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  • TH603CONTEMPORARYTHEOLOGYANDTHEOLOGIANS

    Fall,2014:GordonConwellTheologicalSeminary

    BostonCampus/CenterforUrbanMinisterialEduation.

    WilliamDavidSpencerandAthanasianScholars

    OverviewofClassSessions

    Class1:Tues.,Nov.4,610p.m.Topic:TheRootsofContemporaryTheology.

    DoingTheology:OpeningDiscussionSession:IsFaithbasedScholarshipPossible?

    IntroductoryLecture:AHistoryofContemporaryTheology

    ReadingAssignment:Ford,Bultmann(Erickson),seedetailsunderclassdescriptions.

    WritingAssignment:Beginworkonpositionpaper(tobehandedinclass#3)orbeginworkonpersonaltheology(thosewishingtowaiveTheology3requirement[pleasenotepermissionneededbeforetakingclass]).

    Class2:Tues.,Nov11:610p.m.Topic:IsJesustheOneandOnlyWaytoSalvation?

    DiscussionQuestion:ShouldtheChristianChurchbeChristomonistic?

    ReadingAssignment:Ford(Erickson)

    WritingAssignment:Beginhandinginpositionpaper(orpersonaltheology).Writereadingassessment#1.

  • Class3:Tues.,Nov18:610p.m.Topic:TheNatureandImpactofContemporaryTheology.

    DiscussionQuestion:ScriptureandAuthority:ShouldtheBibleberewritten?

    Lecture:ModernintoPostmodernTheology

    ReadingAssignment:Spencer,Goddess,Ford(Erickson)

    WritingAssignment:Finishpositionpaper(orpersonaltheology).Writereadingassessment#2.

    Class6:Tuesday,December2DiscussionQuestion:TheproblemwiththeDreadJesus:CantrueChristiansexistinotherfaiths?

    Lecture:IsJesustheGlobalMessiah?ThePlaceofJesusChristinworldreligions.

    ReadingAssignment:OMeara(Erickson)WritingAssignment:Revisework

    Class4:Tues.,Nov.25:610p.m.Topic:TheFalloutofLiberalTheology.

    DiscussionandLecture:BiblicalIgnorance/ContemporaryDoubt,theOccultandtheSearchforSalvation.TheGoddessRevivalversustheGodoftheBible.

    ReadingAssignment:Spencer,Dread,Ford(Erickson).

    WritingAssignment:Handinbothreadingassessments.

    Class#5:Monday,December1:StudentInterviews.Seeclasssignupsheetfortimes.

    Class7:Tues.,Dec.9:610p.m.Topic:Cyberfaiths:thereligionsoftheMetaverse,ArtificialIntelligence,Robotics,theimagoDei,theDoctrineofHumanity;VastUniverseandtheCosmicFutureofTheology. WritingAssignment:Allredoingsdue(accompaniedbyoriginaldraftandcoversheet).

  • CourseDescription:Accordingtothecatalog,Thiscourseexaminescontemporarytheologythroughtheworkofseveralcontemporarypractitionersoftheology.Ofparticularinterestisthedisciplineoftheologyinthelast30years.

    CourseObjective:GordonConwellTheologicalSeminaryistheflagshipseminaryofthehistoricallyorthodoxEvangelicalmovement.Theobjectiveofthiscourseistoassiststudentsinexaminingandevaluatingcurrenttheologicaltrendsand,throughclassassignments,lectures,guideddiscussions,tobecomethemselvestheologianswhowillguideothersbytheapplicationofhistoricorthodoxytocontemporaryissues.Thiscoursefulfillstheobjectiveofgoal#1ineachofthedegreeprograms,helpingstudentsunderstandthehistoricalandtheologicaldimensionsoftheChristianfaith,bycarefullyexplainingtheprogressofChristiantheologicalthinkingfromthebeginningofthemodernera,inthetimeofWilliamofOckhaminthe1280s,onthrough2012andthespeculationsofThomasOMeara,OP,andthechallengestorefinetheologicalthinkinginlightofrecentadvancesincosmologyandastronomy.Goal#2(MDiv,MAYM,goal#3inMAEM,goal#5inMACO),fosteringloveforGodandhiswordisaddressedspecificallyinclasses2,6,7,asweexaminetheuniquenessofJesusandthereliabilityoftheBibleinthecontextofcontemporarydoubt,thechallengeofotherreligions,andthespeculationsofsecularscience.Goal#5(MDiv,MAYM,MAEM,goals#67inMACO)areaddressedinclasses4and6andinthecourseassignmentsbyintroducingamethodologybywhichtoanalyzeworldviews,andwhichstudentswillpracticeintheirassignments.ThismethodologyrefinestheintroductoryinterpretiveprincipletaughtinSystematicTheology1,anddevelopedinSystematicTheology2(addressingquestionsfromtheattributesofGod).

