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.
– Pope Saint 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.
Pope Saint 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’ 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 (LATN 202 or higher). The major consists of at least thirty hours, which must include the following THEO courses:
- 301 Moral Theology and 302 New Evangelization and Apologetics, required of all Christendom students
308 De Deo Trino and 312 De Verbo Incarnato, the 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.
- Five THEO electives numbered 300 or higher
- THEO 512 Senior Thesis
The minor requires 18 hours of theology from THEO courses numbered 300 or higher. THEO 301 and 302 may be counted toward the THEO minor. A course grade of at least C-minus is necessary for a course to fulfill the department’s major or minor requirements.
Students who complete a major in the THEO department will be able to
- clearly articulate the Catholic doctrine of the Triune God.
- accurately summarize the key points of the Catholic doctrine of justification “by faith working through love”.
- clearly articulate principles of Catholic sacramental and liturgical theology
- be able to present the Catholic view of man as an embodied soul, “created in the image and likeness of God,” Who is man’s end and beatitude.
- write scholarly papers which make judicious use of relevant theological sources, incorporating where appropriate the thought and principles of St. Thomas Aquinas.
- deliver well-organized, eloquent oral presentations of their ideas, using the same sources mentioned in #5.
THEO 101 Fundamentals of Catholic Doctrine I: An introduction to Catholic doctrine and the discipline of theology, including its sources, methods, and purpose. Systematic consideration is given to the nature of revelation and faith, the Triune God, the divine work of creation, and mankind’s redemption through Jesus Christ. Required of all students.
THEO 102 Fundamentals of Catholic Doctrine II: This course continues the introduction to Catholic doctrine begun in THEO 101. Systematic consideration is given to the nature of the Church, the life of grace, the sacraments, fundamentals of Catholic moral theology, and eschatology. 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.
THEO 101-202 are prerequisites for all advanced courses, unless an exemption is granted by the Academic Dean (301 and 302) or the Department Chair (courses numbered higher than 302).
THEO 301 Moral Theology: A study of human acts and the character they form so as to direct them to a loving vision of God seen as our true, complete flourishing and our final beatitude. In the light of revelation and reason, students will study how beatitude is attained by means of grace, the virtues, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the natural law written on our hearts. Such reflection will equip students to recover the perennial and living tradition of Catholic Moral Theology as expressed in Patristic, Medieval, and Magisterial writings (including Veritatis splendor). Required of all students.
THEO 302 New Evangelization and 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 or permission of the Academic Dean.
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. Fundamental texts include Dei Filius of Vatican I and St. Thomas’ Summa Theologiae, I, q. 1. Special emphasis is placed on the origins of modernist theories of revelation in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant.
THEO 308 De Deo Trino: The Divine Trinity is studied both as immanent in God from all eternity and as “sent” to indwell in the souls of the just. A Biblical, patristic, and scholastic presentation of the processions, relations and Persons culminates in the study of St. Thomas’ exposition in the Summa Theologiae, I, qq. 27-43. Required of Theology majors.
THEO 312 De Verbo Incarnato: A Biblical, patristic, and scholastic presentation is provided of the fundamental mystery of the Hypostatic union: how Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man in One Divine Person. Texts include St. Athanasius’ De Incarnatione Verbi and St. Thomas’ Summa Theologiae, III, qq. 1-20. Required of Theology majors.
THEO 322 Mariology: An in-depth study of the doctrines and devotions related to the Blessed Virgin Mary in accord with the magisterium of the Catholic Church. Emphases will examine and foster the teachings of the Fathers and Doctors in a Christocentric and ecclesiocentric perspective as established by the Dogmatic Constitution, Lumen Gentium. Marian devotions, related sacramentals, and approved apparitions will be discussed in relation to the Church’s teaching on private revelation and in view of fostering Marian piety.
THEO/PHIL 329 Applied Rational Psychology: A study of the psychology of the human person using Thomistic principles of human nature. Theory and examples are studied to develop a proper understanding of the science of psychology as subordinated to a proper philosophic understanding of human nature. Defects of modern psychology are examined in so far as they arise from modern misunderstandings of human nature and of what a science is.
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 Greek or Hebrew is recommended but not required.
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/CECS 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/CECS 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 360 Theology of the Body: Pope St. John Paul II’s catechesis on the theology of
the body is studied, along with the writings of St. Edith Stein and some Patristic and Medieval authors, in an effort to understand the nature of man, his supernatural vocation, and the mystery of his dual incarnations as male and female. The student will observe the Church’s consistency in her affirmation of the central role of the body in Christian anthropology and discover how the Incarnation and the Resurrection pose challenges to dualistic views of the human person found from ancient times until the present day.
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 and Sacramentality: This course begins with establishing the Catholic principle of sacramentality and the nature of a sacrament, drawing upon Thomistic sacramental doctrine. It will present the seven sacraments within their respective scriptural foundations, and historical, liturgical, and theological development. It concludes with a discussion of recent issues and controversies in sacramental theology.
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: Eschatology concerns the four last things of the individual and of the world. The general and particular judgment, Purgatory and other Christian mysteries are considered in relation to the end of man. The course also examines Catholic eschatology’s relationship to modern ideologies which deny, replace or mutate traditional Christian eschatology.
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/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 Political Science and Economics.)
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 494 Bioethics: Grounded in the anthropological framework of the dignity of the human person and autonomy, this course examines biomedical ethics in light of select beginning-of-life and end-of-life issues, research ethics, the purpose of medicine, and the practices of healthcare providers.
THEO 490-99 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.