Vision and Goals

I believe God sees this course as a fellowship. We are a team brought together for a season of growth through mutual training, challenge, equipping, and discipline. All these serve the ends that every participant attain new and lasting appreciation for the theological beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ, and every participating follower of Jesus gain new and lasting skill in the Church's practices of theological reflection.

More specifically, the course intends its participants:

  • To weigh the visions of various Christian communities of the identity, character, and work of the God of Jesus Christ in the world's creation and redemption.
  • To gain an understanding of the historical teachings and practices of Christian traditions.
  • To grasp the centrality of Jesus Christ and his gospel to the Christian tradition.
  • To connect Christian theology with Christian practice, centering both on the life of the worshipping Church.
  • To gain facility in faithful, responsible, imaginative Christian biblical practices.
  • To strengthen academic discipline, particularly regarding good writing, listening, and critical reading.
  • To become actively and personally engaged with the discipline of faithful Christian theological enquiry.

I describe the general objectives of all my courses in my rules of the game.

A group of my colleagues from other disciplines formulated the following list of aspirations for this course: "We want our students to be able to reason about their faith, and then be able to apply their reasoned faith to all other disciplines and to all areas of their lives. We want students to recognize ways in which this reasoned faith is both biblically based and historically located. We want to acquaint students with both the basic grammar of theology and the complexities of its syntax in competing theological traditions. We want students to know that theology is both a useful and a limited tool. (For example, each model of the atonement seems to contribute something to our understanding of the crucifixion, but no one model of the atonement seems completely to account for the mystery of the crucifixion.) We want to deconstruct less thoughtful theologies that students may bring with them, but only to help them reconstruct more thoughtful and durable theologies." To this I say, Amen.

You are about to discover the Christian tradition to a depth you cannot now appreciate – and maybe discover yourself as well, for you are about to encounter the deepest mysteries of our faith. Some of these have taken centuries to unfold to the Church's satisfaction; others remain unsolved to this day, waiting for some faithful community of disciples (including you?) to describe the faith in new and clarifying ways. You are about to spend a decent chunk of your brief life training in the practices of intellectual discipleship through which the Church has proclaimed the good news of Jesus Christ, bringer of the Holy Spirit and witness to the infinite love of God the Father.

You and I are also about to do a whole lot of work, because while the power to do these things is God-given, they don't come easily.

Course
Vision
Reading
Tasks
Schedule
MATERIALS
Rules of the Game
A Few (Strong) Suggestions on Essay Writing
Pointers for Presentations
Peer Review Guidelines
Review Form (PDF)