Concordia College
Moorhead, MN
Religion 233D: Shapers of Modern Theology
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 is a study of major twentieth century Christian theologians who have contributed to theological and cultural development and who have shaped the community of faith as it has confronted historical challenges. Special attention is given to the intellectual impact of the Enlightenment and major historical events of the twentieth century on the formation of contemporary theology. The ongoing interaction of faith and culture as it gives rise to doctrinal expression on into the present will also be critically examined.

II. Course Objectives:
The objectives of this course are:
a. To acquaint the student with the interrelationship between individual religious faith and the search for rational understanding and interpretation of that faith which is theology.

b. To introduce the student to the interrelationship of theology and culture by analyzing how religious faith shapes society as well as how theology and the church are affected by historical challenges.

c. To introduce the student to a number of major thinkers and issues in theology from the Enlightenment to Vatican II, as well as some of the current trends in theological reflection.

d. To assist the student in his/her evaluation of theological issues by providing assistance in the formulation of criteria for theological assessment.

III. Course Texts:
a.) Carl Braaten and Robert Jenson, A Map of Twentieth Century Theology - MTCT
b.) Cadorette,Giblin, Legge, Synder, eds., Liberation Theology: An Introductory Reader - LT
c.) John Cobb, Sustainability - S
d.) John Polkinghorne, Serious Talk: Science and Religion in Dialogue - ST
e.) Dorothy Soelle, Thinking About God: An Introduction to Theology - TAG
f.)  Library Reserve: William F. Hill, Learning Thru Discussion - LTD

IV. Course Requirements:
a. Assigned readings and responsible participation in class discussion.
b. Three written essay unit exams covering both the lectures and assigned readings.
c. Two expository analysis papers (5-7 pages) each dealing with a topic from one of the course texts and a selected scholarly article.
d. Class presentation and reflection paper for discussion of assigned reading for one class session, due at that session.
e. Five preparation papers (1-2 pages) for class small group discussion.

NOTE: The preparation paper for a given discussion session will be turned in at the end of that session.

V. Grading:
Total Possible - 750 points

a. Examinations - 300 points total [100 points each]
b. Expository Analysis Papers - 250 points [125 points each].
c. Class Presentation - 100 points [50 points presentation and 50 points reflection paper]
d. Class discussion preparation papers - 100 points [20 points each]
e. Extra credit paper - an additional 5-7 page comparative reaction paper to two of the
course texts may be done with the grade averaged in with the examinations. Guidelines and criteria may be picked up in my office and the paper is due the last day of class.

VI. Course Due Dates:
The first examination will be on 1 October, the second on 31 October and the third during final exam week. The expository analysis papers are due 17 October and 26 November. The preparation papers will occur during the course and at least two class days' notice will be given before a paper is due. Class presentations will be signed up for during the first week of class.

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. In fairness to the majority of the class, assignments over one day late are subject to a serious reduction of one-half grade level per class day and after one week will not be accepted.

VII. Format of the Preparation Paper:
The 'cognitive map' found in William Fawcett Hill's Learning Thru Discussion provides the basic outline for working out a preparation paper (on reserve in the Library). These papers will follow either the following format or a one page "Discussion Preparation Guide" form passed out in class. Both will be used during the course.

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.

Summarize what you understand to be the central point of the reading.

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.

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?

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?

VIII. Purpose and Criteria for Expository Analysis Papers:

A. Purpose: The expository 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 in terms of its clarity, coherence and relevance. The primary purpose of the paper is to facilitate engagement with the author beyond the sheer accumulation of information. Accordingly, the primary emphasis is upon critique and analysis and not upon summary of the author's position or argument.

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 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.

4. Analysis: Analyze the content (not form) of the authorís argument in four to five pages in light of the following three criteria:

a) Clarity. This refers to the distinctness and intelligibility of the author's argument. Is it focused 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?

C. Suggested Resources:
1. Journals - The best place to look for journal articles on your topic is in Religion Index One, located in Case Number 3 in the reference section of the library or on CD-ROM. 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.

