Theology is the science of God, the discipline that seeks knowledge of God’s being and all of God’s works. Theology synthesizes and interprets Christian beliefs and applies them to today’s world. Theology leads to wisdom. Living in light of wisdom from God shapes and motivates a passionate love for God and growth in maturity.

Objectives for Students

  • Acquire orderly understandings of the major doctrinal and biblical themes of the Christian worldview;
  • Gain awareness of contemporary intellectual movements and proper Christian response;
  • Form reasons for faith and ability to offer reasoned defenses of Christian truth;
  • Develop the habit of interpreting all of life through the practice of theological reflection;
  • Uncover the connections of Christian truth with the living of life and the practice of leadership in ministry; and
  • Find guidance and motivation for pursuing personal spiritual growth by encountering the transforming power of divine truth.

Systemic Theology

Systemic theology synthesizes Christian beliefs and applies them to today's world.  Building chiefly on a foundation of biblical data, it also interacts with other areas of knowledge such as philosophy, historical and contemporary theology, and the sciences, using them to illuminate and confirm essential biblical teachings.  A primary goal of coursework in systemic theology is to help students work toward developing an intelligible system of Christian thought that is at once biblically sound, rationally coherent, and culturally relevant.  To be taken middle or senior year.  At Bethel Seminary St. Paul, all students should plan to take TS512 before taking upper-level electives in systematic theology.

TS512 • Systematic Theology I: God the Creator. 3 Credits.

A discussion of the integrative nature and methods of systematic theology; a study of the character of God's self-disclosure in nature and the Bible; an investigation of the being and foundational works of the Triune God; and an analysis of human nature both as it was created by God and as it exists in its present sinful state.

TS513 • Systematic Theology II: God the Redeemer. 3 Credits.

An investigation of the person of Jesus Christ and the provision of salvation through Christ's work; a study of the person of and general works as associated with the Holy Spirit, and the gift of salvation as believers through the Spirit's redemptive and reconciling work; as well as reflection on God's purposes and activity in the church and God's purposes for history and the future of creation.

TS520 • Theology & Psychological Theory: An Integrative Seminar. 3 Credits.

This course is an investigation of selected doctrines from theological and psychological perspectives. Team-taught by a theology professor and a MFT/MHC professor, it is designed to facilitate faith-therapy integration in the domains of theory, professional practice, and personal formation.
Prerequisites: MF625 or MH625. Campus: San Diego.

TS530 • Faith and Public Life. 3 Credits.

An introduction to the public nature of Christian belief and practice, highlighting diverse expressions of faith-culture interaction. Different types and facets of culture engagement are defined and explored, including intercultural, interdisciplinary, interreligious, ethical, and apologetic concerns. Cultural agency is connected to theological reflection, spiritual formation, and vocational leadership. Campus: St. Paul.

TS601 • History of Christian Thought: The Early Church to Scholasticism. 1.5,3 Credits.

A survey of the major historical, cultural, and theological factors influencing the development of doctrine to Aquinas, with major analysis of the work of the Ante- and Post-Nicene councils and their subsequent influence on the articulation of the structure of theological thought.
Prerequisites: HS510. Special Notes: Crosslisted with HS601.

TS602 • History of Christian Thought: Scholasticism to Enlightenment. 1.5,3 Credits.

An analysis of theological renewal based on an inductive study from the writings of Wycliffe, Hus, Luther, Calvin, the Anabaptists, Elizabethan-American Puritans, and John Wesley.
Prerequisites: HS510. Special Notes: Crosslisted with HS602.

TS603 • History of Christian Thought: 19th Century to the Present. 1.5,3 Credits.

An analysis of the antecedents of contemporary theology as reflected in the formative periods of the 19th century to the present, with particular reference to the modern era and its significance in contemporary church life.
Prerequisites: HS510. Special Notes: Crosslisted with HS603.

TS605 • Theology and Contemporary Culture. 3 Credits.

An engagement with current, popular forms of cultural expression - movies, music, television, sports, social media, etc. - and their relevance to Christian thought and practice. This course emphasizes cultural hermeneutics: how interpretations of culture can shape and inform theological reflection, public action, vocational identity, and missional engagement.

