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Theology Doctoral Qualifying Examination Question Archive—Christianity Track

Contents

Key to Codes

1. Typical Examination Instructions

1.1. Instructions for Two-Part Examinations
1.2. Instructions for Three-Part Examinations

2. Theme-Oriented Essay Questions Adaptable to Any Period

2.1. Two-Part Template Questions
2.2. Other Questions

3. Theme-Oriented Essay Questions for a Specific Period

3.1. Patristic and Medieval Periods
3.2. Modern Period
3.3. Contemporary Period

4. Figure-Oriented Essay Questions for a Specific Period

4.1. Patristic and Medieval Periods
4.2. Modern Period
4.3. Contemporary Period

5. Short Answer Questions for a Specific Period

5.1. Patristic and Medieval Periods
5.2. Modern Period
5.3. Contemporary Period

Key to Codes

Throughout this archive, you will see such codes as "945fAII". This can be parsed as follows:

  • "945" = 1994-1995 academic year
  • "f" = Fall semester (f, s)
  • "A" = first examination (A, B, C, ...)
  • "II" = Part II (I, II, III, IV, ...)

From this it should be possible to make sense of other codes wherever they appear.

1. Typical Examination Instructions

1.1. Instructions for Two-Part Examinations

Instructions for Examination

This is a four-hour, closed-book examination, in which you are to write on four questions.

All candidates are expected to demonstrate at appropriate points in the examination competence in the tasks of theological reflection, including scriptural, systematic, fundamental, and philosophical theology. Choose your questions and formulate your answers in such a way that no figure receives substantial treatment in more than one question. The examiners are interested in your ability both to expound accurately the theological themes and figures mentioned, and to argue insightfully for your own theological ideas. Both parts are essential in a satisfactory exam. Finally: relax as much as you can and try to have fun with the questions.

PhD candidates should answer two questions from Part I and two from Part II. You should try where appropriate, and in at least one answer, to demonstrate facility with the comparative theological method by drawing on texts and motifs in religious traditions other than Christianity.

ThD candidates should answer two questions from Part I and one question from Part II. In addition, you should answer one question provided by your advisor on the specific focus of your program, which is included with this examination.

Afterwards: You will have the opportunity at the end of your last examination to take a copy of your answers away and type them up. You may make the following kinds of changes in this process: improve grammar, correct spelling, and expand abbreviations.

 

Instructions for Part I

Answer two of the following questions.

 

Instructions for Part II

PhD candidates: Answer two of the following questions.

ThD candidates: Answer one of the following questions and one question provided by your advisor on the specific focus of your program (included with this examination).

All candidates: Answer all parts of each question, giving roughly equal weight to exposition of other’s thoughts and arguments for your own view.

 

1.2. Instructions for Three-Part Examinations

Instructions for Examination

This is a four-hour, closed-book examination, in which you are to write on four questions.

All candidates are expected to demonstrate at appropriate points in the examination competence in the tasks of theological reflection, including scriptural, systematic, fundamental, and philosophical theology. Choose your questions and formulate your answers in such a way that no figure receives substantial treatment in more than one question. The examiners are interested in your ability both to expound accurately the theological themes and figures mentioned, and to argue insightfully for your own theological ideas. Both parts are essential in a satisfactory exam. Finally: relax as much as you can and try to have fun with the questions.

PhD candidates should try where appropriate, and in at least one answer, to demonstrate facility with the comparative theological method by drawing on texts and motifs in religious traditions other than Christianity.

ThD candidates should answer one question provided by your advisor on the specific focus of your program. This question takes the place of one question from Part I.

Afterwards: At the end of your last examination, you take a copy of your answers away and type them up. You may make the following kinds of changes in this process: improve grammar, correct spelling, and expand abbreviations.

 

Instructions for Part I

PhD candidates: Answer two of the following questions.

ThD candidates: Answer only one of the following questions if a question has been provided by your advisor on the specific focus of your program (if so, it is included with this examination).

 

Instructions for Part II

All candidates: Choose one of the following two options.

EITHER: Answer the following question:

OR: Provide a succinct definition for at least ten of the following terms. Confine your answers to a couple of sentences each, at most, and spend no longer than fifty minutes in total.

 

Instructions for Part III

All candidates: Answer one of the following questions. Answer all parts of each question, giving roughly equal weight to exposition of other’s thoughts and arguments for your own view.

