Concordia College
Moorhead, MN

Religion 100: Christianity and the Religious Life
Dr. Ernest L. Simmons, Jr.
Office: Academy 210 and by appointment
Phone: 299-3430
Office Hours:  MWF 2:00-3:00 TH 11:30-12:30


Syllabus and Course Outline


I. Course Description:

This course seeks to meet the needs of all students for a better understanding of religion as a basic feature of human life and of Christianityís classic and contemporary expressions, through the methods appropriate to the study of religion. The course offers an important initial opportunity for integrative study characteristic of a liberal arts education. It invites students to engage in thoughtful and informed reflection upon religious questions.

This section of Religion 100 will focus on the theological formation and analysis of Christian Doctrine by employing Biblical, historical and contemporary texts. The nature of God, Creation, Suffering and Evil, Redemption, Vocation and the Spiritual Life will be addressed as well as critiqued in light of contemporary science and religious experience.

II. Course Objectives:
Provide a first course in religion that will:

1. Introduce students to theological formulation as it arises through the interaction of the Christian faith with its historical-cultural context
2. acquaint students with several major doctrinal areas in regard to both their historical and contemporary expression
3. encourage critical inquiry and constructive thought about religion and religious questions
4. enhance, along with Principia and Discourse, learning which provides a foundation for liberal arts study
5. prepare students for advanced work in their second religion course.
6. assist students to grow in the understanding and expression of their faith position through careful critique and analysis of the material addressed.

III. Course Texts:

a. Religion and Doubt, Creel [RD]
b. Shantung Compound, Gilkey [SC]
c. Introduction to Christian Theology, Hanson [CT]
d. Readings in Christian Thought, Kerr [RCT]
e. Memories of God, Bondi [MG]
f. Encountering God, Eck [EG]
g.The Bible, NRSV, New Revised Standard Version, Am. Bible Society.

IV. Course Requirements:
a. Assigned readings and responsible participation in class discussion. The reading is based upon a reading speed of 20 pages/hour and about 80 pages per week. There is a total required reading of about 950 pages leaving the remainder for the expository analysis papers.

b. Three exams covering both the lectures and assigned readings. (55%) Exams 1 & 2 - 15% each, Exam 3 will be comprehensive - 25%

c. Two expository analysis papers (5-7 pages) each dealing with a topic from one of  the course texts and a selected scholarly article. (30%)

d. Five short assignments - quizzes or discussion papers (1-2 pages). (15%)

NOTE: The quiz or discussion paper for a given class session will be turned in at that session and cannot be made up.

Requirement Summary:
Exam 1 15%
Exam 2 15%
Exam 3 25% Two Papers 30% Assignments 15%
__________ ______________ _______________

55% 30% 15%

V. Grading:

Total Possible - 1,000 points

a. Examinations - 550 points total [Exams 1&2 - 150pts. each, Exam 3 - 250pts.]
b. Expository Analysis Papers - 300 points total [150 points each].
c. Quizzes and discussion papers - 150 points total [30 points each]
    Grade scale: 90%-100%(A); 80%-89%(B); 70%-79%(C); 60%-69%(D); Below 60%(F).

VI. Course Due Dates:

The first examination will be on 2 February, the second on 11 March and the third during final exam week. The expository analysis papers are due 18 February and 8 April. The quizzes and discussion papers will occur during the course and at least one class days' notice will be given before a paper is due.

Make-up Exam Policy: If a student cannot take an exam at the assigned time, s/he must get permission from the instructor and if granted, make an appointment with the department secretary (Academy Hall 213) to schedule a make-up time. If any change in test time is needed, it is the studentís responsibility to contact the department secretary to set up an alternate test time.

Assignments are due on time and normally there will be some reduction in grade for late papers or exams. Exceptions to this rule will be granted in special cases such as illness or a death in the immediate family, but arrangements for late assignments should be made prior to the due date if at all possible.

VII. Academic Integrity Statement:

Students are expected to be guided by the highest expressions of academic integrity in completing course requirements. These expectations are set forth in Academic Integrity at Concordia College. Students who show disregard for academic integrity and are detected should expect to be penalized by receiving a failing grade (in such cases make-up is not possible). Each violation of academic integrity will be reported to the Academic Deanís Office and the offender will be placed on probationary status for one year.

