TCL7000SEN - Issues in Theology and Culture

Course description

This course examines various theological negotiations of the complex interaction between Christian theology and the diversity of human life and activity subsumed under the tricky term "culture". Students analyze various theological approaches to this interaction, drawing the ethical implications of each and developing this implications into a strategy for cultural engagement in their own culture. This involves both careful biblical-ethical thinking and sensitive cultural study.

How this course benefits students

The mission of the people of God necessarily carries the Gospel of Jesus Christ into different cultural contexts. Yet the interactions between this Gospel and the diverse cultural contexts which it penetrates are far from uniform. This process which began in Acts continues today, with Christians living in contexts which offer varying iterations of these interactions. Christians seeking to concretely live out their faith in the complex 21st-century world need to understand the ways in which the Gospel variously supports, integrates with, questions, challenges, or opposes elements of their own culture - including their own "Christian" inculturation which has produced their faith itself. This course develops this tricky questioning, teaching students to read their own cultural context with careful theologically formed eyes, leading to a conscious double orientation to their faith and their culture.

Why this course is important

A major obstacle to missional living (whether in one's own culture or in a foreign culture) is a lack of awareness of how the Gospel sets us apart from our own cultural contexts, changes us, and prepares us for a missional life within those contexts. In theological terms, this distance which separates us from our own context is studied as a component of sanctification, which implies being "set apart" for holy service. Only a robust awareness of how the Gospel relates to (whether by addressing, supporting, challenging, or overturning) culture can address this problem, forming Christians to follow the Holy Spirit in living the new life in Christ in diverse cultural settings.

Credit hours
3 hours
Subject area
Cultural Theology
Educational level
Learning type
Upcoming terms
* Schedule subject to change. Please contact the Registrar's office with schedule questions.

How this course relates to missional core values

Biblically based

An important element of this course examines theology/culture interactions through a biblical lens. Case studies from Old and New Testament examines how the prophets and apostles analyzed, diagnosed, and responded to cultural practices and artefacts of their own day as a precursor to thinking through what such analysis might mean today. Special attention is given to ethical reasoning and how we think through cultural issues today.

Missionally driven

A tricky aspect of mission involves concretely distinguishing the ways in which the Christian life as driven by the Holy Spirit does or should render Christian behavior different from the believer's original culture (or the culture which defines their missional field). This separation (implied in sanctification) is a theological precursor to missional sending. This class develops a nuanced approach to this discernment by analyzing various iterations of this tricky tension both in scripture and contemporary society.

Contextually informed

Theological-cultural analysis aims to develop students' capacity to sensitively engage their lived context with an awareness of both the cultural implications of their theology and the theological implications of their culture. This class aims to develop acute awareness of theological dimensions of one's own culture and facilitate robust lived embodiment of the Gospel in a student's given context.

Interculturally focused

As this class aims to develop and hone theological awareness and analysis of cultural practices and artifacts, it accomplishes its goal most effectively by examining a broad array of such elements from multiple cultures.

Practically minded

Students demonstrate nuanced aptitude for bringing biblical theological knowledge to bear on cultural elements in their daily lives.

Experientially transformed

Students gain experience in theological cultural hermeneutics through a project of discerning the theological implications of an experience from their own lives.