Military Chaplaincy – CHPL 680

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 05/02/2022

Course Description

This course examines the theological, historical, constitutional, and cultural basis for professional military chaplains, and addresses the chaplain’s opportunity to provide spiritual leadership, pastoral care, advise commanders in order to best care for the warrior’s soul. Attention is given to scriptural and military mandates for chaplains to provide spiritual warrior care, spiritual leadership, and spiritual counsel to military leaders. Further, the skills, strategies, and character traits necessary for effective chaplain ministry within military pluralistic culture will be explored.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


Military chaplains need to be prepared to minister religiously and effectively in secular and pluralistic military environments without compromising their theology and spiritual convictions. They need to understand the chaplain’s biblical authority and military authority and how they function together. Further, they must be able to accurately assess complex religious environments, ministry opportunities, and challenges to provide solid spiritual leadership and soul-care to military members and their families.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Analyze the unique ministerial role of the military chaplain as set in the historical context of the United States Constitution.
  2. Assess the biblical basis for the military chaplain and explain, in light of Scripture, the spiritual, moral, and ethical principles of chaplaincy ministry.
  3. Compare and contrast pluralism in the New Testament world as it relates to the military chaplain working within the pluralistic setting of today.
  4. Evaluate the unique opportunities and challenges of the military chaplain while serving in secular and pluralistic settings, both in peacetime and deployed setting.
  5. Describe the challenges of building an evangelical ministry while serving on a denominationally diverse chaplain staff.
  6. Develop a biblically based, culturally informed, ministry plan within the military context of the Army, Navy, or Air Force.

Course Assignment

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussions (2)

Discussion are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to provide 400-word threads in response to the provided prompts for each Discussion. Each thread must contain at least 2 scholarly citations in current Turabian format, two applicable Scripture references, and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the threads, the student is required to reply to 2 classmates’ threads. Each reply must be 200 words and contain at least 1 scholarly citation in current Turabian format and 1 applicable Scripture reference. (MLO's: C, D, F).

Research Paper

The incarnational nature of the military chaplain is reflective of the incarnational ministry of Jesus Christ (Matt 1:23). Jesus left his home in heaven, took on human flesh, became a Jewish citizen, adapted to the Jewish culture, yet lived above reproach in a sinful environment to share the Good News and save the souls of people (John 1:14). Likewise, military chaplains leave home, dawn the uniform, become a military member, adapt to military culture, yet live above the sinful environment to share the Good News and see people saved from sin to eternal life. Therefore, in this research paper the student will examine Jesus’ incarnational life and ministry directly from the Gospels and appraise similarities with the military chaplain’s life and ministry to bear the presence and message of Christ. (MLO's: B, C, D, F)

Practical Book Review

Chaplains are often said to be pastors in uniform. In reality military chaplains are more than pastors as they are incarnational ministers, becoming one with the people they seek to minister to and going where their people go, even to war! Still, the ministry military chaplains perform is pastoral in nature and the most dynamic ministry chaplains offer is in combat. This assignment will provide the student an opportunity to examine a chaplain’s pastoral ministry while under fire. (MLO's: A, D, E, F).

Research Paper

Effective chaplains understand that they minister from a position of God-given authority. This authority be viewed as both religious and secular (Rom 13:1). More specifically, the chaplain’s authority to minister is based on personal biblical doctrinal convictions, calling, pastoral ordination, ecclesiastical endorsement, the First Amendment of the Constitution, U.S law, and military regulations. This assignment will give the student the opportunity to glean clear insights about the authority evangelical chaplains poses to perform biblically-based ministry in the military for the glory of God. (MLO's: A, B, F).

Research Paper

One of the most important ministry opportunities chaplains have is caring for the fallen. In fact, chaplains may have greater opportunity than pastors to provide care for those who have died, their comrades, and families. This assignment will provide the chaplain student the opportunity to glean first-hand insights from a funeral director about ministry in death and the opportunity to be around death in a funeral home. (MLO's: A, B, C, D, E, F).

Research Paper

The chaplain’s ability to do self-care is vital to a long and successful chaplain ministry. The chaplain must learn and practice spiritual, mental/emotional, and physical self-care in order to provide care for others without becoming a casualty. Much can be learned from chaplains who have lived and practiced self-care while performing ministry over a length of time. This assignment will provide you the opportunity to glean insights from an experienced chaplain that you might evaluate your own self-care and improvements you would like to make to prepare yourself for resilient ministry. (MLO's: D, E, F)

The Chaplain’s ability to lead may best be actualized through clear insights regarding the chaplain’s calling, incarnational ministry, pastoral ministry, authoritative ministry, crisis/death ministry, mentorship, and self-care. These seven areas of concern can work synergistically for the chaplain leader. However, it is the chaplain’s intentionality and ability to plan well that brings theory to practice. Without intentional planning the chaplain’s potential leadership will not be realized. To this goal, this assignment will provide the student the opportunity to appraise how these seven areas of concern addressed in the course will be integrated to build an intentional plan at both the personal and ministry level.  (MLO's: A, B, C, D, E, F).