Introduction to Christian Theology

REL262 / 4 Credits / Northwestern College / Summer 2010

May 10 - May 28, 2010 First Three Week Session


Instructor:  Dr. Michael Andres,      


Office/Hours:  VPH115; Mon-Fri, 11:15-12:00; ext. 7079


Class Time:  Mon-Fri, 8:00-11:15 am      Class Location:  VPH119


Course Description:


This course is a study of the major concepts of Christian theology and their interrelationships.  We will explore how best to form theological beliefs and consider the doctrines of Scripture, God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, humanity, salvation, sanctification, the church, and the last things.


Course Objectives:


We seek to become a believing community of depth, possessing a reflective, sensitive, and passionate faith in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


Primary Texts:



Course Requirements:



Course Assessment:



Guidelines for Film Analysis (Due May 25):


Students are required to produce one theological 1200 word film analysis; formatting guidelines can be found at Writing and Submission Guidelines. Students may choose from one of four given contemporary films. 

(i) In one or two paragraphs, give a brief summary of the plot of the film and its primary theme or main point (approximately 10% of total essay). 

(ii) Identify any Christian or theological themes, aspects, or symbolism found in the film.  Analyze the film and determine its (explicit or implicit) view of God, humanity, savior/Christ, revelation, evil, salvation, creation, and any other relevant theological doctrines (approx. 60% of total essay).  You need not cover every doctrine; most films interact with only one, two, or maybe three theological areas or doctrines, if at all. 

(iii) Finally, evaluate the theological view(s) espoused by the film and give an argument – with clearly specified reasons! – for your conclusion (approx. 30% of essay).  Think with a Christian mind (e.g. utilize various sources for theology to support your evaluation).  For further clarification on writing a good theological film analysis, read chapter found in “Content” section of Synapse by Robert Johnston, "Responding to Movies Theologically" (Reel Spirituality, ch 8).

This analysis should be original to you; do not be tempted to plagiarize!  Do not consult other students for analysis or evaluation of film.  Be very discerning when using the internet as a resource; ideas found on the net are not necessarily correct or relevant to a theological film analysis.  If consulted, the internet should be used minimally as a source and any ideas (not only phrases) borrowed should be carefully footnoted!


You may choose to analyze one of the following four films:

The Dark Knight (Batman); Twelve Monkeys; The Green Mile; Babette’s Feast

It is the responsibility of the student to obtain and view the film!  No other films may be substituted. 

Students will be evaluated according to the comprehension, analysis, and quality demonstrated in their analyses.  Be sure to give a clearly elucidated argument for your interpretation of the film.  For further elaboration of grading criteria, see Grading Guidelines.


Final Exam Schedule:


May 28, the last Friday of summer session.


Academic Integrity and Plagiarism:


Northwestern College is a Christian academic community committed to integrity and honesty in all intellectual and academic matters. All students, faculty, and staff are expected to follow the highest standards of honesty and ethical behavior. In addition, as members of the campus community all students, faculty, and staff have a responsibility to help other members of the community to demonstrate integrity in their actions. Behavior that violates academic integrity can take a variety of forms including, but not limited to, cheating on tests, quizzes, papers, and projects; plagiarism using unauthorized material; willful misrepresentation of evidence and arguments.  Plagiarism is the unacknowledged use of someone else's words or ideas, with the intent of deceiving the reader concerning the origin of the words, ideas, or images.  (Excerpts from NWC Student Handbook, 11)


Course Assistance:


I have an open door policy.  Please come by my office, preferably at office hours, if you have any questions or are having any problems with the reading, lectures, note taking, written project, etc.  Or come by for a cup of tea and chat about life.  For further assistance in academic matters help is available through Tom Truesdell at Academic Support (VPH 125B).  Academic Support is there to help you so if you are having difficulties do not hesitate to ask for assistance.  Tutors are available.

The Apostles’ Creed

I believe in God, the Father almighty, 
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, 
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, 
born of the Virgin Mary, 
suffered under Pontius Pilate, 
was crucified, died, and was buried; 
descended to the dead. 
On the third day he rose again; 
he ascended into heaven, 
he is seated at the right hand of the Father, 
and he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, 
the holy catholic church, 
the communion of saints, 
the forgiveness of sins, 
the resurrection of the body, 
and the life everlasting. AMEN.

Course Schedule:








Mon, May 10

Introduction: What is theology?                   

