Reading

(Warning: Beware the used or library textbook with highlighting. Do the human race a favor and either don't highlight your books, or don't sell back highlighted books.)

In addition to the following required textbooks, students will read selections from The Holy Bible (reading level:   ) and several articles from my website (also   , depending on the selection) coordinated with lecture topics.

1-2. All students will read the following texts:

theological paradigm Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society, Eerdmans, 1989.
theological history Robert Wilken, The Spirit of Early Christian Thought, Yale, 2003.

3-6. Students taking the course for honors standing will read the books in the right-hand column below. Students taking the course for regular standing will read the books on the left.

 
for regular standing only:
for honors standing only:
basic doctrine Jonathan R. Wilson, A Primer for Christian Doctrine, Eerdmans, 2005. Karl Barth, Dogmatics in Outline, Perennial, 1959.
the Kingdom of God Lee Camp, Mere Discipleship: Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World, Brazos, 2003. Stanley Hauerwas, The Peaceable Kingdom, Notre Dame.
cultural contrast Dianna Narciso, Like Rolling Uphill: Realizing the Honesty of Atheism, Llumina, 2004.
Edmund O. Wilson, On Human Nature, Harvard, 2004.
theological (and Catholic) spirituality Robert Barron, And Now I See: a Theology of Transformation, Crossroad, 1998. Joseph Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, Ignatius, 2000.

7. Regular-standing students will read one of the following.

Christian doctrine lives in Christian practice. Believers practice according to the measure of grace given to them (Romans 12:3-8) and the gifts of the Holy Spirit they have received for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:4:13). Students taking the course for regular standing will choose one of the following books to work with, according to their spiritual gift or the Christian practice of most interest to them. Honors students already have a longer and more demanding reading list, so they are exempt from this requirement. However, they may choose to work with one of these books for extra credit to help them prepare for Life After Doctrine.

interpretation and discernment "if prophecy, in proportion to our faith" Lesslie Newbigin, The Light Has Come: an Exposition of the Fourth Gospel, Eerdmans, 1997.
worship and tongues "if service, in our serving" James B. Torrance, Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace, IVP, 1997.
evangelism
"those who teach, in their teaching" Brad J. Kallenberg, Live to Tell: Evangelism for a Postmodern Age, Brazos, 2002.
wisdom "those who exhort, in their exhortation" St. Augustine, Confessions, trans. Henry Chadwick, Oxford, 1991.
mission and apostleship "those who contribute, in generosity" Vincent J. Donovan, Christianity Rediscovered, Orbis, 2003.
leadership "those who give aid, with zeal" Jonathan R. Wilson, Gospel Virtues: Practicing Faith, Hope, and Love in Uncertain Times, Wipf & Stock, 2004.
compassion and healing "those who do acts of mercy, with cheerfulness"

Bryant L. Myers, Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development, Orbis, 1999.

Some of these readings are very easy to understand, while others are very difficult. Some will be over your head. But they won't be over your head forever if you treat this course as one early step in a lifelong journey of taking Jesus Christ seriously, rather than a remedial or elementary class you will grow out of as you "mature." You might choose to neglect or ignore or dismiss Christian theology — though I hope you don't — but you don't need to worry about outgrowing it.

Optional reading for on your own, directed study, or extra credit exercises:

For students with poor writing skills, my classes also feature conditionally required reading.

Michael Harvey, The Nuts and Bolts of College Writing, Hackett, 2003. 100pp. Also on reserve.
This compact and very helpful guide to college writing shows students how to make their writing simple, clear, smooth, grammatical, graceful, responsible, orderly, and powerful. The book addresses the most common vices that afflict collegiate writers and cultivates the most important virtues that should characterize writers of every stripe. It is concise, unpretentious, and (for a change) inexpensive. You may use this book for extra credit, in which case each of our written exercises will focus on one chapter.

Catechism of the Catholic Church (selections), http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/ccc_toc.htm.
One of the most important texts of recent theology is this training manual on the Christian faith for all teachers in the Catholic tradition. Beyond being the culmination of two centuries of historical and constructive theology, it offers our class a magisterial introduction to the Christian faith. As the rest of the course overlaps its teaching on the Apostles' Creed, we will concentrate on the sections on the Word and sacraments of the Church, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord's Prayer.

Martin Luther, Shorter Catechism, http://www.ucc.org/faith/small.htm.
(Also recommended: Long Catechism
, http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/wittenberg/wittenberg-luther.html#sw-lc. )
Martin Luther (inadvertently) fathered Protestantism, a far-reaching effort to reform an unhealthy Christian Church in the sixteenth century. Luther wrote catechisms to increase biblical and theological literacy among a woefully ignorant German people. These review and apply the Ten Commandments, the articles of the Apostles' Creed, the petitions of the Lord's Prayer, and the sacraments of the Church. Well, in 2002, woeful biblical and theological ignorance is back. We will be learning the text of the Shorter Catechism to see how theology once worked as a guide to all life, and to remember how beautifully profound Luther's teaching could be. (I am providing links to optional readings from the Long Catechism if you want to read in more depth.)

There is always more reading for after the course is over. Here are guidelines on finding it and some reading suggestions from my own library.

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