TS606 • Apologetics. 1.5,3 Credits.

This course considers how best to accomplish the task of defending and commending the substance of the Christian faith in a culture increasingly indifferent to matters of truth. After assessing the contemporary intellectual milieu, it identifies and evaluates various evidences for Christianity, pursues answers to key problematic issues, and concludes with a study of the relationship between apologetics and evangelism.
Prerequisites: TS512.

TS630 • Eschatology and Hope. 3 Credits.

This course explores the themes of eschatology, or the doctrine of the “last things,” with particular attention to the ways in which it contributes hope for humanity and for the purpose of creation. While engaging the thought of major contemporary theologians, this course focuses on the relation between eschatology and Christology, soteriology, and political and practical/pastoral theology. Attention is also given to the relation between eschatology and theodicy, Christian spirituality and ecological ethics.
Prerequisites: TS512.

TS632 • World Religions. 1.5,3 Credits.

This couse is a study of the world religions that provide structures of belief and meaning for vast numbers of people in America and globally. A primary goal is to develop the understanding and sensitivities necessary to represent Christ attractively, and communicate His Gospel intelligibly, to adherents of these faiths. It is also an opportunity to develop an informed Christian theology of religions.
Prerequisites: recommended to have taken TS512. Special Notes: Crosslisted with GC632.

TS633 • The Church and Social Issues. 3 Credits.

An in-depth study of contemporary social challenges and questions, particularly in North American society, but with a view to the reality of globalization. The guiding question is: How does Scripture and the Gospel apply to the most difficult and pressing issues of the day and how can the church be involved? Particular issues are at the discretion of the instructor, but they will likely include (though not be limited to): diversity and racism, human sexuality, economics and poverty, and food and agriculture.
Prerequisites: TS512.

TS634 • Religious Pluralism. 1.5,3 Credits.

This course explores the theological issue of religious pluralism from a Christian and evangelical perspective. Students explore the historical and contemporary expressions of pluralism as represented by such thinkers as John Hick, John Cobb, and Raimundo Panikkar, among others. Special attention is given to Christological questions posed by pluralism and appropriate theological and apologetic responses. Practical and constructive methodologies are incorporated.
Prerequisites: TS512.

TS640DE • Biblical Justice. 1.5 Credits.

A focused examination of a biblically-informed view of justice and action-oriented responsibility. Attention is given to theological hermeneutics, in conversation with the sciences. Special consideration is given to race, gender, class, and other issues of contemporary significance. Active justice is explored in relation to spiritual formation in cultural, ecclesial, and vocational contexts.

TS662 • Kierkegaard and Postmodernity. 3 Credits.

This course explores the philosophical and theological thought of Soren Kierkegaard, a 19th century Danish author who has influenced deeply postmodern thinking. Scholarship on Kierkegaard has exploded in the last few decades and a new sensitivity to his contribution to Christian theology has emerged. We explore the basic structure and themes of his authorship by engaging and analyzing selected primary texts. What are the implications of his work for evangelical Christian faith in contemporary culture? .
Prerequisites: TS512.

TS672 • Baptist History and Theology. 1.5,3 Credits.

This course surveys the history, theological convictions and distinctive practices of the Baptist tradition. Contemporary developments, special challenges and promising opportunities will receive focused attention.
Prerequisites: TS512. Special Notes: Cognate Credit with HS672.

TS674 • Ministry with the Sacraments. 3 Credits.

This course is an in-depth look at the what, the why, and the how of sacramental ministry in the church, especially as practiced in the Anglican tradition. We begin with a sacramental worldview and theology, move to the dominical sacraments of Baptism and Holy Eucharist, and conclude with the rites of Confirmation, Matrimony, Reconciliation, Unction, and Ordination.
Prerequisites: TS512.

TS675 • Creeds & Confessions of the Reformed Church. 3 Credits.