Violations of academic integrity include cheating, plagiarism, falsification, facilitating otherís violations and impeding. These violations are fully defined in Academic Integrity at Concordia College pp. 11-13 and should be carefully studied.

These definitions were developed in a North American context. Other cultures define forms of academic dishonesty differently. International students studying at Concordia, however, are expected to be guided by North American norms of academic integrity. Any student who is unclear about the application of these norms in the completion of a particular assignment should consult the instructor.

VIII. Expository Analysis Papers

A. Purpose: The analysis paper is intended to assist you in doing two things: first, to be able to clearly and concisely summarize the argument of an author, and second, to critique and evaluate that argument The primary purpose of the paper is to facilitate engagement with the authorís argument, not simply the accumulation of information. Accordingly, the primary emphasis is upon critique and analysis and not upon summary . The over all length of each paper is to be five to seven pages.

B. Procedure:
1. Article: Select a scholarly article from the library dealing with a topic covered in one of the course texts. Please consult the Religion Index CD-ROM to find a suitable article listed by either subject or author.

2. Thesis: State the thesis of your paper in one sentence in the opening paragraph of the paper. It should indicate what you think about the article or the point you want to make about the article as a whole.

3. Summary: Summarize the author's argument in one - two pages. It is imperative that one understand the position one is to critique before one begins the critique. To do this concisely not only indicates a grasp of the position to be critiqued but also an
ability to cut away the excess argumentation so as to get to the heart of the argument and its supporting evidence. If you cannot summarize the point or issue in one to two pages then you are trying to cover too much.

4. Analysis: Analyze the content (not form) of the authorís argument in four to five pages in light of the following four criteria:
a) Focus. This refers to the distinctness and intelligibility of the author's argument. Is it clear and concise so as to be understandable and intelligible?

b) Coherence. This refers to the basic integration of the main points of the argument. Are they all interrelated and necessary such that each follows from or requires the others?

c) Relevance. This refers to the accountability of the argument to human experience. Does the author address real human needs and issues? Does the argument help resolve any serious social or personal human problem?

d) Evaluation. What is your overall evaluation of the article? Did you find it significant, helpful, problematic or confused? Here is where you indicate your subjective opinion about what has been read.

C. Suggested Resources:
1. Journals - The best place to look for journal articles on your topic is in Religion Index CD-ROM at the computers just inside the reference room of the library or Religion Index One, located in Case Number 3 in the reference section of the library. It indexes every article in religion printed in the world in a given year, bound in two year volumes. You then need to look under the subject heading for your topic and it will give you various journal articles (abbreviations are explained in the front). Our library has most of the major journals published in English, you can check the printouts to confirm if we have a given journal and year. Some suggested journals are: Dialog, Word and World, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Journal of Biblical Literature, Interpretation, Journal of Religion, Theology Today, Union Seminary Quarterly Review, Journal of Christian Ethics, Church History, Christian Century, Christianity Today, Christianity and Crisis, Sojourners and ZYGON: Journal of Science and Religion.

2. Reference Works - These also would be found in the reference section of the library. Some main ones are: The Encyclopedia of Religion, The New Catholic Encyclopedia, The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia of World Biography.

 3. Web Sites - Project Wittenberg

D. Evaluation: Your paper will be evaluated in light of the following criteria:
1. Analysis (coherence and relevance) 50%
2. Summary (comprehensiveness and clarity) 20%
3. Thesis (focus and scope) 10%
4. Creativity (novelty of thought or expression) 10%
5. Form (style, spelling, grammar) 10%

It is expected that the paper will be between five and seven [5-7] pages in length typed, double-spaced in #12 font and employ correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. Please proofread your papers before you turn them in! The paper must also contain your name and campus P. O. number.

NOTE: Plagiarism consists in presenting the writings or ideas of another as your own. If you are in doubt always indicate the reference or source. Plagiarism constitutes grounds for immediate failure of the paper.

