Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Pivotal Moments in Christianity History Accepted!

I found out recently that my proposed course, "Pivotal Moments in Christian History" was accepted for the upcoming spring semester! This course will cover the whole of church history in one semester, but with particular emphasis on the major events and people in the history of Christianity.

I am fairly certain that I will utilize Mark Noll's Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity (third edition), but I am also looking at Church History (volume one and two), published by Zondervan as well as Bruce Shelley's Church History in Plain Language (third edition). Pivotal Moments in Christian History will be offered as an upper-level elective (4000 level course), and cross-listed in religion and history.

Sadly, I won't be able to teach "Religion in the Age of Wesley, Whitefield and Edwards" in the spring. This was a course that I designed and implemented last year while testing my idea for an eighteenth-century evangelical anthology. I was hoping to teach Religion in the Age of Wesley, Whitefield, and Edwards next semester and use my book, Early Evangelicalism: A Reader as one of the textbooks. Instead, I will be teaching REL 3620: Modern Christian Thought for the third time (no complaints since I love this course too!).

As I tend to be a purest, I have felt compelled to limit my teaching on Modern Christian Thought to 19th- and 20th-century liberal Protestants, including F. Schleiermacher, G. W. F. Hegel, Paul Tillich and the so-called "Neo-Orthodox" thinkers, Rudolf Bultmann, Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. However, this time I am going to restructure the course. Since REL 3620 does not have any prerequisites, students with no church history or theological training are immediately forced to tread water in the deep end with primary-source readings from Schleiermacher, Kant, and Hegel. Imagine trying to explain Schleiermacher's view of "God-consciousness" or Hegel's idea of Geist to undergraduate students who have no knowledge of Christology or Pneumatology. My new plan is to use Justo Gonzalez's A History of Christian Thought, volume 3, as the text, which covers historical theology from the Reformation to the 20th century. In using this book, however, I am having a difficult time deciding what other books to use. As much as I like the Gonzalez text, it is very heavy on Reformation thought (more than half the book), with very little on the 18th-century, before turning to 19th- and 20th-century theology.

With that in mind, I am wondering if I should supplement Gonzalez with Bettenson's and Maunder's Documents of the Christian Church (I thought about using my Early Evangelicalism along with the Bettenson and Maunder reader, but decided to wait and offer a course specifically on the history of evangelicalism or 18th-century religion), or perhaps pick a few primary-source readings from the 16th to the 20th centuries.

If anyone knows of an anthology of primary sources that focuses on theology, from the 16th century to the present (as opposed to the whole of Christian thought since the early church), I would be very interested.

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