Some additional indexes that may be of use are: Humanities Index, Biography Index, Historical Abstracts, Religious and Theological Abstracts, and Philosopher's Index.

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 - Fides Querens Internetum,

D. Evaluation: You will be evaluated in light of the following criteria:

1. Analysis 50%
2. Summary 20%
3. Thesis 10%
4. Creativity 10%
5. Form (style, spelling, grammar) 10%

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

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. Class Presentation: Purpose, Procedure and Evaluation

A. Purpose:
The purpose of class presentations is to accomplish several things. First of all, to stimulate class discussion by providing a prepared response to the course reading for a given class session. Second, to give the entire class a chance to benefit from your reflection. Third, to give the student some additional experience in formal classroom presentation and discussion.

1. Topic: Sign up with one other student to present discussion reflection on a given class session. This will be done the second week of class on a class sign up sheet.

2. Preparation: working as a team, formulate the issues and questions that you would like to present for class discussion during the thirty minute period of the class presentation. Each student should take approximately one half of the presentation time.

3. Presentation: Each student is to come with a three-four (3-4) page prepared reflection paper on the class material for the evening which is to form the basis for their 10-15 minute presentation. This paper is to be typed and turned in at the end
of the class session for which it is prepared. The presentation and paper should include:

a. Issues: Two or three major issues the student wants to raise from the material,
b. Reflection: The Student's own thoughts about those issues, e.g., why important, problematic, etc.
c. Questions: Several very specific discussion questions which the student would like the class to address.

4. Discussion: After the presentation the class will divide into small groups and each presenter will then take responsibility for one of the group discussions. General class discussion will then follow as time permits.

C. Evaluation: The presentation and paper are worth a total of 100 points as an individual grade for each presenter, 50 points each.

Presentation and Paper Criteria:
Conciseness of topic and presentation 20%
Clarity of summary 20%
Comprehension of subject matter 20%
Critique of issues and methods involved 20%
Communication of material and information 20%

X. Course Outline:




A. Introduction: Handouts Aug. 29

Nature of Religion and Theology

B. The Enlightenment MCT, ch. 1 Sept. 3

and Modern Christianity MTCT, Intro.

C. Religion of Reason and MCT, chs. 2-3 Sept. 5-10

Its Breakdown

D. Christianity and MCT, ch. 4 Sept. 12



E. Speculative Idealism MCT, ch. 6 Sept. 17-19

F. Post-Hegelian Critique MCT, ch. 7 Sept. 24-26



G. Protestant Liberalism MCT, ch. 9 Oct. 3

H. Neo-Orthodoxy and MCT, ch. 11 Oct. 8-10

Dialectical Theology MTCT chs. 1-3


I. Secular Theology MCT ch. 16 (Bonhoeffer) Oct. 15-17

MTCT ch. 4

First Analysis Paper Due Oct. 17


J. Christian Existentialism and MCT, ch. 12 Oct. 24-29

New Hermeneutics MTCT ch. 5



K. Christian Realism and MCT ch. 15 Nov. 5-7

Neo-Protestantism MTCT ch. 13


L. Process Theology MCT ch. 16 Nov. 12-14

MTCT ch. 12


M. Eschatological Theology MTCT ch. 6 Nov. 19

N. Trinitarian Theology MTCT ch. 7 Nov. 21


O. Theology of Religions MTCT ch. 8 Nov. 26

Second Analysis Paper Due Nov. 26


P. Post-Modernism RIWUB Parts 1-5 Dec. 3-12



XI. Academic Integrity:

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 a disregard for academic integrity and are detected should expect to be penalized by receiving failing grades (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 dishonesty include cheating, plagiarism, falsification, facilitating othersí 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 cultural 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 course instructor.


XII. Bibliography:

There is an excellent beginning bibliography at the end of each chapter of Livingston in the "Suggestions for Further Reading." Braaten and Jenson also include numerous bibliographical references in their "Editorís Introduction" to each chapter. Additional bibliography will also be given out during class.