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Course Description

Historical / Theological Studies Elective Courses

HT200 - A Philosophy for Understanding Theology
This course traces out the interplay between the Greek philosophical traditions of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle and the Christian Biblical tradition (Hebrew prophets, Jesus, and Paul) from Augustine to Thomas Aquinas, and their reformation by Luther and Calvin in the 16th century.

HT201 - Ethics of Reinhold Niebuhr
This course will introduce students to the critical thinking of Reinhold Niebuhr. Students will explore Niebuhr’s contribution to our understanding of theology and ethics in the modern world and will gain self-critical perspective on the mission of the church and the call to social justice ministries.

HT202 - Literature from Around the World
Behind this course are four major assumptions: 1) that Christians, confessing God to be active in the world and the Creator of all cultures, should be concerned with the way people live-the problems they face, the convictions they hold-around the world; 2) that Christian faith and ministry are generally strengthened and enriched when our inevitably-contextualized world views are brought into dialogue with alternative ways of experiencing reality; 3) that your ministries, given the era in which we live, will have to take account of religious and cultural pluralism and global interconnectedness; and 4) that the reading of serious literature (always a worthy endeavor) can be an exceptionally fruitful and appropriate means of imagining genuine “otherness,” including the otherness of foreign cultures and non-Christian religions. With these assumptions in mind, the central purpose of the course becomes clear: to expand our spiritual and intellectual horizons by studying novels and short stories written by outstanding modern (for the most part, contemporary) authors from the Middle East, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. We will examine these works in order to understand both what they say (i.e., their perspectives on reality) and how they say it (i.e., their use of character, plot, language and other elements of literary form).

HT203 - Impact of Judaism on Christianity
The origins of Christian faith are deeply grounded in Jewish tradition, texts, and practices. In this course Rabbi Howard Kaplansky addresses Jewish-Christian relationships, paying attention to such matters as interpretation of the Hebrew scriptures, the diversity of Judaism, Jewish rituals and customs, the State of Israel, the Middle East and Holocaust studies. (Sponsored by the Jewish Chautauqua Society)

HT204 - Race, Ethnicity and Religion
A critical re-examination of the foundations of Christian ethics, in light of the contemporary problems of racism, cultural diversity, power and vulnerability and global awareness of the freedom of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Attention will also be given to the role of the Church in shaping a new vision for social praxis and faithfulness in the world - primarily through individual acts of self-transformation and communal resolve.

HT205 - Pastoral Ethics and Congregational Life
This course will explore the nature and task of Pastoral ethics in its relationship to the spiritual formation of the congregation.

HT207 - Ministries of Peace and Justice
This course will explore ecumenical and interfaith work for peace and justice and the theological foundations of such efforts. In addition the intersection of peace and justice work and local congregational life and mission will be explored. The course will offer opportunity to dialogue with local leaders in peace and justice ministries.

HT208 - Jesus Around the World
Since the end of the 1960’s and beginning of the 1970s a large number of Christological sketches have been coming to light in the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America through individual theologians and theological movements. This class will look at some of them and how the shape the discussion of Christology and theological construction.

HT209 - Theology of Reinhold Niebuhr
This course will explore the theology and ethics of Reinhold Niebuhr, one of America’s most influential ethicists in the 20th century. In particular, the foundations of his thought will be theologically examined for their enduring value in America (and the world) today. Through this course, the learner will engage in critical conversation with the principal/classic works of Reinhold Niebuhr; learn to articulate the central understandings in Niebuhr’s theology and ethics, including the nuances from his early and later works; and gain awareness for Niebuhr’s enduring value for theology and ethics.

HT210 - Fundamentalism and American Culture
Protestant fundamentalism has had a voice in American culture for more than 100 years. This course explores the history of fundamentalism, its rhetoric and its presence in public life today. Topics will include the creationism vs. evolution debate, home-schooling, political activism and millennial fervor.

HT211 - Theology of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Students in this course will carefully examine the critical issues in the social, ethical, and religious throught of Martin Luther King, Jr. A major focus of attention will be upon his primary writings, and their ethical implications for the human rights movement in the modern world. The course will also include practical concerns for identity, ministry, social responsibility and problem-solving in the new century.

