IF Course Descriptions

IF 550 Theology and Theological Language (Required; 1.0 credit)

– This course is the prerequisite for all other theology courses.  In this course students will be introduced to the basic vocabulary, concepts, paradigms and figures central to studying and practicing theology.

Prerequisite:  None

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IF 552 Theology of Sermons (Required; 0.5 credit)

– Theology is essential for effective preaching.  Students will survey a range of theological approaches to preaching, identify conversation partners within this spectrum, and develop a critical definition of their own approach to preaching.

Prerequisite:  IF 550

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IF 553 Made in the Image of God:  Theological Anthropology (Required; 1.0 credit)

– This course is a close consideration of the doctrine of theological anthropology:  the study of human beings as a creation of God.  Students will be introduced to the essential questions theologians answer in studying human beings theologically as well as historical and contemporary answers to those questions.

Prerequisite:  IF 550

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IF 554 The Nature of God:  Theology (Required; 1.0 credit)

– In this course we will be considering traditional and contemporary understandings of the nature and work of God.  We will look at ideas about creation and providence, God’s dual nature as both immanent and transcendent, theodicy and the nature of God as Trinity.

Prerequisite:  IF 550

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IF 555 “One Bread, One Body”: Theology of the Church (Required; 1.0 credit)

In this course we will pay attention to the curious institution that is the church.  Most of the time we take church for granted, but when we think about its call, to be both relevant and prophetic, to be grounded in the world with eyes toward the Kingdom of God, it looks not only odd, but maybe impossible.  Yet, this is the community Christ called, so we continue to do the best we can in faith that our work will be made right by God. To think about the church, we will study the ways theologians have dealt with difficult questions of how to “be” church and we will apply those theological glimmers to a focused study of our own congregations.

Prerequisite:  IF 550

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IF 556 “Why Do You Say That I Am?”: Christology;   IF 558   God Save Us:  Soteriology (On campus intensive; required; 1.0 credit each)

– This course combines two separate but closely related theological doctrines: the study of Christ (his two natures, his works, his death, his place in the Trinity) with a study of salvation, how Christ’s death brings atonement, who is saved and the nature of heaven and hell.

Prerequisite:  IF 550

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IF 557 Theology and Pastoral Care:  Discussing Suffering and Hope (Required; 1.0 credit)

 

– There is no easy answer to the question “Why?” when a child dies, or a house burns or cancer is diagnosed.  As preachers, teachers and care-givers, it is our responsibility to learn when and how to respond and when and how to stay silent.  In this course we will think about God’s role in suffering and in hope.  We will think about ways that we can help people (including ourselves) reflect on struggle and on the cultivation of hope.  We will by-pass any answers that only serve to make us, the care-givers, feel better and focus instead on the deep theological resource that can be brought to bear as we negotiate life.

Prerequisite:  IF 550

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IF 559 Beyond the Pulpit:  Teaching Theology in the Church (Optional; 0.5 credit)

– In this course we will create tools that will help you encourage your congregation to reflect theologically, without causing them to fire you.  We will look at ways to help them discern the theologies they already possess as well as to introduce them to forms of theological thinking that may help them navigate their faith lives.

Prerequisite:  IF 550

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IF 570 The Church and Homosexuality (Optional; 1 credit)

– According to Rev. Cynthia Breen, “Sexuality is simply too important, too beautiful and too potentially dangerous to be ignored in a religious community.” (Gibb, 1999) At no time has this sentiment been more accurate than it is today.  Families, churches and denominations have split over issues related to homosexuality and the will of God.  It is imperative that in order to address the divides that presently exist and help to heal all those who live in pain because of these divides, that those who lead the church must become literate about all aspects of the conversation.  This is what we will do in this course.  You will leave this course supplied with information to help lead your congregations in dialogue around issues related to the church and homosexuality.

Prerequisite:  IF 550

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IF 571 African-American/Womanist Theology (Optional; 0.5 credit)

– In this course we will examine the rise and present state of African-American theology from James Cone to Jeremiah Wright. We will also look at the theologies developed by African Americans (called ‘womanist’ theology) which black women forged in response to what they have called their “triple oppression”: being female, being black and being poor.  Neither the theologies of black men (African American theology) nor white women (feminist theology) directly addressed the blessings and burdens of being a black woman in dominantly white culture.

Prerequisite:  IF 550

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IF 572 Caring for Creation: “Greening” the Church (Optional; 0.5 credit)

– In her 1993 constructive theological offering, The Body of God, environmental theologian Sallie McFague asks us to imagine how we would treat the earth differently if we understood it to be God’s body.  Now, in the face of potentially devastating global climate change, threats to sensitive ecosystems and challenges to the purity of air and water we will leave for our children, churches are acting more intentionally to care for this Sacred Body.  In this course, students will read offerings from Christian ethicists, environmental theologians and Christian environmental activists which make evident our responsibilities to the earth in the name of God.  From these, students will not only leave the course with theological tools to address environmental issues, but with plans for helping their churches and agencies begin to create necessary changes.

Prerequisite:  IF 550

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IF 573 Preaching Metaphor (Optional; 0.5 credit)

Building on the work students did in the very first theology course, Theology and Theological Language, students will learn how the metaphorical nature of the religious language can be best used and elaborated on in creating sermons.

Prerequisite:  IF 550

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