The School of Theology. Sewanee: The University of the South

Core Courses

MNST 503 Foundations of Christian Spirituality

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This class explores the theological foundations and practice of Christian spirituality that lie at the heart of all Christian ministry, whether lay or ordained. We begin with what shapes Christian identity most fundamentally: the grace and covenant of Holy Baptism. Since baptism unites us with Christ in his death and resurrection, we will observe throughout the course how the pattern of the paschal mystery is stamped on every aspect of Christian experience. For instance, we examine what it means to worship and to live eucharistically. We ponder the ways in which the seasons of the church year invite us to fuller participation in Christ. We look at what it means to live in the bonds of charity in community, whether in seminary or in the parish. We discuss some of the disciplines of Christian discipleship such as a rule of life. We learn how to prepare for and use the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And finally, we explore methods of prayer and meditation, developed over centuries in the Christian tradition, as the very life of the Trinity in us.

THEO 511 Systematic Theology I

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The basic course in Christian doctrine studies the process of doctrinal and dogmatic formulation. It examines the role played by Scripture, the ecumenical councils, and other sources in the history of Christian thought, as well as contemporary theological discussion. The doctrines of God, Creation, Christology, and Soteriology are the principal theological topics covered.

THEO 521 Systematic Theology II

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Ecclesiology is theological reflection on the nature, mission, and life of the church. It is therefore both a foundational and a practical discipline, which can generate the entire range of issues for constructive theology. The first half of the course examines the sacramental and communal ground and nature of the church, including both historical and contemporary sacramental theology. The second half of the course focuses on the life and mission of the church. It examines a variety of contemporary issues, which challenge the church’s sense of both its identity and mission in the world today. These issues include conversion, globalization (including world mission), ecumenism, and liberation.

Electives

ANGL 537 C. S. Lewis: Author, Apologist, and Anglican

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This course will examine selected writings of C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) with special attention to the Anglican character of his work. It will begin with Lewis's philosophical arguments against naturalism (including consideration of Elizabeth Anscombe's critique), and then consider his thought on the Trinity, Incarnation, ethics, gender, war, eschatology, and the spiritual life. It will conclude with analysis his last two works of fiction, The Last Battle (for children) and Till We Have Faces (for adults), both published in 1956.

ANGL 539 The Anglican Tradition of Reason: Butler, Newman, and Farrer

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This course will examine the theological and philosophical aspects of an important tradition spanning three centuries of English Anglicanism. Focusing on the writings of three definitive figures who drew upon and shaped this tradition, we will examine Joseph Butler in the eighteenth century, John Henry Newman in the nineteenth century, and Austin Farrer in the twentieth century. All three were noted preachers and scholars, as well as original thinkers and devout churchmen; the works we read will represent these different modes and concerns of their writing. We will also examine the historical context in both church and society during their respective periods, and consider the significance and implications of this “tradition of reason” for Anglican theology today

CEMT 558 The Theological Ethics of Stanley Hauerwas

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This course will examine the theological ethics of Stanley Hauerwas. Taking both a developmental and thematic approach, topics considered will be such distinctively Hauerwasian issues as vision, virtue, agents and agency, narrative, character, community, tragedy, suffering, pacifism, medical ethics, the mentally handicapped, and the Church. Hauerwas’s ambiguous ecclesial status as both Methodist and Episcopalian, with deep indebtedness to the Roman Catholic and Mennonite traditions, will also be considered, as well as his recent attempts to re-focus Christian preaching on theology.

CHHT 550 Classics of the Christian Journey

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This is a course of readings in Christian spirituality that share the motif of “journey” or “pilgrimage.” The readings, which are all primary sources, come from many ages and places in the church. They are highly diverse, though related by their profound Christianity and their use of the biblical motif of “journey” or “pilgrimage.” The readings change each year the course is offered. Recent versions have selected among Ignatius of Antioch, Perpetua, Origen, Athanasius, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine, Ephrem of Edessa, Bernard of Clairvaux, Dante, Julian of Norwich, Martin Luther, Teresa of Avila, John Bunyan, George Herbert, C.S. Lewis, and Dorothy Day.

This is not a course that directly takes the instructor’s or the student’s own spiritual life as a primary text. It does expect that the work of assessment, appropriation, and criticism go on in the context of courteous shared reflection and commitment to prayer. The course centers on the readings, which are exclusively primary texts.

THEO 531 Theology of the Holy Spirit and the Spiritual Life

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Theology of the spiritual life is being excitingly regrounded in a revived interest in the doctrine of the Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), itself part of a revival of Trinitarian theology. This course allows students to explore these interesting developments through consideration of important texts and sharing personal and pastoral experience. Both lecture and seminar time with student presentations are envisioned during the class time slot. For credit, a final paper of some 20 pages is required, on a topic of the student’s choosing in consultation with the professor. A previous course in theology is a prerequisite.

THEO 532 The Doctrines of History and Eschatology

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This seminar examines the Christian doctrines of history, providence, and eschatology. After a survey of classical positions, particular emphasis is placed on the shifts caused by modern and postmodern historical consciousness. Readings are taken from significant figures from Augustine through contemporary theologians such as Gilkey, Kaufman, Metz, Pannenberg, Tillich, Moltmann, and feminist and liberation theologians. Seminar limited to 12.