    FulfillmentoftheMissionStatement:Article1concernsstudentsobtainingknowledgeofGodsinerrantWordandcompetenceinitsinterpretation,proclamation,andapplicationinthecontemporaryworld.SincethenatureoftheauthorityofScriptureisakeypointofcontentionbetweenmoreconservativeandmoreliberalChristians,wewillincludelecturematerialonthetopicinclasses1,2,and3,aswellasaclassdiscussionontheissuesinvolvedinrewritingtheBibleinclass3.Article2onmaintainingacademicexcellenceisensuredbythepainstakingmannerinwhichIhaverevisedthiscourse,thehighqualityofassignedreadings,thecuttingedgematerialsutilized,andthecarefullycoordinatedassignmentsdesignedtomovestudentstobecomescholarsequippedtowrestlewithbothprimaryandsecondarysourcedata.Articles3and4areaddressedintheassignments,whicharegearedtohelpstudentsstrengthenthepersonalapplicationoftheirfaithbyhavingittestedwithinguidedclasssessions.Lecturesandclassexercisesencouragethemtoapplywhattheyhavelearnedinclasstoeducatingtheirparishionersafterclassisfinished.Classes4,6,7aredesignedtoeducatestudentsonthevarietyofChristianpositionsincontemporarytheologyandtherebyhelpthemdistinguishtheirEvangelicalworldview.Thewritingassignmentsandguided

  • discussionsareincludedwithintheeducationalprocesstoconfirmtheresult.Article6ontheglobalimplicationsoftheologyisthesubjectofclass6.

    RequiredTexts:inorderofuse.

    DavidF.FordwithRachelMuers:TheModernTheologians(Blackwell:2005)(readingassignmentsarecoordinatedwiththe3rdedition),ISBN1405102772(withreferencetoMillardErickson,ChristianTheology,2nded.(Baker:1998),ISBN1080102182O.

    RudolfBultmann,NewTestamentandMythology(Fortress,1984),ISBNN0800624424.

    AdaBesanonSpencer,TheGoddessRevival(Wipf&Stock,2010),ISBN9761605999217.

    WilliamDavidSpencer,DreadJesus(Wipf&Stock,1999,2011),ISBN9751610972567.

    ThomasF.OMeara,OP,VastUniverse(Liturgical,2012),ISBN69B9780814680476.

    ForthosewishingtoapplytosubstituteContemporaryTheologyfortheSystematic3requirement:

    MillardJ.Erickson,ChristianTheology(readingassignmentsarecoordinatedwiththe2ndedition),ISBN0801021820.

    CourseRequirements:

    1. Readingallassignmentsisessentialtosuccessinthisclassasyourwrittenassignmentswillkeyofftherequiredreadingsandseminarsessionswillbebasedonthem.

    2. Writingassignmentswillbeonepositionpaperof810pages,informedbyyourclassreadingandthelecturesanddiscussions,and2briefanalysisworksheets(35pages)analyzing2oftherequiredreadingbooks.Pleasestayuptodateoncompletingthesewritingassignments,astheywillhelpyouparticipateinthediscussionsessions.(ThosewhoareapprovedtosubstitutethiscourseforSystematicTheology3willdoapersonaltheologypaperinplaceofthepositionpaper.)

    3. Attendancewillalsobeveryimportantandwillbetakenintoaccountingrading.

    4. Grading:Thepositionpaperwillcomprise60%ofyourgrade,eachanalysessheet20%,attendanceandreadingwillbefiguredinasswingfactors.

