Your semester in Christian Doctrine is supposed to build on your past, expose you to the work of people in and out of your own church circles, correct a few consequential misunderstandings, and equip you to become a full participant in our grand theological tradition.
To encourage all this, I am asking you to identify an elder to serve as a mentor this semester. Your mentor needs to be someone at least four years older than you, whom you know and respect: an immediate or extended family member, pastor, godparent or family friend, or teacher. He or she will need to read one of your Doctrine books and have a few conversations with you over the semester regarding the book and the course as a whole.
If you choose someone with no formal background in theology, then I recommend a more accessible book like Wright, Keller, or Barron's Strangest Way. Someone with a formal background might prefer Newbigin, Barth, Barron's And Now I See, Jenson, or Volf. Any one of our books could be right for a teacher. At any rate, you know these people better than I do; try to arrive at a combination that will be rewarding and instructive for both of you.
In the past, some mentors have turned out to be too busy to read and discuss the book effectively. Please make absolutely sure your mentor really has the time to devote to this by the time you are due to finish the book yourself.
Here are the details of this assignment:
Early in the semester, find a mentor who agrees to read one of your books with you. Note in a 'mentoring' section of your workbook who that person is, his or her contact information (e-mail or phone, preferably e-mail), and what book he or she is reading.
Over the semester, have at least three conversations, commenting about each in your workbook's 'mentoring' section:
- Early in the semester, well before the first midterm, have a conversation with your mentor about the course in general. You might wish to ask about a few of your responses in your entrance exam, or the shape of the course, or the readings you're doing. Summarize each person's contributions to that conversation.
- Schedule a time after you both will be at least halfway through your book to have a conversation about it. In your workbook, describe your mentor's assessment of the book and what either or both of you have learned in the course of reading and discussing it. This is the most important entry.
- Near the end of the semester and after you both finish your book, have another conversation about the course in general and how it might pertain to life beyond college. Note what you both gained through that conversation and through your contacts over the semester.
Where you refer to any course materials, you will of course need to cite them properly. I also still want to see proper style, clear writing, a thorough answer to the question, and explicit citations of course materials.
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