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Theological Foundations 100-01

Course Description: In response to the mission of this Catholic, Jesuit University, the Theological Foundations course (THA-100) seeks to educate students from all the undergraduate programs in a critical discourse with human experience, biblical origins, historical foundations, and historical developments of the Christian tradition. The course provides opportunity for human enrichment through creative questioning, awareness of Christian cultures, access to other cultural and religious contexts through comparative study, and a balanced appreciation of Christianity as a vital element in our global heritage. 

Students will be introduced to the Hebrew and Christian scriptures with an emphasis on important texts and theological issues. Students will explore how historical and literary criticism help in understanding fundamental theological concepts such as God, revelation, faith, creation, covenant, and salvation history. In post-biblical developments students will study the early experience of Christians, especially as they learned to articulate their faith in Christ and thereby developed their understanding of the triune God. 

The manner in which these and other theological developments are taught varies according to the method and strengths of the instructor. Students will be challenged to acquire the targeted skills of reading, writing, and speaking theologically. They will also be encouraged to consider how critical, careful and creative theological questioning can deepen their understanding of the human condition. 
This particular section of the course offers a multi-disciplinary introduction to the Christian Tradition, its impact on Western Civilization, and its dialogue with other faith traditions, focusing on three central themes: 
    --The historical development of Christian thought, attending first to its Jewish origins (with notions of revelation, scripture, holy history, and divine justice), then looking at the uniqueness of Christianity (with its doctrines of incarnation, resurrection, and Trinity), and finally considering the interaction of Christianity with other comparative theologies from Eastern faiths (comparing ideas of God and cosmos, as well as practices of prayer). 
    --The religious experience of geography, nature, and place, examining conceptions of sacred place and practices of pilgrimage, asking how a Christian theology of the incarnation works itself out in relation to the natural world and to other faith traditions. (This class will be a part of the Environmental Issues Learning Community, relating theology to environmental and public policy concerns.) 
    --Cultural expression of religious experience, making use of storytelling, art, and literature in asking how theological beliefs and values are passed on through the medium of the humanities. This will focus particularly on how beauty and suffering are understood in the Christian tradition, in relation also to its Jewish roots and dialogue with other traditions.
The teacher comes at the material from his own perspective as a Christian within the Reformed tradition, but shares a deep love and respect for all the traditions considered. Some time ago he was introduced as a Presbyterian minister teaching at a Roman Catholic University, telling Jewish stories at the Vedanta Society. That feels right, in terms of the openness he tries to bring to what he teaches. Story and place--issues central to this course--are things that delight him most.

For a full syllabus, please download the pdf below.
Belden Lane,
Aug 21, 2010, 2:04 PM