structural relationships of The United Methodist Church are examined with a particular focus on the workings of the local church. Fulfills the UM Polity requirement for election to probationary membership and commissioning in The United Methodist Church as specified in the most current Book of Discipline. Normally taken through Wesley Theological Seminary.

Through self-directed study and classroom discussion, students will investigate the pertinent historical, theological, and governmental documents of The Wesleyan Church. This course is designed to meet the ordination requirements for The Wesleyan Church. Taught by a denominationally-approved instructor.

Through self-directed study and classroom discussion, students will investigate the pertinent historical, theological, and governmental documents of Lutheranism. This course is designed to meet the ordination requirements of the various branches of the Lutheran tradition (ECLA, MS, LCMC, etc.). Taught by denominationally-approved instructors.

Through self-directed study and classroom discussion, students will investigate the pertinent historical, theological, and governmental documents of the Free Methodist Church of North America. This course is designed to meet the ordination requirements for the Free Methodist Church.

Through self-directed study and classroom discussion, students will investigate the pertinent historical, theological, and governmental documents of the American Baptist Church. This course is designed to meet the ordination requirements of the American Baptist Church. Taught by a denominationally-approved instructor.

Through self-directed study and classroom discussion, students will investigate the pertinent historical, theological, and governmental documents of the Nazarene Church. This course is designed to meet the ordination requirements of the Nazarene Church. Taught by a denominationally-approved instructor.

Through self-directed study and classroom discussion, students will investigate the pertinent historical, theological, and governmental documents of the Presbyterian Church, PC (USA). This course is designed to meet the ordination requirements of the Presbyterian Church. Taught by a denominationally-approved instructor.

This course explores the process by which God calls and prepares people for leadership and gives attention to the development of the inner life and character of an effective leader. The course will contribute to the student’s self-understanding and the identification and appreciation of personal and professional strengths. In addition, attention will be given to clarifying personal leadership vulnerabilities and developing a plan for life-long growth as a leader. Students will clarify their personal ministry values and priorities and reflect on the nature of ethical decision making in leadership. Beyond self-leadership, students will consider the fundamentals of transformational leadership including the principles of communication and the constructive use of criticism and resistance. Transformational theory will be presented and illustrated through the use of case studies.

This course examines the history, theology, and practice of Christian worship from an ecumenical perspective. It surveys major features of worship, including the Christian calendar, word and sacrament, the role of music, liturgical space, and occasional services. In addition to classical patterns, the course discusses contemporary trends in worship, including the liturgical renewal movement, charismatic and neo-Pentecostal influences, and the seeker-service movement. The aim of the course is to guide the student in building a foundation for the ministry of worship planning and leadership. This course fulfills the United Methodist Worship and Liturgy requirement for students preparing for United Methodist ordination.

This course surveys the scope and practice of pastoral care. Employing the analogy of a physician’s care for the physical body, the course seeks to develop proficiencies necessary in the pastor’s responsibility to care for the spiritual person. Among the issues explored, specific attention is given to spiritual direction, pastoral counsel and counseling skills, crisis ministries, care of the dying, development of Christian community, and social justice as pastoral care.  

This course explores the theology and practice of the Church’s ministry of evangelism and discipleship as both personal and corporate practices. The course focuses on Christian identity in the midst of religious plurality and the ethical and spiritual requirements of Christian life and witness. In this course students will develop an approach to evangelism and discipleship that is a natural expression of the Christian faith, rooted in the truth of Scripture, and appropriate to changing cultural contexts. This course fulfills the Evangelism in the Wesleyan Tradition requirement for students preparing for United Methodist ordination.

Rooted in a Christological model of biblical servanthood, this course examines the role of the leader in the organizational development. Topics of study include personal leadership, team building, board and staff development, and the identification, training, and empowering of others to achieve organizational goals and objectives. The course explores strategies for achieving both missional faithfulness and organizational effectiveness with a focus on developing leadership capacity within the organization. In addition, attention will be given to understanding approaches to creating cultural change within churches and organizations to foster institutional vitality and longevity.

This course focuses on the educational ministry of the church and the practice of teaching the Bible as God’s Word. Students will develop skills in teaching, curriculum planning, and evaluation, and communicating God’s word to people of all ages. Opportunities will be given to improve teaching skills through in-class practice. [Prerequisite: BIB 511NE or permission of the instructor.]

This course will trace the move from text to sermon and aid students in the study, shaping, and presentation of sermons that follow Scripture. The course will require at least two preaching experiences. The beginning stages of the class will examine the spiritual life of the minister, with a particular focus on prayer, and then move to the study and exegesis of individual biblical passages. The class will then study the transition from text to sermon, with special attention to the sermon having a form that fits the form of the biblical passage. The class will conclude with work on effective public presentation.

