Contemporary Theologies of Church

What theological commitments shape how different communities conceptualize and practice being church? And how do larger social, cultural, political, and economic realities affect the ways those commitments are lived out? In this course, we will examine the interplay between theologies of church (ecclesiology) and the pressures of our present moment, helping us understand more clearly both the nature and purpose of church and how churches can best respond to and serve the world. With a scope that is broadly ecumenical, though with a special emphasis on Anglicanism, we will explore contemporary modes of church, from the traditional to the experimental. This seminar-style course will acquaint students with long-standing and nascent models of church as a means of mapping the contemporary ecclesiological landscape. This will also allow students to examine the ways in which churches are simultaneously reflective and generative of larger theological commitments and are inevitably shaped by socio-political, cultural, and economic realities. Throughout the course, students will be required to bring their developing ecclesiological sensibilities to bear in evaluating the extent to which the character and practice of church should embrace or re-think its historical traditions, on the one hand, and accommodate or critique the wider context in which it is embedded, on the other. Active participation in class discussion, writing assignments consisting of responses to class readings, and four short essays are the central requirements.