Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Bridging the Word and the World

1/15 2021

Inside the PTS Curriculum: Missional Leadership and Evangelism

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The “Inside the PTS Curriculum” series gives you an inside look at what students are learning in their courses at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Each article focuses on one class, its subject matter, what students can expect to learn, the required texts, and the kinds of assignments students can expect. We’ll let you know whether the course is required or available for the Master of Divinity (MDiv), the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), or Master of Theological Studies (MTS). Each article will include the professor’s bio.

This week’s course is: “Missional Leadership and Evangelism.”

 

Scott Hagley missional evangelism

About Missional Leadership and Evangelism

During this term, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary students will be learning about Christian mission and evangelism with Dr. Scott Hagley in the class “Missional Leadership and Evangelism.” This course is required for students in the Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree program and is open to students in the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS) degree or Master of Theology (MTS) degree program.

This course explores biblical, theological, and historical understandings of Christian mission and evangelism with a view toward practices for leading the church to discern and participate in God’s mission within particular contexts.

During this course students will learn about biblical, theological, and historical resources which form and inform Christian mission and the missional congregation. They’ll also explore ways in which Christian mission interprets biblical, theological, and historical sources. The class will look at contemporary mission practices plus theologies and challenges in post-colonial and post-Christendom contexts. Students will have a critical and constructive engagement with practices and theologies of evangelism, practices for leading mission and missional congregations, and leading communal missional discernment in particular. A project will help students to envision concrete practices of mission in a particular context.

Assignments include leading class prayer, writing a five-page paper reflecting upon the ways in which people talk about and encounter God in their context, and a mission theology final paper. Students will read Beyond Christendom: Globalization, African Migration, and the Transformation of the West by Jehu Hanciles; Scripture and Discernment: Decision Making in the Church, by Luke Timothy Johnson; The Mystic Way of Evangelism: A Contemplative Vision for Christian Outreach, by Elaine A. Heath; and Eat What is Set Before You: A Missiology of the Congregation in Context, by Scott Hagley.

 

About the Instructor

Dr. Scott Hagley received a B.A. in youth ministry and communication from Bethel University, an M.Div. from Regent College, and a Ph.D. (with distinction) in congregational mission and leadership from Luther Seminary. He formerly served as director of education at Forge Canada in Surrey, British Columbia, where he worked to develop curriculum for the formation of missional leaders in hubs across Canada. Dr. Hagley also served as teaching pastor at Southside Community Church, a multi-site church in the Vancouver metro area organized around neighborhood-based missional communities. He was a consultant and researcher with Church Innovations Institute and has lectured at denominational meetings and retreats on topics such as missional communities, faith, and spiritual formation. His most recent publication is Eat What Is Set Before You: A Missiology of the Congregation in Context.

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1/8 2021

Inside the PTS Curriculum: Rethinking Church

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The “Inside the PTS Curriculum” series gives you an inside look at what students are learning in their courses at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Each article focuses on one class, its subject matter, what students can expect to learn, the required texts, and the kinds of assignments students can expect. We’ll let you know whether the course is required or available for the Master of Divinity (MDiv), the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), or Master of Theological Studies (MTS). Each article will include the professor’s bio.

This week’s course is: “Rethinking Church.”

About Rethinking Church

In the fall semester of 2019, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary students learned about the nature of the Church with the Rev. Dr. Edwin Chr. van Driel in the class “Rethinking Church.” This course was open to students in the Master of Divinity (MDiv), Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), or Master of Theology (MTS) degree programs.

This course was premised on the notion that American Protestantism is facing a perfect storm. Growing insecurity about the place of the church in a secularized, Western society; ongoing internal conflicts and debates; and a heritage of individualism and voluntarism are tearing the fabric of denominations and local congregations. In this course, students considered contemporary ecclesiological proposals intended to help pastors and congregations imagine new possibilities for the life of the church in this context.

