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: “Theology of Calvin.”
About Theology of Calvin
During this term, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary students will be learning about the theology of reformer John Calvin with the Rev. Dr. Ken Woo in the class “Theology of Calvin.” This course fulfills the Historical Context Elective (HCE) requirement for students in the Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree program, and it is open to students in the Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies (MAPS) and Master of Theology (MTS) degree programs.
This course will provide an introduction to John Calvin’s thought in the context of his career as a reformer, with attention to the intellectual background and socio-political realities that shaped his theology. The course will highlight Calvin’s lived experience as a religious refugee whose theology was especially sensitive to the needs of fellow exiles.
Throughout the course, students will read a diverse selection of Calvin’s writings and supplementary scholarly readings to gain an overarching sense of his thought and his views on a variety of topics. They will be able to place Calvin’s writings in their particular historical context and relation to other reformers, with attention to the development of Calvin’s theological positions over time. They will learn to be responsible in their use of historical sources in contemporary theology. Finally, students will arrive at basic conclusions about Calvin’s relationship to the broader Reformed tradition.
Assignments include weekly seminar discussions, occasional presentations, a book review, and a final paper. Required readings for the course will come from John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. J. T. McNeill, trans. by F. L. Battles, 2 vols., in addition to other materials that will be provided.
About the Instructor
The Rev. Dr. Kenneth J. Woo began teaching at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in 2016. He has taught at Duke Divinity School, Redeemer Seminary, and the College of New Jersey. He has also served as a faculty member in The United Methodist Church Course of Study program for ordained ministry. Woo received his Th.D. in the history of Christianity (Reformation Studies) from Duke University in 2015. Before that he completed his M.Div. at Westminster Theological Seminary and B.A. at the College of William and Mary. Woo’s doctoral dissertation examined the complex ways in which John Calvin and his followers employed theological polemics against religious dissimulation to establish and enforce social and ecclesial boundaries in a variety of 16th-century contexts. His latest publication is Nicodemism and the English Calvin, 1544–1584 (Brill, 2019). A Reformed Church in America minister, Woo has served churches in New Jersey, Virginia, and North Carolina, as well as several years in campus ministry. He served for six years as pastor of a multicultural congregation near Washington, D.C.