HT212 - Liberation Themes in Theology
Understandings of liberation articulated differently in different contexts. The course will look at what liberation means in theologies in different contexts and how they could and do inform each other. (Niles)

HT213 - Theology of John Wesley
This course will take an historical theological approach to the writings of John Wesley, asking both the more historical question about what Wesley said and the more theologically interpretive questions about what Wesley meant, given his context, our context and those features common to both.

HT214 - Soteriology
What does it mean to be saved? That is a question that has shaped the theological debate particularly in America. This class will explore understanding of salvation and how they shape our theological conversation.

HT215 - Introduction to Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation arose during a period of change, reform, and growth within the Western Latin Church. This course will begin with a review of the late medieval period, and then look at the writings of Martin Luther, John Calvin, Thomas Cranmer and the Book of Common Prayer, and Anabaptist writers such as Conrad Grebel and Michael Sattler.

HT217 - Ethics and Current Political Issues
This course offers students the opportunity to critically engage current political, social and moral issues in our contemporary society from the perspective of social ethics. In this course, special attention will also be given to contemporary political debates, the problems of AIDS among at-risk populations, spirituality and power, and how the church can engage the hard lessons of faith and responsibility in the modern world.

HT218 - Philosophy for Theologians
From Plato to postmodernism, philosophers and philosophical currents have had an important impact on both the direction and language of Christian theology. This course explores major topics in the Western philosophical tradition including issues of epistemology, meaning and value, ethics, free will and metaphysics. Readings in primary source materials and class discussions familiarize student theologians with the interplay between philosophy and theology.

HT219 - One God – Many Religions: Theology and Mission
This course will explore various approaches to People of other faiths in the context of Mission, different theologies of religious pluralism from mission perspective, issues of interfaith dialog as experienced in the ecumenical movement and a rereading of the Bible in a Multi-faith context. The course will be taught in the spring term, 2008, by Israel Selvanayagam, the Principal of United Theological College in Bangalore, India. He will be here for seven weeks as a Scholar in Residence. Israel has more than 25 years of faculty experience in theological education in India and the UK and is an expert in interfaith religious dialog.

HT220 - World Christianity (Rick Nutt)
World Christianity surveys the growth of Christianity in the world and treats the church as it exists in the non-Western world. The course will raise questions of missiology (e.g., how is Christianity transmitted from one culture to another), issues of theology in the church in developing nations, and the development of ecumenism.

HT221 - Mission in a Pluralistic World
There is an urgent need for a fresh understanding of mission dei which takes seriously such subjects as the revival of religious fundamentalism; the crisis of ecumenical missiology; the challenge of interfaith dialogue and interreligious conflicts; and contesting the powers of globalization. This course will explore different approaches to a Christian theology of religious pluralism and the practice which follows from such understanding.

HT222 - Christian Social Ethics: An Historical Introduction
This course examines how key theologians in various historical periods have dealt with major social issues. Among those being tracked are: war and peace, wealth and poverty, gender and sexuality, and freedom and slavery.

HT223 - "All God's Children:" American Religion and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1968.
This course examines the role of America's Religious traditions in the Civil Rights Movement. Using a short historical purview of the Civil Rights Movement (1954-1968), the course exposes the changing and contested understandings of/between religion and the Civil Rights Movement.

HT226 - History of African American Religious Experience
This course is a historical survey and is intended to introduce students to important themes in African American religious history through a rich engagement with primary sources, religious practices, and traditions of black communities. Primary attention is given to Afro-Protestantism in North America. By the end of the semester students will be expected to possess a working knowledge of the major historic themes/figures/traditions in African American religious life, as well as key questions that have shaped the study thereof.

HT227 - Christian Spiritual Traditions
This course will explore a variety of Christian spiritual traditions, both ancient and modern. Examples would include Benedictine and feminist, Ignatian and black, as well as those arising out of the various Reformation traditions. The weekly classes will include readings about the history and theology of those traditions, as well as experiencing the spiritual practices associated with each tradition. Examples would be Benedictine Lectio Divina, Ignatian examination of consciousness, Anglican Daily Office, Wesleyan covenant groups, African-American gospel songs, feminist exploration of alternative metaphors.

