FEBRUARY 1994 Supersedes all previous printings
BIBLICAL AND THEOLOGICAL STUDIES (BTS-B, BTS-T) (Core Studies)
Biblical and Theological Studies: This requirement consists of:
A. Religion 121, The Bible in Culture and Community, taken in the first year (BTS-B);
B. A course on Christian theology that engages students in theological reflection and acquaints them with efforts to understand the essential content of Christian belief in a critical, coherent manner (BTS-T).
B. Christian Theology (BTS-T):
- Christian theology may be defined as critical and normative reflection on the Christian church's teaching.
- Since the heart of the church's teaching is the biblical God and this God's Christ, this course must be explicitly and thematically concerned with the biblical God and Jesus the Christ.
- Theological reflection on God and Christ is distinguished from other possible modes of reflection on the same matters by being critical and normative.
- The course must involve exposure to substantial parts of the existing theological tradition.
Comments: (Numbers correlate to numbered guidelines)
1. This definition of Christian theology is the broadest and most formal possible. It is suited to the needs of undergraduate education by its ability to comprehend theological self-understandings that might otherwise reject each other.
2. The phrase, "Christian theology," itself stipulates this guideline: the discourse ("logos") to be cultivated is about God ("theos") as qualified by reference to Christ.
3. Not every course about religion or even the Christian religion can fit under this rubric. The course is one "in Christian theology." The words "critical" and "normative" serve to capture the distinction of theology from other modes of reflection on the same matter.
Theology is critical in that the Christian church's discourse about God and Christ claims to be meaningful and true. We may and must ask such questions as: How, if at all, is what the church has taught about God and Christ meaningful? Is what the church has taught about God and Christ true to God and Christ? Is it true at all? How would one answer any of these questions?
Christian theological reflection is normative in that it intends to shape the church's continuing discourse about God and Christ. Theology asks the question: What should Christians say in future, if they wish to speak truly about God and Christ?4. Christian theology is a temporally extended and multi-cultural discussion about the church's discourse of God and Christ. A course satisfying this requirement will introduce students into this discussion by presentation of classic movements or representatives of the tradition.