As a top Reformed seminary, Western prepares students for the challenges of ministry in the real world.
In-Residence Course Schedule (Fall 2017 and J-term 2018)
In-Residence Course Schedule (Spring 2018)
Distance Learning Course Schedule (2017-18)
Biblical Field Course Descriptions
BL100 New Testament Greek I
An introduction to New Testament Greek vocabulary, grammatical forms, and sentence structure with a view to New Testament Greek as a resource for ministry.
BL101A New Testament Greek II
Continues BL100, with special emphasis upon syntax and translation. 1.5 cr
BL101B New Testament Interpretation
An introduction to the tools and principles required for the exegesis of the New Testament in its own linguistic, historical, and canonical context, as a foundation for interpreting the New Testament in a contemporary context. 1.5 cr Prereq: BL100, BL101A
BL102 New Testament Foundations
An introduction to the content, history, and theological dynamism of the writings of the New Testament, with a view to appropriating the message of the New Testament for today.
BL103 Old Testament Foundations
An introduction to the content, history, and theological dynamism of the writings of the Old Testament, with a view to appropriating the message of the Old Testament for today.
BL110 Biblical Hebrew I
An introduction to biblical Hebrew in its cultural context for those who seek to interpret the Bible faithfully and fully. Using multi-sensory and interactive approaches, students will learn the basic vocabulary, grammar, syntax and world view of the Old Testament.
BL111 Hebrew Translation and Interpretation
A continuation of BL110 which more fully engages interpretive and devotional approaches to Old Testament texts. Prereq: BL110
BL507 Caring for Creation
In this course we will trace the confluence of forces that have shaped the western Christian understanding of the created order, and we will explore how this understanding has led to the loss of vitality in both the Christian community and in the created order.
BL509 Conflict in the Created Order
This course will explore how the conflict between the ordering word of God and the disordering waters of the deep in the creation story is recapitulated in the narrative, prophetic, and wisdom literature. We will explore why Western Christians have tended to overlook this conflict, and how a deeper understanding of it can revitalize Christian communities.
BL510 The Old Testament in the New
Many Christians, though at home in much of the New Testament, feel out of their depth in the Old. Yet, the New Testament is largely unintelligible outside of knowing the narratives, poems, apocalypses, wisdom sayings, and laws of the Old Testament. This course is bridges the canonical gap by exploring the Old Testament as it is used in the New. By canvassing how Paul, James, the Evangelists, and ultimately Jesus imaginatively use the Old Testament, we will discover fresh and faithful ways in which the Spirit is speaking to the Church through Scripture. 1.5 cr
BL513 Studies in Prophets
The role of prophets in Israelite society, their theology, and their impact on Western culture.
BL514 Seminar in Psalms
An exegetical study of selected psalms in the context of both the Old Testament and the larger canon of Scripture. Attention is also given to the role of the psalms in the liturgical, devotional, and theological life of the church. 1.5 cr
BL515 The Earth is the Lord’s: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible
This course engages Scripture through the eyes of contemporary agrarian writers with a view toward finding more faithful ways to honor God’s creation. The curriculum revolves around “conversations” with authors (Ellen Davis, Norman Wirzba, Wendell Berry, Wes Jackson) and practitioners who can help us think about the practical challenges and possibilities of honoring God’s creation.
BL517 Wisdom Literature of the Bible
Explores the forms, vocabulary, and concepts of wisdom in the Bible, emphasizing Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes. 1.5 cr.
BL518 The Trial of Galileo and Its Implications for Biblical Interpretation Today
Galileo (1564-1642) refined the telescope and turned it toward the heavens. Observing the movements of planets and moons, he saw that the sun was the center of the world and not the earth, as the theologians of his day taught. The Church put him on trial during which there was intense debate about the authority of the Scriptures and the relationship between general and special revelation. In the end, his books were banned, and he was put under house arrest. We will study the trial of Galileo and use it as a lens to look at similar controversies facing the Church today about the structure of the world. 1.5 cr
BL519 Seminar in Performance Criticism
In this course students will engage Old Testament narratives deeply through both translation and performance. Beginning with translation, students will explore the heart of the Hebrew dramas in the Old Testament and render them in faithful English translation with an eye and ear toward performance. Then, the class will engage each narrative through embodied exegesis to develop a performance of the narrative, which will be offered publicly, either in a church service or in morning prayers. 1.5 cr Prereq: BL110
A theological exposition of the book of Esther that looks to literary issues such as theme, character, and irony as guides for interpreting the book in the contexts of both the Old and the New Testaments. Originally intended as a model for life in the Jewish Diaspora, the book is a potentially important guide for Christians seeking to live faithful lives in a secular society. 1.5 cr
BL522 Old Testament Narratives
This course will explore the artistry, drama, and theology of Israelite storytelling. We will consider the cultural, historical, and theological context out of which these dramatic stories arose, and will discover their transforming power through performance. 1.5 cr
BL523 Joshua and the Paradox of Grace Explore the book of Joshua as an entryway into the historical and theological issues surrounding Israel’s struggle to claim its God-given inheritance in the Land of Canaan. We’ll seek distinctive ways to read this book as the Church and discover ways to live into this biblical story of incorporation and exclusion, hopelessness and salvation, apostasy and grace.
A literary and theological exposition of the book of Ruth. Emphasis placed on improving Hebrew reading and on refining exegetical skills. 1.5 cr; Prereq: BL110
A study of the first five books of the Bible. Examines the accounts of creation, the fall, Israel’s ancestors, the exodus, and the giving of the Law. The class will explore theological issues such as the nature of God, human beings and the world, our covenantal relationship with God, and the presence of God in historical events.
BL614 Hebrew Reading/Performance
Using memorization and movement as the primary tools of exegesis, students engage with one Old Testament narrative deeply for 14 weeks. This course builds on BL110 and BL111, deepening students’ engagement with the oral nature of the Hebrew Bible. Pass/fail, 1.5 cr
BL616 Christianity and Literature
A study of the biblical and theological motifs in selected literature by both classical and contemporary authors. Emphasis is on the use/study of such works in ministry settings, as well as their relevance for those involved in leadership roles in the church.
BL618 Advanced Biblical Hebrew
Advanced learning in the language and theology of the Old Testament. Students develop a deeper understanding of grammar, syntax, and interpretation through hearing, speaking, and reading Hebrew, as well as memorizing and enacting biblical stories. Prereq: BL110 & BL111
This course studies the book of Revelation within its historical, political, and literary contexts. Particular emphasis will be placed on the apocalyptic nature of the work within the first century C.E. Additionally, it studies the impact this book has had on contemporary views on eschatology. Finally, students will examine the variety of ways that Revelation can be used in the church, including preaching, liturgy, and pastoral care.
BL529 The Gospel According to Matthew
An overview of the theology and narrative shaping of the first gospel, using close readings of selected texts. Particular attention is paid to Matthew’s vision for discipleship, the church, and Christian life and witness. Prereq: BL100, BL101A&B or equiv.
BL530 Letter to the Romans
Introduction and overview of the letter, together with exegetical study of selected portions in Greek.Prereq: BL100, BL101A&B, BL102 or equiv.
BL532 The Gospel According to John
Considers important historical, literary, hermeneutical, and theological issues in the Gospel of John, with exegesis of selected passages in Greek. Prereq: BL100, BL101A&B, BL102 or equiv.
BL533 Gospel of Mark An exegetical exploration of the gospel of Mark which examines the structure of the gospel; the main lines of the story, places and times; the relationship of the characters; the function of the questions; and what the narrator really wants to say through his story. Key passages will be translated. Prerequisite: BL100, BL101 & BL102 or equivalent.
BL534 Reading Acts in its Contexts: Communities, Conflicts/Contemporary Church
This course will examine Acts in light of its varied social, political, and canonical contexts, with a particular emphasis on the Spirit’s formation of the people of God. Students will undertake a close reading of the text of Acts and will consider the ways that Acts can help the contemporary church imagine communities of faith and practice that bear witness to the Triune God. Along the way, we will discover that Luke’s account of the first decades of the Jesus movement, the only historical account of the life of the first century church, is a richly textured narrative theology that bears witness to the ascended Lord Jesus Christ who pours out the Spirit for the sake of creation. 1.5 cr
BL535 Interpreting the Parables
A survey of recent approaches to interpreting the parables of Jesus provides the context for considering hermeneutical issues in preaching and teaching the parables. Prereq: BL100, BL101A&B, BL102 or equiv.
