ST 503

SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY:
ECCLESIOLOGY AND ESCHATOLOGY

Summer 2000 MW 5:00-8:50 p.m., Psych 314
 
Telford Work
e-mail: work@westmont.edu
home page: http://www.westmont.edu/~work
phone: (626) 793-2824
  1. COURSE DESCRIPTION
  2. COURSE FORMAT
  3. TEXTS
  4. ASSIGNMENTS
  5. COURSE OUTLINE AND READING SCHEDULE


COURSE DESCRIPTION:

The messianic community was Jesus’ top priority during his earthly career, and it remains so today. The doctrines of the Church and Last Things are essential to a proper theological understanding of life in the Body of Christ and its wider world. They are informed by and in turn inform the ministries of all God’s people as they respond to God’s grace in worship, evangelism, and hospitality.

This course introduces students to ecclesiology and eschatology, deliberately making connections between the doctrines of the Church and Last Things and the eschatological life-giving practices of the Church. It explores biblical, classical, contemporary, and liturgical expressions and implications of ecclesiology and eschatology, paying special attention to the various traditions of the divided Church of Jesus Christ. It is structured around the typical Sunday liturgy.


COURSE FORMAT:

The course consists of lectures and discussion. Lectures will not cover all the course material; discussion will range from questions-and-answers, to topical discussion, to discussion on the required readings.

Because the worshiping Church lies at the very center of both ecclesiology and eschatology, the course follows the format of the typical Sunday liturgy. This is a somewhat unusual way to approach the doctrines of the Church and of Last Things, especially in evangelical Protestantism. But even for those who (like I) belong to "low" Christian traditions, this approach is not so foreign as it seems at first glance, for the Gospels and Epistles together portray God's gathered, worshiping, missionary people with just such a significance in the end-times. Furthermore, the varieties of church worship correspond closely to the very differences that both enrich and divide the catholic Church of Jesus Christ, while the commonalities of worship compel Christians to seek greater visible unity. The way we worship confers and reflects who we are (and aren't) as the people of God; the health of our worship reflects the health of the body of Christ; and the power of our worship reflects the Holy Spirit gathering us to God, dwelling within us, and pushing us back into the world in the interval between Christ's ascension and return.


REQUIRED TEXTS:

Holy Bible.

James Wm. McClendon, Jr., Doctrine, Abingdon, 1994.

Volume II of a three-volume systematic theology in the "small-b baptist" tradition, McClendon's Doctrine introduces students not only to the free-church stream of Protestant Christianity, but does so in a consciously postmodern context. McClendon's is an excellent example of classic theological reflection conducted in the academy, yet paying primary attention to the practices and rationalities of the Christian Church. While this volume treats the classical categories of all three quarters of systematic theology, we will be reading only those portions that are most relevant to this course.

Patricia Wilson-Kastner, Sacred Drama: A Spirituality of Christian Liturgy, Fortress, 1999.

Wilson-Kastner was an Episcopal rector and professor of homiletics. Her book explores the connections between the worship of the Church and the doctrine of the Church. Like several other books in this course, it concentrates on several practices so central to the Church that they in effect constitute it as the Church. Wilson-Kastner will not only help us strengthen the connections so important to this course, but will offer us a window into the "high-church" tradition of Christian worship, often called "liturgical" worship, which is both doctrinally rich and beautiful (even if sometimes unintelligible to newcomers).

James B. Torrance, Worship, Community & the Triune God of Grace, InterVarsity, 1997.

While Wilson-Kastner shows us the connections between worship and the Christian life, Torrance shows us the connections between worship and the Christian God. He is a Scottish Presbyterian professor of systematic theology. Here he claims that the health of the Church utterly depends on our worship having a trinitarian shape. The Church is strengthened and built up when we worship God the Father through God the Son in God the Holy Spirit. Other approaches to worship, both liberal Protestant and evangelical Protestant, sicken the Church in their untrinitarian infidelity to the God who acted for us in Jesus Christ. Torrance won't let us push the rest of theology off to one side when we study the Church, or partition our "theory" and our "practice" into separate categories.

Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry, WCC, 1982.

This text is something of a breakthrough in ecumenical dialogue among the various Christian traditions. Representatives of Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox came together at a World Council of Churches conference in Lima, Peru, and drafted this document. It represents an incomplete convergence of thinking on the meaning and practice of baptism, the Lord's Supper, and ordained ministry three practices that have divided Christians for centuries. We will use it to sharpen our understanding of these practices, and where we all agree and disagree over them.

Rodney Clapp, A Peculiar People: The Church as Culture in a Post-Christian Society, InterVarsity, 1996.

Clapp is a Wheaton evangelical who went on a pilgrimmage and came back on a mission. Brought up in evangelical Methodism and passing through the Baptist and CMA traditions, he discovered Holy Tradition, the Radical Reformation, and postmodernism, and became a self-described "postmodern, neo-Anabaptist, plebeian Christian" in the Episcopal tradition. That makes for a pretty interesting story! He will help us navigate the treacherous relationship between the Church and the world. As one who believes the Church has generally failed to do this faithfully since, say, the year 200, Clapp's diagnosis is severe and his proposed cure is radical. It centers on our need to recover the practices of worship that make us the Church in the first place. Surprised?


RECOMMENDED READING:

Our main textbook, McClendon's Doctrine, may be a bit sophisticated for theological newcomers. If you need something more basic, I recommend you also make use of one or more of the following:

Grenz, Stanley, Theology for the Community of God, Eerdmans, 2000.
Berkhof, Louis, Systematic Theology, Eerdmans, 1938.
Ferguson, S.B. and Wright, D.F., eds., New Dictionary of Theology, IVP, 1988.

One of your course assignments is a theological analysis of one of the following works. Please note that I do not expect that you will read more than one of these works in completion of the course requirements. This list is meant to be a guide for further study on your part during and after the course, and a list of works from which to choose your book to review.

The open-endedness of the writing assignments is meant to help you learn to guide your discipline of theological reflection after seminary, when teachers are no longer looking over your shoulder and telling you what to study. Some of the texts are introductory, while some are quite advanced. Please choose a level of difficulty you will find both realistic and challenging!


ASSIGNMENTS:

1. Attendance at class sessions and participation in discussions are both mandatory. Theology is a discipline that is best understood when lived and discussed, not just when heard and read. Thus our in-class discussions of the readings are integral parts of the course. Attendance and participation are not given a formal percentage of your grade, but I reserve the right to adjust grades up or down (though never by no more than one letter-grade) on their basis.

In order to provide extra time for discussion, I am eager to lead a very optional group at McCormick & Schmidt's every Wednesday after class. Please feel free to come along and discuss the readings, lectures, discussions, weather, or theology in general!

2. To stimulate discussion, this class will have its own e-mail discussion group you will use to take class discussions into and out of class sessions. This is a place for you to post responses to "ice-breakers" (see below), thoughtful questions for others, and thoughtful answers to others' questions. I will lurk, responding and posing questions only when I consider it necessary. Send e-mail to st503@list.fuller.edu.

3. You will write a 7-page analysis of one of the recommended readings. This should emerge from your thorough interaction with whichever text on the list most sparks your interest. If you want to review a different text (which you haven't already studied!), you can seek my approval. The review is meant to develop and test your ability to draw on academic theological works in, and especially after, your time in seminary. Reviews will be due Wednesday, July 5 at the beginning of class.

4. You will write a 7-page ecclesiological analysis of a Christian worship service. The goal of this assignment is to help you draw connections between the categories of ecclesiology and actual Christian practices. Please include the order of service with your paper so I can follow along. Papers will be due Wednesday, July 19 at the beginning of class.

5. There will be a final exam on the required texts and lecture material which covers the entire course. The exam is meant to develop and test your ability to recall and especially to synthesize the course material. Exams are due Wednesday, July 26 by 5 p.m. in the Academic Programs office.