This course provides students with an overview of the complexities of the specialized role of chaplains within a variety of contexts including: healthcare and correctional facilities, schools, fire and police departments, and the military. Students will consider topics such as the history of the profession and the professional identity of chaplains, ministry within complex institutional systems, assessing individual spiritual needs, expanding cultural competence, faith as it relates to ethical decision-making, and providing pastoral and emotional/spiritual support to others, as well as caring for staff and caregivers. In addition, students will be introduced to the various competencies expected of board-certified chaplains and will explore the regulations related to healthcare privacy. Students will have the opportunity to expand their understanding of the importance of research in ministry and the need to develop self-care practices. The course will include presentations from chaplains serving in a variety of settings and will enable the student to compare the uniqueness and commonalities of ministry within each context. 

This course explores the global character of the church and the practice of ministry in the multi-faith 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 PSF 633NE and THE 633NE. 

Moral injury is a term used to describe extreme and unprecedented life experience including the harmful aftermath of exposure to such events. In the Armed Forces, it focuses on the trauma of those who experience deep inner wounds created by an incongruity between their actions and convictions of right and wrong. This course will examine the differences between moral injury and PTSD and other frequent diagnoses related to trauma experienced in the military. Focus will then be given to the nature and devastating effects of moral injury along with ways to identify and enter its brokenness in order to move toward health and wholeness. This course is especially recommended for Military Chaplains.

This course seeks to develop pastoral leadership skills to provide spiritual care to those experiencing loss and grief. The course focuses on the role of the minister in providing understanding, guidance, and support to children and young, middle, and senior adults. Strategies for helping people of all ages cope with loss and grief will be discussed. Cultural practices relative to funerals, graveside services, viewing, cremation, and hospital visitation will be explored. Participants will develop listening skills and the ability to interpret and use Scripture appropriately within the context of loss. 

This course is designed to help those in, or entering, ministry to understand better their own ethical perspective and apply it to significant ethical questions facing society today. Issues to be covered include: approaches to ethical decision-making (both general and explicitly Christian), bioethical issues (reproductive technology, genetic screening, and physician-assisted suicide), social issues (pornography, sexual harassment), and business issues (job discrimination, capitalism). This course is cross-listed as SOC 649NE. [Offered on demand]

Human cloning is very near. Healthcare rationing is an increasing reality. Comfort care for the dying increasingly hastens death. This course is designed to help those currently in, or entering, ministry to understand better their own ethical perspective (their own general approach to ethical decision-making) and how this perspective applies to bioethical tensions such as those mentioned above. Students will have the opportunity to prepare and present a detailed analysis of an ethical issue they perceive to be of particular social significance. This course is especially recommended for hospital chaplains. This course is cross-listed as SOC 650NE.

How should church leaders respond when a member, a sub-group, or the entire congregation “gets mad” at them? What should they do when members of the church or the staff are fighting among themselves? What can leaders do when the congregation gets upset with the ecclesiastical hierarchy outside the local church? The church leader’s role as referee, mediator, and conciliator will be examined in this seminar, as well as their personal involvement as participant or bystander, and (most importantly) as a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. [Offered on demand]

There is no greater need in the body of Christ today than effective church planting. Increasing secularization, the rate of change accelerated by the introduction of new technology, sustained globalization, and the proliferation of a variety of religious faiths and pluralistic philosophies have combined to drive many communities of Christian faith into a posture of disengagement from culture. The result has been irrelevance and decline in church involvement, especially among the younger generation. Living in the midst of this new world, fresh expressions of the church are necessary in order to engage with the masses of people that the gospel of Jesus calls us to reach. Planting new congregations will be the most successful way of inviting unreached people into the life of the gospel. This course serves as a theological and practical introduction to that process. Students taking this course are required to participate in the church planting conference/training through Ecclesia Network. [Special/intermittent offering]

This course will look at fantasy works by both authors, and Tolkien’s essay “On Fairy-Stories” will provide the critical context and language for the discussion of these works. Among Tolkien’s works that will be examined are The Fellowship of the RingSmith of Wootton Major; and Farmer Giles of Ham. Among Lewis’s works that will be studied are The Lion, the Witch and the WardrobeThe Great Divorce; and Till We Have Faces. The students will examine the relationship between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches during the first half of the 20th century and will consider themes of good and evil, temptation, mercy, and redemption in Tolkien’s and Lewis’s writings as well as biblical and mythological influences on their texts.


