Course Descriptions

 

Fall 2015 Term

 

THEO-200-D: The Christian Tradition, and What Christianity is Not, MWF 10:30AM - 11:20 AM (Prof. Mark W. Bartusch)

The Christian Tradition is a course that introduces students to the study of the origin and development of Christian thought as it forms communities and engages the world. In this section of THEO 200, students will become familiar with what Christianity is by learning about certain of the historical, social, religious, and cultural contexts out of which Christian theology arose and developed; appreciate the major developments in the Christian tradition; and gain knowledge of central expressions and characteristics of the Christian faith. We will conclude by considering – for our own context – what Christianity is not: it is not a culture religion; it is not a religion of the book; it is not doctrine; it is not a system of morality; it is not the church; it is not the 'truth.' It is expected that through engagement in the study of theology, students will develop the liberal skills of critical reading and listening, careful writing, and respectful discussion of important questions, as well as an interest in continued engagement with theological issues. Students will also be prepared for further work in their second theology course.Students can expect to complete approximately 18-20 pages of written work, and write 2 exams (including a final exam). 

Required Texts: The HarperCollins Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version. Fully Revised and Updated. Edited by Harold W. Attridge [Wayne A. Meeks.] New York: Harper Collins, 2006. NOTE: This print edition of the Bible is required. No substitutions. It is assumed that participants already own this edition of the Bible (Core 110-115) and will not need to purchase it specifically for this course. [ISBN-13: 978-0061228407]Hall, Douglas John. What Christianity is Not: An Exercise in Negative Theology. Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2013. [ISBN-13: 978-1610976718]  Other required readings will be made available on Blackboard.

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THEO-200-E: The Christian Tradition, and What Christianity is Not, MWF 11:30AM - 12:20PM (Prof. Mark W. Bartusch)

The Christian Tradition is a course that introduces students to the study of the origin and development of Christian thought as it forms communities and engages the world. In this section of THEO 200, students will become familiar with what Christianity is by learning about certain of the historical, social, religious, and cultural contexts out of which Christian theology arose and developed; appreciate the major developments in the Christian tradition; and gain knowledge of central expressions and characteristics of the Christian faith. We will conclude by considering – for our own context – what Christianity is not: it is not a culture religion; it is not a religion of the book; it is not doctrine; it is not a system of morality; it is not the church; it is not the 'truth.' It is expected that through engagement in the study of theology, students will develop the liberal skills of critical reading and listening, careful writing, and respectful discussion of important questions, as well as an interest in continued engagement with theological issues. Students will also be prepared for further work in their second theology course.Students can expect to complete approximately 18-20 pages of written work, and write 2 exams (including a final exam).

Required Texts: The HarperCollins Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version. Fully Revised and Updated. Edited by Harold W. Attridge [Wayne A. Meeks.] New York: Harper Collins, 2006. NOTE: This print edition of the Bible is required. No substitutions. It is assumed that participants already own this edition of the Bible (Core 110-115) and will not need to purchase it specifically for this course. [ISBN-13: 978-0061228407]Hall, Douglas John. What Christianity is Not: An Exercise in Negative Theology. Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 2013. [ISBN-13: 978-1610976718]  Other required readings will be made available on Blackboard.

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THEO-200-G: The Christian Tradition: Global Christianity, MWF 1:30-2:20PM (Prof. SimonMary Aihiokhai)

This course will introduce students to the broader markers of Christianity as found in its different strands. Attention will be given to the early theological debates on the nature of the content of the Christian faith, the divisions that occurred as a result of these debates, and the eventual spread of the strands globally. Particular attention will be given to the spread of Christianity to the global south: Africa, Asia, and Latin America. This will also entail the study of the role of Christianity in shaping the cultures in these geographical locations, the roles these cultures have played in shaping the strands of Christianity present there. The course will expose students to contemporary issues facing societies and what roles Christianity can play in resolving them; for example, global poverty; religious terrorism; ecological crisis; and racial/ethnic discrimination. Finally, Students will be introduced to the current conversations on the role Christianity is playing in the discourse on religious pluralism as experienced in the global south. The interreligious influence of Islam and Indigenous Religions on Christianity and the distinct markers of Christianity in the global south will be central parts of the course content.Participation in all class discussions will be essential to meeting the goals and objectives for this course. There will be ten random in-class quizzes, a midterm exam, and five two-page single-spaced take home research papers. There will be no final examination.