By the end of the course, students were able to think theologically about the church and the challenges that it faces, imagining new possibilities for the life of the church and their ministry. They not only read and analyzed theological texts on ecclesiology, but they also placed these within wider theological conversations. The learnings were both abstract and practical, linking directly to the students’ own churches, denominations, and ministry contexts.

The students’ assignments reflected the unique structure and format of the course. Each week, students submitted two discussion questions based on the assigned readings, and these questions formed the basis of the classroom dialogues. In addition, students were assigned to write two papers reflecting on the themes of the course materials. Required readings included many articles provided to the students, along with four books: N.T. Wright’s Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, The Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church; Bryan Stone’s Evangelism after Christendom: The Theology and Practice of Christian Witness; Lauren F. Winner’s The Dangers of Christian Practice: On Wayward Gifts, Characteristic Damage, and Sin; and, finally, Stefan Paas’s Church Planting in the Christian West.

 

About the Instructor

The Rev. Dr. Edwin Chr. van Driel occupies the Directors’ Bicentennial Chair in Theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Having studied at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, he went on to earn three master’s degrees and a Ph.D. from Yale University. Dr. Van Driel teaches mainly in Christology, ecclesiology, and the interaction between biblical studies and theology. He invests deeply in rethinking church and the church’s calling within an increasingly post-Christian world. He has written a book (Incarnation Anyway: Arguments for Supralapsarian Christology) and published articles in many academic journals and popular magazines. He recently edited What Is Jesus Doing? Divine Agency in the Life of the Church and the Work of the Pastor. Dr. Van Driel is also involved with the PC(USA)’s 1001 New Worshiping Communities and serves as an advisor to the Seminary’s Church Planting Initiative.

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12/18 2020

Inside the PTS Curriculum: Humanity in a Scientific Age

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The “Inside the PTS Curriculum” series gives you an inside look at what students are learning in their courses at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Each article focuses on one class, its subject matter, what students can expect to learn, the required texts, and the kinds of assignments students can expect. We’ll let you know whether the course is required or available for the Master of Divinity (MDiv), the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), or Master of Theological Studies (MTS). Each article will include the professor’s bio.

This week’s course is: “Humanity in a Scientific Age.”

Dr. Ron Cole-Turner

About Humanity in a Scientific Age

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary students are learning about the intersection of science and theology with the Rev. Dr. Ron Cole-Turner in the class “Humanity in a Scientific Age.” This course is open to students in the Master of Divinity (MDiv), Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS), or Master of Theology (MTS) degree programs.

Recent scientific research on human evolution has led to a new perspective that complicates the way theology understands science, while today’s technology offers many ways in which evolved humanity may be modified further. This course invites students to consider these developments in light of Christian theology and to explore the implications of science for Christology, eschatology, and pastoral theology.

By the end of the course, students will be able to exhibit a working knowledge of two important topics: current views on human origins held by foremost experts in the field, and some of the ways in which technology may be used to modify human beings and humanity as a whole. Students will be able to engage thoughtfully with science and technology, showing the ability to integrate scientific insight with biblical and theological perspectives on humanity, sin, salvation, redemption, and eschatological transformation. Finally, they will critically evaluate emerging theological proposals that seek to respond to scientific and technological perspectives on humanity.

Assignments for this seminar-style course include required readings, presentations, and four brief papers. Required readings are pulled from a wide range of sources—e.g. books, journal articles in biblical interpretation and theology, journal articles from science publications—and are provided to the students. The one required text outside these articles will be Ron Cole-Turner’s The End of Adam and Eve: Theology and the Science of Human Origins.

About the Instructor

The Rev. Dr. Ron Cole-Turner is the H. Parker Sharp Professor of Theology and Ethics, a position relating theology and ethics to developments in science and technology. Dr. Cole-Turner received a B.A. from Wheaton College and both an M.Div. and Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ, a founding member of the International Society for Science and Religion (currently serving as vice president), and he has served on the advisory board of the John Templeton Foundation and the Metanexus Institute. He has written and edited many books about the intersection of science and theology, and he is the author of the popular baptism hymn, “Child of Blessing, Child of Promise.”

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