BL537 Synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark and Luke
This course studies Matthew, Mark and Luke and their cultural, historical and literary contexts. Students will also explore ways of using gospels in worship, preaching and teaching.
BL540 The Corinthian Correspondence
An exploration of Paul’s First and Second letters to the Corinthians, with particular attention to the interaction between pastoral engagement and theological reflection. Prereq: BL100, BL101A&B, BL102 or equiv.
BL541 Letters to the Philippians and Galatians
An exegetical study of two Pauline letters in light of modern interpretation, with attention to their use in modern theology and the preaching and teaching of the church. Selected Greek passages will be studied in depth. Prereq: BL100, BL101A&B, BL102 or equiv.
BL542 General Epistles
An overview of all the General/Catholic Epistles, with closer exegetical treatment of three of them. The epistles selected for closer treatment will vary, and key passages in them will be exegetically treated in Greek. Attention will be paid to the use of these epistles in the teaching and preaching of the church today. Prereq: BL100, BL101A&B, BL102 or equiv.
BL543 Luke-Acts: The Gospel of Jesus and its Communities
Though often overshadowed by the Pauline and Johannine texts, Luke’s two-volume narrative comprises over one fourth of the entire New Testament. Not only is this the largest contribution of any N.T. author, it provides us with the only extended portrait of the earliest communities of Christians. This course focuses on Luke’s witness to Jesus, salvation in Lukan perspective, the role of the Holy Spirit, the practices of the early church, and the relationship between church and empire. Special attention is given to the implications for the practice and proclamation of the church today.
One of the most energetic and enigmatic books of the New Testament, Hebrews vacillates between functioning as a letter or a sermon, refuses to identify the location of either its author or its recipients, expresses the most profound Hebrew religious concepts in the best of Greek language, explores deep theological ideas in engagingly simple pictures, and calls on Christians to die for their faith! Hebrews remains one of the greatest sources of Christian theology “proof-texting,” yet is rarely understood or read as a whole document. We will take the book apart, analyze it for clues, then read it as a whole, and develop a strong sense of both its original context and its continuing powerful message for the church.
BL547 The Bible, Gender, and Sexuality
A survey of major biblical texts on sex and sexuality in general, with a view toward developing an overall framework for understanding biblical teaching on these themes. Within this overall framework, particular attention also will be given to exploring the questions of gender roles and homosexuality. Prereq: BL100, BL101A&B, BL102 or equiv.
BL550 Living and Active: The Doctrine of Scripture and Biblical Studies
In this course, we will be asking a cluster of interrelated questions: What is the Bible? How was the biblical canon formed, and what led to these particular books being chosen over others? Can God speak through multiple translations; are all the Word of God? How have technological innovations—the scroll, codex, printing press, digital media—changed how we interact with God’s Word? In arriving at answers, students will also refine statements on Scripture for their senior Credo. 1.5 cr
BL551 Disability, Bible and the Pastoral Imagination What do people with disabilities find when they try to find themselves in our biblical texts? This course addresses some of the issues, hermeneutical and pastoral, that people with disabilities encounter when reading the Bible. The class will read interpretative texts written by persons with a variety of disabilities and consider how their insights can support our pastoral imagination. 1.5 cr
BL552 Scripture and Human Sexuality This course explores a variety of ways of reading the Biblical text, particularly with a view to interpreting how Scripture speaks to the role and responsibilities of Christians with different sexual attractions in relation to the Church. Contrasting perspectives will be presented in the class (some via guest speakers), and students will be invited to deepen their capacity for constructive dialogue, discerning common ground amidst difference, and integrative thinking on these challenging questions. 1.5 cr
BL613 Greek Reading
Maintains and enhances Greek language skills through weekly translation practice, and a study of intermediate Greek grammar. Pass/fail, 1.5 cr. Prereq: BL100, BL101A&B, BL102 or equiv.
BL617 Ordination of Women: Exploring Biblical Authority and Church Order
In-depth biblical exegesis and focused theological and hermeneutical reflection around the ordination of women – in an attempt both to assist students to clarify their understanding of this particular issue and to provide handles and tools for wrestling with the use of Scripture in the ordering of the church’s life more generally. A full range of views on the topic will be explored. 1.5 cr
Theological Field Course Descriptions
TH100 Church History I
This course explores the life and witness of the church from the New Testament era to the Protestant Reformation.
TH101 Church History II
This course explores the life and witness of the church from the Protestant Reformation to the present.
TH102 Introduction to Theological Research
A study of research methodology, library use, and basic reference works for theological research. (for GCUPM students only)
TH104 Introduction to Theology and Worship
This introductory course combines concerns that would usually be considered separately in courses in theology and worship, as a reflection of the deeply held Reformed and ecumenical conviction, lex orandi, lex credendi. Holding these two basic realities together, we will seek to deepen our understanding of the core aspects of the Christian faith, explore how theology and worship both shape and are shaped by the other, gain a growing capacity for thinking critically about our theology and worship, and develop skills for worship leadership.
TH112 Gospel, Culture, and Church
An introduction to the church’s self-understanding as a missional and eschatological community formed by the good news of Jesus Christ and made to be its living witness. The course seeks to cultivate a biblical-theological rationale for the existence of the church and for its mission, an appreciation for the historical, cultural, and contextual rootedness of the church, an understanding of the dynamic interaction between the gospel and human cultures, and a vision for what missional faithfulness requires of any church in its own time and place.
TH113 Systematic Theology I
This first course of the two course Systematic Theology sequence explores four major Christian doctrines: the doctrines of God, creation, humanity, and Christ. These expansive headings include many other matters of theological importance, including Trinity doctrine, divine attributes, creation, humanity, the image of God, sin, providence, covenant, Israel and the significance of the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. Readings will range from early church to contemporary sources.
TH114 Systematic Theology II
This course explores the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, salvation, church and sacraments. Exploring these expansive topics will include an examination of the work of the Spirit in the believing community, scripture and divine revelation, justification, sanctification, and the final judgment, as well as the theology of Word and Sacraments in the church. Readings will range from early church to contemporary sources.
TH121 Christian Ethics
This course explores how the theological vision of the Christian community expresses itself in specific intentions, practices, virtues, and actions and how Christian communities can grow in moral discernment.
In this senior seminar, students will write a theologically comprehensive statement of their Christian belief in conversation with their respective theological traditions. 1.5 cr. Prereq: CM121, TH112, TH113, TH114.
TH451 RCA History and Mission
Examines the development of the Reformed Church in the context of North America. Special attention devoted to the leaders, approaches, and philosophies of RCA missions. (MFCA)
TH519 American Evangelicalism
Since Newsweek magazine declared 1976 the “year of the evangelical,” evangelicals have seemingly infiltrated all aspects of American culture, from politics to popular entertainment. This course surveys the history of the evangelical movement from its origins in the Great Awakening to its place in the contemporary church. Along the way we will examine issues including theology, race, gender, and social reform.
TH532 Augustine of Hippo: His Life and Thought
Western philosophy, so the saying goes, consists of footnotes to Plato. Augustine has impacted western theology in a similarly profound way. In this course, students will engage this North African Christian living on the margins of the crumbling Roman Empire in his own words, reading both classics, like the Confessions, and lesser-known texts stemming from Augustine’s pastoral ministry, such as sermons and letters he wrote to colleagues, parishioners, and other inquisitive citizens of his late ancient world. 1.5 cr
TH533 From Africa to Anatolia: Mothers and Fathers of the Church
Parents and place of origin shape a person. It is the same with theology. This seminar on early Christian theology engages our mothers and fathers in the faith, whose perspectives, developing in diverse contexts from urban hubs such as Carthage and Alexandria to the high plain of Cappadocia, have so profoundly shaped our own.
