Philosophy and Systematic Theology

  • STH TT 948: Advanced Systematic Theology III: Sanctification and Religious Life
    Study of both personal and communal dimensions of the religious life. Examines the church and the religious practices of ritual, symbol making, and paths of spiritual perfection. Develops a systematic doctrine of the Holy Spirit and the church.
  • STH TT 949: Hermeneutics for Teaching and Preaching
    The purpose of this course is to hone skills at the doctoral level in various tasks of hermeneutics (fancy word for interpretation) necessary for preaching and religious education. Religious life has both ultimate predicaments and ultimate ecstatic fulfillments. These can be sorted roughly into five basic problematics that take various forms in nearly all religions, although this course will focus on Christianity with some informal treatments of other religions. These problematics are (1) living under obligation, with issues of righteousness, discernment of justice and morality, guilt, and forgiveness, (2) the quest for personal wholeness, with issues of suffering, brokenness, dignity, and sanctification, (3) the engagement of others, with issues of ingroup/outgroup distinctions, loving enemies, loving in different ways, and loving nature, (4) the attainment of a value-identity in ultimate perspective, with issues of the meaning of life and coping with finitude and ambiguity, and (5) gratitude for sheer existence, with issues of radical contingency, affirmation of life and death, and union with and distance from God. Each of these problematics singly and in combination with others has been called "salvation," but the complexity of religion requires that they be thought together and each one interpreted to the others. The four domains of hermeneutics (scripture, experience, tradition, and reason) will be explored through the grid of these five religious problematics.
  • STH TT 954: Scientific Approaches to Religion
    This seminar examines interpretations of religious beliefs, behaviors, and experiences deriving from the biological, evolutionary, psychological, cognitive, neurological, and medical sciences.
  • STH TT 961: Varieties of Religious Naturalism
    The aim of this course is learn about varieties of religious naturalism and how they have been, and can be, incorporated into philosophical and theological reflection. The seminar will read a variety of works in contemporary religious naturalism, from twentieth-century classics to current contributions, and from theoretical analyses of the meaning of naturalism to surveys attempting to map out the territory of plausible viewpoints. We will also track the close relationship between religious naturalism and both ecologically-rooted forms of spirituality and nature-centered forms of mysticism.
  • STH TT 966: Fem/Womani Theo
  • STH TT 974: Religious Experience
    This seminar is a multidisciplinary study of religious experience, drawing on philosophy, theology, literature, psychology, sociology, the cognitive sciences, and the neurosciences. An advanced research seminar, this course presumes significant background knowledge in theology and philosophy and is designed for doctoral students. Advanced master's students can participate with the permission of the instructor.
  • STH TT 998: Theology and Trauma
    This course aims to bring the recent studies in the interdisciplinary study of trauma to bear on the field of theology. What unique challenges does the phenomenon of trauma pose to contemporary theology? The first part of the course explores recent studies in trauma, focusing on three areas of research: 1) neurobiology of trauma, 2) clinical/therapeutic studies, and 3) literary approaches to trauma. The second part of the course examines theological engagements with issues of radical suffering. The third part brings together the insights from the first two and focuses on the question of what it means to witness theologically to individual, societal, and global trauma. We will look at issues and contexts such as the criminal justice system, war, poverty, and racism. In this final part, students will be working towards constructive theological engagements with issues of trauma through interaction with a variety of mediums: art, literature, spiritual practices, and film. The course is not a counseling course. It aims to provide rich theological reflection around issues of suffering, violence, and trauma, both individual and global.