 B (Bible): Prov 14:6; 18:15; 1Tim 4:16; 2Tim 2:15; Acts 17:11; Phil 1:9-10; Eph 4:15; McGrath: vii-x.






Theological Method


How can we know God?



B: Rom 12:1-2; 1Cor 2:6-16; 2Cor 10:5; McGrath: xi-xxv




Tue, May 11



What have Christians believed throughout history? Early Church through Reformation



Bettenson:1-29, 90-91; 97-106, 146-149; 202-238; 275-298; 319-324; ECRC (Ecumenical Creeds & Reformed Confessions):7-8  




Quiz #1 (see quiz questions below)


What have Christians believed throughout history?: Modern Era

Reserved Reading: McGrath, Christian Theology, "The Modern Period" [See “Content” section of Synapse]




Experience and Culture

How did modernity shape theology?


Bettenson:345-397; Boyd/Eddy: Online Appendix, Issue 5


How should postmodernity shape theology?

Boyd/Eddy: Online Appendix, Issue 1



Wed, May 12

Reason and Nature


Do nature and/or reason reveal God?                           




Debate!; B: Ps 19; Rom 1:18-32; ECRC:79, 133-134; Bettenson:5-7,151-156, 345-349; McGrath:1-10; Quiz #2


Do science and theology conflict?

McGrath:51-56; Boyd/Eddy:50-73



Are the words of Scripture the words of God?                         


B:Jn 1:1-18; 2Tim 3:14-17; Heb 1:1-2; 2Pet 1:12-21; ECRC:18, 79-82, 136; Bettenson:29-31; Boyd/Eddy:9-22


How accurately does Scripture reveal God's words? 






Thur, May 13

Theology Proper


How is the Creator related to creation?



B:Ps 139; Rom11:33-34; Eph 1; 1Sam 15:29; Mal 3:6; Jas 1:17; Heb 1:10-12; ECRC:78; McGrath:39-60; Quiz #3


What is the "Trinity"?

B: Dt 6:4; Mat 3:16-17; 28:16-20; Heb 1:5-14; Acts 5:3-4;  ECRC:7-10, 21, 83-86; Bettenson:27-29, 42-48; McGrath:102-122; Boyd/Eddy: Online Appendix, Issue 2

Fri, May 14

Does God need anything?  Is God good?

B:Ex 3; Lev 19:2; Isa 6:3; Ps 136; Rom 11:33-36; McGrath:20-33



Does God know everything?



B:1Chron 29:11-12; Is 14:24-27; Lk 1:37; Eph 1; ECRC:22-23, 88-90;  Boyd/Eddy:37-49; "Omniscience" a sermon by Charles Spurgeon 



Does God exercise power over everything?


B:Gen 3; 45:1-8; Job 1; Acts 2:24-28; Rom 8:18; 9:19-24; 2Cor 4:17; ECRC:15; McGrath:33-37; Boyd/Eddy:23-36

Mon, May 17

Exam #1 (first hour of class)

Study Guide Exam 1








What is the purpose of humanity?



B:Gen 1-2; Jas 3:9; ECRC:15, 91, 133; Optional - Boyd/Eddy:74-100


How sinful are human beings?

B:Gen 3; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 2:1-3; Rom 3:1-18, 23; ECRC:14-16, 91-93, 123, 133; Bettenson:57-67


Tue, May 18



Who is Jesus Christ?



B:1Tim 2:5-6; Col 1:15-20; Phil 2:5-11; Luke 9:18-22; ECRC:7-10, 17-18, 94-96; Bettenson:38-56; McGrath:61-80; Quiz #4


Is Christ fully human and fully divine?                                                

Boyd/Eddy:101-112; Chalcedonian Definition


Wed, May 19

Why did Jesus die?

B:Luke 24:19; Heb 2:17; Rom 3:24-25; Jn 3:16; 1Cor 15:3-8; Rev 19:16;  ECRC:7-10, 27-33, 130; Bettenson:32-37, 152-154; Boyd/Eddy:113-131; McGrath: 81-96; Quiz #5



Why did Jesus rise from the dead?

B:Mat 28; Lk 24; Jn 20-21





Thur, May 20



Who is the Holy Spirit?


B:Jn 14:15-27; 15; 1Cor 2:6-16; 3:16-17; 12:7-11; 2Cor 3:18; Rom 8; Gal 2:20; Eph 2; ECRC:34, 88; McGrath:106-111; Optional - Boyd/Eddy:212-224; Quiz #6







On what basis did God choose those who will be saved?


