Modern and Contemporary Christian Thought – THEO 603

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 07/28/2020

Course Description

A study of thought from Enlightenment trends to contemporary theological and philosophical developments. The latter subject includes nineteenth century liberalism, twentieth century new-orthodoxy, existentialism, and post-existential trends such as secular, liberation, and hope theologies. Attention is also given to recent philosophical movements such as logical positivism, linguistic analysis, and process thought. The course stresses the history of major ideas, the system of formative scholars, and the conservative alternative. (Formerly THEO 503)




Traditional Christianity has faced numerous challenges throughout its history, many of which are ideological. This course is designed to explain and critically clarify the philosophical and theological emphases of prominent Western theologians and theological movements that have affected—and continue to affect—how the Gospel is understood and presented by Christians in the modern era.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Identify the major periods and sections of contemporary theology.
  2. Recognize the major theological developments of each contemporary period.
  3. Appraise the more prominent theological formulations of the modern and postmodern eras.
  4. Critically evaluate a select issue or doctrine in contemporary theology.
  5. Formulate a biblical response to select contemporary theologies or philosophies.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in Module/Week 1.

Discussion Board Forums (4)

Discussion boards are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to create a thread in response to the provided prompt for each forum. Each thread must be 400–600 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to at least 2 classmates’ threads. Each reply must be at least 200 words. (MLO: D, E)

Research Paper Proposal

The student will submit a paper proposal containing the following elements: (a) a properly-formatted title page according to the SOD Writing Guide, (b) a 1-sentence working thesis statement, (c) 1 or 2 paragraphs (100–200 words in total) explaining the need for studying the proposed thesis statement, (d) a 1-level working outline, and (e) a working bibliography with at least 8 peer-reviewed sources, in addition to the course textbooks and the Bible. This proposal will form the foundation for the research paper the student will write later in the course. (MLO: C, E)

Book Analyses (2)

The student will write 2 Book Analyses that are 1,000–1,250 words each. The first will cover Karl Barth’s Evangelical Theology: An Introduction, and the second will cover Gustavo Gutiérrez’s A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics, and Salvation. Each analysis must include a summary of the book’s content and an appraisal/evaluation of its theological ideas and must cite at least 2 other book reviews. (MLO: C)

Research Paper

The student will write a 4,000–5,000-word thesis-driven research paper in current Turabian format according to the LUSD Writing Guide that focuses on at least 1 theologian’s attempt to solve a specific theological problem in the modern era. The paper must identify and appraise the theological problem encountered by the theologian, describe the theologian’s attempt to solve the problem, and formulate a biblical response to the theologian’s handling of the problem. The paper must include at least 8 peer-reviewed sources, in addition to the course textbooks and the Bible. (MLO: D, E)

Exams (2)

There are 2 exams in this course. Exam 1 will cover the presentations and assigned textbook readings for Modules/Weeks 1–3, and Exam 2 will cover the presentations and assigned textbook readings for Modules/Weeks 4–8. Each exam will be open-book/open-notes and will contain 25 multiple-choice questions. Each exam has a time limit of 1 hour and 15 minutes. (MLO: A, B)