Theology

Theology Professor Dr. William Marshner, a member of the founding faculty, explains Christendom's faithful approach to Theology.


 



Department SNAPSHOT  (PDF)



Theology plays a particularly important role in the search for a synthesis of knowledge as well as in the dialogue between faith and reason. It serves all other disciplines in their search for meaning, not only by helping them to investigate how their discoveries will affect individuals and society but also by bringing a perspective and an orientation not contained within their own methodologies. . . . Every Catholic university should have a faculty, or at least a chair, of theology. Catholic theology, taught in a manner faithful to Scripture, Tradition, and the Church's Magisterium, provides an awareness of the Gospel principles which will enrich the meaning of human life and give it a new dignity.
-John Paul II, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, 19–20

This department seeks to restore and advance the scholastic discipline of Theology, the "Queen of the Sciences." The Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian reminds us that "the object of theology is the Truth which is the living God and His plan for our salvation revealed in Jesus Christ."(8). Every course is designed both to cover the perennial truth taught by the Church and developed by the Catholic theological tradition, and to expose the false steps which have led to widespread loss of orthodoxy in recent years. As the late Pope John Paul II stressed in his address to the Pontifical Academy of Theology, the vitality of theological study "does not lie in a relativism or historicism." Rather, the theological vocation requires

a supreme concentration on the truth, an understanding that is a journey with and, above all, a following of Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Theology thus becomes a journey in communion with the Person-Truth who is Jesus Christ, in a relationship of fidelity, love and self-giving, under the guidance of the Spirit of truth (cf. Jn 16,13), who has the mission of recalling Jesus' words and of helping Christians understand and live them in an interior lucidity throughout the changing history of humanity." (Address to the Pontifical Academy of Theology, February 16, 2002)

From the Aeterni Patris of Leo XIII, through the Doctoris Angelici of Pius X and the Studiorum ducem of Pius XI, down to the Second Vatican Council, the Church has taught that the spirit, methods, and principles of the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas, yield the optimal results in speculative theology. Therefore THEO 301, 305, and all the upper division courses in speculative theology include the reading of St. Thomas and are all taught according to his approach. Thus the Theology Department at Christendom College takes special care to insure that the students achieve a solid grasp of the Thomistic synthesis. As was stated in Fides et Ratio,

If it has been necessary from time to time to intervene on this question, to reiterate the value of the Angelic Doctor's insights and insist on the study of his thought, this has been because the Magisterium's directives have not always been followed with the readiness one would wish. In the years after the Second Vatican Council, many Catholic faculties were in some ways impoverished by a diminished sense of the importance of the study . . . of Scholastic philosophy. . . . I cannot fail to note with surprise and displeasure that this lack of interest in the study of philosophy is shared by not a few theologians. . . .

It should be clear in the light of these reflections why the Magisterium has repeatedly acclaimed the merits of Saint Thomas' thought and made him the guide and model for theological studies. . . . In his thinking, the demands of reason and the power of faith found the most elevated synthesis ever attained by human thought, for he could defend the radical newness introduced by Revelation without ever demeaning the venture proper to reason.
John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, Paragraphs 61, 78

As a strict academic discipline, the theology major is an ideal preparation for careers in teaching, in Catholic broadcasting or in religious journalism, for seminary study, and for other graduate work in academic theology. It can lead to positions as directors of religious education in schools, parishes, and dioceses—a growing field.

Requirements for the Theology Major

Theology majors must be able to read ecclesiastical Latin. Proficiency in Latin can be acquired through fulfillment of the College's language requirement, that is, by completing LATN 202 or higher. The requirements for a theology major are completion of the required basic (101-202 core) courses plus thirty (30) hours of advanced work. These thirty hours required for the major must include the following THEO courses:

  • 301 Moral Theology and 302 Apologetics, required of all Christendom students
  • two courses that focus specifically on the central mysteries of the Faith, the Trinitarian God and the mystery of the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, namely 308 De Deo Trino, and 312 De Verbo Incarnato
  • two courses, chosen by the student in consultation with the Theology faculty and chairman, from the following: 305 De Revelatione, 345 Ascetical and Mystical Theology, 402 Ecclesiology, 411 De Gratia, 404 Sacraments, 451 General Councils, and 452 Vatican II.
  • Three THEO electives numbered 300 or higher
  • THEO 512 Senior Thesis

The theology minor requires 18 credit hours of advanced courses, including THEO 301 and 302. A course grade of at least C-minus is necessary for a course to fulfill the department's major or minor requirements.

Foundational Curriculum

THEO 101-102 Fundamentals of Catholic Doctrine (2 semesters, 3 credit hours each semester) A systematic presentation of the mysteries of the Faith, the moral and spiritual norms of Christian life, the liturgy and the sacraments, as revealed in Scripture and Apostolic Tradition and as defined by the magisterial documents of the Church. Required of all students.