TH544 20th Century Theology: Major Figures and Theological Currents
Close readings of some of the “classic” works of 20th century theology by theologians such as Barth, Bonhoeffer, Cone, Gutiérrez, Lindbeck, Jones, deLubac, von Balthasar, Zizioulas and Hauerwas. We will highlight the place of these works in larger theological and cultural currents that shaped Christian thought in this tumultuous century.
TH557 Church and State in America
The wall of separation between church and state that Thomas Jefferson famously observed has served better as a landmark for one of America’s most vibrant debates than as a secure border. This course examines the relationship between church and state in America from the colonial era to the present, ranging from John Winthrop’s declaration aboard the Arabella in 1630 that America would be a “city on a hill” to present debates over White House sponsored Faith-Based Initiatives. Along the way we will treat such topics as marriage, medicine, education, and civil religion.
TH561 History of the Black Church Galatians 3:28 beautifully asserts “there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ.” Even so, early in the history of the United States, African Americans found it necessary to establish the Black Church. This course examines the events and conditions necessitating that development and how the legacies of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and persistent racism impacted the theology and worship of the Black Church. Also explored is the extent to which those and related issues still prevent achieving full unity in the body of Christ and the strategies that can be employed to finally achieve the Lord’s vision.
TH568 Calvin’s Theology and Its Reception
Calvin’s theology is not only central to the Reformed tradition, but continues to be the subject of vigorous theological discussion for theologians and pastors of many Christian traditions. After setting the context of Calvin’s life and times, this course will examine select key theological ideas in Calvin’s writings. The course will examine significant retrievals and prominent criticisms of Calvin’s theology in order to assess its value for the church’s life and ministry today.
TH570 The Reformation Then and Now
The divisions and developments of the Reformation era in the 16th century continue to shape us and our churches in more ways than we realize. Some of what we have inherited from the Reformation has been rich and fruitful; other aspects of that inheritance have done great damage and continue to cause deep hurt. This course will examine aspects of the theology and history of the Protestant and Roman Catholic Reformation movements of the 16th century, and trace their ongoing implications for today.
TH575 Malcolm, Martin, Baldwin, and the Church
Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and James Baldwin were seminal figures in the Civil Rights Movement with diverse approaches to establishing racial justice. We will engage their critique of both American society and the Christian faith in an attempt to understand our role as Christians dealing with race and religion in the 21st century.
TH585 Christianity in China
Time magazine reporter David Aikman’s book Jesus in Beijing points to the importance of this topic in its subtitle: “How Christianity is transforming China and changing the global balance of power.” In this course we will study Chinese Christianity from its earliest appearance to its contemporary expressions, learning about its history, theology, and impact. Along the way we will deal with issues such as enculturation, missions, politics, and gender. 1.5 cr
TH590 Reading the Bible with the Dead: Retrieving Pre-modern Biblical Interpretation
This course explores the way in which reading the Bible in the company of pre-modern interpreters can benefit the life and ministry of the church today. After considering the basic features of a pre-modern approach to scripture, the course will focus upon challenging biblical texts (e.g., Hagar, Psalms of cursing, etc.), exploring the new insights that patristic, medieval, and Reformation-era interpreters can bring in helping us proclaiming scripture as God’s word. 1.5 cr
TH618 Theological German
Inductive study of basic German grammar and syntax and of selected texts in contemporary German theology. (Offered on request.)
TH633 World Christianity
This course examines the growth of Christianity in a variety of strikingly different cultural contexts. Today there are more Presbyterians in Ghana than in Scotland, more members in Brazil’s Pentecostal Assemblies of God than in two of the largest U.S. Pentecostal denominations, and China is on pace to become the largest Christian country in the coming decades. Taking into account recent developments in the history of Christianity across the globe, we will focus on the transmission of faith as a cross-cultural process. 1.5 cr
TH505 Creation Calling Creation is loved into being and sustained by the Triune God, who also has a glorious eschatological future for it. Human beings are called to keep it in ways that are consonant with God’s purposes, but instead, creation calls out in protest at having to bear the consequences of our alienation from God. Through readings, film, guest speakers, and field trips, this course will help us to think with scriptural and theological wisdom about the doctrine of creation and ‘creation care’ issues, and will also help us to discover ways to act well towards the rest of creation in our various ministry settings. 1.5 cr
TH527 Reformed and Ethical
The course will include readings from major figures in ethics from the Reformed tradition, including, but not limited to Abraham Kuyper, H. Richard Niebuhr and Nicholas Wolterstorff. The goal is for you to set your ethical compass in light of what others in the Reformed tradition have done. 1.5 cr
TH545 Ecological Theology and Ethics
An in-depth study of the nature and causes of current ecological degradation, the witness of Christian Scripture and the Christian theological tradition concerning matters ecological, the duties and responsibilities we humans have as earthkeepers, and the practical implications of living in a more earth-friendly way at home, at church, at work, at play.
TH546 War, Peace and Peacemaking
We will consider Christian views on war, peace and peacemaking. We will survey some of the key theological and biblical perspectives on war that have shaped the history of the church, look more carefully at various Christian responses to select wars and U.S. policies, and explore the thought and practices of Christian movements of peace and reconciliation.
TH566 God and Mammon
In this course, we will wrestle with biblical and theological foundations for thinking about economics and money, engage with different traditions of economic and political thinking within Christianity, and also engage with concrete examples of individuals, communities and organizations that are self-consciously engaged in these economic matters.
TH569 John Calvin on Piety: Faith and the Decision between Good and Evil
This course examines Calvin’s theology on piety and how it evidences one’s knowledge of God. We will examine his thought on how the conscience functions in individuals as they decide between good and evil, how fear (or lack thereof) dictates human action, how the Ten Commandments (the Law) is designed to guide Christian piety, why piety is essential to a godly community and how at the center of piety is faith in God the Creator and Redeemer. The knowledge of God through piety is at the heart of Reformed theology. 1.5 cr
TH589 Theology of the Book of Numbers
This course seeks to bridge biblical studies and theology, focusing on the narratives and laws of the book of Numbers. Theological themes and issues treated include Israelite worship practices, the moral vision indicated by its laws, the idea of wilderness, stories of temptations and sin, war, the place of women, and its view of God. We will study the book with an eye to the impact this important Old Testament book has had on Judaism and the New Testament and might have on Christian theology and practice.
TH126 Summative Examination
The task of the summative examination is to address a contemporary issue deeply and competently in a way that demonstrates integrated reflection on Scripture, theology and Christian practice.
TH450 RCA Standards
A survey of the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, the Canons of Dort, and the Belhar Confession designed to highlight distinctive elements of the Reformed tradition and to prepare RCA candidates for their ordination examinations. (MFCA) Prereq: TH113, TH114
TH511 Theology and Film
This course will explore a theology of culture through a concentrated focus on theology and film. Students will view, discuss, and analyze a wide selection of films, cultivate a biblically informed and theologically robust posture for engaging culture and consider its role in Christian discipleship and ministry. 1.5 cr
TH514 Theology of the Word: God’s Word as Divine Action
This course explores the surprising reality that God’s speech is an action – that the Triune God is at work in and through the Word in the church and the world. Students will explore this issue in the doctrine of God and revelation with an eye toward renewing the church’s ministry of word and sacrament. Readings will include works in biblical studies, historical theology, and contemporary systematic theology. TH113 recommended but not required. 1.5 cr
TH518 Eschatology: Christian Hope and the Last Things
Eschatology (the study of the “last things”) concerns Christian hope for the future consummation of all of God’s promises and purposes and what this means for Christian living today. Drawing on biblical scholars and theologians past and present, as well as art, music, and literature, this course will explore scripturally-founded contours for thinking wisely about the “last things,” and help us to recognize the impact of our eschatological views on our discipleship now.