GRADING POLICY:

"There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:4). I don't expect you to excel at book-reviewing, exam-taking, and research-paper-writing (though I do expect competence in all, as the skills required for each are important for anyone with preaching and teaching responsibilities in today's Church). Accordingly, I will weight your highest grade as 40% of your overall grade; the other two assignments will count for 30% each. And if your particular gifts lie in other areas — say, writing hymns or sermons — we may be able to arrange one alternative assignment to allow you to apply theological reasoning in the way more appropriate to your call.

However, "you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness" (James 3:1). There is perhaps no more responsible position in the Church than teaching doctrine and preaching Scripture. In grading these assignments, I will resist grade inflation a bit. I've found (as both a teacher and as a student!) that in such an environment students are more likely to improve — and grades are just as high at the end of the course because of that improvement.

As you prepare to write, please refer to my suggestions for writing papers for helpful suggestions, cautions about Internet "research", ultimata regarding late papers and plagiarism, and so on.


COURSE OUTLINE AND READING SCHEDULE:

Date
Practice/ Confession
Topic
Readings
Ice-Breakers
6/19
Parking
"we believe"
Ecclesiology: Who Cares?
McClendon 9.1, 9.3
Wilson-Kastner Prologue, 1, 2
How do (or don't) your attitudes toward the Church reflect those of Jesus?
How do (or don't) they reflect your culture?
The Shape of the Course
Waiting
"we look for the resurrection of the dead"
Eschatology: Between Ascension and Return
Matt. 28:16-20, John 20:11-23, Acts 1:1-11
How do the ethics of different churches (including your own) reflect their eschatologies?
6/21
Why the Wait? Judgment and Salvation in the End-Times
Work, "Advent's Answer to the Problem of Evil"
McClendon 2
Ps. 75, Matt. 24:1-25:46, 1 Pet. 3:8-5:11
How should the Church's setting in the end-times affect the way we behave?
Apocalypse When?
Rev. 20:1-22:5, 2 Thess. 2, 2 Pet. 3
How have doctrines of Scripture influenced millennial and amillennial eschatologies?
6/26
Gathering
"in one ... Church"
The First Church: Israel
McClendon 8.2
Deut. 5-8
What is the Church's proper relationship to historical Israel?
How is (or isn't) this heritage reflected in Christian worship?
The Last Church
Wilson-Kastner 6, Epilogue
Clapp 5
Jer. 3:1-4:4, Rom. 11, Heb. 3:7-4:13
What is the Church's proper relationship to present-day Israel (meaning the people of Israel worldwide)?
In what ways is (or isn't) this reflected in Christian worship?
How is "the Kingdom of God" definitive for ecclesiology?
A Pentecost-al Introduction to Pneumatology
Work, "Gusty Winds, or a Jet Stream?"
Joel, Acts 2
How do particular works of the Holy Spirit further the work of Christ?
6/28
Procession
What Makes a Church? Dead Ends and Live Options
McClendon 8.1
Clapp 7
Ps. 24, Acts 8:14-17, 1 Thess. 1, Rev. 2-3
Where in Newbigin's typology is your own local Church?
Is one type superior to the others, or if not, what is the proper way to reform and/or combine them?
One True Church?
Work, "I Believe in the One True Church"
McClendon 8.3
John 17, 1 Cor. 1:1-17, 1 Cor. 12:1-26
In what sense(s) do you believe the Church is one? How is that unity reflected concretely (or if it isn't, how should it be) in particular Christian communities?
7/3
Praise
"in the Holy Spirit ... who proceeds from the Father [and the Son]"
Worship as the Shape of Christian Life
 
Worship (or?) Evangelism
Torrance 1
Ps. 66, 84, 149, 150
How do worship and idolatry look in present-day America (or in your own present-day culture)?
Tongues
"the Lord, the giver of life ... who, with the Father and the Son, is worshipped and glorified"
Uses and Abuses of Spiritual Gifts
McClendon 10.2
Acts 10:44-48, 1 Cor. 14
How should spiritual gifts such as tongues and healing be practiced in the context of worship? On what do you base your answer?
7/5
Confession (Penance) and Absolution (Reconciliation)
"in one holy ... Church"
"the forgiveness of sins"
 