HT228 - From Heaven to Wholeness: A Study of Salvation
What does it mean to be saved? That is a question that has shaped the theological debate particularly in America. This class will explore understanding of salvation and how they shape our theological conversation. DATES: May 23 - June 3, 2011

HT229 - Histories, Religions and Cultures of the Modern Middle East
This course will review the complex and interactive cultures/religions of the modern Middle East – the birthplace of the three monotheistic religions of our world. We will study the region through the prism of the histories, religions and cultures, which define the national and ethnic identities of the region. DATES: May 23 - June 3, 2011

HT300 - Reinterpretation of Neo-Orthodoxy
This class will look at the neo-orthodox tradition by looking at the way it deals with the issue of transcendence and immanence and how that in turn effects the way it understands the issues of religion and context. It will look at the context in which these issues were defined and then look at how they have been appropriated in a different context to understand the strengths and weaknesses of these definitions not readily apparent in the context in which they were first created. (Niles)

HT302 - An Introduction to Liberation Theology
The most prolific expounder of Latin American Liberation Theology, Juan Luis Segundo, S.J., was committed to the cause of freedom for those suffering from poverty and oppression. His call to the wider church was to have theology itself liberated toward this end, and that faith find expressed in the concrete works of love. This course will examine the basic values and goals of liberation theology and why it is of continuing significance for us today.

HT303 - Anglican History and Theology
The historical contexts and key themes of the works of major Anglican theologians.

HT304 - Seminar: Readings in Selected Theologians
This course is designed to provide students with a comprehensive overview of modern, western theology as well as an opportunity to study in depth the work of one leading modern theologian. The course will be conducted as a combination of tutorial and seminar. Students will spend much of the semester researching the work of a major theologian and preparing a paper on that work for course presentation.

HT305 - American Church History
This course surveys the history of Christianity in North America from colonial settlement to the present. The material is grouped into two sections: (1) the colonial and national eras and (2) the progressive and modern (20th c.) eras.

HT306 - Black and Dalit Theology
The purpose of this course is: (1) to interrogate critically the origin of black theology from the 1960s to the present and to identify major theological themes; (2) to examine the coherence of key intellectual ideas of the first generation scholars; and (3) to analyze the outstanding theological issues and methodological approaches among this group of intellectuals.

HT307 - History of Christology
Moving chronologically from the New Testament period forward, this course examines the christologies of various Christian theologians. The material diversity of christologies, as well as their formal similarities, will be noted. The particular theologians are chosen for the importance of their views both historically and constructively. Although the theologians are primarily Western in their origin, they represent some diversity in era, gender, faith tradition, and ethnicity.

HT308 - Lutheran Confessions
An introduction to the classical confessions of the Lutheran Reformation: their origins and relation to Scripture and creeds; their theological and practical content; their implications for Lutheran identity, pastoral practice and ecumenical relations.

HT309 - Theology, Ministry and Science
We will explore ways in which natural science has related to religion and theology in the western tradition (primarily Christian theology). We will discuss the similarities and the differences in methods in the methods and objects of science and theology. We will look at the new developments in science such as quantum physics and relativity, new cosmological theories (e.g., “The Big Bang” Theory), and the developments of biology and new ways of thinking theologically, which have lead to a new era of dialogue in the relationship between science and theology in recent years. We will discuss some issues in ministry in an age of science.

HT310/HT510 - Theology of Douglas John Hall
This course will look at the doctrine of theologian Douglas John Hall and how it is a seminal theology for the North American context.

HT311 - Process Theology
This course will introduce the basics of neoclassical (or, process) theology. We will study fundamentals for neoclassical metaphysics and then move to such doctrines as God, Christ, church, sin/salvation, ethics and prayer.

