Academic Programs 

Putting Your Theology Together: A Systematic Theology  (TH-500)
Fall 2007

In this course students will be invited to reflect on the shape of theology which is suitable for today's world. Starting with the arguments for God's existence (are there any?), students will be invited to look at the Trinity, Creation, Sin, Evil, Providence, Incarnation, Atonement, Ecclesiology, Sacraments, and Eschatology (and on the way learn what all these words mean). Different approaches to systematic theology will be described. And at the end, students will be encouraged to have formulated their own views on these issues.


Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Wednesdays from 7 to 9:20 p.m., beginning September 12

Heidi Gehman
Adjunct Professor of Theology and Ethics and Associate Director, International Ph.D. Program

Contact Information:

(860) 509-9500


Course Syllabus

Course Description:

In this course students will be invited to reflect on the shape of Christian theology which is suitable for today's world. Starting with the questions of why do systematic theology and how to do systematic theology, students will be invited to look at the doctrines of Revelation, the Trinity, Anthropology, Christology, Ecclesiology, and Eschatology (and on the way learn what all these words mean). Different approaches to systematic theology will be covered. We will read one systematic theology written from a distinctively ecological perspective. And at the end, students will formulate their own systematic theology that fits with their faith and their world, or assess and compare two different systematic theologies.

Course Objectives:

1. To understand the meaning of “systematic theology” and why it is important for every person of faith.
2. To understand the traditional categories of Christian theology—God, Trinity, Creation, Fall, Providence, Atonement, etc.—and critically assess them from various perspectives.
3. To understand one person’s attempt to do systematic theology from the perspective of the contemporary issue of environmental degradation.
4. To formulate a personal systematic theology that is suitable for today’s world.

Course Assessment:

1. Attendance and Participation—20% of grade. All students are expected to be present at each class, complete the reading assigned for each class, and to participate actively in class discussion and small groups.
2. Student Presentations—10% of grade. Each student will be responsible to present the central issues and different approaches to one theological topic. Depending on class size, this may be done individually or in groups.
3. Short Paper—30% of grade. 5-7 page double-spaced paper on the topic of Christology. This paper should compare two different Christologies encountered in the course.
4. Final Paper—40% of grade. 12-15 page paper that either 1) attempts a personal systematic theology, covering at least three of the central doctrines of a systematic theology, or 2) a comparison of two of the theologies presented in the course, covering at least three of the central doctrines of a systematic theology. Both approaches should draw on the readings from the course, although option #1 will primarily focus on a personal formulation of a systematic theology.

**All written assignments must conform to the Seminary’s “General Guidelines for a Research Paper.” In all assignments it is assumed that what is submitted is the student’s own original work.  Plagiarism is strictly forbidden.  As described in the Hartford Seminary General Guidelines for a Research Paper, plagiarism occurs when students “submit another person’s work, lift paragraphs, sentences, or even a choice phrase from another writer, or make use of another person’s ideas (even if the student puts these ideas in his/her own words) without acknowledging the source.  A related kind of dishonesty is to resubmit a paper which was done for a different course, even if it is the student’s own work.  These practices are not permitted at Hartford Seminary.  They will be reported to the Dean’s Office and may result in disciplinary action.”  If a paper is found to contain plagiarism, even in a single sentence, the minimum penalty will be failing that assignment, with no opportunity to rewrite.  If you are unsure of the line between plagiarism and legitimate uses of sources (e.g., quotation, paraphrase), see one of the Seminary’s Writing Consultants.

Course Texts:
*Note: All course texts are required, and are available for purchase at the Seminary bookstore.

James H. Evans, Jr. We Have Been Believers: An African-American Systematic Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1992.

Catherine Mowry LaCugna, ed. Freeing Theology: The Essentials of Theology in Feminist Perspective. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1993.

Sallie McFague. The Body of God: An Ecological Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993.

Daniel L. Migliore. Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1991.

Howard W. Stone and James O. Duke. How to Think Theologically. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996.

Course Schedule:

Week 1: Why do systematic theology?
September 12: What does theology have to do with faith? Different “theological worlds.” A personal theological inventory.

Week 2: How to do systematic theology.
September 19: What is systematic theology and how does one do it?
Reading: Howard Stone and James Duke, How to Think Theologically, Introduction, Chapters 1-3, pp. v-54; Daniel Migliore, Faith Seeking Understanding, Chapter 1, pp. 1-18; Catherine Mowry LaCugna, Freeing Theology,Chatper 1, pp. 5-29.

Week 3: Revelation
September 26: How do we know who God is?
Reading: Migliore, Chapter 2, pp. 19-39; LaCugna, Chapter 3: Experience and Tradition, pp. 59-82; James H. Evans, Jr. We Have Been Believers, Introduction and Chapter 1, pp. 1-31.

Week 4: The Bible
October 3: What is the authority of Scripture?
Reading: Migliore, Chapter 3, pp. 40-55; LaCugna, Chapter 2, pp. 31-57; Evans, Chapter 2, pp. 33-52.

Week 5: Images of God
October 10: God as Triune, as Personal, as Creator.
Reading: Migliore, Chapters 4 and 5, pp. 56-98; LaCugna, Chapter 4, pp. 83-114; Evans, Chapter 3, pp. 53-76.

Week 6: Christian Anthropology
October 17: Humanity in the image of God; the Fall.
Reading: Migliore, Chapter 7, pp. 120-138; LaCugna, Chapter 6, pp. 139-160; Evans, Chapter 5, pp. 99-117.

Week 7: Christology
October 24: The Person and Work of Jesus Christ
Reading: Migliore, Chapter 8, pp. 139-164; LaCugna, Chapter 5, pp. 115-137; Evans, Chapter 4, pp. 77-98.

Week 8: Spirit and Spirituality
October 31 Life in the Spirit
Reading: Migliore, Chapter 9, pp. 165-184; LaCugna, Chapter 10, pp. 235-259.
*Assignment due: 5-7 page paper on Christology.

Week 9: Ecclesiology
November 7: Life in Community
Reading: Migliore, Chapter 10, pp. 185-205; LaCugna, Chapter 7, pp. 161-184; Evans, Chapter 6, pp. 119-140.

Week 10: Sacraments
November 14: God With Us—Baptism, Communion, Priesthood
Reading: Migliore, Chapter 11, pp. 206-230; LaCugna, Chapter 8, 185-209.


Week 11: Eschatology, Ethics, and Hope
November 28: How shall we live theologically committed lives?
Reading: Migliore, Chapter 12, pp. 231-251; LaCugna, Chapter 9, 211-234; Evans, Chapter 7, pp. 141-154; Stone and Duke, Chapter 8, pp. 105-119.

Week 12: A Feminist Ecological Theology
December 5: Sallie McFague: An Organic Model of God
Reading: Sallie McFague, The Body of God, Introduction and Chapters 1-3, pp. vii-97.

Week 13: A Feminist Ecological Theology
December 12: Salle McFague continuted
Reading: McFague, Chapters 4-7, pp. 99-212.

Final Paper is due on January 7, 2008. Further instructions on final paper will be distributed in class.


Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500