James K. Wellman
Topics vary with each offering.
For Spring 2012 In 1951, H. Richard Niebuhr, the less known but many would argue superior theologian to his better known brother Reinhold, penned the classic Christ and Culture. Niebuhr sought to excavate and outline, across the history of Christianity, five ideal types to describe the relation of faith and culture, religion and culture, Christianity and culture. Niebuhrís five types included: Christ against culture; the Christ of culture; Christ above culture; Christ and culture in paradox, and finally, the one Niebuhr tended to favor, Christ the transformer of culture. Niebuhr drew on his encyclopedic knowledge of Christian history and thought to synthesize the vast complexity of relations between Christianity and its various cultures. His work was a classic that no one has surpassed. Many have tried. We will study the original and the various critics of the work. This is about Christianity and culture, but the framework and thinking can be used to apply to other religions and cultures. The course invites an intense examination of Niebuhrís work and his critics; students, however, are encouraged to bring their own research, on whatever religion, to examine and present for their final papers, in light and in critique of Niebuhrís classic.
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