THEO 533 Readings in Contemporary Anglican Theology

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Readings, lectures, and discussions will focus on five areas:

  1. The neo-evangelical theology taking root at Oxford
  2. American feminist and liberation theology
  3. African and Asian indigenous theologies
  4. Postmodern radical orthodoxy centered at Cambridge
  5. The theology of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Class presentation and final paper, which may be on the same or allied subject. (Prerequisite: Introduction to Christian Doctrine or the equivalent, which may be taken concurrently.) Seminar limited to 12.

THEO 540 Modern Spiritual Writers

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In this course we read theologians of the past one hundred years whose writings can enlarge our vision of God, disclose the mystery of Jesus’ death and resurrection, and deepen our life in the Spirit. We encounter authors such as Evelyn Underhill, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Merton, Kenneth Leech, Miriam Pollard, and Rowan Williams. Only primary texts are used, and both reading and written assignments are designed to foster meditative reflection and prayerful appropriation of the spiritual wisdom of these writers. Through close reading, students should grow in their ability to exegete texts. They should also find encouragement and practical help for their spiritual practice as well as a wealth of insight that can sustain prayer, preaching, and pastoral care.

THEO 541 Biblical, Patristic, and Eastern Orthodox Spirituality

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This course is a reading seminar considering classic texts from Athanasius's Life of Anthony through Luther's Theologia Germanica. Class presentations plus final paper.

THEO 542 The Catholic Reformation to the Present

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This course is a reading seminar considering classic texts (one per week) from Teresa of Avila to Martin Luther King Jr. and Simone Weil. Class presentations plus final paper.

THEO 543 Theology of Evangelism and Conversion

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This course examines the topics from both theological and practical points of view through readings and seminar discussions, with possible workshops.

THEO 551 Major Thinkers in Theology

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This course concentrates on a selected figure(s) in the Christian theological and ethical traditions. Primary source readings are emphasized.

THEO 552 God and Nature

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The objective of this course is to examine ways in which Christians have understood God in relation to the created order. We will focus specifically on the last five hundred years: how our conception of nature has shifted and, with it, our ways of conceiving of God. We will juxtapose this with modern cosmological “stories” and the challenges they present theologically. A field component will be an aspect of this course: students should be prepared to explore the Domain both in and out of class time. May be taken pass/fail by notifying Registrar after you have registered.

THEO 553 The Glass of Vision: Scripture, Metaphysics, and Poetry

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This course will examine one of the most significant texts of 20th-century Anglican theology: Austin Farrer’s Bampton Lectures delivered in Oxford in 1948 and published as The Glass of Vision. According to Farrer, the general topic of the lectures is “the form of divine truth in the human mind,” explored through engagements with three areas of inquiry: scripture, metaphysics, and poetry. Specific issues considered are the relationship between faith and reason, the nature of biblical inspiration and divine revelation, the character of human imagination, and the literary analysis of New Testament texts. We will also consider Farrer’s critics and defenders, such as Helen Gardner, Frank Kermode, David Jasper, and David Brown. Limited to M.Div. seniors, second year M.A. students who have already taken Systematic Theology I, and STM students.

THEO 553 The Glass of Vision: Scripture, Metaphysics, and Poetry (also ANGL)

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This course will examine one of the most significant texts of 20th century Anglican theology: Austin Farrer’s Bampton Lectures delivered in Oxford in 1948 and published as The Glass of Vision. According to Farrer, the general topic of the lectures is “the form of divine truth in the human mind,” explored through engagements with three areas of inquiry: scripture, metaphysics, and poetry. Specific issues considered are the relationship between faith and reason, the nature of biblical inspiration and divine revelation, the character of human imagination, and the literary analysis of New Testament texts. We will also consider Farrer’s critics and defenders, such as Helen Gardner, Frank Kermode, David Jasper, and David Brown. Limited to M.Div. seniors, second year M.A. students who have already taken Systematic Theology I, and S.T.M. students.

 

THEO 555 Word, Spirit, and Incarnation

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This seminar course will examine the interplay of the Word and Spirit in the Christological mysteries from Annunciation to Second Coming. Authors to be considered will include Eugene Rogers, Elizabeth Johnson, Alasdair Heron, Kilian McDonnell, Kathryn Tanner, and John V. Taylor, and Eastern theologians such as  Dumitru Staniloae and John Zizioulas. Grade will be based on class participation and a 20-page paper. Prerequisite: at least one course in Christian Theology.

THEO 556 Reading Redemption: Anselm, Aquinas, and Ruether

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In this course we will dig deeply into traditional and contemporary ways of understanding redemption. We will begin with a thorough reading of Anselm’s Cur Deus Homo and the notion of “satisfaction.” We will then explore how Aquinas conveys the work of Christ in returning us to union with God. Finally, we will use Ruether’s Women and Redemption to investigate modern feminist approaches to redemption in order to construct contemporary perspectives. Limited to those who have taken or are taking Systematic Theology I, or by permission of the instructor. May be taken pass/fail by notifying Registrar after you have registered.

THEO 560 Creation, Evolution, and God

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Since Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands over 175 years ago there has been much debate over whether the theory of evolution necessarily eliminates a belief in God. Even in theological circles ideas about God and how God creates and maintains the universe have been severely revised. This course will examine the Judeo-Christian understanding of creation, modern views of evolution, and current debates about God in light of these. We will begin with a close reading of Biblical texts on God and creation, review developments of creation theology through the centuries and then move on to learn about the science of evolution. Theological sources will include the classical theism of Thomas Aquinas and works by contemporary thinkers, Francisco Ayala and John Polkinghorne.