TH524 Theologies of Prayer: Petition, Contemplation, and the Triune God
How does the work of the Triune God relate to the praying life of Christians? This course explores two biblical and theological traditions of Christian prayer with an eye toward discerning how God is active in and through them: petitionary prayer and contemplative prayer. After a section focusing upon the New Testament and petitionary prayer (especially prayers for healing), the course explores the writings of two major theologians: Karl Barth on petitionary prayer, and Sarah Coakley on contemplative and charismatic approaches to prayer. 1.5 cr
TH526 Seminar in Contemporary Theology
In this seminar we will read, discuss, present on and write about an important work or works in contemporary theology. It is an opportunity to go deeper into important theological issues and tests in a small seminar setting. 1.5 cr. Prereq: TH114
TH528 From Scripture to Theology: Topical Readings in the Theological Interpretation of Scripture
This course seeks to bridge biblical studies and theology by focusing upon a key biblical and theological topic for examination. While the specific topic rotates, the course explores ways in which biblical and theological studies can be received in a complementary way, receiving the Bible as God’s word for the church today.
TH549 Martin Luther: The Gospel and the Christian Life
Martin Luther’s writings have been extraor-dinarily influential as well as controversial for pastors and theologians since the sixteenth century. After setting the context of Luther’s life and times, this course will focus upon two areas of his work which continue to be particularly provocative and potent today: the meaning of the gospel, and the nature of the Christian life, including Christian freedom, prayer and worship, the suffering of Christians, and union with Christ. Throughout the course, we will seek to both assess Luther’s theology and retrieve insights that edify the church’s life and ministry in today’s context. 1.5 cr
TH552 Karl Barth: Life and Theology
It is difficult to overestimate the impor-tance of Barth’s theology for contemporary Christian thought. Our course will include an overview of Barth’s life and the forces that shaped it and his theology, and close readings of selections from his theological works. The student will gain a good overview of Barth’s theological vision, his major contributions to theology and typical critiques of his thought.
TH553 Interreligious Witness and Dialogue
In North America as well as the broader world, the church’s life and witness plays out in multifaith social contexts. This course examines theological orientations for understanding religions and religious traditions and explores proposals for the church’s approach to confident witness in a spirit of mutual hospitality and humility. 1.5 cr
TH556 Atonement Theology
“Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again” – these are the familiar affirmations of the communion liturgy. They express the central Christian claim that Jesus is Lord and Savior. This seminar course will examine some of the most important statements of the doctrine of the atonement in the Christian tradition. It will include readings from Scripture, Athanasius, Augustine, Anselm, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, John McLeod Campbell, Katherine Tanner, and others who express both the central conviction and the remarkable variation in Christian atonement theology. 1.5 cr
TH565 Disability and Theology in the Christian Tradition
What is disability? How has disability been understood theologically in the Christian tradition? This course examines theologies of disability with the aim of helping students to comprehend and articulate their own working theology of disability. 1.5 cr
TH577 Global Christianity and the Mission of the Church
Explores how Christianity has become a global faith. Special attention is given to the developments in Asia and Africa where the Church has recently experienced explosive growth as well as tensions with Islamic cultures.
TH580 Theology of the Lord’s Supper
Explores the biblical and theological dimensions of the Lord’s Supper, with an eye for the renewal of the contemporary church. Readings draw from various Christian traditions and explore the Lord’s Supper in relation to topics such as biblical foundations for eucharistic theology, the history of eucharistic theology, and the implications of the Supper for discipleship and the church’s witness. 1.5 cr.
TH581 Women and Theology
This course explores the way in which the dismantling of patriarchy is inspired by and transforms the study of theology. In conversation with the Christian tradition, its primary areas of concern are the interpretation of the Bible, doctrines, rituals, and ethics. Since this theological work traverses boundaries of class, race, and nationality, we read a diverse collection of voices. Because feminist concerns also cross over religious boundaries, the study broadens to include women of Judaism and Islam, with special attention to how interreligious work might be conceived in a feminist perspective. The examination of women’s experience, both positive and negative, invites the development of a theologically informed practice that aims at the flourishing of all humanity. 1.5 cr
TH584 Communion with God and Justification: Roman Catholic and Reformed Perspectives
How are sinners made right with God? What is the nature of life in Christ, in communion with God? After introducing contemporary debates on this issue in biblical studies, this course explores how two significant theologians in history would respond: Thomas Aquinas (Roman Catholic), and John Owen (Reformed). Through this examination, this course explores different ways to retrieve the rich biblical language and teaching regarding union with Christ, communion with God, justification, and sanctification. 1.5 cr
TH586 Issues in Contemporary Islam
An introduction to current debates in the study of Islam. Cultural practices, tradition, and belief will be explored. Gender and state politics, which involve the spiritual, intellectual and social life of Muslims in both public and private realms of their existence, are particularly important. This course is taught by a Christian anthropologist who is a former Muslim. The class will analyze historical and empirical forms that Islamic discourses and practice take, and will invite students to test and explore the truth-claims and worldviews presented in such discourses and practices. 1.5 cr
TH591 African-American Religious Experience
The unique experience of African-Americans in the United States has led to a particular expression of Christianity. We will evaluate the historical, sociological, political, and methodological components of African-American religious experience, and consider how this experience challenges our theology, our practice, and our self-understanding.
TH592 Christian Perspectives on the Problem of Evil and Suffering
From its inception, Christianity has struggled with the tension between God’s love and the persistent and immense presence of evil and suffering in the world. This course will examine various approaches to evil/suffering espoused by Christian thinkers throughout history, with a view toward strengthening our claim that God is love—even in a world of pain. 1.5 cr.
TH621 Apologetics in Post-Christian Culture
Helps students to interpret and commend the Christian faith in a non-Christian culture. If we are to be effective apologists today, we must have a clear understanding of and a firm conviction about the core beliefs of the Christian church, as well as a keen awareness of the cultures in which they are received and interpreted.
TH632 Introduction to the World’s Religions
An introduction to the beliefs and practices of the major religions of the world, with a study of their scriptural traditions. New religious movements such as Baha’i, The Unification Church, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) are also treated, paying special attention to their relationship to Christianity. The Christian theological response to other religions is also considered.
Christian Ministry Field Course Descriptions
MN100 Worship Foundations
This course is an exploration of the biblical and theological foundations of Christian worship. 1.5 cr
MN101 Preaching Foundations
First-year students explore and grasp a biblical and Reformed vision of preaching. Includes a sermon preparation workshop and a “lab” in which written and preached sermons are carefully analyzed by faculty and peers. Significant homiletical concerns are presented, discussed, clarified, and applied to the task of preaching.
MN102 Practice of Discipleship
Jesus commanded his followers to make disciples. In this course, learners will explore how Christian practices have shaped them into disciples and learn how to use these practices in the making of 21st century disciples.
MN105 Pastor as Person
This course explores the ways in which a minister’s life history, spiritual growth, and vocation intersect and shape his/her personal and professional identity. Students will reflect on their own psychological and spiritual development and their opportunities for personal growth. They will develop their own particular plans for self-care. 1.5 cr
MN109 Urban Ministry and Preaching Description tba (for GCUPM students only)
MN115 Practice of Counsel and Care
In this introductory course, students explore giving counsel and offering care as ministers of Word and sacrament. They develop an understanding of the fundamental principles of pastoral care and acquire basic skills required for giving counsel and offering care. Numerous pastoral themes are addressed in lectures, learning labs, and small group interaction. Students will be encouraged to develop their own pastoral presence in offering counsel and care.
MN116 Introduction to Disability and the Church Introduces different conceptions, definitions, and expressions of disability in the United States. Gives general overview of the history of disability in the U.S. and introduces students to innovative practitioners who paved the way for today’s disability theology. Covers service systems and advocacy groups that support person with disabilities. Required for GCDM, elective for other programs.
An introduction to the theory and practice of Christian leadership from a missional and theological perspective. For seniors.
MN124 Practice of Worship and Preaching
This course invites students to deepen their theological understanding of both preaching and worship while they practice the crafts employed in these two of the Church’s most central tasks.
WTS Newbigin Distance Learning Master of Divinity
MN117 Urban Church Planting
This course will explore the theology, mission and practice of planting churches in cities, with implications for leadership formation, preaching, worship, community & spiritual formation. J-Term with 36 hr intensive in Paramount, CA.