This course reviews the reasons why churches and nonprofit organizations should embrace strategic planning as a way of improving their performance. It presents an effective strategic planning process that has been successfully used by leaders of nonprofit organizations. The course is comprised of a set of concepts, procedures, and tools that can help leaders enhance organizational achievement. Overall, the course is based on the premise that leaders of churches and nonprofit organizations must be effective strategists in order to fulfill their missions.

This course explores steps that pastors can take to lead a congregation from maintenance to a missional focus. The course pre-supposes that renewal is a personal and corporate spiritual journey that leaders and congregations undertake in order to realize their full potential in God’s redemptive work. The outlined approach to experiencing renewal is biblical, systematic, and intentional. The course will cover topics such as clarifying a missional theology, developing a corporate identity, assessing organizational preparedness for change, cultivating a healthy congregational climate, building supportive relationships among leaders, focusing on redemptive outreach, preparing for change, and celebrating God’s faithfulness. The course will explore the current research on the status of the American church, noting commonly held variables among declining congregations and among those congregations that have experienced renewal. This compare and contrast approach will enable students to develop their own strategic plan to bring congregational members together for more effective outreach to their community.

This course explores one focused topic of leadership. In the course, students will develop a theologically grounded approach to leadership in the contemporary world. Topics may include non-profit administration, church administration, leadership and contemporary culture, or executive leadership. This course may be repeated if topic differs. This course is cross-listed as BUS 685NE.

In this course, M.A. students will complete a portfolio project and presentation that summarizes their learning from their program and the connection to life and ministry. Additionally, students will identify vocational next steps and evaluate ways in which the program has prepared them to live out this vocation, identify ways those called to ministry contribute to imparting wholeness to the world, and identify a major question of ethics and justice that may arise in the regular practice of ministry and how this issue might be considered in light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Under the guidance of a faculty member, the student is given the opportunity to investigate additional areas of Christian ministry – current and historical. [Prerequisite: advisor and faculty approval required and a GPA of 3.0]

    

This course is a research option for M.A. students in the field of ministry 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.)

This course is intended to enhance the communication skills of students who have had some experience in preaching.  Topics of study include the development of sermons that are both biblical and relevant, creativity and clarity in preaching, effective delivery, special occasion preaching, and the life of the preacher.  Designed as a practicum experience, this course will provide the student with opportunities for in-class presentation and critique. [Offered on demand]

      

This sequence of four courses will provide the student with hands-on professional training from capable practitioners and educators. Students will develop professional understanding and competence in ministry. Each course provides time for on-site training, personal and peer-reflection, and classroom instruction. Personal and spiritual formation is a continuing aspect of field education. 

In conjunction with the social work division of Roberts Wesleyan College, this course can be taken for 3 hours of credit or used for one unit of the field education requirement. During the 2-week trip to China, students will be ministering to orphaned children in a government run orphanage for a 5-day period, and then will go to Beijing to an American managed foster home. The goal of the course is learning about the plight of orphaned children in China, recognizing that the needs of orphaned children exceed the bounds of the United States. This is a life changing course in which classes bond together in Christian fellowship as they meet daily for devotions and debriefing. Students will be responsible for all additional travel costs and should plan accordingly through financial aid and/or personal means. [Special/intermittent offering]

This course is designed to accommodate students who wish to participate in an independent mission’s trip or ministry tour and utilize the experience for field education credit. Trips must be approved by the director of field education who will assign additional readings and course assignments to be completed prior to travel. The student is responsible for all travel costs and fees in addition to the tuition for this course. To register for MIN 736, the student must complete the Application for Credit for Non-Classroom Course.

This course focuses on the development of skills related to the formational leadership of small groups (e.g., Bible studies, communal prayer), facilitation of personal and group retreats, and developing formation modalities of other types of communal Christian formation. Students study common dynamics of such formation settings, and both engage as participants in and give leadership to various types of communal formation gatherings, building competencies in assessment and the nurturing of holistic Christian formation.

This course is designed to serve as the capstone to the M.Div. degree. The goal is to conduct a review of the student’s learning experience throughout the program. The student’s reflections and analysis are integrated into the preparation of a written ministry plan and professional portfolio. Additional goals: provide written and oral defense of the student’s theological approach to identified ecclesiastical and ministerial concerns and issues; reflect on current and future financial planning; identify conflict management styles and learn adaptive methodology; reflect on personal and professional growth in the areas of community building, spiritual formation, and engagement with culture.

This course is a research option for M.Div. students. When approved by NES faculty, it takes the place of M.Div. electives. Students will design a research project in some area of Christian ministry. [Prerequisites: faculty permission; offered in the third or fourth year of the M.Div. by petition only; Corequisite: must be taken in conjunction with RES 690NE]