Required Texts: 1) Roger E. Olson, The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity & Diversity. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic/Nottingham, England: Apollos, 2002). ISBN: 978-0-8308269572) Mary Farrell Bednarowski (author, editor), Twentieth Century Global Christianity (People’s History of Christianity) Paperback. Fortress Press, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-800634179.3) Edward A. Engelbrecht (editor), The Lutheran Study Bible: English Standard Version. Hardcover. Concordia Publishing House, 2009. ISBN: 978-0-758617606.

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THEO-200-I: The Christian Tradition: The Biblical Foundation, MWF 3:30-4:20PM (Prof. SimonMary  Aihiokhai)

This course will introduce students to the broader markers of Christianity as found in its different strands. Attention will be given to the early theological debates on the nature of the content of the Christian faith, the divisions that occurred as a result of these debates, and the eventual spread of the strands globally. Particular attention will be given to the spread of Christianity to the global south: Africa, Asia, and Latin America. This will also entail the study of the role of Christianity in shaping the cultures in these geographical locations, the roles these cultures have played in shaping the strands of Christianity present there. The course will expose students to contemporary issues facing societies and what roles Christianity can play in resolving them; for example, global poverty; religious terrorism; ecological crisis; and racial/ethnic discrimination. Finally, Students will be introduced to the current conversations on the role Christianity is playing in the discourse on religious pluralism as experienced in the global south. The interreligious influence of Islam and Indigenous Religions on Christianity and the distinct markers of Christianity in the global south will be central parts of the course content.Participation in all class discussions will be essential to meeting the goals and objectives for this course. There will be ten random in-class quizzes, a midterm exam, and five two-page single-spaced take home research papers. There will be no final examination.

Required Texts: 1) Roger E. Olson, The Mosaic of Christian Belief: Twenty Centuries of Unity & Diversity. Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Academic/Nottingham, England: Apollos, 2002). ISBN: 978-0-8308269572) Mary Farrell Bednarowski (author, editor), Twentieth Century Global Christianity (People’s History of Christianity) Paperback. Fortress Press, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-800634179.3) Edward A. Engelbrecht (editor), The Lutheran Study Bible: English Standard Version. Hardcover. Concordia Publishing House, 2009. ISBN: 978-0-758617606.

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THEO-200-J: The Christian Tradition: Belief and Practices, TR 8:30AM - 9:45AM (Prof. Lisa Driver)

Using a lens of "faith and works", this course will explore how Christians have tried to understand the relationship between God and human beings.  What does each contribute to salvation?  to living a faithful life?  to recovering from sin?  Beginning with the Bible, we will examine the answers and arguments Christians have offered over time through representative moments in early, medieval, reformation and modern periods.

Evaluation will include regular prepared discussions, a debate, essays and tests.

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THEO-200-K: The Christian Tradition: Belief and Practices, TR 10:30AM - 11:45AM (Prof. Lisa Driver)

Using a lens of "faith and works", this course will explore how Christians have tried to understand the relationship between God and human beings.  What does each contribute to salvation?  to living a faithful life?  to recovering from sin?  Beginning with the Bible, we will examine the answers and arguments Christians have offered over time through representative moments in early, medieval, reformation and modern periods.

Evaluation will include regular prepared discussions, a debate, essays and tests.

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THEO-200-L-WIC: The Genesis of The Christian Tradition, TR 10:30AM - 11:45AM  (Prof. George Heider)

This section of THEO-200 (The Christian Tradition) is a pilot version of a type of course that is likely to be required in the future at Valpo:  a sophomore-level course that is designed to build on the writing skills first learned and practiced in Core, while simultaneously studying the basics of a specific discipline (in this case, Theology).  The course will use the biblical book of Genesis as its primary text and will lead students to reflect on fundamental questions of God and humanity through modern texts based on Genesis.  Along the way, students will also be exposed to the basic biblical story (from Genesis to Revelation), to important developments in the Christian tradition in the two millennia since, and to interactions between the Christian tradition and both other religious traditions and modern issues.  Enrollment limited to 20 students.