THEO 201 Introduction to the Old Testament Major selections from the books of the Old Testament are read within the norms of Catholic exegesis. Special emphasis is placed upon the Pentateuch, the Prophets, and the Wisdom literature. One major purpose is to inspire a love of God's Word, which is fully revealed in Jesus Christ. Required of all students. Prerequisite: THEO 101-102 or permission of the Academic Dean.

THEO 202 Introduction to the New Testament The Gospels and other books of the New Testament are read in the light of Catholic norms of exegesis. The course will show how the Gospel texts reveal the real historical Jesus, true God and true Man, and will address contemporary critics who seek to distance the texts from Him. The course will also introduce the main themes of the Pauline corpus, the Johannine literature, and the Catholic Epistles. The primary goal is to make manifest through an in depth study of the Sacred texts that Jesus Christ is the fullness of God's revelation. Required of all students. Prerequisite: THEO 201.

Advanced Courses

THEO 101-202 are prerequisites for all advanced courses.

CECS/ENGL/HIST/THEO 300 Roman Perspectives: This course is the literary component of Christendom College's Junior Semester in Rome program. Masterworks from the Classical, Early Christian, and Renaissance periods of literary history relating to Rome will be read in the very surroundings from which they arose, including such works as Livy's Early History of Rome; Ovid's Metamorphoses, a virtual encyclopedia of Greco-Roman myth and one of the most influential Latin works on Western art and literature from the 1st century AD through the Renaissance; Pope St. Clement I's Epistle to the Corinthians (c. 90 AD), St. Ignatius of Antioch's Epistle to the Church of Rome (c. 110 AD), and Pope St. Gregory the Great's Life of St. Benedict, among other works of the Church Fathers; and Shakespeare's Roman plays, Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, and Antony and Cleopatra, based on Plutarch's Lives. Required for all Semester-in-Rome-Program students.

THEO 301 Moral Theology A study of the data revealed in Scripture and Tradition concerning what men must do to please God. Elaboration of the data, together with sound analysis of human action and a grounding of natural-law ethics, will equip the student to understand the current crisis in moral theology. Required of all students.

THEO 302 Catholic Apologetics A presentation of the basic arguments for the credibility of the Catholic faith. Students learn how to develop both cogent arguments for its defense and effective means of persuasion. Individual topics range from God's existence to Papal Primacy. Required of all students. Prerequisite: THEO 301.

THEO 303 Theology of Worship and of its Music This course provides an introduction to the subject by analyzing and expounding the apposite documents of the ecclesiastical Magisterium, from the Motu Proprio of St. Pius X (1903) to the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) of Vatican II and the instruction Musicam Sacram of 1967.

THEO 304 Practicum: Theology of Worship and of its Music This course offers practical experience in applying sound theological principles to weekly sung worship, including the music "proper to the Roman liturgy," Gregorian chant, according to the Ward Method. Pre- or co-requisite: THEO 303; no musical prerequisites. (1 credit hour: Practicum may not be repeated for credit.)

THEO 305 De Revelatione The existence and nature of divine revelation is studied, together with the means of its transmission, the structure of dogmatic formulae, the relation of revelation to the human disciplines and cultures, and the methods of theology. The primary text is St. Thomas' Summa Theologiae, I, q. 1.

THEO 307 De Deo Uno An intensive study of God in His existence and attributes, with special attention to the "five ways" and the problem of analogy. The basic text is the Summa Theologiae, I, qq. 2-26.

THEO 308 De Deo Trino Processions, relations, Persons: the Divine Trinity is studied both as immanent in God from all eternity and as "sent" to indwell in the souls of the just. The basic text will be the Summa Theologiae, I, qq. 27-43. Required of Theology majors.

THEO 312 De Verbo Incarnato A Biblical, patristic, and scholastic presentation of the fundamental mystery of the Hypostatic union. The basic text will be Summa Theologiae, III, qq. 1-20. Required of Theology majors.

THEO 322 Mariology The historicity of the Lord's virgin birth and Mary's perpetual virginity are defended with the tools of critical exegesis and positive theology. The course also gives a detailed overview of the development of Marian doctrine and liturgical and devotional piety from the Apostolic period to the present. Finally, the course offers a synthesis of major themes in speculative theology pertaining to the Blessed Virgin.

THEO 331 Old Testament Exegesis Particular books or genres within the canonical Old Testament will be studied intensively, with reference to the tradition of Patristic exegesis as well as to what is acceptable in modern methods of hermeneutics. Knowledge of Hebrew is recommended.

