HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY
THE MODERN WORLD programme, which covers the period from AD 1400 to the present century, traces two historical developments: the unfolding, in this period, of civilization guided by the Ancient insights, and, the simultaneous emergence and rise of a reaction against the Ancient tradition, in the form of distinctly Modern (and Post-modern) thought.
What are the distinctive insights of Modern times and do they overturn Ancient thought?
It might fairly be said that most professors at universities today think they do, which is why Christopher Lasch noted the disappearance of Ancient thought from the curriculum. At many universities Ancient thought is taught as if its anchoring commitments were all misguided: belief in God, truth, purpose, meaning, order, salvation, etc. – all merely the erroneous effects of crude thought. A better understanding of Art, Science, Literature, Philosophy, and Christianity, students are taught, is provided by the Modern (or Post-modern) understanding of these subjects. But is it so?
What are the reasons for the Modern reaction against Ancient thought? How did Art, Literature, Philosophy, and Science come to be what they are today?
Come and learn the views of the critics of Ancient thought, and learn how the great thinkers of the past engage with their Modern critics.
THE MODERN WORLD programme is designed to give students proceeding into the secular world a deeper understanding of why so many people today have rejected belief in God, truth, purpose, meaning, order, sin, salvation, etc. To understand is to say more than, ‘That is wrong’; it is to learn how to challenge the presumptions behind such beliefs.
Five of the eight courses in THE MODERN WORLD programme (Philosophy, Science, Literature, Art, and the History of Christianity) proceed chronologically, often strictly parallel to each other in time. The three remaining courses introduce students, in APOLOGETICS, to how clear-thinking Christians have responded to the challenges of modernity; the course in READING THE SCRIPTURES proceeds from the books of Wisdom through to the book of Revelation; and students also study one ANCIENT LANGUAGE (Latin or Greek).
PHILOSOPHY | The Modern World
Are there moral absolutes? What are our lives for? Is such a question even answerable? What is evil? What is the importance of pleasure in life? Is the truth about the world accessible to all, if people were to use reason? What are the virtues? What is the task of a political leader? Is philosophy impractical? Do we discover wrong as a matter of fact or do we discover it by feeling? Should the mind direct your desires, or should your desires direct your mind? Is an act good because of the good it does? Can happiness be measured? Can you prove that an act is right? Is a thing the sum of its properties? Is ‘truth’ ultimately political: relative to history?
These are some of the one-hundred-or-so questions that we will examine in this course. We will look at the most influential answers given to these questions in the Modern period, taking account of the ways in which they depart from the verdict of Ancient thinkers. If the purpose of this course is to give students philosophical resources for the living of their lives, it will be important to prepare them for the historic challenges to the beliefs of Christians. How do Modern thinkers justify these departures? What must they believe in order to do so?
As thinking adults, we ought to see where the concepts we lean on most have come from. It is a valuable exercise to discover how much of our own understanding of the world has been inherited from thinkers who have worked hard to escape God’s order, as man has done throughout human history.
Instructor: Prof. Edward Tingley
SCIENCE, MEDICINE, & FAITH |
The Modern World
This course addresses the great revolutions of Modern science, in physics, astronomy, and the biosciences.
In physics the first revolution in physics is associated with several developments that began in astronomy: experimental discoveries by Galileo with the telescope, the idea of a new sun-centered, planetary system by Copernicus, Kepler’s laws of planetary motion, and finally the formulation by Newton of the universal law of motion and the universal law of gravity.
The second revolution comes with dramatic developments in physics, such as the discovery of electromagnetic and sub-atomic forces, Einstein’s theories of special relativity and general relativity, and quantum mechanics – theories with profound implications for the way we understand the universe.
The first revolution in the biological sciences is the work of Darwin, building on earlier achievements in classification; the second is the development of biochemistry and physiological medicine; and the third is the arrival of molecular biology and genetics. All are based on a naturalistic exploration of the world, entirely appropriate as long as it is a scientific convenience rather than (as Dawkins et alia maintain) the height of logical rationalism. But what does science tell us about what we are? Is purely naturalistic thinking, appropriate to the practice of science, adequate as an understanding of man?
Instructor: Prof. John Patrick
LITERATURE | The Modern World
How do our habits as readers reflect and shape our interactions with the world around us? What do the poetic, dramatic, and narrative works of Western literature reveal about who we are and what we struggle to be? How, as readers of Scripture, do we approach the wide spectrum of texts that make up the Western literary canon?
This course offers an introduction to the history of Western literature in the Modern period, focusing largely upon literature in English, and is designed to help students refine and articulate their sense of the role of imaginative texts in the life of a Christian. Our aim is both to develop an understanding of central literary works in their historical and intellectual contexts and, in doing so, to develop our own sense of why and how and what a Christian should read.
To be read and discussed are works by Shakespeare, Milton, Alexander Pope, Romantic writers, Victorian authors, Dostoevsky, and late 19th and 20th century writers.
Instructor: Prof. Emily Martin
ART | The Modern World
This course introduces students to art of the Modern world through to art made in the present year, examining it in its intellectual context relative to key developments in the cultural life of the West, one of which is the decline of religious art.
This we do in a steady effort to answer the question, What art is good? paying special attention to the question, Why is art made?
The lectures move chronologically, beginning with the art of the Renaissance and ending with Postmodern art. Throughout the Modern period, art is made for new reasons not seen in the Ancient period, offering students raw material with which to formulate, over the course of the term, an informed statement about what art, for a Christian, should be or do, and why.