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Theo-200-M: The Christian Tradition: Asian Christianity, TR 12:00PM - 1:15PM (Prof. George Pati) 

This course introduces students to the Christian traditions as practiced in various regions of Asia, including India, China and Japan. It seeks to engage in the reading of the Bible and historical and ethnographical accounts of Christianity in the Asian context. Particular emphasis will be given to how Christianity assimilates and acculturates in different regions of Asia and how it is different from Western Christianity.

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Theology 200–N and O: The Christian Tradition: Belief and Thought, TR 1:30 - 2:45PM (N)  TR 3:00 - 4:15PM (O) (Prof. James Moore)
Course Description: A study of the historical foundations of Christian thought and its development in the life of the church.  This course will explore the basic ideas of Christianity through the lens of a vision central to the teaching of Jesus: that God intends to bring peace and justice to the nations.  We will think about the key notions of Christianity and how they can be seen differently if this central theme is taken seriously.  The course expects that students will attend class and participate, write three short reflection papers and complete two take home exams.

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THEO-319: Interpreting the Book of Job, MWF 1:30PM - 2:20PM (Prof. Mark W. Bartusch)

The book of Job is endlessly fascinating, having invited readers through the centuries to engage some of life’s most profound questions, including those of retributive justice, the suffering of the innocent, the theological problem of evil, disinterested piety, the nature of God, and more. Now, it is our turn. In this class, we will first read and study the book of Job in its ancient context. Next, we will examine several more contemporary interpretations of this ancient book in the works of Elie Wiesel and Archibald MacLeish (verse), Nicholas Wolterstorff and Harold Kushner (personal suffering), William Safire (political dissidence), Gustavo Guiterrez (the suffering of the poor), and Terrence Fetheim (natural evil).   Students can expect to write several medium-length papers totaling approximately 25 pages for the semester; and two exams, including a final exam. 

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THEO-320-A: Early Christianity, TR 12:00PM - 1:15PM (Prof. Lisa Driver) 

Follow after the apostles into the ordinary and extraordinary world of early Christians.  How did early Christians live?  What were their struggles?  What did they believe and why?  How did they pray and worship?  How did they express their faith through art and music?  Explore these and other questions about Christians and their multi-cultural world that spanned from the Middle East to Africa to Europe.  Our class will attend a Greek Orthodox Liturgy. Students will engage texts written by early Christians through lecture and discussion.  Assessment will be based upon active seminar-style discussion, short essays, a research project and a final examination.

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THEO-335:  Philosophy of Religion, TR 12:00-1:15PM (Prof. James Moore)

 A philosophical analysis of some of the beliefs, concepts, and problems involved in traditional theistic belief and its critics.  Thus, the course explores also the difference in viewpoint that may arise from those who begin their philosophical reflection from their religious belief and those who are not believers.  Problems include arguments for the existence of God, religious experience, the problem of evil, and faith and reason.  The course will expect the students to attend class and participate as well as completing two take home exams and a final research paper on a topic explored during the course.

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THEO-343: Theology of Marriage and Sexuality, TR 1:30PM - 2:45PM (Lecturer Dr. David Weber)

The English poet, Philip Larkin wrote, “What will survive of us is love.” He also wrote, “Man hands on misery to man./It deepens like a coastal shelf./Get out as early as you can,/And don't have any kids yourself.” Larkin’s ambivalence about love reflects the English poet, W.H. Auden’s view that “Love like Matter is much/ Odder than we thought” (Heavy Date.)  Though keenly aware of the mystery and difficulty of love, the Apostle Paul still declared, in his famous love chapter (1 Corinthians 13), that “Love Abides” even when all else fails and comes to an end. In this class we engage a wide range of Biblical, philosophical and cultural sources to think about the mystery of love in order to consider how the truth that “love abides” shapes the Christian understanding of marriage. 