2. Theme-Oriented Essay Questions Adaptable to Any Period

2.1. Two-Part Template Questions

On God as Trinity: answer a) and b) in order and at roughly the same length:
a) Explain your interpretation of God as Trinity without detailed reference to other theologians. As you do this, explain in what sense Jesus and the Holy Spirit are divine; how they relate to the creator and to the unity of God. Does God have a relational or social nature?
b) Specifically relate your view on these matters to other views, especially two of

  • [(used: 967sAI 978fAI) Patristic and Medieval] the Council of Nicea, Augustine, the Cappadocians, and Thomas.
  • [Modern] Hegel, Schleiermacher, and Newman.
  • [(used: 989fCI) Contemporary] Barth, Tillich, Rahner, and Lacugna.

On God as Person: answer a) and b) in order and at roughly the same length:
a) Explain your interpretation of God as Person without detailed reference to other theologians. As you do this, explain the sense, if any, in which God has an internal life with purposes for human life and responsiveness to human deeds and concerns. Does the question of God as person have application beyond the relation of God to the human sphere? What, if anything, does salvation history reveal about God?
b) Relate your view on these matters to other views, especially two of

  • [Patristic and Medieval] Origen, Augustine, Thomas, Luther, and Calvin.
  • [(used: 989fBI) Modern] Kant, Hegel, Schleiermacher, Newman, and Harnack.
  • [(used: 967sCI) Contemporary] Troeltsch, Barth, a process thinker (such as Whitehead or Hartshorne), a conservative evangelical theologian (such as Bloesch or Henry), a contemporary feminist theologian (such as Johnson or McFague), and a contemporary Roman Catholic theologian (such as Rahner or Tracy).

On Theodicy and Divine Action: answer a) and b) in order and at roughly the same length:
a) Explain your interpretation of the issue of theodicy and divine action without detailed reference to other theologians. As you do this, be sure to say whether God acts in the world. If you say yes, indicate what God does (be specific if possible) and explain why a presumably good God does not do more to alleviate suffering and injustice. If you say no, indicate how biblical, liturgical, and theological language about divine actions, divine goodness, and divine love is to be interpreted.
b) Relate your view on these matters to other views, especially two of

  • [(used: 989fAI) Patristic and Medieval] Paul, Augustine, Anselm, and Calvin.
  • [Modern] Leibniz, Hume, Spinoza, and Kant.
  • [(used: 978fCI) Contemporary] Barth, Tillich, Reinhold Niebuhr, Bultmann, Moltmann, a process theologian (such as Cobb or Suchocki), a liberation theologian (such as Gutierrez or Cone), and a feminist theologian (such as McFague or Johnson).

On Christology and the Two-Natures: answer a) and b) in order and at roughly the same length:
a) Explain your interpretation of Christology without detailed reference to other theologians. As you do this, describe the problem that the two-natures doctrine is supposed to solve in our time. How do the plausibility structures of the modern world affect judgment of the intelligibility of the two-natures doctrine?
b) Relate your view on these matters to other views, especially two of

  • [(used: 989fAI) Patristic and Medieval] Arius, Athansius, Luther, Calvin, Council of Trent
  • [Modern] Wesley, Edwards, Newman
  • [(used: 978fCI) Contemporary] Troeltsch, Barth, Rahner, Tillich, Hick, Cobb, and Ruether.

On Christology and Jesus: answer a) and b) in order and at roughly the same length:
a) Explain your interpretation of the issue of Christology and the historical Jesus without detailed reference to other theologians. As you do this, say what need Christian theology has today for the historical Jesus, for the biblical pictures of Jesus, or for historical research about Jesus’ life. How does the doctrine of Incarnation relate to historical knowledge of Jesus?
b) Relate your view on these matters to other views, especially two of

  • [Patristic and Medieval] Marcion, Origen, Abelard, Anselm
  • [(used: 989fBI) Modern] Strauss, Newman, Ritschl, Harnack
  • [(used: 967sCI) Contemporary] Troeltsch, Barth, Rahner, Tillich, Pannenberg, Hick, and Suchocki.

On Time and Eternity: answer a) and b) in order and at roughly the same length:
a) Explain your interpretation of time and eternity without detailed reference to other theologians. As you do this, define time and eternity. Do you hold that God is eternal and human beings are temporal?
b) Specifically relate your view on these matters to other views, especially two of

  • [(used: 967sAI 978fAI) Patristic and Medieval] Origen, Augustine, and either Thomas or Scotus.
  • [Modern] Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, and Hegel.
  • [Contemporary] Stace, Tillich, Barth, Cobb, and Kristeva.