HT312 - Baptism and Supper
This course is designed to provide students with the historical and theological background which is needed to adequately understand and celebrate the sacraments in a local church setting. As an upper level seminar, this course will encourage students to evaluate the material at hand and theologically integrate it for use in the local congregation.

HT314 - Theological Anthropology
This class will look at the doctrine of theological anthropology. It will looks and some of the classical issues that are discussed around this doctrines such image dei and sinful being. It will also address issues of method, identity, construction and contextual as they relate to this doctrine.

HT315 - Theology of Martin Luther
The course will take an historical theological approach to the writings of Martin Luther in order to ask: (1) what Luther said — the more historical aspect of our task; and (2) what Luther meant — the more interpretative and thus more risky aspect of our task. Our hope is to learn “the kernel of the nut and the germ of the wheat and the marrow of the bone” (Luther) that constitutes Luther’s thought so that we might enrich our own theological self-understanding and expression.

HT316 - Jewish-Christian Dialogue
The purposes of this course are 1) to explore the history and current state of Jewish-Christian relations, 2) to engage in dialogue on “difficult issues” in that relationship, and 3) to reflect on the implications of Jewish-Christian relations for Christian ministry and theology. The proper “tone” for this course is not adversarial but dialogical-i.e., serious, informed, sustained conversation together about issues of real importance to both Christians and Jews. It is the conviction and experience of the professors that such conversation expands and deepens the faith of the participants by enabling them to see through other eyes.

HT317/HT500 - Summoned to Hope: Constructing a Theology of Mission
The mission of the church in the 21st century is to confess hope in action. In the fall of 2000, five theologians from around the world gathered at Columbia Theological Seminary under the auspice of the Campbell Seminar in Atlanta, GA, to explore and debate this theme. The conversations of the scholars resulted in a book of essays and in relationships that continue to provide important discussion of this aspect of the church’s life. This course offers students an opportunity to engage these documents as a means to develop their own critical understanding of the mission of the church in the 21st century, and how that will inform and engage their own particular contexts of ministry.

HT318 - Reprocessed Theism: A Course in Process Theology
This course is designed to delve into some of the philosophical problems and possibilities for using process metaphysics as a framework for constructing Christian theology.

HT319 - Peacemaking and the Powers
This course explores what it means to be a peacemaker and seeker of justice in post-9/11 America. Using the Pledge of Nonviolence as the framework for holistic peacemaking, the course will delve into the peacemaking message of Jesus. Walter Wink’s analysis of the “powers” will provide the overview for responding to Dr. King’s call to challenge the “giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism.” The course will examine King’s writings and witness and apply it to our post-9/11 moment in history.

HT320 - Black Theology and Contemporary Critical Issues
This seminar will invite students to focus attention on recent developments in the black theology movement today. Since its inception in the late sixties as articulated by writers such as James H. Cone, Cornell West, and Gayrand Wilmore, feminist and womanist scholars have broaden the base of theological discourse. Hence, we shall critically examine issues of power and identity, methodology and message, and the question of responsible stewardship to God in local congregations.

HT321 - Theology and Spirituality of Howard Thurman
A seminar focusing on the theological, spiritual, moral and practical issues in the critical thought of Howard Thurman. The course will give special attention to the biblical roots and cultural attitudes that shaped Thurman’s prophetic witness in American society. The mystical roots of his theology will also be explored..

HT322 - Theology of Calvin
Students read from Calvin’s Institutes, scripture commentaries and other writings to identify the thinking and major themes of this theologian and reformer whose theology is sometimes described as “grace and gratitude.”

HT323 - Making of Liberal Tradition
A study of the rise of American liberal theology in the 19th c. as a middle way between conservative orthodoxy and secular rationalism.

HT324 - Post-Holocaust Ethics
This course will explore the failure of the “Enlightenment Project” in light of the Holocaust. As Rabbi Irving Greenberg asserted, after Auschwitz there ought not to be any more final solutions, theological or otherwise. Bearing Greenberg’s warning in mind, the course will contrast an “ethics of the self” with an “ethics of the Other,” drawing specifically on the work of Martin Heidegger, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Emmanuel Levinas.