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THEO-348-A: Global Christianity, MWF 2:30-3:20PM (Prof. SimonMary  Aihiokhai)

This course will address the following questions: what are the nature and markers of Global Christianity? Is there a link between Global Christianity and globalization? What role, if any, is Global Christianity playing in shaping global economic shift from the West to the East? How is Global Christianity responding to the phenomenon of religious pluralism? Who are the leaders of Global Christianity? What roles can global Christianity play in the discourse on ecological consciousness? Why is Pentecostalism becoming a prominent voice in Global Christianity? The course will situate the above questions in the the discourse that analyzes the patterns of Christianity found in the different continents, regions, and countries. A more detailed analysis will be focused on the emerging regional centers of Christianity in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The course will also address the links between these characteristic markers of Christianity in the Global South and those in the Global North. To attain these goals, Christianity’s response to or non-response to ecumenism; roles of women in church and society; religious pluralism; religious terrorism; racism; tribalism; poverty; consumerism; ecology; and other issues relevant to contemporary discourse.  Students will be evaluated on the basis of active participation in all in-class encounters, group research projects, class presentations of student-led research and random quizzes; details of which will be stipulated on the syllabus. There will be no midterm or final exams.

Required Texts: 1) Ogbu U. Kalu (editor), African Christianity: An African Story. Trenton, New Jersey: Africa World Press, Inc., 2007. ISBN: 15922158152) Peter Phan (editor), Christianities in Asia. First Edition. Blackwell Publishing House, 2011. ISBN: 978-14051609023) John Lynch, New Worlds: A Religious History of Latin America. Hardcover. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012. ISBN: 978-0-300166804.

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THEO-353-A: Christian Response to Social Victims, MWF 11:30AM - 12:20PM  (Lecturer Dr. Gregory Jones)

This is an upper level course addressing the issues of Christian ethics as it is applied to people who are broken in the course of daily living. The student will be given opportunities to develop a theological framework of reflective action to address these concerns. Students will be challenged dialogue and think critically about these issues in the theological context of acting to address human brokenness experienced within the social and global milieu. Students will be expected to read materials, present, respond and develop solutions to questions presented with regards to class, race, and gender, as it impacts the Christian faith tradition. Students will be expected to evaluate and dialogue regarding the issues through readings written responses and issues presented throughout the duration of the course.

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THEO-353-X/SOC-290-AX: Death and Dying, TR 2:30PM to 3:20PM (Lecturer Dr. Gregory A Jones)

This is a cross-disciplinary course using both sociological and theological perspectives on the termination of human life.  We explore both societal reaction to death and the belief including the non-belief of life after death.   The course is designed to address the events and concerns surrounding what can be termed the “ultimate transitions” within the period of life known as death and dying. Specific Goals of the Course: A basic understanding of the sociological and theological perspectives on death and the meaning of death in our post-modern society.  Specific goals of this course include:  (l) Learning and understanding basic concepts of death and dying and the ability to apply this knowledge to our views of dying and death, (2) Develop an ability to interpret how the meaning of death is socially and culturally understood from sociological, social psychological and religious/theological perspectives, and (3) improve your ability to effectively participate and communicate in class discussions and in your written and oral work regarding the subject of death and dying. 

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THEO–360-A: Themes in the History of Religion: Religions of the World, MWF 11:30AM - 12:20PM (Prof. Melanie Trexler)

This course is an introductory survey of the five major religious traditions around the world: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. We will pay special attention to how we study these traditions, focusing on myth, ritual, community, and religious authority. Over the course of the semester, we will gain religious literacy about the world’s largest religious traditions and an appreciation of the complexities of studying religion. As religion is a lived experience, students are required to attend two different services or events outside their own faith tradition and write papers on these experiences. Evaluations include quizzes, tests, and papers.

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THEO-361-A/561: Indian Religions and Cultures, TR 8:30AM - 9:45 AM (Prof. George Pati)

This survey course introduces students to major world religions that have emerged in India (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism) and those that have found a home in India (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam).  Through lecture, discussion, and visit to a worship place students will engage in a critical understanding of the history, philosophy, beliefs and practices of the different traditions and trace both conceptual and historical continuities and examine the development of the various religious traditions exploring issues of divinity, ritual practices, festivals, and concepts of salvation through different time periods.  The course will also discuss how these traditions are practiced in today’s context in India and beyond. 