MN125 Preaching in an Urban Context
This course introduces students to the theology and the practice of sermon design and delivery in a post-Christian urban context. Students will be captivated by a biblical-Reformed theology of preaching, the unique role of sermons in forming and leading mission-focused communities, and the formative role of sermon making in the pastor’s own spiritual life. Students will begin mastery of homiletical skills such as the movement from text to sermon, reading cultural and congregational contexts, strategic use of sermon outlines, and the life of prayer in preaching. A San Francisco January intensive exposes students to top tier communicators including fellow preachers, comedians, and professional announcers, and features a “sermon lab” in which written and preached sermons will be assessed by faculty and peers. J-Term with 36 hr intensive in Paramount, CA.
MN126 Worship in an Urban Context
This course explores the theology and practice of worship in the urban context. Students will develop a biblical-theological understanding of what it means for worship to be Reformed, liturgical, missional and contextual. They will gain confidence and experience in leading worship in urban and missional contexts. Students will increase their capacity and skill in planning and leading weekly corporate worship. The course will also cover occasional services (i.e., wedding, funeral, ordination, installation, commissioning, healing and wholeness), the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, and the practice of preaching in relation to other key aspects of worship. Case studies will be used to grow in awareness of what is happening in worship and to understand helpful evaluation and feedback.
Dual Track Master of Divinity-Master of Social Work
MN331 Dual Track Cohort Group
Meets bi-weekly during the first year of the Dual Track degree program. 1.5 cr
MN332 Dual Track Cohort Group
Meets weekly during the second year of the Dual Track degree program. 1.5 cr
MN333 Dual Track Cohort Group
Meets online during the third year of the Dual Track degree program. 1.5 cr
MN334 Dual Track Cohort Group
Meets online during the fourth year of the Dual Track degree program. 1.5 cr
Pastoral Care and Counseling:
MN513 Basic Clinical Pastoral Education
A pastoral ministry practicum that integrates the theory and practice of ministry in a clinical setting with special attention given to the person in ministry. A basic practicum accredited by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education. 6 cr
MN513N Basic Clinical Pastoral Education – non-accredited
A pastoral ministry practicum that integrates the theory and practice of ministry in a clinical setting with special attention given to the person in ministry. Ministry is not completed in an accredited CPE setting. 6 cr
MN517 Faithful and Effective Response to Domestic Violence
Explores the theories, resources, and strategies of pastoral and congregational care to respond faithfully and effectively to the issue of domestic violence based on theological understandings of God and human experience. This course draws upon the insights of psychology, sociology, and theology to guide pastoral and congregational care into a more faithful and effective praxis. The course draws from scriptural, theological, socio-scientific, and experiential resources and invites students to engage those resources in ways that enhance their ability to offer care and to lead communities of care in response to the issue of domestic violence.
MN529 From Baptism to Burial: Pastoral Essentials
From baptism to burials, pastoral work is filled with opportunities to minister amidst the most glorious and difficult moments of congregational life. In this course, major pastoral responsibilities are covered in both content and practice, including baptism, pre-marital counseling, rehearsals and weddings, and funeral services/burials. Theological, biblical, psychological, and ethical foundations and frameworks will be explored. Best practices for issues such as policies, fees, and boundaries will also be covered. Special attention will be given to how these unique opportunities serve the mission of God. 1.5 cr
MN538 Transforming Conflict from the Inside Out
This course explores multiple layers of conflict—intrapersonal, interpersonal, and communal—as opportunities for transformation. Students will develop a theology of compassion and learn the skills of compassionate communication as a means of connecting to God, self, and others in the midst of difference, disagreement, and conflict. The course seeks to enhance specific competencies in speaking honestly, listening empathetically, responding to criticism, staying in dialogue, dealing with guilt and grief, and using restorative circles for community-wide crises. Experientially based; includes case studies, role plays, journaling, and small group work.
MN540 The Mindful Life
Recent developments in interpersonal neurobiology reveal more clearly than ever the relational nature of human beings. This conversation intersects with growing interest in Eastern forms of meditation, research on shame and wholeness, new therapeutic models for growth and change, and renewed Christian interest in contemplative practices. This course employs a biblical/theological lens as it explores current developments theoretically and practically for Christians and skeptics alike who long to flourish in a broken world. 1.5 cr
This course will provide a framework for engaging the dynamics of addictions. These addictive dynamics will be examined through a theological lens which honors the relational narratives that we all possess. Diagnosis, conceptualization, treatment and recovery will be engaged through this lens.
MN556 Psychology and Christian Spirituality
There is a strong tradition of psychological wisdom with the contemplative Christian tradition. In fact, the contemplative tradition provides a kind of framework for self-reflection, for healthy intimacy, and for genuine spirituality. Looking at resources from Augustine and Calvin, Evagrius and Theresa, we’ll see that contemporary ministry, pastoral care, and mission can all be aided by a rich and deep understanding of Christian spirituality.
MN582 Ministry, Aging and Dementia
Aging presents us with both pastoral challenges and important gifts for individuals and the body of Christ. How do we walk well with and learn from those who are in the final stage of their earthly journeys? One increasingly common aspect of aging that acutely challenges the faith, hope, and love of all of us is dementia. Together we will explore theological and pastoral resources for dealing faithfully with those who suffer from dementia, and those who care for them. 1.5 cr
MN515 Covenantal Perspectives and Cultural Influences on Youth Ministry
This course will seek to explore cultural changes and influences within the past three decades that are shaping our understanding of adolescents today, all within the framework of historical perspectives on covenant theology. We’ll further examine how an inter-generational approach to youth ministry and a “shared stories” strategy could create the necessary context for deepened relationships that foster sticky faith in youth.
MN518 Talking the Talk: Beyond and Behind Christian Clichés
This course will focus on Christian, denominational, and congregational discourses, and how the ways we speak of and address God, the Bible translations we choose, the words we import from other faith traditions, and our relationship to historic churches imbedded in class systems and their language cultures shape our practice of faith. 1.5 cr
MN530 Christian Formation in Gospel Communities
This course is designed for those contemplating pastoral ministry or educational ministry in a congregational context or Gospel community. Themes include designing and implementing education programs, evaluating and selecting curriculum resources, exploring emerging models of faith formation, and the pastor as teacher.
MN531 Christian Formation of Children and Youth
This elective course focuses on the education and faith formation of youth and children. Attention will be given to the family and intergenerational settings as contexts for faith formation, as well as the faith development of children and youth.
MN533 Justice, Discipleship, and the Church
This course explores how the church can form disciples with a vision of justice. It engages the biblical and theological roots of Christian commitments to justice and places contemporary interest in social justice within a larger biblical, theological, and historical context. Students will have the opportunity to articulate a biblical theology of justice and explore how the church can shape disciples with a life-long commitment to justice. 1.5 cr
MN573 The Practice of Youth Ministry
Students will be introduced to various models of youth ministry and will become familiar with the theological and social scientific resources that will aid them in evaluating and reforming the practice of congregational and para-church ministry. Students will consider theories of development, articulate a theological foundation for youth ministry, and develop an appreciation for the potential impact of peer-to-peer ministry. They will also explore some of the challenges faced by youth ministers and consider how technology factors into discipling networked youth.
MN574 Foundations of Youth Ministry
This course provides the foundational concepts and best practices to prepare the student for ministry to adolescents in both a church and non-church settings. The course will provide a basic understanding of adolescent development, contemporary culture, and incarnational witness. The course is designed to help the student to think and respond theologically to the needs and expectations of adolescents and provides practical tools enabling the student to design a theologically sound youth ministry program suitable in any context. 1.5 cr
MN575 Theology and Philosophy of Youth Ministry
The general objective of this course, taught by Dr. Gabe Veas, is to understand how biblical principles have been examined and applied historically to youth ministry. Learn how to implement the discipleship process and cultivate faith development. Includes the teacher/learner process, small group development, age differentiated ministry needs in the local church, working with volunteers, developing lesson plans, mentoring, and how to direct the youth ministry program within the community. This course is held three weekends with work completed online between face to face times. Students meet at the seminary September 22-23, October 20-21, and November 10-11, 2017.
