Philosophy and Systematic Theology

  • STH TT 731: Theology & World Religions
    As students, scholars, spiritual seekers and religious leaders we live in a modern world manifesting many forms of diversity. One key form of this diversity is religious pluralism. We become more and more aware that that, for instance, all the historical religions of the world now comprise the spiritual mosaic of spiritual life in North America. This course provides an overview of the historical development of the world's religions in order to better understand the current spiritual pluralism of North America. While the history of world religions does not explain everything that is happening in the lives of modern religious people, informed understanding of these religions is still essential for anyone who seeks to dialogue in a meaningful fashion with a person of another faith tradition. The course will focus on both the emic (inner dimensions) and etic (outer dimensions) of the historical and spiritual development of the world's religions. We will stress the differences as well as the similar features of the religions. We will also ask genuine theological questions because we live, work, communicate and minister in diverse religious communities of faith. (Requires TF 701/TF 702 as prerequisite.)
  • STH TT 732: History of Christian Theology in Philosophical Perspective
    In its nearly two-millennium long history, Christian theology has been shaped by its dynamic engagements with (and in) various traditions of philosophical reflection. In this course, students will examine how four such traditions--Platonic, Aristotelian, Kantian/Phenomenological, and Marxist/Critical--have influenced (and been influenced by) theological questions, concepts, and modes of discourse. Thinkers from ancient, medieval, Reformation, modern, and postmodern periods will be studied, with emphasis on historical and social settings. (Requires TF 701/TF 702 as prerequisite.)
  • STH TT 733: Constructive Theology
    This course introduces students to the major themes of Christian theology with the aim of providing them with a framework for effective and faithful theological reflection. Beginning with revelation and ending with eschatology, we follow a familiar progression in the study of systematic theology, examining modern and postmodern theological perspectives on God, creation, human nature, sin, Christology, ecclesiology and other doctrinal loci. The methodological approach is constructive, in that emphasis is placed on helping students integrate central issues of faith in response to contemporary issues. (Requires TF 701/TF 702 as prerequisite.)
  • STH TT 803: Resurrection: Eschatology for the 21st Century
    TBA
  • STH TT 805: The Theology and Ethics of Reinhold and H. Richard Niebuhr
    The purpose of this course is three-fold: (a) to understand the methodologies of each of the Niebuhr brothers; (b) to discern their similarities and differences; (c) to assess the extent to which the thought of each may or may not be a helpful resource for analyzing contemporary moral problems and providing ethical guidelines for their resolution. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 806: Theology and Literature
    This course explores the theological relevance of literature through an examination of contemporary fiction and examines the benefits and limitations of writing theology in the form of fiction. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 811: Mysticism & Philosophy: Jewish and Islamic Perspectives
    Thematic introduction to mysticism and philosophy, with a focus on dynamics of religious experience. Readings from medieval Jewish and Islamic philosophy; Sufi mysticism and philosophy; Kabbalah, Biblical interpretation, Sufi poetry, Hebrew poetry from the Golden Age of Muslim Spain.
  • STH TT 812: Eastern Religions
  • STH TT 813: Proseminar in Science and Religion
    Quantum entanglement is one of the most remarkable ideas to have emerged from physics in the twentieth century. Identified as a consequence of quantum theory already in the 1920s, it was not confirmed as a physical phenomenon until the 1980s. The broader implications of living in an "entangled" world are only beginning to be felt outside the walls of physics. This course explores the significance of quantum entanglement for theological reflection on creaturely and divine relationality. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 815: Introduction to Chinese Religion
    An introduction to the history of the intellectual and spiritual development of the Confucian tradition from its beginnings to the modern period in China, Korea, and Japan. Special emphasis is placed on the classical and Neo-Confucian phases, as well as on contemporary Confucian-Christian dialogue. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 816: Atheisms and Theologies
    The general aim of this course is learn about varieties of atheism-older "classic atheism," so-called "new atheism" of recent years, and theologically inspired forms of atheism-and to understand the various theological responses to atheism. Questions of particular importance are: (1) How strong are traditional and new atheistic arguments? (2) Where does or should theology stand in relation to the arguments of atheism? (3) What are the origins of modern atheism? (4) Should postmodern mystical theologies and iconoclastic anti-anthropomorphic theologies that reject a determinate divine being be considered atheistic? If so how does this sort of atheism relate to other types? The class is intended for advanced masters students and doctoral candidates interested in con-temporary theology and its conceptual roots in older theological debates. Meets with STH TT 956. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 818: Development of Christian Thought: The Holy Spirit
    A re-examination of Spirit is essential to post-9/11 Christianity and an understanding of God's presence and activity in our time. This course explores this claim and seeks to provide students with both a historical and constructive study of a doctrine of the Holy Spirit. Tracking the Spirit through the Christian tradition, from the biblical texts in Genesis to the present day, we will focus on the major movements in which a doctrine of the Spirit takes precedence, i.e. the Reformation, Quakerism, the Holiness movement, Pentecostalism, and African-American gospel traditions. Exploring the rich textual imagery and embodied testimonies associated with Spirit, we will explore the connections between Spirit and issues of justice, reconciliation, suffering, and healing. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 819: Institute for Philosophy and Religion
    This course, taught in the fall, runs in tandem with the annual program of the Institute for Philosophy and Religion (www.bu.edu/ipr) and affords students the opportunity for in-depth exploration of the issues and texts related to each year's series.