An exploration of the theology of the Reformed tradition through the study of nine creeds and confessions. The course also discusses how the pressure of church heresies and conflicts, as well as national pressures, brought together some of the most important theological statements the church has produced. In addition, the course explores the theological expressions surrounding the doctrines of the person and nature of Christ, the sacraments, election, the Bible and its interpretation, the church, and the relationship of church and state. This course is one of three offered in San Diego that are required by the local Presbytery for ordination in the PCUSA.
Prerequisites: TS512. Special Notes: Crosslisted with HS675.

TS676 • Reformed Worship and Sacraments. 3 Credits.

An introduction to the history, tradition, and structure of Reformed worship. The course answers questions, gives practical applications, and considers the meaning and observance of the sacraments.
Prerequisites: TS512. Special Notes: Crosslisted with HS676 and ML676.

TS686 • The Pietist Tradition. 1.5,3 Credits.

Pietism, "a religion of the heart," signifies a movement launched in the 17th century to reclaim the experiential dimension of Christian faith. This course traces the Pietist impulse in Christian history, evaluates its varied manifestations, and explores the relevance of a biblically-anchored Pietism to the renewal of the contemporary church.
Prerequisites: TS512. Special Notes: Crosslisted with HS686 and SP686.

TS690 • Anglican Theology and History. 3 Credits.

This course is a survey of the principal events, people, and convictions that shaped theology and practice among the Christians of Great Britain and their descendants, from the Middle Ages to the present. The class includes reading and interacting with authors from the Medieval, Classical, Evangelical, Anglo-Catholic, Liberal, and Charismatic streams of the Anglican tradition.
Prerequisites: TS512. Special Notes: Crosslisted with HS690.

TS704 • Movie Theology. 1.5,3 Credits.

A structured workshop in theological evaluation of the heart and mind of contemporary culture as reflected in significant motion pictures. Particular attention is paid to portrayals of the human condition and to religious themes. The goal of the course is to cultivate the art of listening and watching perceptively, with a view to learning whenever possible, and to affirmation or criticism as appropriate.
Prerequisites: TS512 (recommended San Diego).

TS707 • Existentialism in Theology. 3 Credits.

This course introduces key themes and figures in existentialism, with special focus on existentialist theologians and philosophers who have deeply influenced an existential approach to theology (as well as the intersection of theology and psychology). Themes include the nature and meaning of existence, the phenomena of religious faith and doubt, problems of alienation, and courage in suffering and the confrontation with death. The course also considers existentialist ethics (de Beauvoir and Sartre) and the impact of terror management theory on theological ethics and church practice. Other key figures include, but go beyond, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Tillich, and Ernest Becker.
Prerequisites: TS512.

TS726 • History and Theology of Ministry. 3 Credits.

This course invites the student to a survey of important theological expressions and models in the history of Christian ministries from the first century through the present day. We consider selected themes (WISHMAP), illustrated by classic and contemporary sources, within a chronological framework. The goal is for these “voices” to enlighten and inspire our lives in faithful, fruitful service for Jesus Christ and the Kingdom.
Prerequisites: TS512. Special Notes: Crosslisted with ML726 and HS726. Campus: San Diego.

TS733 • Theology and Science. 3 Credits.

A discussion of the interface between two important models of knowledge: theology and science. Taking a history and philosophy of science approach, this course evaluates theology and science as two methods for explaining aspects of reality. It discusses whether the results of science have theological import or the axioms of theology may have scientific significance.
Special Notes: Crosslisted with PH733.

TS735 • Spiritual Theology. 1.5,3 Credits.

This course clarifies the nature of Christian spirituality, makes a case for studying it, examines its biblical, doctrinal and psychological foundations, and then, finally, explores its three Spirit-directed dynamics of relating (to God, others and creation), becoming (holy and whole), and doing (finding our place in the larger purposes of God). Practical assignments and directed experiences provide opportunities to move beyond theory to personal formation.
Prerequisites: TS512 (recommended).

TS739 • Theology in a Global Context. 3 Credits.

This course addresses key intersections between theology and culture and explores questions and issues related to contextuality in theologizing. It does so by close readings, discussions, and analysis of contemporary theologies coming from beyond the traditional Euro-American context, including African, Asian, Latin American and other non-Western contexts. Themes of focus include Christology, anthropology, and the doctrine of salvation.
Prerequisites: TS512. Special Notes: Crosslisted with GC739.