Worship and Preaching
MN451 Worship (RCA)
Drawing from Scripture and Reformed confessions and liturgies, and in sympathetic discussion with a wide range of other worshiping traditions, this course will present, discuss, clarify, and apply a Reformed vision of worship to congregational settings in the RCA in the United States and Canada. 3 cr (MFCA)
MN506 By Christ, Washed and Well Fed
Word and Sacrament are gifts by which Christ himself gives us life—his life. With these gifts, Christ refreshes and sustains us in that life, communally and personally. This course will be a robust theological, pastoral, missional and liturgical exploration of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We’ll listen for the Spirit to discover how we—each according to our calling and context—might set forth the gifts of God for the people of God faithfully and well.
MN507 Models of the Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Supper is layered with biblical-theological meaning, as its celebration rehearses for us the scope of salvation history, creation to re-creation. While spoken with different accents, these biblical-theological themes are common to every Christian tradition. By engaging several of these themes expressed pastorally by a voice from the Roman Catholic tradition, we will explore together the richness of these themes in the Reformed tradition. 1.5 cr
MN511 Spiritual Writing
An intensive creative workshop for those interested in writing, however tangentially, about matters of faith. We will focus our attention on nonfiction prose in which the writer’s own life experience or personal opinions are placed in the foreground. Students will consider the work of specific Christian authors. This course will suit those who enjoy literature, as well as those aspiring to publish or preach. No creative writing experience necessary. 1.5 cr
MN512 Living Water
Baptism is steeped with biblical-theological meaning. It has profound significance for the life and ministries of a church community (though we don’t dwell on this significance, much less dwell on it imaginatively), as well as the life, ministry, and even death of each of its members. In this course, we will immerse ourselves in Baptism generally considered, and then explore its liturgical-pastoral expression among God’s people at seminal moments in communal ministry and personal discipleship. 1.5 cr
MN543 Worshipping with Jesus, the Twelve and the Early Church
This course is designed to provide each participant with the time and space to explore and evaluate the worshipping experiences and practices of Jesus, his disciples and those who followed him in the early centuries of the Christian movement. The prize of the course will be to think deeply and complexly about those experiences and practices and through the implementation of “appreciative inquiry” be prepared to draw the best of our ancient past into our postmodern future. 1.5 cr
MN548 Preaching and the Missional Imagination
In recent years there has been an avalanche of literature about what it means to be a missional church. Curiously, so much of this literature is silent on the task of preaching. In many cases, preaching is even seen as a barrier to “going missional.” This course will explore the central but often neglected role of Word and Sacrament in leading a church that is seeking to be both missional and Reformed. 1.5 cr
MN549 Preaching in the Dark (Preaching Practices for Gospel/Culture Engagement)
In this course we will consider a range of ways to think about the relationship between the gospel and our culture(s) and practice ways of faithful and fruitful preaching on the cultural issues confronting the church in the early part of the 21st century. 1.5 cr
MN550 Keeping and Talking the Word
A course designed to both consider and practice the centuries-long spiritual discipline of scripture interiorization and pre-critical exegesis. With specific consideration to the nature and history of the oral transmission of the scriptures and building on specific training in contemplative exegesis, each participant will prepare and perform selected portions of the biblical witness and show sympathetic evidence of a capacity for pre-critical biblical interpretation. 1.5 cr
MN551 The Holy Spirit and Christian Worship
Nothing good transpires apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. Affirming this Triune truth, we will explore together the work of the person of the Holy Spirit, biblically and theologically understood, as it intersects with the movements of Christian worship. A variety of theologians, confessions, and worship resources will be engaged, including those of the Reformed tradition past and present.
MN552 The Worship of Yesterday for Today
We will listen and look closely to the worship of our brothers and sisters in Christ who have gone before us, perhaps long before us. This will be a socio-archeological pursuit for the refreshment of our understanding of Christian worship and the renewing of our practice of Christian worship today. Elements include Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the Word, prayer, postures, texts, visuals, spatial design: the whole scope of the experience of worship.
MN553 The Church’s Common Chord: The History, Theology and Practice of Music in Christian Worship
Students will chart key historical developments in the use of music in worship. They will encounter various theologies of artistic expression, as well as profound theological themes and motifs expressed in hymnody, spirituals and popular songs. Students will learn applied skills such as basic music terminology, using hymnals, evaluating music and shaping repertoire, use of choirs, praise bands and instrumental music, copyright law, amplification concerns, and more. For musicians and non-musicians.
MN554 Preaching the Christian Year
The Christian calendar provides a counter-cultural means for the Church to mark time – i.e., to remember, celebrate, and anticipate. This course will explore how to root preaching not first in our own perceived needs, but in the life and person of Jesus whom we follow. Drawing upon historical and contemporary sources, we will learn about the church year itself – its primary themes, narratives, and moods. Students will then prepare and preach at least three sermons and will prepare a draft preaching calendar with scripture texts and topics for Advent through Ordinary Time.
MN561 21st Century Spirituality for a Secular Age
This course explores spiritual resources for sustainable ministry in a secular age, including resources for both personal transformation and creative ways of engaging spiritual formation in the church amidst changing ecclesial realities. We’ll explore significant voices for contemporary spirituality in a secular age include Thomas Merton, Charles Taylor, Etty Hillesum, Elizabeth O’Connor, Richard Rohr, David Whyte, Henri Nouwen, Mary Oliver, Paulo Coelho, Thomas Keating, James Finley, Ilia Delio and more. Insights for wise and faithful Christian engagement in a re-enchanted secular world will be explored, and the practice of daily contemplative prayer encouraged.
MN562 Liturgical Shenanigans: Ritual Theory and How Worship Works
Rituals are enacted everyday by humans in all cultures—at theaters and stadiums, libraries and marketplaces, bathrooms and fire pits, as well as places of worship. They are one of the most important ways we both express and shape our understanding of the meaning of life. The course will have three primary learning modes: 1) we will observe ritual activity in culture (our own and others’) that either fits or fights the gospel; 2) we will engage readings at the intersection of cultural anthropology and practical theology; and 3) we’ll experiment with liturgical shenanigans—attending to the work of the Spirit in and through our holy play in the neighborhood of symbol, performance, embodiment, and transcendence. 1.5 cr
MN583 We All Worship: Disability and Worship
Description tba. 1.5 cr
MN585 Issues in Contemporary and Emerging Worship
Exploration of key issues in present-day liturgical enculturation – i.e., what it means for the church to worship authentically and faithfully in an increasingly postmodern world. We will attend to recent historically significant cultural impulses (e.g. the church growth movement, charismatic movement, liturgical renewal movement, and increasing cultural diversity). Then we will think seriously about the changing use of the arts (music and presentation technology) to express and shape the church’s devotion. Thirdly we will explore shifting postmodern paradigms of knowing, praying, and being-in-community in order to see how they affect the central worship practices of the church.
MN592 Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful Ministry
Carefully examines the role and use of language in worship, looking at Contemporary Worship Music, hymns, prayers, responsive readings, sermons, etc. Students renew appreciation for and understand the beauty and power of words in worship. They become better equipped, by inspiration and weekly exercises, to employ language more intentionally in worship preparation for the greater glory of God and the greater blessing of God’s people. 1.5 cr
MN594 Ancient Future Preaching
A course designed to provide each person with the time and space to explore and evaluate instincts and patterns of preaching in the earliest years of the Christian movement, with a view toward implementing them in the eerily similar social and cultural context(s) in which we find ourselves today.
MN121 Church Governance and Denominational Standards (required for RCA candidates)
Within the context of an overall theology of church governance, explores the candidate’s specific ecclesiastical tradition (including polity and standards) as a framework for mission.
MN450 RCA Polity
A survey of the Book of Church Order and the organizational theory, structure, and function of the Reformed Church in America. 3 cr (MFCA)
MN501 Multicultural Ministry: Theory and Practice
This course examines the paradigms, practices, and challenges of multicultural ministry with a particular focus on urban contexts. We begin the course by looking at biblical and theological paradigms related to multiculturalism followed by an examination of the role of race, ethnicity and cultural specificity in adhesion and tension within communities of faith. In the second half of the course we work toward understanding the intersections between multicultural realities and practical aspects of Christian ministry within the church.
MN503 Leadership Summit
This course is in partnership with the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit (GLS). Online course will occur prior to and after the intensive. The purpose of this course is to appreciatively and critically engage The Global Leadership Summit seeking to explore, question, and develop the skills, practices, and habits for leading Christian communities. Students participate in the summit (most often on-site in Barrington, IL). Attendance in the Summit is required to receive a grade for the course.