Questions the student will be able to discuss by the end of the course include:
Is the Renaissance Ancient or Modern? When and why do artists begin to paint the world as it looks? Why does the nude reappear in art? What is a portrait and is it a Christian form of art? When do we begin to see a reaction against established norms of art? How does the taste of the public begin to direct the artist’s choice of subject matter? When does art become a problem for the Church? For the state? Should artists be free to paint what they wish, or should they be held to a standard based on informed knowledge of the higher aims of art? Is good art moral art? What drove the emergence of Modern art at the end of the 19th century? Is abstract art meaningless? Does man create forms? Does man create beauty or does he discover it?
Our objective is not to give the student any specific view of the art we look at, from the Modern period, but is rather to examine this art thoughtfully in the light of a Christian understanding of man’s life and welfare. What art might Christians today count useful in the formation of a Christian culture?
Instructor: Prof. Edward Tingley
THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIANITY |
The Modern World
This course provides students with an introduction to Christian history through a chronological study of key periods and movements, from the start of the Reformation to the 21st century. The course will focus on key themes, ideas, and debates that shaped the last five-hundred years of Christianity.
By the conclusion of the course students should be familiar with the major movements of Christian history since to the Reformation and have a greater awareness of the main Christian traditions to that date (Roman Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox).
Specifically, students will acquire a greater understanding of the abuses in the Catholic church, the causes and origins of the Reformation, the theology of Calvin, the Anabaptists, the so-called Wars of Religion, Henry VIII’s break with Rome, the notion of propaganda, the Scottish Reformation, the Catholic Counter-Reformation, Orthodoxy under Islam, the golden age of Russian monasticism, the rise of Rationalism, Pietism, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant missions, Puritans and dissenters in America, Baptists, the Great Awakenings, the Oxford Movement, Papal infallibility and new Marian doctrines, the rise of Protestant Evangelicalism, Pentecostalism, Communism and Orthodoxy, Eastern Christianity and the Muslim World, Orthodoxy in the Diaspora, the decline in mainstream Protestantism, the end of Christendom, the Emerging Church movement, ecumenism, relativism, and the idea of public vs. private faith.
Instructors: Prof. Andrew Bennett, Prof. Brian Butcher
How does a Christian respond to the challenges of the modern world? When the Christian understanding of the world is attacked – said to be false – what does one say in response? Simple denial is far from evangelistic. When the Scriptures tell us to be “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15), what does this entail?
Speaking in such a way as to show the truth of Christian beliefs is called Apologetics (an apologia being a reasoned defense). This course in practical apologetics is designed to aid the student in three different ways:
First, via a live group discussion called Disputatio, students will learn in what ways (and for what reasons) their own efforts to defend one view and criticize another go wrong. Are there rules of simple conversation? Of persuasion? What must one do, and how must one speak, so as to convince others of the truth of some proposal? Through this practical ‘laboratory of discussion’ students will learn to speak more persuasively and, as recommended by St. Peter, “with gentleness and respect.”
Second, when the Christian outlook is rejected – via the arguments for atheism, materialism, individualism, liberalism, sexual license, relativism, pluralism – one thing is often underway: the atheist or relativist is laying out his or her own reasons for atheism or relativism. They are typically not striking down the best Christian arguments for theism, for a belief in truth, etc., which they likely do not know. But why should unbelievers know these arguments when Christians themselves do not?
Through readings and lectures by a changing roster of Faculty members and Guest speakers, students will be introduced to the best arguments for accepting a series of Christian views on truth, materialism, and other contentious issues.
Third, is apologetics defending Christianity against unbelievers? The course will also look at the role of exhortation between one Christian and another. How does a Christian argue the interpretation of Scripture? Can one bring the Scriptures to bear on the contemporary Christian lifestyle, if that lifestyle is not actually discussed in the Bible? What makes another Christian’s reading of the Bible relevant to me?
In discussions of a view of sexuality that is widely spread among Christians today, students will be invited to defend their own views, at the same time as they think about the questions just asked. If we are called to “build one another up” (1 Thess 5:11), does this include changing the minds of other Christians about their own lives?
Instructors: Faculty members and Guest speakers
READING THE SCRIPTURES
This course focuses on the last part of the Old Testament (Psalms and Wisdom literature) and the entire New Testament (the Gospels, the Epistles including the Letter to Hebrews, John and Jude, James and Peter, the Book of Revelation) and with special attention paid to the Passion and the parables. Our focus will be primarily on the content of the Bible we will also reflect upon how we read and understand the text, often drawing into our discussion insights from other Christian writers throughout the centuries.
Instructor: The Reverend Doug Hayman
BEGINNING LATIN 2
This course, for students with previous knowledge of Latin, will cover the second 12 chapters of Wheelock’s Latin, at the rate of one chapter per week. Building on the student’s knowledge of grammar, we shall read classical authors, the Latin New Testament, and various Christian texts representing the different historical epochs.
Students learn through class lectures, translations, and regular written assignments.
Instructor: Prof. Edmund Bloedown
BEGINNING GREEK 2
This course, for students with previous knowledge of Greek (equivalent to the first 18 chapters of L.A. Wilding’s Greek for Beginners), will give students the ability to read simple passages in Greek and translate comparative sentences from English into Greek. This will involve the mastering of many grammatical forms and an extensive vocabulary. Students learn through class lectures, translations, and regular written assignments.