B:Jn 6:44; Rom 8-9; Eph 1-2; ECRC:35, 94, 123-132; Bettenson:319-323, 282;  Boyd/Eddy:132-145;


Fri, May 21

What is salvation?

B:Rom 8;  ECRC:19-23, 26, 28, 53-54, 99-100, 123-145; McGrath:1-19; 96-100; Bettenson:202-237, 272-285; Boyd/Eddy:165-177

 Mon, May 24

Exam #2 (first hour of class)




What is the ‘good life’? How should we live the Christian life?

Study Guide Exam 2




B:Mt 16:24; Rom 6-8; 12; Phil 4:6-7; Ps 1; ECRC:40, 53-54, 101-102, 140-141





What is the “baptism of the Spirit”?



B:Rom 7; 1Cor 3:1-3; Mt 3:11; Lk 3:16; 24:49; Jn 1:33; Acts 1:5, 8; 11:16; 1Cor 12:13; Boyd/Eddy:146-164, Online Appendix, Issues 7-8.






Tue, May 25



What is the Church? 



B:Eph 3-4; 1Cor 11-14; 1Tim 3; ECRC:7, 35, 106-111; Bettenson:68-89, 359-364; McGrath:123-143



Which is the true Church? 

Film Analysis Due (at class time)

Wed, May 26

Should babies be baptized?

ECRC:41-44, 111-114, 126; McGrath:144-158; Boyd/Eddy:201-211; Quiz #7


What does communion mean?


B:Lk 22:7-23; Jn 6:53-55;1Cor10:14-22;11:17-34; ECRC:45-50; 114-117; Bettenson:81-84, 162-166; McGrath:158-164; Boyd/Eddy:193-200






Thur, May 27



How should biblical prophecy be interpreted?





B:Dan 7, 9; Mt 25; 1Thes 4; Rev 20; ECRC:7, 37, 118-120; Boyd/Eddy: Online Appendix, Issue 10; Quiz #8



What will be the sequence of events associated with the millennium?

McGrath:177-179; Boyd/Eddy:236-253, Online Appendix, Issues 11-12;

Fri, May 28

What are heaven and hell like?

McGrath:165-184; B:Mt 25:41, 46; Mk 9:43, 48; 1Cor 15; Rev 14:9-11; 21-22; Boyd/Eddy:254-264





Final Exam (last hour of class)


Study Guide Final Exam


Quiz Questions (one question will be chosen by instructor):


Quiz #1 (McGrath, “The Modern Period”, see ‘Content’ section of Synapse)


Questions #1-4 from end of “The Modern Period”


Quiz #2 (McGrath, 1-10; Boyd/Eddy, 9-22)

  1. Compare and contrast the view of the relationship between faith and reason of W.K. Clifford, Thomas Aquinas, and Blaise Pascal.

  2. Define and then give arguments for and against biblical infallibility.

  3. Define and give arguments for and against biblical inerrancy.


Quiz #3 (McGrath, 39-60)


1.       How is creation ex nihilo different from dualism?

2.       Explain the three models of God as Creator.

3.       Articulate the view of natural theology held by Aquinas, Calvin, and Barth.


Quiz #4 (McGrath, 61-80)


1.       Choose three of the five biblical titles for Jesus Christ mentioned by McGrath.  What does the Bible mean by each of these titles?

2.       What are the three functional statements about Jesus that give clues as to his identity?

3.       What are three inadequate approaches to explaining the humanity and divinity of Christ and how is the Chalcedonian Definition different from these inadequate approaches?



Quiz #5 (McGrath, 81-96)


Questions from end of chapter 5.  You will not be allowed view the Augustine text while taking the quiz.  Make sure on question #1 that, when asked to “refresh your memory,” you list the three major approaches to the meaning of the cross (then explain which fits best with Augustine’s text).


Quiz #6 (Boyd/Eddy, 132-145)


1.       Explain the Calvinist TULIP.

2.       Explain the four Arminian motifs.


Quiz #7 (Boyd/Eddy, 201-211)


1.       Describe and give arguments for believer’s baptism.

2.       Describe and give arguments for paedobaptism.


Quiz #8 (Boyd/Eddy, 236-253)


1.       Describe and give arguments for premillennialism.

2.       Describe and give arguments for postmillennialism.

3.       Describe and give arguments for amillennialism.