MN505 Leadership Development for Missional Congregational Ministry
Explores the integration of biblical hermeneutics, congregational leadership, and ministry practices. Focuses initially on the redemptive story arc of scripture as it informs community missional developments, followed by specific attention to congregational ministry initiatives, assessments, and outcomes.
MN508 Writing (and Reading) for the Pastoral Life
Ecclesiastes 12 says that there is no end to the making of many books, and in the pastoral life there is no end to the writing and saying of many words. Words have enormous power—after all, it was with words that God spoke his creation into being. This course will help students choose and use words with care and thoughtfulness. We will work toward becoming better writers (and readers), and in the process become better preachers, teachers and pastors. 1.5 cr
MN510 Foundations for Church Planting
Initiatives for planting new churches arise from particular notions about why it should be done, how it should be done, and what the outcome should look like. Such visions are diverse, and often unconsciously or uncritically assumed. This course examines what is at stake theologically and sociologically with particular choices regarding rationale, method, and aim. It culminates for each student in a position paper articulating a philosophy of church planting to which his or her sense of call corresponds. 1.5 cr
MN511 Spiritual Writing
An intensive creative workshop for those interested in writing, however tangentially, about matters of faith. We will focus our attention on nonfiction prose in which the writer’s own life experience or personal opinions are placed in the foreground. Students will consider the work of specific Christian authors. This course will suit those who enjoy literature, as well as those aspiring to publish or preach. No creative writing experience necessary. 1.5 cr
MN522 Ministry through Technology
This course will have a twofold focus on technology. First, it will entail an examination of Christian engagement with an increasingly technological world. Second, it will look at the practical use of technology in ministry. This will include ways in which technology can be effectively utilized to support ministry. 1.5 cr
MN523 Leader as Practical Theologian
This course introduces various models of practical theology, including confessional, congregational, feminist, and intercultural, with the goal of helping students develop their identity as Christian leaders. Students will learn hermeneutical lenses drawn from practical theology for leading communities of faith in the midst of crisis and change. Special attention will be given to integrating theology, the social sciences, and practices of ministry.
MN525 Power and Authority
Power and Authority are theological claims and sociological phenomena constantly at work in the life of the church, generally, and the pastoral vocation, specifically. Inherent to the church as “life together” are the ongoing negotiations of conferring authority (legitimacy) and exerting power (influence). This seminar course will examine power and authority biblically, theologically, and sociologically in expectation of deepening one’s understanding and practice of pastoral leadership.
MN539 Living the Christian Life According to Pop Christian Culture
Through generous and critical engagement with recent best-selling Christian books, this course will explore the different visions of living the Christian life that emerge. We will look at authors that “people in the pews” are reading, like Francis Chan, Bob Goff, Sarah Young, Rob Bell, Shane Claiborne, and Ann Voskamp. We will also engage with some theological, classical, and non-traditional Christian voices to explore their visions of the Christian life. Through this course students will be invited to practice reading with discernment, to articulate their convictions about living the Christian life, and to imagine how to encourage faithful living in their current and future ministry settings.
MN544 Human Sexuality
This course will deepen student understanding of human sexuality. Students will be invited to reflect on their personal narrative as it relates to sex and sexuality. Course topics will include sexuality and gender identity, sexual function, sexual compulsion, and sexual abuse. The role of desire and shame will be explored as they relate to human sexuality. Students will be encouraged reflect on internal responses in order to engage this vulnerable topic with empathy and curiosity. 1.5 cr
MN545 Asset-Based Community Development
In this course a student will learn principles and practices of Asset Based Community Development (ABCD), consider organizational options for hosting and implement-ing ABCD, and reimagine church as great neighbor and participant in ABCD. ABCD is a philosophy and way of life that intention-ally entwines my story, our neighborhood story, and God’s redemption story.
MN546 Ministry in the Urban Context
Leadership training for ministry in the urban context is the goal of this class. Areas of exploration will include administration, spirituality, self-care, youth ministry, evangelism, and the integration of theology and practice of ministry for the urban context.
MN564 Practice of Evangelism
The term “evangelism” is often perceived as a four-letter word, freighted with negative connotations in our society and even in church. In this course students will overview the biblical foundations of evangelism, consider different theologies and practices of evangelism across time periods, cultures, and Christian traditions. Students will also explore and evaluate theologies of conversion. Finally, students will develop and articulate a context-dependent theology of evangelism and will participate in the practice of evangelism. 1.5 cr
MN570 Worldview, Power and Desire: The Matrix of Leadership
We will read two significant recent reflections on culture and Christianity, discuss the implications of what they put forward, identify the implications for Christian formation, and express the outcomes for pastoral leadership. 1.5 cr
MN576 Culinary Culture in Black Religious Experience
This course will explore the historical, social, cultural, theological, ethnographic, and practical components of African American religious life and foodway culture. We will interrogate the convergence of food, faith, community, and identity formation. Particular attention will be paid to the historical relationship between eating and church life, highlighting diverse and creative forms of culinary expression in the African American faith tradition and the ways in which food becomes transformative for those struggling for human dignity. 1.5 cr
MN581 Ministry and Margins
Explores the boundary-crossing ministry of Jesus, in particular how he redefined the margin and the center with a Kingdom perspective. The class will consider ways in which ministry to and with those who are often marginalized in our society can amplify the witness of our congregations. People groups that are underserved include, but are not limited to, the elderly or homebound, people suffering from dementia, people in group homes, people struggling with literacy, people with disabilities, people living in poverty, immigrant communities, and people without homes. 1.5 cr
MN586 Disability and Community Supports
Inclusive faith communities have the power to touch the lives of people with disabilities and their families in multiple ways but often have a difficult time talking and working with “secular” agencies, providers and advocacy groups. This course explores the spiritual foundations in current issues in disability services and supports the potential roles of faith communities to address them, resources from other perspectives that congregations can use, and effective strategies for dialogue and partnership with non-faith based agencies and organizations. 1.5 cr
MN587 Living into Community: Friendship House
Course for those who want to deepen their pastoral sensitivities, leadership, identity and skill to and with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Intended for residents of Friendship House but is open to other interested students with the professor’s permission. 1.5 cr
MN588 Summer Institute on Theology and Disability Travel Seminar
The vision of the Summer Institute on Theology and Disability is to expand the depth and breadth of theological inquiry and resources that address and include the gifts, needs, and contributions of people with disabilities and their families to theological learning and religious practice. Event is four days and has included faculty such as Stanley Hauerwas, Hans Reinders, John Swinton, Amos Yong, Candida Moss, and Erik Carter. 1.5 cr
MN589 Reformed Church in America Studies
An intensive study of the history and life of the Reformed Church in America (RCA). Different instructors teach a four module sequence including RCA Polity, RCA Stand-ards, RCA History & Mission, and RCA Worship. Completing the modules prepares candidates for ministry in the RCA, for successful completion of classis examinations, and for full participation in the life of the denomination. 9 cr
MN590 Deaf Theology and Ministry
Course description tba. Course taught by Kirk Van Gilder, Assistant Professor of Religion, Gallaudet University 1.5 cr
MN591 Strategies for an Inclusive Church
This course addresses practical strategies and promising pathways for moving beyond proclamations of inclusiveness and toward practices of invitation, hospitality, and belonging. Students will learn about effective starting points, supports, and strategies for enabling people with disabilities and their families to participate deeply in congregational life and experience belonging within a church community. 1.5 cr
MN592 Practicing the Presence of People: Jean Vanier and the Ministry of Nurture
This course explores the unique vocation of practicing presence. Christians are called to the practice of God’s presence, but we in turn become that very presence to the other—the spouse and the stranger, persons with disabilities and the disenfranchised—whoever the “other” may be. In this course, we will explore the unique ministry of presence through Jean Vanier and L’Arche, communities of people with disabilities around the world. We will come to understand what “presence” means, how to identify obstacles to presence (in ourselves and in communities), and how to nurture a loving attentiveness to the other. 1.5 cr
Formation for Ministry Course Descriptions
FR101 Retreat for Christian Formation (J-Term)
A spiritual retreat using autobiography, peer engagement, and the spiritual disciplines to assist students in clarifying and embracing God’s call upon their lives. Also includes a module on personal and organizational finance. 1.5 cr
FR111 Intercultural Immersion Experience (J-Term)
Provides cognitive and experiential knowledge of the global character of the church’s witness and mission in North America and around the world, with concern for the problems and opportunities posed by cultural differences, secularism, social fragmentation, religious pluralism, and ecumenism.
