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2.321 20th Century Theologies of Liberation
Mondays, 1:30 – 4:10 pm Office Hours: by appointment Dr. Kristin Johnston Largen
Typically when we hear or read the word “theology,” what is implied is that which has come down to us through the mainstream Western European tradition, primarily constituted by [dead] white men. Any “other” theology is just that: appropriate and applicable for certain segments of the population, but not universal the way traditional theology is. This continuing misconception about the context and content of “real” systematic theology is no longer tenable. Therefore, this course seeks to educate future public ministers on the importance of recognizing the influence of social location on any expression of systematic theology, and the need to be open to the insights of theologies done by those in very different locations from oneself. In this way, this course addresses the following objective of the Master of Divinity Degree as stated in the Gettysburg Catalog: “Relate their denominational heritage to a mission context in the 21st century.” Further, it also addresses one of the goals of the historical-theological studies department: “Understand and evaluate the plural forms of Christian identity, particularly the Lutheran tradition, and relate that tradition to other ecumenical and religious perspectives.”
Upon completion of this course, the students should be able to: 1) Define and describe each specific theology covered in this course 2) Relate each different theology to the practice of public ministry 3) Engage each of the required texts with depth and understanding 4) Clearly express sophisticated theological reasoning in both written and oral communication
Strategies for achieving course objectives
Students will be expected to meet the following course requirements:
1. Required Reading: The students are expected to read all assigned readings carefully. The assigned reading consists of the following books:
2 “Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God,” Simone Weil [www.chosunjournal.com/weil.html]– [This essay is to be read before the first day of class] A Theology of Liberation, Gustavo Gutierrez Sexism & God-Talk, Rosemary Radford Ruether A Black Theology of Liberation, James Cone Sisters in the Wilderness, Delores Williams Caminemos con Jesus, Roberto Goizueta Super, Natural Christians, Sallie McFague 2. Class Attendance & Preparation: Students are expected to attend class regularly, listen to lectures attentively and take notes, and actively engage in all class discussions. Repeated absences will be reflected in the student’s final grade. In this class, and in this seminary, we respect the rules of inclusivity, as stated in the academic catalog, pages 13-14. Please note that written work that does not conform to these standards will be returned for a rewrite; and in the classroom, we will practice referring to both human beings and God in ways that are respectful of personhood and inclusive in terms of gender, race and class.
3. Class Assignments: Timely completion of all assignments is expected of all students. Late work may or may not be accepted, at the instructor’s discretion. A reduction in the grade should be expected for late work. a) Book Evaluations Of the books assigned, the student is required to do a short theological analysis of four of the six required textbooks [the student can choose which four], which will consist of the following. First, the student will summarize the book – the main objectives of the author, the thesis, the structure of the chapters, etc. This should take roughly 2 pages. Then, the student will engage a particular argument/statement/truth claim of the author,
3 and offer her/his analysis of it. This should take roughly 4 pages. The student will bring this paper to class on the due date assigned, and will use it as a basis for group discussions on the books. The papers then will be turned in to the instructor, and each of these short papers will count 10% toward the final course grade. b) Final Theological Analysis The final paper in the class will consist of a constructive analysis of one of the different theologies of liberation discussed in class as it relates to one’s public ministry. The paper should be organized as follows. First, the student should demonstrate a knowledge of the particular theology under discussion by defining it and summarizing its key characteristics. This should take roughly 3-4 pages of the paper. The bulk of the paper, then, should be devoted to discussing how this particular theology is relevant for one’s public ministry; that is, how it might positively inform the thinking and praxis of the Church today. This could include ideas that challenge traditional Lutheran theology [or Presbyterian, Assemblies of God, Methodist, etc.] and also those that help us to see things in a positive new light. This paper should be roughly 10 pages in length, with proper footnotes/endnotes, and a bibliography. The paper is due the final day of class, where each student will present a summation of his/her analysis.
c) Dialog Review One of the long-term goals of this course is to inspire interest and enthusiasm for systematic theology that will continue on into the student’s public ministry. One excellent means of developing and sustaining such interest is through the reading of quality theological journals. To that end, one of the course requirements is a short review of any major journal article from the past three years from Dialog. This review should be no more than 2-3 pages, and simply summarize the article read, including the main points of the author, and conclude with a short response by the student. This assignment is due on the last day of class, but may be submitted at any point in the semester.
1. 2. 3. 4. Book Evaluations: 40% [each book worth 10%] Theological Analysis: 40% Class attendance & participation: 10% Dialogue Review: 10%
Class Introductions Review of Syllabus Introduction to the course “Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God,” Simone Weil [on reserve or on-line] Latin American Liberation
Theology The Liberation of Theology, Juan Luis Segundo, chapter 1, “The Hermeneutical Circle” [on reserve] A Theology of Liberation, Gustavo Gutierrez chapters 1, 7, & 8
Latin American Liberation
Theology *Book Evaluation Due & discussion A Theology of Liberation, chapters 9, 10, 11, 12
Feminist Theology “Women’s Experience between a Rock & a Hard Place,” Serene in Horizons in Feminist Theology, edited by Rebecca Chopp & Sheila Greeve Davaney [on reserve] Beyond God the Father, Mary Daly Introduction & chapter 1, “After the Death of God the Father” [on reserve]
Feminist Theology *Book Evaluation Due & discussion Sexism & God-Talk, Rosemary Radford Ruether, chapters 1, 2, 4, 7, 8, 9, &Postscript
Black Theology A Black Theology of Liberation, James Cone, pp. 1-81
Black Theology *Book Evaluation Due & discussion A Black Theology of Liberation, James Cone [pp. 82-142; &169]
Womanist Theology *Book Evaluation Due & discussion Sisters in the Wilderness, Delores Williams
5 Part 1: Sisters in the Wilderness
October 31st: LUTHER COLLOQUY November 5th
Latino/Latina Theology Caminemos con Jesus, Roberto Goizueta chapters 1-3 Latino/Latina Theology
*Book Evaluation Due & discussion Caminemos con Jesus, chapters 4-7
November 19th November 26th
Dr. Largen at the American Academy of Religion Meeting Eco-Theology *Book Evaluation Due & discussion Super, Natural Christians, Sallie McFague chapters 1-5
Final Presentations *Final deadline for journal article Final Presentations
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