THEO 332 New Testament Exegesis A portion of the New Testament corpus is studied according to Patristic and subsequent hermeneutical traditions of the Church; special reference is made to the problems raised by modern exegesis. Knowledge of Greek is recommended.

THEO 341 The Ante-Nicene Fathers By reading from the Apostolic Fathers, the Apologists, Irenaeus, Tertullian, and others, the course traces how Christian thought, life, and worship developed during the period from the late First Century to the conversion of Constantine and the first ecumenical council (Nicaea).

THEO 342 The Post-Nicene Fathers By readings from the Cappadocians, John Chrysostom, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ambrose, Augustine, Gregory the Great, and others, the course traces how Christian thought, life and worship developed from the Council of Nicaea to the end of the Patristic Age in the West.

THEO 345 Ascetical and Mystical Theology A systematic introduction to the principles of spiritual theology in the Thomistic tradition. Select classics on the spiritual life, discipline, and perfection from the Patristic Age through the Catholic Reformation up to the twentieth century will be studied in the light of these general theological principles. Authors include Saints Augustine, Basil the Great, Benedict, Francis of Assisi, Dominic, Bonaventure, Thomas à Kempis, Ignatius de Loyola, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Francis de Sales, and Thérèse of Lisieux.

THEO/HIST 401 The Papacy A survey of the development of the Papacy and its impact on history from St. Peter to the present. Emphasis is placed on institutional growth, the advancement of papal ecclesiology, major challenges to the papacy, and both the elements and the effects of papal leadership in the Church as a whole. (Cross-listed in History.)

THEO 402 Ecclesiology The divine origin, structure, mission, and jurisdiction of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church are studied from the sources of revelation, the definitions of the Magisterium, and the speculative syntheses of Aquinas, Bellarmine, Journet, and others.

THEO 404 The Sacraments After a careful examination of the major points which constitute the traditional tract "On the Sacraments in General," following the Summa Theologiae, III, qq. 60-65, the principal sacraments are studied individually from a dogmatic point of view. Liturgical forms may also be considered insofar as they enrich the theological understanding of the sacrament.

THEO 411 De Gratia Metaphysical and theological issues are combined for the study of such classic questions as: the essentials of human nature, the states of that nature, the gratuity of the supernatural, created and uncreated grace, and the mystery of predestination.

THEO 412 De Novissimis The eschatological claims of the Faith are studied in relation to the other Christian mysteries and in relation to the modern ideologies.

THEO/LATN 421 Patristic Latin Several Patristic authors will be examined in this course, though the focus will be on one major author to be studied in depth. The focal author and work will vary each time the course is offered. (Cross-listed in Latin)

THEO/LATN/PHIL 423 Latin Readings in St. Thomas Aquinas An advanced study of scholastic Latin and an in-depth reading of selections from St. Thomas's Summa Theologiae and other treatises. The portions of the Summa studied will vary. This course may be repeated for credit. (Cross-listed in Latin and Philosophy.)

THEO/GREK 425 Patristic Greek This course includes further New Testament readings, the Didache, and selections from the Greek Fathers of the first nine centuries of the Christian era. This course may be repeated for credit. (Cross-listed in Greek)

THEO/HIST 451 The General Councils The course outlines the chief dogmatic developments from A.D. 325 to 1870 within the changing historical context of the ecumenical councils. (Cross-listed in History.)

THEO 452 The Second Vatican Council The authentic sense and context of the documents of Vatican II are explained. Widespread distortions of the Council's doctrines are exposed and refuted in a close analysis of key texts.

THEO/HIST 481 The History and Nature of Modernism The background of Modernism is researched in the movements of the 19th century. The organization and program of Modernism is reconstructed from the private correspondence and memoirs of such key figures as von Hügel, Blondel, Loisy, Tyrrell, Teilhard de Chardin, Edouard Le Roy, and others. (Cross-listed in History.)

THEO/PSAE 482 Theology and the Public Order The issues of Church and State, secularization, and the temporal common good are analyzed in light of the Kingship of Christ, the divine prerogatives of the Catholic Church, and a sound theological anthropology. Special attention will be given to the Declaration Dignitatis Humanae of Vatican II. (Cross-listed in PSAE.)

THEO 489 Honors Seminar A seminar on a special topic in theology to be determined by the department chairman in consultation with interested and qualified students. Prerequisites: Minimum 3.25 GPA and permission of the Department Chairman. (4 credits)

THEO 490-49 Special Topics or Directed Studies in Theology Specially designed courses of readings in areas not sufficiently covered by another course already in the curriculum.

THEO 512 Senior Seminar and Thesis Guidance is given to the advanced student in preparing a substantive thesis on a theological topic of his choice, subject to the approval of the Department Chairman.