Reflection on the Shape of Theology

Christian doctrine describes and regulates Christian practice so that both are faithful to the good news of Jesus Christ. This course has been showing you all three of these aspects of Christian life and how they are interrelated. In this exercise I want you to explore some of the interrelationships we have not always explicitly mentioned in class. My hope is that connecting the dots on your own will help you appreciate the power and coherence of the Christian tradition, particularly as it might relate to your own gifts and passions (or at least to the spiritual gifts and practices you find most compelling in Christian life).

Students with 'seventh readings' will answer this question:

Show how Christological reflection on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as it serves the life of the Church does and/or does not definitively shape the central argument in your seventh reading (Augustine's Confessions, Donovan's Christianity Rediscovered, Kallenberg's Live to Tell, Myers' Walking with the Poor, Torrance's Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace, or Wilson's Gospel Virtues). In other words, how does or does not that book's thesis "go through Atlanta" to inform a concrete ecclesial matter? Insofar as it does not pay the proper attention to both Christology and ecclesiology, how might doing so more faithfully change its thesis?

By Christology here I mean the major themes of the person and work of Jesus Christ: incarnation, threefold office, atonement, and the narrative itself that they aim to clarify. By ecclesiology I mean the major themes of the Church as we have been exploring them in lectures and readings. You can find a good survey of the major themes in Christology and ecclesiology in Wilson's Primer, Barth's Dogmatics in Outline, and (less obviously) Ratzinger's Introduction to Christology as well in our lecture topics.

The key to success here is identifying strong, determinative connections among Jesus, his Church, and the practice at the heart of the book you have been reading.

Honors students without a seventh reading will answer this question instead:

First, briefly describe one of the following doctrines:

The doctrine of the Trinity;
the attributes of God;
the doctrine of creation;
the doctrine of humanity in the image of God;
the doctrine of original sin;
conviction of sin and justification, in both their personal and social dimensions;
the doctrine of election;
the work of the Holy Spirit (pneumatology);
the doctrine of the last things (eschatology);
the Church's participation in the priesthood of Christ;
the Church's participation in the prophethood of Christ;
the unity, holiness, catholicity, or apostolicity of the Church;
the order of salvation (personal and corporate justification and sanctification);
the doctrine of Scripture.

Second, show how Christology (meaning the doctrine of the person and work of Christ) gives that doctrine its definitive shape for Christians (i.e., how that doctrine "goes through Atlanta").

Third, describe one way in which that doctrine's normative Christological shape plays itself out in Christian life (e.g., in the practice of baptism, or any other Christian practice).

Throughout the exercise, be sure to appeal explicitly to course materials for your specific points. The key to success here is developing strong, determinative connections among that doctrine, Christology, and that Christian practice. You will find certain readings best suited to particular doctrines.

Please keep your paper 3-4 pages, double-spaced, and follow the directions in my handout for writing papers. Remember, I want to see proper style, clear writing, a thorough answer to the question, and explicit citations of course materials.

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