IX. Format of the Discussion Paper:
Please use the following format when writing your 1-2 page discussion papers. They should be written in outline form with these five headings. The first three headings should be in sentences only, no paragraphs. Only in the last two should there be paragraph length statements and numbers 1-4 should be the same whether you liked or disliked the reading. In number 5 you express your personal opinion/evaluation .

1. DEFINITIONS: Pick out MAJOR concepts and terms (Not "DICTIONARY" terms) you are not totally certain about, but try to spell out what you think they mean in the context of the reading.

2. CENTRAL POINT: Summarize what you understand to be the central point of the reading.

3. SUBTOPICS: Try to pinpoint what you understand to be the major subtopics that the author touches upon in the pursuit of the central point. Under each appropriate subtopic note the questions you have.

4. INTEGRATION-APPLICATION: In what ways does this reading touch upon other areas of knowledge that you have?
Are there points of integration with other insights, fact, or observations you have already encountered? Do you see pertinent implications?

5. EVALUATION: Evaluate the reading by asking yourself both general questions (such as those suggested below) and questions directly related to the reading assignment. These specific evaluations might have to do with the way the author sees an issue, the point of view, the relevance of what he/she touches upon to the contemporary situations as you see it and the like. Examples of general questions which can be brought to bear on individual readings might include:

What have I learned that I did not understand before?
In what way(s) does this affect my attitudes as well as my understanding?
At what point does the author's argument break down? Seem beside the point?
What kind of response does the author's argument elicit in me?

X. Course Outline:



I. Faith and the Religious Life

A. Introduction: Nature RD Ch. 1 Jan. 5-9

of Religion and Theology CT Ch. 1

RCT Schleiermacher(32)


  1. Approaches and Interp. RD Chs. 2-3 Jan. 12

C. Roots and Traits RD Chs. 4-5 Jan. 14-16

of a Healthy Faith RCT Perpetua(2), James(40), Otto (41)


  1. Spiral of Relig. Growth RD Chs. 6, 8-9 Jan. 19-21
RCT Kierkegaard (44)


E. Religious Life in SC Chs. 1-4 Jan. 23

Shantung Compound SC Chs. 5-8 Jan. 26

SC Chs. 9-11 Jan. 28

SC Chs. 12-14 Jan. 30

EXAM #1 FEB. 2


II. Christian Theology
  1. Faith and Theology RCT Barth(46), Feb. 4 Harkness(48), Tillich (50)

  3. God CT Chs. 2-3 Feb. 6-9
RCT Anselm (9), Aquinas (14), Kant(31)


C. Creation CT Ch. 4 Feb 11-13

Genesis 1-2

RCT Irenaeus(3), Francis of Assisi(13)


  1. Sin, Evil and Suffering CT Ch. 5 Feb. 16-20
Genesis 3-4, 6-9 RCT Augustine (6), Niebuhr(47)


February 19th
NOTE: All students required to attend the Religion 100 enrichment evening February 19, 7-9pm, Comstock Theater.
Mid-Semester Break Feb. 21- Mar. 1


  1. The Person of Jesus Christ CT Ch. 6 Mar. 2-4 Mark Mar. 6-9
  2. RCT Schweitzer(45), Bultmann(49)

    EXAM #2 MAR. 11


  3. Christís Work of Reconciliation CT Ch. 7 Mar.13-20

RCT Abelard(10), Luther(20), Calvin(22)



  1. Church and Sacraments CT 8-10 Mar. 23-27
RCT Rahner(53)


March 26th
Required Lecture - Dr. Ted Peters "The Human Genome Project:
Are We Playing God?" 7:30 pm Centrum
III. Contemporary Issues
  1. Christianity and Other Religions CT Ch. 11 Mar. 30- RCT Bonhoeffer(51) Apr. 3

B. Feminist Thought MG Chs. 1-6 Apr. 6-20

Memories of God RCT Stanton(38)




Easter Break Apr. 9-13


C. Eschatology (Last Things) CT Ch. 12 Apr. 22-27 RCT John XXIII (52), Martin Luther King, Jr. (55)