HT325 - History and Theology of the Ecumenical Movement
The purpose of this course is to identify the vision, goals, methods and theological foundations of the modern ecumenical movement and to examine the current state of ecumenical discussion and activity on several issues of major significance for the church. In the process, we will also survey the history and structures of modern ecumenism and talk about how all of the above affects ministry in the congregation.

HT326 - Mission in the 21st Century
This class looks at what it means to do mission in our day and age. We will look the major issues of our time and try to articulate a theology that can provide a vision of hope in the midst of it.

HT328 - Expressing Theology: Interpretation of Theology in Film
This class looks at theological construction. It uses the medium of film to study how doctrine can be expressed and how that, in turn, shapes a different theological system that can be articulated.

HT330 - Holy Spirit
In this course we will examine Pneumatology, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. This often neglected doctrine in traditional theology has in recent times received more attention particularly in the Pentecostal, Liberationist, Multi-faith, and Ecological circles. This class will examine how different traditions have defined and integrated the doctrine of the Holy Spirit into their study and practice of theology. It will also address issues of method, identity, construction and context as they relate to this doctrine.

HT331 - Trinity
The doctrine of the Trinity was one of the first to be systematically approached by the church. Yet it is one of the most misunderstood and disputed doctrines to this day. Difference of opinion about the substance of the three persons of the Trinity and their relationship to one another sparked the schism between Eastern Orthodoxy and the Western Church. This course will explore the aspects of this doctrine to provide a grammar for understanding classic and contemporary views of the Trinity to prepare students to be interpreters of the doctrine in their places of ministry.

HT332 - American Church & Religious History
In spite of the forces of modernity, secularism and individualism that have also been part of the American heritage, Christian denominations and religious movements have thrived in this country and shaped our mentality, politics and institutions; and, indeed, have created a unique kind of religious outlook in the world. In this course we will examine the history of American churches and denominations, noting many of the major movements, events and figures of the American religious landscape.

HT402/502 - History and Theology of the Ecumenical Movement
The purpose of this course is to identify the vision, goals, methods and theological foundations of the modern ecumenical movement and to examine the current state of ecumenical discussion and activity on several issues of major significance for the church. In the process, we will also survey the history and structures of modern ecumenism and talk about how all of the above affects ministry in the congregation.

HT404 - Mission from an Asian Perspective
This course engages the work of a world-wide authority on mission in the global church. As the author of "From East to West: New perspectives on Christian Mission" (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2004), Professor Niles will engage students in exploring theologies and practices of mission from Asian contexts and how those theologies and practices interface with theologies and practices of mission in other parts of the world.

HT505 - Political Ethics – America, Theologically Considered
This course will seek to critically examine the socio-economic-political currents shaping America in the 21st century, with a particular focus on the theological implications, crossings and redirections.

HT506 - Christology and Context
Since the end of the 1960’s and beginning of the 1970’s a large number of Christological sketches have been coming to light in the countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America through individual theologians and theological movements. This class will look at some of them and how they shape the discussion of Christology and theological construction.

HT507 - Reformed Sacramental Theology
This course will present the basics of sacramental theology within the Reformed tradition, focusing on the sacramental universe, Word, Supper and baptism. (Riggs) DATES: Sept 10‐11; Oct 15‐16; Nov 12‐13; Dec 10‐11

HT510 - God’s TV: American Religion and Mass Media
This course explores the reciprocal relationship of American Protestant religion and forms of mass media, with particular attention to twentieth century Protestantism. Specifically, the course will investigate how religious broadcasting, religious broadcasters, and mass media religion, particularly Televangelism, have been utilized to alter the theology and practice of American Protestantism. In addition, the course will explore how American religion has influenced the development of the various forms of American mass media (i.e., print media, radio, television, Internet, etc). We will also interrogate the various ways in which the history of American mass media religion has established particular standards and norms for 21st century Christian ministry, theology, and practice. We will also investigate how mass mediated religion has enhanced the potential of both religion and media to influence the formation of identity and social meaning in American culture. DATES: Sept 8-9; Oct 13-14; Nov 10-11; Dec 8-9