    StudentsapplyingtosubstituteContemporaryTheologyfortheSystematicTheology3requirementmustdothefollowing:

  • 1. ReadtheadditionalpagesinEricksoncoveringthetopicsofTheology3.(Pleasenote:thesehavebeencoordinatedwiththeappropriateclasssessionssothattheyenhanceyourunderstandingratherthandistractyouwithadditionalirrelevantdata,e.g.classsession7,whichdealswiththefutureofdoctrine,iscoordinatedwiththeTheology3requiredreadingoneschatology,thestudyoftheendtimes.)

    2. StudentsmustelectthePersonalTheologyassignmentfortheirlargerpositionpaper.

    ClassSessions:

    CLASS1.Hours:6:0010:00p.m.Tuesdayevening,NOVEMBER6

    Introductorylecture:Thegoalofthiscourseistogivestudentsaworkingintroductiontothecurrentstateoftheologyoutsideofclassicevangelicalorthodoxy,therebypreparingstudentstoexplainanddefendthebiblicalfaithinthewiderpostmoderntheologicalarena.Therefore,beginningin1280A.D.withWilliamofOckham,thisandclass#3willtracethedevelopmentofmoderntheologyfromitsrootstothepresentday.Class#1willexamineWilliamstheoryofvoluntarismanddistrustofreason,assessitsimpactonthereformers,examinetheenlightenmentanditsquestioningofreason,Kantscritiquesofreasonandattempttodistinguishsciencefromfaith,SchliermachersapplicationofKantstheoriestoChristianity,RitschlversusTroeltshs3lawsofinquiry,theriseanddeathofoldschoolliberalism,asavictimofthe2worldwars,withspecialattentiontoliberalismsinabilitytoresistcoopting.WewillthenanalyzetheriseofneoorthodoxyinBarth,andthemovementcalledHeilsgeschicte(SalvationHistory),Bultmannsexistentialtheology,Tillich,andtheneoornewschoolliberalism.Theclasswillpauseforareviewofthesyllabusandassignmentsandwillincludeanexplanationofwhattheprofessorhopesstudentswillgainfromthecourse:tolearnbycontentandguidedpracticetodotheologyfromanhistoricallyorthodox,evangelicalpositionandtherebybecometheologians.

    RequiredReadingAssignment:Ford,MODERNTHEOLOGIANS:Introductionpp.117,Epilogue760761,Chap.17Texts,Truth,andSignification:BiblicalInterpretation287304,RudolfBultmann,NEWTESTAMENTANDMYTHOLOGY:143.

    (RecommendedReading:Studentswishinggreaterdepthofunderstandingareencouragedtoreadtheindividualchapters13onBarth,Bonhoeffer,TillichinFordsbookandtosamplebooksbytheseinfluentialtheologiansintheCUMElibrary.)

    Usethefollowinginterpretivemethodologyasatooltoanalyzeeachreadingstheology:

  • 1.Report(donotevaluateyet):whatisthecontent,approach,methodology?Whatarethemotivatingconcerns?

    2.WhatistheBest:whatcanbeliftedoutforEvangelicals?

    3.WhatistheRest:Whatisinerrorthatweshoulddiscard?

    Trytodiscoverthefollowingfacets:

    *WhatistheviewofGod?IsitfullyTrinitarian?IstheviewofGodsimilartosomeviewalreadypresentinChristianhistory?Isitorthodoxorheretical?

    *WhatistheviewofScripture?HowauthoritativeistheBibleregardedtobe?HowdoestheAuthor'sviewcomparewiththeBible'sview?Givesomespecificexamples.

    *WhatistheviewofJesus?Istheviewhistoricallyorthodoxorheterodox?

    *Whatistheviewoftheatonement?IstheatonementsufficientlydonebyChristorissomethingmoreneeded?

    Askthefollowingquestions:

    1.Whataretheauthor'sconcerns?Whatdoestheauthorcareabout?Whatisimportanttotheauthor?

    2.Whatisthepersonalhistoricalcontextoftheauthoras(s)hewritesthebook?Whywasi

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