FR116 Entering and Exploring Christian Ministry
This unit explores the elements of fruitful theological field education, the context for ministry is understood and the management of tasks and people for ministry is reviewed.
FR117, FR118, FR119 Engaging Christian Ministry I, II, III
Students write a learning covenant with a ministry focus that will further explore and deepen their sense of calling. 1.5 cr
FR121 Entering Christian Ministry
Students are assigned to a teaching church setting and are introduced to the dimensions of theological field education. 1.5 cr
FR122 Exploring Christian Ministry
Continuing the journey in formation for ministry, students explore basic ministerial tasks centered in congregational life. (However, many of these are transferable to any ministry or social service agency.) Exploring aspects of ministry with the help of pastor(s) and lay leaders facilitates clarity around the student’s call to ministry. Students learn and grow to appreciate these service elements of ministry that are often unseen but essential for effective Christian ministry. There are three components: the Teaching Church (a supervised ministry setting), a peer group commitment, and course assignments. 1.5 cr
FR123 Engaging Christian Ministry
Students are given the opportunity to engage deeply in a ministry competency they are passionate about or have been longing to explore. After being sagely directed into the practice of Christian ministry in FR121 and 122; students embrace their learning in this self-directed opportunity in a ministry setting. Each student designs a learning covenant with a mentor focusing on a ministry area such as: Preaching and Worship, Leadership and Administration, Evangelism, Social Justice/Advocacy, Education and Faith Formation, Pastoral Care or Cross-cultural Competency. Both FR123 and 124 are completed in one semester in an internship commitment of 100 hours. 1 cr
FR124 Leading Christian Ministry
Students write a learning covenant with a ministry focus that will further explore and deepen their sense of calling and understanding of pastoral leadership. 1.5 cr
FR125 Advanced Practice of Christian Ministry
This 400-hour full-time supervised ministry experience requires the student to exercise a wide range of ministerial skills at the highest personal, professional, and pastoral levels. This requirement may be satisfied in a number of settings including participation in Clinical Pastoral Education, parachurch ministries, cross-cultural ministries, and congregational ministry. Due to the significant level of ministerial and educational investment, it is highly recommended that the student invest time in a discernment process with the Formation for Ministry office before selecting a placement. This learning experience will be evaluated by the student, a supervising mentor, and a lay support committee.
FR130A&B Internship I FR131A&B Internship II
The embedded internship allows the WTS-Newbigin student to utilize his or her existing ministry setting in a church plant, renewal city, or city-center as the internship setting. Students serve at least 125 hours per semester for four semesters. Students will be introduced to the missional vision and practices of church leadership, church planting and urban church renewal in their Newbigin coursework and will process the leadership experience alongside a mentor and peer cohort. A third component of the embedded internship will focus on issues of ongoing spiritual and ministerial formation.
Master of Theology Course Descriptions
MT210 Orientation Seminar
This seminar orients incoming students to the Th.M. program, to life at Western Theological Seminary, and to the larger academic world of the theological disciplines. Forms a “community of scholars” in which scholarly reflection on intercultural issues is engaged. Creates new configurations of self-understanding for theological reflection in community and introduces the philosophy, format, and thesis requirements of the Th.M. program. Meets annually during the last two weeks in August. 1 cr
MT220 Research Design
Assists the Th.M. students in the preparation of a thesis proposal by introducing the basics of academic research and writing. By the end of the course the student 1) will be able to construct a well-designed research proposal; 2) will be familiar with basic strategies and tools for research and academic writing; and 3) will plan a research strategy for writing a Th.M. research paper or thesis. Meets monthly during the first semester. 1.5 cr
MT235 Seminar in Theological Method
What makes one statement, opinion, or argument better or wiser than another in the fields of theology, biblical studies, ethics or practical theology? How does one best understand how scripture, tradition, reason, experience, context, and future function as authorities or factor into our understandings? We take up these difficult methodological questions and come to provisional answers, drawing from both trusted traditional understandings and contemporary discussions.
MT250 Seminar in Intercultural Hermeneutics
Explores and applies methodologies for the interpretation of Scripture in intercultural contexts and addresses the interaction of gospel and culture in intercultural dialogue. Meets during the January-term. 1.5 cr.
MT254 Preliminary Exam
A faculty advisor and a faculty colleague, in consultation with the candidate, assign discipline and research-related bibliographies which reflect major contributors, methodological issues and current questions within a particular discipline and research topic. This directed study culminates in the preliminary exam.
MT255 Independent Research
In the event that courses critical to a Th.M. candidate’s program are unavailable within current curriculum offerings, the candidate may request one independent study in a particular field of inquiry within the chosen focus area. It may be done only with the consent of a professor who provides guidance and evaluation and only with the approval of the Academic Dean. It may combine course materials from a required M.Div. course with additional independent work, at the professor’s discretion.
A major research paper, which builds upon and extends in a focused area the knowledge and critical ability gained in the basic divinity degree, and includes the Th.M. coursework. The topic and plan are subject to the approval of the Th.M. Committee. The candidate’s Faculty Advisor, in conjunction with a Second Reader, provides guidance for the research. 6 cr
MT260A Research Paper
A major research paper, which builds upon and extends in a focused area the knowledge and critical ability gained in the basic divinity degree, and includes the Th.M. coursework. The topic and plan are subject to the approval of the Th.M. Committee. The candidate’s Faculty Advisor, in conjunction with a Second Reader, provides guidance for the research.
Young Life Courses
Courses offered in conjunction with Young Life
BL104-YL Introduction to Old Testament
An introduction to the content, history, and theological dynamism of the writings of the Old Testament, with a view to appropriating the message of the Old Testament for today.
Bl632-YL Proclaiming Christ
Young Life course on communicating Christ to the Adolescent Culture
BL633-YL Gospel and Acts
Introduction and survey of the New Testament Gospels and Acts. Course will examine methodologies for the study of the Gospels, historical and cultural settings, the unique portrait of Jesus, and narrative theology of the Gospels and Acts.
FR110A-YL Leadership I
Course designed to equip individuals to lead an effective incarnational ministry with young people. Trainers in the field lead students through a curriculum in which action and reflection are emphasized.
FR110B-YL Leadership II
Building volunteer teams for ministry is an important element of the course. Focus is given to spiritual development of the student, the ministry of discipleship, and administration.
MN104-YL Minister as Person
This course provides an integrated overview of the process of human development in various social contexts with particular emphasis on implications for people in full time ministry.
MN514-YL Introduction to Youth Ministry
Course gives an overview of contemporary culture, especially as it affects youth ministry, and provides historical and theological youth ministry concepts and grounding.
MN535-YL Supervision and Organizational Leadership
Focus on the theory, reflection, and practice of effective supervision in ministry. Students will explore the philosophical foundations for effective organizational leadership, as well as practical guidance on issues such as personal leadership style, the emotional intelligence of the leader, team building, conflict resolution, interviewing, placement, delegation, supervision, and evaluation.
MN536-YL Equipping Leaders who Volunteer
Course designed to develop Young Life staff into effective volunteers.
MN537-YL Youth Ministry/Community Development
This course grants credit for those who attend the Area Director Training for YL staff.
TH115-YL Systematic Theology I
Course designed to introduce Young Life staff to the discipline of theology. Its goal is to help students cultivate their capacity to think about Christianity, particularly as this relates to topics of method, God and Revelation, creation, and humankind and sin.
TH502-YL Kingdom of God and Cultural Intelligence Description tba
TH503-YL Christology, Soteriology and Pneumatology
Course designed to assist Young Life staff to think, pray, speak, and mentor as Trinitarian Christians conformed to the image of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.