Religion

Religion is about the ultimate issues of life, dealing with three essential concerns: 1) our faith relationship to God; 2) our desire to discover meaning based on that faith relationship; and 3) our effort to live a life that glorifies and enjoys God forever. For this to happen, we need to take the study of religion seriously, and thus scholarly examination is appropriate.

The religion department grounds you in the academic study of the Christian faith tradition for the purpose of promoting and nurturing reflective Christian life, service, and mission in the world.

  • By grounding you we intend to guide you to base your life and service on the authority of the Christian scriptures and through theological reflection on the Christian faith from a Reformed, evangelical and ecumenical perspective.

  • By promoting and nurturing reflection we intend to train you to critically engage the best in the academic study of religion in the areas of biblical studies, theology, church history and missions.

  • By Christian life and service we mean to train and equip you to serve God’s people, the church and the world by cultivating deeper growth in personal spirituality, which is expressed in the inseparable combination of proclaiming and living the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In order to meet these goals, the religion department offers several program options:

  1. The religion major includes courses in Bible, theology, church history and other practical areas related to service, such as missions. It is designed for students who plan to pursue advanced degrees in seminary or graduate school.

  2. The religion minor is an excellent option for students majoring in other disciplines. It enables you to deepen your understanding of the Christian faith and to integrate your faith into your field of study.

  3. Religion courses constitute a central component of several other academic programs including the Christian education and ministry major, the mission service career concentration and the youth ministry and adolescent studies minor.

  4. Students interested in exploring a variety of disciplines in the humanities yet concentrating in religion can complete a humanities major with religion as their primary discipline.

Religion department homepage

Major requirements

REL 472 - Senior Seminar in Religion
A research seminar in which students will explore contemporary questions and issues in light of the Christian religious and theological tradition. Features the writing and presentation of a major paper, discussions, analysis and critique of research. Prerequisites:REL110, 262 and senior class standing. (4 credits)
Choose at least one course:
REL 317 - Topics in Old Testament Studies
A study of a single book or larger section of the Old Testament or a current area of critical inquiry concerning the Old Testament. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the Pentateuch, the Historical Writings, the Prophets, and the Poetic and Wisdom books.Prerequisites: REL110 and sophomore class standing.(2 credits)
REL 322 - Topics in New Testament Studies
A study of a single book or larger section of the New Testament or a current area of critical inquiry concerning the New Testament. Possible topics include the Synoptic Gospels, the Book of Acts, the Johannine Literature, the Epistolary Literature, the Apocalypse.Prerequisite: REL110 and sophomore class standing.(2 credits)
REL 328WI - Biblical Interpretation and Theology
Choose at least one course:
REL 280 - History of Christianity
A survey of the development of Christianity from the apostolic period to the contemporary world. Themes examined will include the separation of Church and Synagogue, Christianity in the Roman Empire, ecumenical councils, missionary expansion of the church in Europe and Asia, monasticism, the church in the High Middle Ages, the Protestant and Catholic Reformations, Confessionalism and the Wars of Religion, Puritanism, Pietism, The Enlightenment, Christianity and European Colonialism, Revivalism, Modernism and Evangelicalism, modern missionary expansion, the ecumenical movement, and Christianity as a global religion. (4 credits)
REL 384 - Topics in the History of Christianity
A historical study of a religious group, theological movement or important leader in the history of the Christian church.(2 credits, offered on demand or discretion of department, consult department)
Choose at least one course:
REL 294 - Introduction to Christian Missions
A general overview of the biblical foundations and historical evolution of Christian mission, with special emphasis upon the modern development of mission theory and practice. Prerequisite: REL250(2 credits)
REL 295 - Intercultural Communication
REL 392 - Topics in Missiology
A topical and selective study of major missiological themes, permitting students to read and reflect intensively upon the nature and challenge of Christian mission. Topics will vary from year to year. Sample topics might include Religious Conversion, The Finality of Christ in a Pluralistic World, Interfaith Dialogue, Contextualization, Women in Mission Yesterday and Today.Prerequisite: REL294 or permission of instructor.(4 credits, alternate years, consult department)
Choose at least one course:
REL 260 - Christian Ethics
A biblically based, theologically and historically informed study of both personal and social moral issues from a Christian perspective. (2 credits, offered at the discretion of the department, consult department)
REL 290 - Christian Witness and Community Development
An examination of Christian witness as verbal proclamation (evangelism), as reasoned response (apologetics), as a distinctive lifestyle and as the practice of social justice. Prerequisite: REL250 (4 credits)
REL 310 - Christian Spirituality
REL 340 - Heart of Worship
(2 credits, alternate years, consult department) A study of an interdisciplinary area of religion, not sufficiently covered by other courses, in response to student or faculty interests. This course will explore Christian worship: its history and branches, its underlying liturgical and sacramental theology, and principles and practices of worship leadership. Students are encouraged to connect their own worshipping experiences with course content in order to understand why their congregations came to worship as they do.
REL 345 - Theology of Worship
(2 credits, alternate years, consult department) A biblical, historical, and theological study of Christian worship from classical and contemporary perspectives. This course fulfills a requirement in the Worship Arts Major and complements the introduction to the elements and experience of worship in the Art of Worship course.Prerequisite: REL250.
Choose at least one course:
REL 370 - Calvin and Calvinism
A study of John Calvin's INSTITUTES OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, as well as a survey of other varieties of Reformed theology, including later Calvinism. Prerequisite: REL262 (4 credits, alternate years, consult department)
REL 375 - Topics in Theology
A study of one or more standard areas of theology, (such as the doctrines of Revelation, God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, Humanity, Salvation, the Church, and Last Things) from a classical as well as a contemporary perspective.Prerequisites: REL110 and 262.(4 credits, alternate years, consult department)
Choose at least one course:
REL 340 - Heart of Worship
(2 credits, alternate years, consult department) A study of an interdisciplinary area of religion, not sufficiently covered by other courses, in response to student or faculty interests. This course will explore Christian worship: its history and branches, its underlying liturgical and sacramental theology, and principles and practices of worship leadership. Students are encouraged to connect their own worshipping experiences with course content in order to understand why their congregations came to worship as they do.
REL 382 - Religion in America
Focusing on the Christian tradition, this course will examine the individual, institutions, movements and faith traditions which have shaped and contributed to the American religious experience. To understand both the variety of and unity within the pluralist religious landscape, the course will seek to evaluate the interrelationship between religion and the broader social, cultural and political aspects of the American experience.(4 credits)
REL 385 - Topics in Religion
A study of an interdisciplinary area of religion, not sufficiently covered by other courses, in response to student or faculty interests.Prerequisite: REL250 or permission of instructor.(2-4 credits, alternate years, consult department)
REL 390 - World Religions
The major religions of India, East Asia and the Middle East are examined in the light of the Christian faith. This course emphasizes the interaction of religion and culture with a view to cross-cultural understanding. In-depth research into a specific culture and religion is required.(4 credits)
Electives: 8-18 credits
Take any combination of additional REL, HEB, or GRE courses; excluding REL150 and REL250. Only ten credits of HEB and GRE can be taken toward the major.

Total credits required: 36

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