On Grace: answer a) and b) in order and at roughly the same length:
a) Explain your interpretation of grace without detailed reference to other theologians. As you do this, say whether there is a proper distinction between nature and grace; interpret prevenient, saving, and confirming grace; and expound the connection between grace and the Holy Spirit.
b) Relate your view on these matters to other views, especially two of

  • [(used: 967sAI 978fAI) Patristic and Medieval] Paul, Augustine, Thomas, Luther, and Calvin.
  • [Modern] Hooker, Law, Wesley, Kant, and Hegel.
  • [(used: 989fCI) Contemporary] Barth or another neo-Reformed theologian, Cobb or another process theologian, and Gutierrez or another liberation theologian.

On Providence: answer a) and b) in order and at roughly the same length:
a) Explain your interpretation of providence without detailed reference to other theologians. As you do this, say whether God determines some or all things for salvation or damnation. Is there a plan or purpose for life and history? If so, does it extend beyond the Earth?

b) Relate your view on these matters to other views, especially two of

  • [Patristic and Medieval] Origen, Anselm, and Calvin.
  • [(used: 978fBI) Modern] Hume, Kant, Hegel, and Schleiermacher.
  • [Contemporary] Moltmann, Cone, Koyama, and Ward.

On Faith and Reason: answer a) and b) in order and at roughly the same length:
a) Explain your interpretation of the issue of faith and reason without detailed reference to other theologians. As you do this, say whether reason must and can justify its claims about theological matters independently of traditions and authority. Is reason based on experience, or is it rather a critic of it? Does the "hermeneutic of suspicion" apply equally aptly to tradition, experience, and reason?
b) Relate your view on these matters to other views, especially two of

  • [Patristic and Medieval] Tertullian, Thomas
  • [(used: 978fBI) Modern] Locke, Kant, Hegel, Newman, and Coleridge.
  • [(used: 978fCI) Contemporary] Ward, Hart, Tillich, Pannenberg, Suchocki, Johnson

On Salvation and Holiness: answer a) and b) in order and at roughly the same length:
a) Explain your interpretation of salvation and holiness without detailed reference to other theologians. As you do this, explain the respective roles of God, persons, and communities in salvation. Do you distinguish justification from sanctification? Explain what happens in salvation, in your view, dealing with the themes of freedom and perfection.
b) Relate your view on these matters to other views, especially two of

  • [Patristic and Medieval] Capadocians, Pelagius, Bernard of Clairvauz, Bonaventure, Richard of St. Victor, Hildegarde of Bingen, Teresa of Avila
  • [(used: 978fBI) Modern] Edwards, Wesley, Phoebe Palmer, Kant, and Hegel.
  • [Contemporary] Barth, Rahner, Tillich, Fox, Neville

On Revelation: answer a) and b) in order and at roughly the same length:
a) Explain your interpretation of revelation without detailed reference to other theologians. As you do this, say whether revelation involves in any sense obtaining information about divine matters that is otherwise unobtainable. If so, how is this information transferred and from where does it originate? If not, explain how revelation can be a useful category for theology.
b) Relate your view on these matters to other views, especially two of

  • [Patristic and Medieval] Paul, Tertullian, Augustine, Thomas, Luther
  • [(used: 989fBI) Modern] Locke, Kant, Edwards, Schleiermacher, Hegel
  • [(used: 978fCI) Contemporary] Barth, Tillich, H.Richard Niebuhr, Pannenberg, Kaufman, Lindbeck, Ward, a conservative evangelical theologian (such as Bloesch or Henry), a contemporary feminist theologian (such as Johnson or McFague), and a contemporary Roman Catholic theologian (such as Rahner or Tracy).

On Religious Pluralism: answer a) and b) in order and at roughly the same length:
a) Explain your interpretation of the issue of religious pluralism without detailed reference to other theologians. As you do this, say how you would engage the "theologies of other religions." Can your approach to theology in this respect be reconciled with a confessional approach that is guided by the motto "faith seeking understanding"?
b) Relate your view on these matters to other views, especially two of

  • [(used: 967sAII) Patristic and Medieval] (1) Justin Martyr and the Greeks, (2) Augustine and Plotinus and the Manichees, (3) Thomas and the Muslims, and (4) Luther and the Jews.
  • [Modern] Schleiermacher, Hegel, Troeltsch
  • [(used: 989fCI) Contemporary] Hick, Cobb, Milbank, Pannenberg, Huston Smith, W.C. Smith

