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Course Syllabus - PA-01 - Introduction to Christian Theology

by Paul Appleby

Expectations of Participants for Satisfactory Completion

  • Participation in all training modules and conversation both on Saturdays and in conference call (please inform the instructor if you will be unable to attend any of the onsite sessions- alternative instruction can be arranged).
  • Participation in online forum each week with the following:
    • Participant response to instructor prompt for each module.
    • Participant response to at least one comment or question posted by other participants.
  • Summary/Interaction paper: At five (5) points during the eight sessions of the course, the student will be responsible for presenting a one (1) page summary/interaction paper. In which they may chose to present either a summary of the readings assigned, or they may write an essay interacting with (either agreeing, modifying, reflecting upon, or disagreeing with) the materials in the assigned pages and lectures.
  • Précis: A précis is a sort of summary of important points. At three (3) points in the course of this class students will be asked to write a five page précis. In each the student is to place their own thoughts in conversation with the texts and lectures presented thus far. Agreeing with the instructor or authors of the readings is not important. What is important is that the student is able to demonstrate a mastery of the materials assigned, and that they are able to articulate your own views in light of them, as well as giving voice to some of their practical implications. The topics for the three (3) précis are as follows:Précis One:
    • What are my beliefs about: God, Jesus, the Spirit, the Church, Creation and The End?
    • Précis Two: What are the basic beliefs of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)?
    • Précis Three: What have I learned and how have my beliefs changed as a result of this course?
  • Papers are due by the beginning of each week's online session.

NOTE: Instructor is available outside of class and conference call for additional discussion about the paper or other topics.

Onsite Module 1 - What is Theology

In this module we will discuss: what constitutes "theology", in what ways everyone is already a theologian, sources and norms for the practice of theology, categories of theological thought, what makes a theology "good" or "bad", as well as some of the practical implications of various common (both popular and academic) theological views.

Onsite Module 2 Introduction to the Theology and Traditions of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

We do not do theology in a vacuum. Every theologian both owns and belongs to a tradition. In this module, we will discuss what being a member of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) means for our attempts to develop and practice our own theologies.

Onsite Module 3 - Foundational principles of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has as its enduring legacy a matrix of thought made up of four principles (Restoration, Interpretation, Ecumenical, and Eschatological) in this lecture we will learn about the history of these principles and how they are being adapted to life in the 21st century.

Onsite Module 4 - Being Church

Ecclesiology- or the study of the Church has significant implications for how we live out our Christian faith together. In this lecture we will learn what it can mean for Disciples to be and to do this thing we call "church" as well as how different understandings of what constitutes the church can affect our carrying out its mission.

Onsite Module 5 - Theological Diversity Within Christianity

In this module we will take a moment to learn about other voices within the big family of God called "Christianity" to hear how other histories and approaches to thinking about God can enrich and strengthen our own.

Onsite Module 6 - Creation, Sin, and Grace

These are loaded words, full of power, meaning and subtext. In this module we will unpack their meaning and examine them in light of our own context as well as through the lenses of Feminist and Black Liberation theologies.

Onsite Module 7 - Christology

Who is this man Jesus, whom we call the Christ? In this module we will discuss differing views on Jesus as well as his life and work with an eye towards how our context and the context within which we are looking to perform ministry should provide the needed perspective to answer this question honestly and humbly.

Onsite Module 8 - In the End- the Beginning

In this module we will learn about the doctrine of eschatology (that is the doctrine of last things). We will learn about: the three major strains of eschatological thought in modern American Christianity; we will discuss some of the ethical challenges and implications of each; we will look to scientific explanations of "the end" to see what impact they may have on our views. Finally we will learn what it means to serve a God whose proclamation "Behold, I make all things new!" is a needed word in our churches and our lives.

Online Modules - 1-7

Each of our online modules will function to address materials not covered in the onsite lectures as well as to provide the opportunity for students to clarify, digest, and push back on the ideas being presented onsite.