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Summer 2011/Southwest






DESCRIPTION:  Encounter and intimacy with God is expressed in various spiritual traditions which develop different spiritual practices.  This course employs a practical theology method to explore four traditions of Christian spirituality, including Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, and contemporary expressions.  Within each tradition one or more spiritual practices will be explored, experienced, and related to practice in today’s church.  In addition these different traditions and practices will be examined in relation to contemporary expressions, such as that of Metropolitan Anthony Bloom Oscar Romero, Mother Teresa, and Howard Thurman.   This course also teaches a practical theology method that connects biblical and theological resources, socio-cultural studies, and the corporate and personal work of discernment leading to discipleship and ministry.

SIGNIFICANCE FOR LIFE AND MINISTRY: There is a resurging interest in spirituality both in the church and culture.  This course seeks to root spirituality in the Scriptures and the church’s historic traditions, to encourage students to explore various the various traditions in order to enhance their own spirituality, and to nurture others in their spiritual journeys.  

LEARNING OUTCOMES:  The student will be able to say:

1.     I have gained greater conceptual clarity on the interrelation between the spiritual traditions and practices of the leading Christian confessions, as well as my own spiritual tradition.

2.     I have explored and experienced various spiritual disciplines and practices from these traditions;

3.     I have gained greater conceptual clarity concerning a praxis-theory-praxis approach to learning and ministry.

4.     I have gained greater conceptual clarity concerning practical theology as a method that serves ministry praxis by observing and describing experiences; integrating various disciplines including biblical studies, theology, church history, socio-cultural resources, personal and corporate narratives; engaging practices of personal and corporate discernment; and the pursuing the work of shaping and evaluating ministry activities.

5.     I have gained skills in the work of practical theology: observation, reflection, and identifying and integrating resources that are important concerning a specific area of ministry.

6.     I have gained an increased commitment to describing and reflecting on my experiences, integrating seminary studies and other resources, and practicing personal and communal discernment in service of ministry praxis.

7.     I have gained skills and attitudes that may be used to lead others in the practices of Christian spirituality.

COURSE FORMAT:  There is a combination of lecture, discussion, small groups, and case studies.  The class will meet for two weeks on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday (6:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m.) and two Saturdays, (8:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m., at a local retreat center). 

REQUIRED READING:  Students are required to read 1500 pages from the following books.  Books marked with an asterisk are available in the Christian Ethereal Library at http:www.ccel.org/.

Augustine, Confessions. Oxford: University Press, USA 1998, ISBN:  9780192833723, $7.95.*

Benedict, The Rule of St. Benedict. Anthony C. Meisel, ed. New York: Doubleday/Image Books, 1975, 9780385009485, $7.95.*

Calvin, John.  The Golden Book of the True Christian Life.  Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004.  ISBN: 9780801065286, $8.99.*

De Sales, Francis. Introduction to the Devout Life.  New York: Image, 1972. ISBN: 9780385030090, $14.95.*

Gregory of Nyssa. The Life of Moses.  Malwah, New Jersey: Paulist, 1978. ISBN:  9780809121120, $11.99

Ignatius of Loyola. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. New York: Image, 1964. ISBN: 9780385024365, $7.99. *

Luther, Martin.  A Simple Way to Pray. Louisville: Westminister John Knox.  ISBN: 9780664222734, $15.00. 

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh.  Essential Writings.  Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2010.  ISBN: 9781570758669, $12.24.

Mother Teresa  Contemplative in the Heart of the World. Angela Devanda, ed. Fount, 1986, ISBN: 978-0006270737, $12.99.

Romero, Oscar. The Violence of Love. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2004.  ISBN:  9781570755354,  $18.00.

Thurman, Howard, For the Inward Journey.  Anne Spencer Thurman, ed. Richmond, IN: Friends United, 1984.  ISBN: 978-0151326563, $24.00. 

Wesley, John.  A Plain Account of Christian Perfection.  Scotts Valley, CA: Epworth, 2007.  ISBN: 9780716206309, $12.00.

Whitehead, James D. and Evelyn Eaton. Method in Ministry: Theological Reflection and Christian Ministry. Rev.ed. Lanham, MD: Sheed & Ward, 1995.  ISBN: 9781556128066, $20.95.



1.     Attendance at all classes including active involvement in class and small groups (10%); for learning outcomes: 1-7.

2.     Attendance at the two Saturday retreats and two five-page (double-spaced) reflection papers (20%); for learning outcomes: 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7.

3.     Personal engagement in spiritual practices with journal reflections (10%); for learning outcomes: 2, 3, 6, 7.

4.     Three eight-page papers (double-spaced) based on the lectures and required readings (20% each); each paper will examine aspects of the traditions and practices of each one of the four main areas of study with applications for today’s church (60% total grade); for learning outcomes: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.   


RELATIONSHIP TO CURRICULUM:  Meets MDiv core requirement MIN1 and MA core requirement.