On the Church and Culture: answer a) and b) in order and at roughly the same length:
a) Explain your interpretation of the issue of the church and culture without detailed reference to other theologians. As you do this, say what makes correct a particular conception of the relation between the the church and its contemporary setting. What are the signs of an inappropriate relation?
b) Relate your view on these matters to other views, especially two of

  • [(used: 989fAI) Patristic and Medieval] Paul, Augustine, Thomas, Luther
  • [Modern] Schleiermacher, Pius IX, Vatican I, Leo XIII, Roman Catholic Modernists (Loisy, Tyrrell)
  • [(used: 967sCI) Contemporary] Barth, Reinhold Niebuhr, Vatican II, Gutierrez, a South Asian theologian (Wesley Ariaraja, Thomas Tangaraj, M.M. Thomas), an East Asian theologian (C.S. Song, Andrew Sung Park) Moltmann, and Ruether.

Holy Spirit, Church as Body of Christ, Christology in relation to body of Christ symbolism,

2.2. Other Questions

On Heresy:

  • [(used: 945sAII) Patristic and Medieval] Discuss the role of "heresy" in the emergence of Christian "theology." Do so by choosing one of the major early Christian heresies and expounding the following: what in it made it attractive to Christians? made it possible to differentiate Christianity from other religions/worldviews? made it repugnant to Christians? has this heresy had an "afterlife" both in the institutional church and in Christian theology? Conclude with a reasoned, evaluative statement on the proper role of heresy in formulating theologies today.
  • [(used: 967sAII 978fAII) Patristic and Medieval] Explain the drive to distinguish heresy from orthodoxy in the ancient and medieval periods. Illustrate your explanation with an exposition of the filioque controversy. What is your view of the borders of the Christian tradition?
  • [Modern]
  • [Contemporary]

(used: 978fCII 989fCII)

If you were forbidden to be a Christian and required to be a Buddhist, how would you express in Buddhist language what you hold to be true in Christianity?

Observing the logic of apophatic theology--in which God is ineffable and all religious language is at least as misleading as it is illuminating--say something positive about God and defend both your assertion and its possibility.

Picture yourself in a typical suburban supermarket in the United States. What can be said that is both theologically true and theologically important about your situation.

(used: 989fBII)

Suppose you hear a voice claiming to be God. Which three questions would you need to have the voice answer in order to be able to establish with highest probability the truth of its claim to be divine? Explain why your questions would accomplish your objective.

(used: 989fAII)

Imagine that you made it to heaven and that heaven turned out to be a place much like earth except with gold streets, lions laying down with lambs, and no disease or war or disappointment, a place where you could learn to play the cello, study mathematics, and become wiser, much as you did in your former life. Choose the most congenial of the following scenarios and answer the question:

  1. Suppose the heaven arrangement seems shocking because you thought in your former life that heaven under this description would be impossible. Where might you have gone wrong in your reasoning and what have you learned about God from your experience of heaven?
  2. Suppose you are not surprised at your new surroundings because you had always thought that heaven of the sort you are now in was a possibility. Explain how the lion avoids eating the lamb, whether and how entropy works in heaven, and why your former life had to be the miserable way it was.

3. Theme-Oriented Essay Questions for a Specific Period

3.1. Patristic and Medieval Periods

(used: 945fAII 945sAII 989fAIII)

Should Christianity be considered, at its origins, a Jewish reform movement? Why or why not? Indicate what you take to be the most adequate Christian theological interpretation of contemporary Judaism. Justify your opinion.

(used: 945fAII 945sAII)

What was Neo-Platonism? Describe the effects of Neo-Platonism on the formation of Christian doctrine with specific reference to a Christian theologian from the Patristic period (make sure you select a theologian not written on elsewhere in this examination).

(used: 945fAII)

What was Gnosticism? Describe the effects of Gnosticism on the formation of Christian doctrine with specific reference to Marcion, or another Gnostic Christian theologian from the Patristic period.

(used: 945fAII 945sAII)

What was scholasticism? Illustrate the shades of meaning of "scholasticism" in relation to the theme of the knowledge of God by means of a critical comparison of (i) Aquinas or Bonaventure (choose one), and (ii) Eckhart or Scotus (choose one). (Make sure you select figures not written on elsewhere in this examination.)

(used: 945fAII 945sAII)

Briefly trace the development of the doctrine of the Trinity from the New Testament to the Council of Nicea. In light of this account, describe the controversy that led to the specific wording of the Nicene Creed.