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THEO-362: Islamic Religion and Culture, MWF 2:30PM - 3:20PM (Prof. Melanie Trexler)

This course will introduce students to the historical origins, foundational sources, beliefs, and practices of Islam. The first part of the course traces the development of Islam from the time of the Prophet Muhammad to the emergence of Islamic institutions, including the caliphate, the Qur’an, the hadith, and shariah. The second part of the course considers challenges to Muslim communities during the medieval, modern, and contemporary periods, as well as Muslim responses to these challenges. The course concludes with an examination of special topics. These topics might include gender issues, jihad, Islam in the United States, and/or Muslim-Christian relations. Throughout the course, special attention is given to the diversity within the Islamic tradition. Requirements will include quizzes, two exams, a site-visit to a local mosque, and two papers.

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THEO-363-X: Religions of China and Japan, TR 10:30AM - 11:20AM (Prof. George Pati)

This survey course introduces students to the philosophical and religious traditions of China and Japan (Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, Shintoism, and Japanese Buddhism) through lecture, discussion, visit to a place of worship, and readings of some key texts of the traditions. It seeks to engage students in a critical understanding of the history, philosophy, and practices of the different traditions and trace both conceptual and historical continuities and examine the development of the various religious traditions exploring issues of divinity, ritual practices, festivals, and concepts of salvation through different time periods.

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THEO-364-A: Native American Religion, MWF 1:30PM - 2:20PM (Lecturer Dr. Gregory Jones)

This course seeks to provide a basic understanding of the foundation of first people’s perspectives of spirituality within the context of pre-contact and post- contact European experiences. The course is designed to focus on the foundational indigenous perspectives and is not pursued as a traditional comparative religions course. Students will be expected to study toward basic competency  toward the evolution of spiritual  formation of indigenous conceptual perspectives. Students will also examine the relationship of humankind to environment as understood by first people indigenous communities. Class lectures and discussion will be presented as standard pedagogy. Requirements will include but are not limited to class attendance, examinations, quiz, and recommended research regarding subject matter.

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THEO-369-A: Religion in Latin America, MWF 12:30-1:20PM (Prof. SimonMary  Aihiokhai)
 
This course will explore the religious trends in Latin America. This will involve a critical analysis of the influence of indigenous religions, Christianity, and non-religious ideologies on the cultures and peoples. Particular attention will be given to the role and influence of religion on the colonial realities, the economic, social, political, and cultural crisis during the colonial, era, the struggles for independence, the revolutionary wars of the late nineteenth through the twentieth centuries. The course will also evaluate non-religious agents, geopolitical influence of the global powers on this region and how religion has been used to respond to these influences. We will engage the theological response known as Liberation Theology. In doing this, we will focus attention on the role and ministry of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Finally, we will look at current trends in the religiosity of the region. Particular attention will be given to the role of Pentecostalism in shaping the religious landscape of the region.Attendance and participation will be essential to achieving the objectives of this course. Students will be evaluated based on the following: participation in all class discussions, a ten-page double-spaced research paper on a topic chosen by the students and approved by the professor, and five random quizzes. There will be no midterm and final exams.

Required Texts: 1) Todd Hartch, The Rebirth of Latin American Christianity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. ISBN: 978-0-1998431382) John Lynch, New Worlds: A Religious History of Latin America. Hardcover. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012. ISBN: 978-0-300166804.3) Maria Lopez Vigil, Monsenor Romero. Memories in Mosaic. Translated by Kathy Ogle. Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2013. ISBN: 978-1-626980105.

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THEO-451/551: Theology of Diaconal Ministry (Louise Williams)

This course, designed primarily for deaconess and deacon students, is an introduction to the theology, history, spirituality and practice of diaconal ministry.  Through assigned readings, online discussions, and other experiences, students will explore the biblical and theological foundations for diakonia, encounter the varieties of diaconal service, experience some of the spiritual practices helpful in sustaining a life of diakonia, reflect on their own gifts and skills for diaconal ministry, and become acquainted with some of the resources available for this ministry.The course is organized around five images for diaconal ministry:  washing feet, waiting tables, telling the story, tending the door and bearing the light.

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THEO-493-A: Theology Seminar, MWF 10:30AM - 11:20AM (Prof. George Heider)


This course is required of seniors majoring in Theology or in Theology and Ministry (others require permission of the department chair).  The primary purpose of the course is to serve as the capstone academic experience in the major through the research and writing of a thesis (ideally, one based on the intensification of an upper-level Theology course in the junior year).  In addition, while individual students pursue their research projects, the class as a whole will read and discuss a work of theology to be selected by the instructor (examples of prior classes' texts include a critical study of theories of the atonement and a collection of essays on the interpretation of the Akedah, or "Sacrifice of Isaac" account in Genesis 22).