TS751 • Seminar in Theology. 3 Credits.

An in-depth study of a particular contemporary theological issue.
Prerequisites: TS512 and TS513.

TS754 • Perspectives on Evil and Suffering. 3 Credits.

This course explores two distinct approaches to suffering and evil. Theologians, philosophers, and apologists try to explain why evil exists in a world created by a good God. Pastoral theologians and counselors attempt to help people who are suffering. Course participants attempt integration of the categories, resources, and responses typical of these two areas as they seek answers to the question, "What can theologians and caregivers learn from each other? .
Prerequisites: TS512. Special Notes: Crosslisted with PC754 and PH754.

TS774 • Theology of Leadership and Vocation. 3 Credits.

This course will enable students to articulate a theology of leadership in an increasingly post-Christendom context and will also explore the nature of vocation as understood historically and in the present. The course explores the theological nature and biblical rationale for effective leadership and also explores, more broadly, vocation as a gift and responsibility, but does so in the context of reflection on the nature of the kingdom of God. The course culminates in in-depth communal and personal reflection on the question of vocation.
Prerequisites: TS512. Special Notes: Crosslisted with ML774.

TS780 • MA(TS) Capstone Course. 3 Credits.

This course aims at integration of the curricular content of the M.A. (T.S.) program with a view to preparing students as they look ahead to future ministries of teaching and, for those who continue on academically, vocational scholarship. The course will incorporate insights from leadership studies that apply to students on these tracks. It will also sensitize students to the cultural dynamics of their anticipated ministry contexts and provide a framework for developing a general theology of culture and cultural agency. The capstone course may be organized around a particular theme or study topic each year.
Prerequisites: TS512. Campus: San Diego

Philosophy of Religion

PH620 • Methods and Themes in Christian Thought. 3 Credits.

An introduction to key concepts, figures themes, and methodological approaches within the history of Christian thought. It involves an overview study of the history of the complex relationship between philosophy and theology from Plato to postmodernism. Key philosophical themes are drawn from metaphysics, ontology, phenomenology, and the question of religious language. Key theological themes are drawn from the doctrines of God, revelation, and the nature of humanity. Methods include historical, philosophical, systematic, and contextual theologies. Special attention is given to points of intersection among these approaches.

PH655 • Integrative Hermeneutics. 3 Credits.

An in-depth look at the human experience of interpretation, through the grid of philosophical hermeneutics and its intersections to theology.
Prerequisites: BT510 Special Notes: Crosslisted with BT655.

PH665 • History of Philosophy of Religion. 3 Credits.

This course explores the discourse of philosophical hermeneutics, discussing questions of how we interpret and how language functions in both communication and understanding. It studies significant philosophers and theologians in the field of hermeneutics, and also pays particular attention to the discourses of postmodernism as a philosophical outlook as well as to diverse, marginalized voices regarding their contribution to interpretation of the Bible. The course considers the interpretation of written, sacred texts, but also considers the phenomena of text and “textuality” more broadly, from an integrated theological and philosophical lens.
Prerequisites: TS512.

PH733 • Theology and Science. 3 Credits.

A discussion of the interface between two important modes of knowledge: theology and science. Taking a history and philosophy of science approach, this course evaluates theology and science as two methods for explaining aspects of reality. It discusses whether the results of science have theological import or the axioms of theology may have scientific significance.
Prerequisites: PH606. Special Notes: Crosslisted with TS733.

PH754 • Perspectives on Evil and Suffering. 3 Credits.

This course explores two distinct approaches to suffering and evil. Theologians, philosophers, and apologists try to explain why evil exists in a world created by a good God. Pastoral theologians and counselors attempt to help people who are suffering. Course participants attempt integration of the categories, resources, and responses typical of these two areas as they seek answers to the question, "What can theologians and caregivers learn from each other? .
Prerequisites: TS512. Special Notes: Crosslisted with PC754 and TS754.

