Carroll College, Helena Montana

Fall 2015 Courses

Course Descriptions

John Ries

TH 254: Theology and Science

This course examines how and why the relation of Theology and Science has taken shape in the history of Christianity, particularly in its becoming problematic since the rise of modernity. This requires a critical reflection upon philosophical positioning of these disciplines, drawing out important differences in “truth and method” while seeking a non-reductive dialogue. Based on these philosophical underpinnings, a  theological re-thinking of God (“after Darwin”) and of creation will be explored, both in its opportunities and challenges for contemporary Christian faith.

Th 251: The God Question

This course examines how ‘the question of God’ has taken shape in the history of Christianity and how this question is being asked and re-framed in contemporary thought, especially in the context of suffering. Particular attention is given to how the tradition has forged ‘the God question’ in terms of ‘transcendence’/‘immanence’ and how since modernity this has come to situate contemporary Christian belief in a new and deeply challenging way. In this context, the course particularly explores contemporary ways of thinking about God and human suffering – through theology, philosophy & literature – that draws out the radicality of faith and its existential imperative to live/engage the God question in the challenges and ambiguities of the post-modern world. 

Eric Hall

TH 289: Violence and Atonement

One of the salvation narratives that has arisen throughout the span of the Christian faith pertains to the idea of atonement: that God, needing justice for the sins committed by us against Him, sacrifices his Son—Jesus the Christ—for us and instead of us. In this, justice is served and mercy is gained. This narrative has at least some possible biblical grounding in Hebrews, but was very much developed into its current form and popularity through Anselm of Canterbury and certain Protestant (namely, Calvinist) reinterpretations of his thought. Is, however, this salvation narrative the only possible atonement narrative? That is, can we really say that, within the revelation of shalom (divine peace) that is Christ, that God’s plan for the salvation of the world demands such violence? In this class, we will explore this atonement model of salvation, its problems, and some even more coherent and orthodox alternatives to it—alternatives that remain more consistent with the revelation of the shalom that was Christ. 

TH 211: Comparative Religion

When we think about taking a class in religion, we expect to learn a lot of “facts” about religions and their traditions. We stay at the empirical, “outsider’s” level of the study. That’s not good enough, at least not if we want to gain substantive understanding. Accordingly, in this class, we will do something much different. First, we will explore the idea of religion itself, including the ideas of “ultimate reality,” “symbolism,” and the “inner logic” of a religion. Second, we will use these ideas to take up the study of two religious traditions: the Christian and the Buddhist. We use the Christian faith because we know this one, and it constitutes the basis of many of our identities at Carroll. (Even if we are not Christian, many of us are very familiar with it.) We use the Buddhist tradition, however, because it presents us with a tradition that is entirely distinct from the Christian faith and, frankly irreducible to its ideas. With Vatican II in mind and its warnings against the falsely conciliatory claims, we will enter into dialogue, seeing what each tradition might have to offer the other. Finally, you will take up the logic of this dialogue and, using either Buddhist or Christian thought as your dialogue partner, apply the logic to another religious tradition.

Gerardo Rodriguez

TH 231: Introduction to the Old Testament (WI)

This course surveys the historical, literary, cultural and theological heritage in ancient Israel from its earliest beginnings to the start of the Christian era. Attention will be paid to the geographical and historical contexts in which the Jewish scriptures arose, their social setting, political contexts and theological message.  Special attention will be devoted to developing the skills necessary to interpret the texts within their own historical context as well as the possibilities that emerge from the text as a literary creation.  Students will engage the multiple readings that emerged in subsequent Jewish traditions, New Testament texts and Christian traditions (Roman Catholic and Protestant).  Students will acquire the skills to critically engage and interpret some of the most influential sections from the Old Testament based on the ancient context as well as appreciate the multivalent interpretations available to the contemporary reader.  This course fulfills one of the Writing Intensive (WI) core class requirements, thus writing is an integral aspect of the course.

TH 341: History of Christian Thought I: Early Christianity/Patristics

This course (1) surveys the contours of Christian theological and intellectual formation in the patristic period, and (2) traces the development of one particular topic throughout the patristic period.  In Fall 2015, the course will focus on the topic of early Christian biblical interpretation.  The course is concerned with Christianity’s formation during the second through early-sixth centuries.

Katherine Greiner

Exploring Christian Spirituality:Traditions, Practices, and Contemporary Experience 

What is spirituality? How does it relate to Christianity? What is its role in the world today? These are a few of the questions this course will explore. This course explores the various spiritual traditions and practices that have shaped the lives of Christians over the past two thousand years. The first part of the course will investigate the theme of spirituality as a theme, both as lived experience and as an academic field as well as its relationship with religion and theology. The second part of the course will engage a wide variety of classic Christian spiritual sources including selections from Sacred Scriptures, the works of St. Augustine, St. Benedict, St. Francis and St. Clare, Julian of Norwich, St. Hildegard of Bingen, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Theresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. The final part of the class will present Christian spiritual viewpoints on contemporary issues such as spirituality and sexuality, spirituality and ecology, spirituality and interreligious dialogue, and the spirituality of political movements. The students will engage texts from a variety of more contemporary Christian spiritual writers such as Thomas Merton, Desmund Tutu, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr., Sr. Simone Campbell, Anne Lamott, and Gustavo Gutierrez. In addition to learning about various traditions in Christian spirituality, students will learn to critically adjudicate the potentialities and limitations of various Christian spiritual traditions and practices in order to discern the role and place of Christian spirituality in today’s postmodern society. 


For a brief and official description of all our classes, please see the official Academic Catalog, starting on p. 391.

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