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THEO-640-EVX: Ethics and Professional Responsibility (Also LS640EVAX and LS650EVX), T 6:30 - 9:15PM (Prof. James Moore)

This course is the first semester of a two semester sequence which can be taken either together or separately.  Participation in one semester does not require knowledge of the work of the other semester.  The course introduces students to the basic principles of ethical thinking and asks that they apply these principles to issues in various professional areas.  The Fall semester focuses on the areas of law and law enforcement, the medical and health professions and professions in various media.  Readings will be provided online and the assignments will be several (probably three or four) reflection papers on cases in the various professional fields.  The last paper will be a longer researched effort that applies the ethical principles learned in the course.

 

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Summer 2015 Term

 

THEO-200: The Christian Tradition: Conflict and Consensus (Prof. Matt Becker)

This six-week online course leads students to study the origins and development of Christian thought as it forms communities and engages the world. Special attention will be given to the nature, purpose, and content of Christian theology and to key areas of conflict and consensus in the history of Christian thought. There will be six quizzes, weekly threaded discussions, and one term paper.

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THEO-328: Topics in Christian Theology: Art and Faith from Rome to Munich (Prof. Matt Becker)

Theology 328 (Art and Faith from Rome to Munich) is a hybrid course. Part of the course is conducted online (via Blackboard) and part of the course is a two-week study trip from Rome to Munich. The focus of the course is on Christian art and faith from the earliest period of Christianity through the Reformation. Participants will explore the interrelationship between Christian faith and its expression in certain key visual artworks. Approximately one month prior to the trip, students will read several online readings and complete three online quizzes. The readings and quizzes will cover such issues as the history of Christian art through the Reformation, various Christian attitudes toward visual art, basic terms and concepts in Christian theology and art, and basic information about key Christian artists (e.g., Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Duerer, et al.) and centers of art (e.g., Florence, Venice, Ravenna, and Nueremberg/Munich), which we will visit/experience on the trip itself. During the two-week study-abroad trip, students will fulfill several individual assignments relating to the art we see and discuss. After the trip, students will write a five-page reflection paper on the course and trip. This paper must be submitted to Dr. Becker within three weeks of returning from Europe.

In order to participate in this course, students must register for the trip by no later than December 15, 2014. For further information, please contact Dr. Becker

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THEO-333: Black Theology and the Black Church Theology: An African American Religious Experience (Lecturer Dr. Gregory A Jones)

This course seeks to integrate the foundational underlining principles of Black Theology and its impact on the development of the African American Religious experience. The focus of study will be the institutions created by that experience; as well as the people and organizations that are involved in the evolution of that experience.  

Major Course Objectives:
•To examine the origins of African American Religious experience
•To provide a basic understanding of African American ethical thought 
•To develop a theological understanding of the primary institutions within this experience
•To examine the impact African Americans have on post- modern religious/theological constructs in American culture

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THEO-348: Creation (Prof. Matt Becker)

This six-week online course examines the Christian teaching that God is the Creator and that the universe is God’s creation. After an introduction to the nature and purpose of Christian systematic theology, participants will study the biblical texts that refer to God as Creator and the universe as creation, compare and contrast these texts with other ancient stories of origin, explore key insights into the doctrine of creation in the history of Christian thought, and investigate contemporary attempts to relate Christian and scientific understandings of reality. Along the way students will evaluate differing approaches to the Christian doctrine of creation and seek to develop their own position on God as Creator and reality as creation. Students will take six weekly quizzes, participate in weekly threaded discussions, and submit a short paper at the end of the course.

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THEO-363: Religions of China and Japan (Prof. George Pati)

This survey course aims to introduce characteristic forms and key concepts of religions of China and Japan through lecture and discussion.  It seeks to engage students in a critical understanding of the history, philosophy, and practices of the different traditions including Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, Shinto, and Japanese Buddhism. In particular, students in this course will engage in a close reading of some basic texts in these traditions and trace both conceptual and historical continuities and examine the development of the various religious traditions exploring issues of divinity, ritual practices, festivals, and concepts of salvation through different time periods.