  • STH TT 821: Topics in Philosophy of Religion: Philosophical Theology
    Philosophical theology in this course will be treated as systematic inquiry into first-order religious questions, including the nature of religion as well as the disciplines necessary to treat the second- and third-order issues that come up in dealing with the first-order questions. A theory of religion will be presented and illustrated with philosophical treatments of ultimate realities, religious experience, engagement of ultimate realities, proofs for ultimate realities, mysticism, the religious problematics of righteousness, wholeness of self, engagement of others, the meaning of life, existential predicaments, religious ecstatic fulfillments, disciplines for understanding religion, religious values, contemporary problems of religious participation, and what to do in the face of the implosion of religious worldviews. This is a philosophical theology related to world religions and is not confessional. It aims at comparative religious erudition and attempts to address any audience of thinkers interested in the outcome, not any one religious community. Texts are the instructor's three-volume Philosophical Theology.
  • STH TT 824: Scientific Approach to Religion
    This seminar examines interpretations of religious beliefs, behaviors, and experiences deriving from the biological, evolutionary, psychological, cognitive, neurological, and medical sciences. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 825: John Wesley's Theology Today
    The theology of John Wesley, though projected from an historical past, is a living and dynamic force in contemporary theology. This course examines the primary doctrinal, methodological, and practical commitments of John Wesley?s theology as developed in his sermons, hymns, writings, and life-praxis. The course also explores contemporary trends in Methodism and in Wesleyan theology more generally as they attempt to respond to the present theological situation and to the future prospects of a Christian faith lived out in the twenty-first century. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 826: Political Theology
    Recent developments across a variety of disciplines have led to deep and widespread interest in "political theology" -- a diverse range of approaches to interrogating, (re)imagining, and (de)constructing the intersection of politics, religion, and theology, present and past. Scholars have argued that dominant paradigms of sovereignty, the secular, modernity, and liberalism are themselves secularized, corrupted, or otherwise transformed versions of Jewish and Christian theology. Others contend that modern political practices and paradigms represent not the legacy of early modern secularization but the trail of an early modern reinjection of theology in political and social theory. Others still find in the practices of contemporary communities lived political theologies that subvert existing power structures and cast doubt on common conceptions of contemporary political life and possibilities. This course examines these competing developments, readings, and proposals; their interactions; and the contested histories, theories, and values that underwrite them. Considering political theology as both a historical and contemporary phenomenon and engaging a range of perspectives and figures, the course also considers relations and interactions between political theology and other approaches to questions of "religion and politics."
  • STH TT 827: Jewish and Christian Justice
    In this jointly-taught seminar, we will explore the lives and work of six influential Jewish and Christian figures involved in social and environmental activism in the 20th and 21st centuries. We will delve into the autobiographies, biographies and writings of six selected figures, encountering and analyzing the social-religious contexts in which they lived, their theological and ethical commitments, and the dynamics of individual and communal transformation revealed in their lives. Further, we will analyze how the ideas and experiences of these individuals illumine contemporary social and environmental issues and point to potential responses by religious seekers and leaders, with particular attention to Jewish and Christian communities. The seminar is designed as an interreligious, cross-cultural encounter, and will encourage students to explore the values, ideas and practices of their own communities; to share in a common meal each week and other traditional practices; and to explore resonances and differences across communities and contexts, as revealed in the individuals we study and in our own lived experiences.
  • STH TT 828: Liberal Evangelical Christianity
    The general aim of this course is to learn about the history, sociology, theology, and ethics of the tension between liberals and evangelicals that has persisted among Protestant Christians within the United States, under various names, since early in the nineteenth century. The specific aim is to situate a variety of moderate possibilities within this tension. These range from mid- twentieth-century movements such Neo- Evangelicalism (represented by Billy Graham and Carl Henry, among others) and the hearty reception of famous preacher Harry Emerson Fosdick, who defined himself as 'liberal evangelical'; through the revolutionary social visions of evangelicals such as Ron Sider and Tony Campolo, the cultural critique of Jim Wallis and the Sojourners Community, and the Christian pacificism of Anabaptists such as John Howard Yoder; to the green evangelicals, liberal evangelicals, evangelical liberals, progressive evangelicals, and radical moderates of today. The class is intended for master's students interested in the liberal-evangelical tension and especially in the prospects for transcending that tension both in individual faith identities and in congregational contexts. The class should help participants become more articulate communicators and more effective leaders around issues bearing on this tension. (Requires TF 701/702 or equivalent)
  • STH TT 829: Thomas Aquinas
    Thomas Aquinas is one of the most important figures in the history and development of Western philosophy and Christian theology. On nearly everything he writes about -- from virtue to the sacraments, metaphysics of identity to the incarnation, war to soteriology -- he has something interesting, important, and illuminating to say. And whether one agrees with his particular conclusions or not, it is difficult to engage his work without growing as a thinker and reader. This doctoral seminar constitutes an extended engagement with Thomas's thought, primarily through attention to his Summa theologiae. Engagement with secondary sources will be sparing so as to keep our focus on the text itself. We will be reading with an eye to understanding Thomas both on his own terms and as a resource for contemporary work in philosophy, theology, and religious studies. The course's focus this year is on Thomas's ethics (especially his conceptions of virtue, habit, and human action); the relations between his ethics and his overarching theological and intellectual project; and the ongoing philosophical and theological interest of these dimensions of his thought. The course is suitable both for advanced Aquinas students as well as those new to his thought.