PH770 • Thesis in Christian Thought. 3 Credits.

This is an individual, guided research course which culminates in a master's-level academic paper and a defense of the thesis. Students generally choose the thesis option (rather than the project option) if they intend to pursue an academic vocation in theology or related disciplines and if they intend to further their studies at the doctorate level. Other students may choose this option because they are interested in high-level research at the master's level and if they wish to study a topic in depth. The course is spread out over two semesters, with the first semester designated for the proposal and primary research stage and the final semester designated for research, writing, and defense.
Prerequisites: TS512.

PH775 • Project in Christian Thought. 3 Credits.

This option is designed for Christian Thought students who want to concentrate on the practical, or “praxis,” application of Christian Thought to ministry (i.e. preaching, church planting, teaching, pastoral counseling, social work, and social justice ministry, etc.). While the student does not write a master's thesis, there is a written component (a summative, reflection paper) to the project option. The primary work, however, is accomplished through a mentored internship experience which is designed in collaboration with the student, the Christian Thought program director, and the Office of Formation, Supervised Ministry, and Placement. The objective is to provide the student an opportunity to apply Christian Thought to a practical arena of ministry related to the student’s vocational interests and goals. The course is split into two semesters, with one credit designated for the proposal and preparation stage and the final two credits for the implementation and written reflection. The course is taken over the final two semesters of a student’s program.
Prerequisites: TS512.

PH780 • Senior Integrative Seminar: Missional Apologetics. 3 Credits.

This course involves the strategic application of theology and Christian thought to the practical tasks of evangelism and mission—with special emphasis on postmodern, pluralist, and post-Christian contexts. It begins from the starting point that successful evangelism and mission today requires a holistic combination of intellectual, social, and spiritual engagement. The course is explicitly integrative, drawing on theology, philosophy, culture studies, leadership, and spiritual formation. Prerequisite: Must be taken in the student’s final year.
Prerequisites: TS512.

Ethical Studies

TS516 • Christian Social Ethics. 3 Credits.

A study of the ethical dimension of Christian theology. This class begins with an analysis of theoretical ethics, terminology, approaches, and biblical bases, and then concentrates on the application of ethical theory to specific ethical issues facing Christians today.
Prerequisites: TS512 TS513 (St Paul). TS512, TS513, BI510 (recommended San Diego).

TS517DE • Christian Social Ethics for the Workplace. 3 Credits.

A study of the ethical dimensions of Christian theology for leadership and workplace contexts. The class begins with an overview and analysis of ethical theory, terminology, approaches, and biblical bases, and then brings this ethical reflection into conversation with leadership theory and an emerging theology of faith, work, and economics. Application of ethical theory will focus on leadership and workplace issues facing Christian leaders today.
Campus: St. Paul. Special Notes: Crosslisted with ML517DE.

TS742 • Sexual Ethics. 1.5,3 Credits.

A study of human sexual character and sexual expression from the perspectives of Scripture, theology, history, and contemporary thought and practice. Focuses on prevalent misunderstandings and abuses of sexuality, as well as the goodness of sexuality as designed by our Creator, in the lives of both married and single persons. Fornication, adultery, pornography, homosexuality, solo sex, celibacy, marriage, divorce, and remarriage are some of the topics we examine to learn how we may live godly and satisfying lives in an increasingly perverse society.
Prerequisites: TS512 (St. Paul).

TS752 • Seminar in Ethics. 3 Credits.

The seminar provides opportunity for skill development in Christian ethics methodology through advanced-level study of a particular ethical issue. Seminar topics are chosen on the basis of contemporary relevance and significance.
Prerequisites: TS512, TS516.

Research

TS670 • Independent Study in Theology. 1-9 Credits.

Research focused on a particular theological issue or topic may be pursued under independent arrangement with the professor involved.
Prerequisites: TS512. Special Notes: Permission is required.

TS670E • Independent Study in Ethics. 1-9 Credits.

Research in each of the areas listed under Ethical Studies may be pursued under independent arrangement with the professor involved.
Prerequisites: TS516, TS512. Special Notes: Permission is required.