Passing of the Peace, Greeting, and Announcements
Signs of the Order of Salvation
Work, "Reordering Salvation"
McClendon 3.3
Clapp 6
Torrance 2
Ps. 15, Isa. 57:14-21, Matt. 18, John 14:23-27, Rom. 6-8, Rom. 14, 1 Cor. 5, 1 Pet. 5:12-14, 1 John 1-3, 2 John 9-10, 3 John 9-10
Can people be saved apart from the Church? On what grounds do you offer your answer?
Is hospitality just another word for evangelism or mission, or is it something else?
How can the Church be disciplined and hospitable at the same time?
Dedication, Baptism (and Confirmation), and Marriage
"we acknowledge one baptism"
Book analysis due!
Baptism: Here Comes the Bride
Wilson-Kastner 3
Torrance 69-81
McClendon 386-397
BEM: "Baptism"
Luke 3:21-22, Mark 10:33-45, Rom. 6:1-4, Gal. 3:27-29, 1 Pet. 3:18-22
Is the baptism of infants valid? Is it appropriate? Why or why not?
How does the practice of infant baptism affect the other practices and doctrines of the Church?
7/10
Scripture Reading
From Jesus to Scripture: How Christ Instituted the Bible
McClendon 11
McClendon 397-400
Ps. 19, Matt. 5:17-48, Luke 4:14-22
What is the basis of the Bible's authority in the Church?
Sermon
"he spoke through the prophets"
Scripture (and?) Tradition: Does the Bible Need the Church?
Wilson-Kastner 4
Clapp 8
Torrance 4
Torrance A
Mark 4:10-20, Acts 8:26-40, Rom. 10:8-17, 2 Tim. 3, Titus 1:1-9
In what ways do the doctrine and practice of Scripture depend on the doctrine and practice of Church?
How does (or doesn't) the Protestant conviction of "Scripture alone" work?
7/12
Offering
"in one holy catholic ... Church"
Catholicity
Rom. 12, 1 Cor. 12-13
What difference does it make in your Church whether the offering comes before or after the sermon?
Liberation Theology: More Evangelical Than You Think
Luke 6:17-38, Acts 4:32-37, Philemon
What similarities and incompatibilities do you find between evangelicalism and liberation theology? How might each one correct or improve the other?
Communion
Communion: Sharing Salvation
Wilson-Kastner 5
McClendon 400-406
Torrance 81-94
BEM: "Eucharist"
1 Cor. 11
What happens during Communion?
How does including or dropping Communion from a Sunday worship service affect the service as a whole?
7/17
Orders (Vocation)
"in one holy catholic apostolic Church"
Apostolicity: Structures of the Missionary Church
BEM: "Ministry"
Acts 6:1-7, Acts 15, Acts 20:25-32, 1 Tim.
How do NT church structures bear upon issues of women's leadership, ordination, and participation in worship?
How is or isn't ordination biblically warranted?
Altar Call, Healing (Unction), and Evangelism
From Galilee to Pasadena: The Church as Culture(s)
McClendon 10.3
Clapp 11
Eph. 2-3, 1 Cor. 9, 14, James 5:13-18, Rev. 21:22-27
In what other areas of ecclesiology do issues of the relationship between Jewish and Gentile Christians spill over?
7/19
Benediction
"the life of the world to come"
Worship analysis due!
Go Where? The Church in the World
Work, "Veggie Ethics"
Clapp 1-4
Clapp 12
Rom. 13, Rev. 13, Rev. 18-19, 21
Film: "Romero"
How is your church faithful and/or unfaithful in its relationships with the state and the wider culture?
Mission
Christianity and "World Religions"
McClendon 10.1
Clapp 9
Ps. 82, 96, Isa. 45, Acts 17:16-34, 1 Cor. 8, Gal. 4:1-11, Rev. 2:12-29
What other religious traditions worship the God of Jesus Christ (if any)?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of inclusivism, exclusivism, and pluralism?
7/26
Final exam due!
Can we still be friends?