(used: 945fAII 945sAII 989fAIII)

Summarize the filioque controversy. Explain what was at stake in this conflict for the parties involved. Should this be a matter of ongoing concern for contemporary theology?

(used: 945fAII 945sAII)

What is the doctrine of predestination? Illustrate your answer by describing in some detail what was at stake in the affirmation of predestination by two theologians from the Patristic or Medieval periods (make sure you select figures not written on elsewhere in this examination.)

3.2. Modern Period

(used: 967sBII 978fBII)

Whereas Lutherans decorate their churches with images, celebrate sung masses, and have "high" liturgies, Calvinists want bare walls, plain liturgies, and a direct form of preaching. What is the issue here? Adjudicate the debate by means of an exposition of your own view of religion and the imagination.

(used: 967sBII 978fBII)

Summarize the high points and main results of the quest for the historical Jesus in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. How is your own christological point of view informed by this research tradition?

(used: 967sBII 978fBII 989fBIII)

Modern science has presented problems for theology. Briefly explain the responses of two of the following thinkers: Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, and Kant. Show how Schleiermacher reformulated systematic theology, especially the concept of God, in light of this, and argue for your own resolution.

(used: 967sBII 978fBII)

Explain how Enlightenment skepticism justified itself and attacked traditional religion. What is good and bad about Enlightenment skepticism, in relation to Christianity?

(used: 967sBII 978fBII 989fBIII)

Describe the stance of the Roman Catholic Church toward modern knowledge in the period from the Syllabus of Errors to the modernist crisis. How does the pronouncement of Papal Infallibility relate to this history? Is the doctrine of Papal Infallibility true? Argue for your view.

(used: 967sBII 978fBII)

What did Protestant Liberalism stand for? What aspects of the programs of such Protestant Liberals as Ritschl, Harnack, and Herrmann are expressed in your own theological agenda, and what aspects do you reject?

(used: 945fBII)

What is modern liberal theology, and who were its major exponents in the 19th century? What does such theology owe to Schleiermacher, who is sometimes called its "father"?

(used: 945sBII)

Explain the 19th century controversies that resulted in the promulgation of the doctrine of papal infallibility. State the doctrine exactly and give your own evaluation of it, being careful to make explicit the criteria that guide your assessment.

(used: 945sBII)

Critically expound Matthew Arnold’s claim for 19th century theology that nothing remained of religion but poetry, and T. S. Eliot’s claim for 20th century thought that nothing remains of poetry but religion. State and justify your own views on the issues implicit in these characterizations.

(used: 945sBII)

Explain the "program" of the Roman Catholic Modernists and the criticisms of them from the Roman Catholic Church of their time. Evaluate the arguments on both sides. Give your own assessment of the value of the Modernists’ contribution to Roman Catholic thought.

(used: 945fBII 945sBII 989fBIII)

What was the theological basis for the expansion of Protestant missions during the 19th century? Can that theological basis be judged to have remained plausible throughout the century, in your opinion? If so, how were the critics of this theological basis answered? If not, what were the key transition points in its loss of plausibility?

(used: 945sBII)

Give a brief account of Roman Catholic social theory during the nineteenth century through to the First World War, incorporating a discussion of its theological underpinnings. What accounts, historically and theologically, for the changes in papal pronouncements on social issues during this time period? State the role you think the Roman Catholic Church should play in trying to influence social and political affairs, and evaluate the nineteenth century developments in light of that statement.

(used: 945fBII)

What is the problem of "faith’s dependence on history"? Trace the development of this problem through the 18th and 19th centuries, making specific reference to the most important figures and their contributions.

(used: 945fBII 945sBII)

Can pietism in Germany and the revivals associated with the names of Wesley and Edwards be regarded as expressions of the mentality of the Enlightenment? If so, in what senses? If not, how are the relations between these movements and the Enlightenment to be conceived?

(used: 945fBII 945sBII)

Explain the various dimensions of the significance of Darwinism for theology. Is this an ongoing problem for theology, or has it been definitively solved? Justify your answer.

3.3. Contemporary Period

(used: 978fCII 989fCIII)

What is the point of deconstruction in relation to theology (in the thought of Mark C. Taylor, for instance)? How does your own theological perspective take account of the insights of an approach informed by deconstruction?

(used: 978fCII)

Say why people are so often weak and sad, sick and bad. Is there anything that can be done about this? What do two of Rahner, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Moltmann have to say on the subject?

(used: 978fCII)

Summarize Roman Catholic Social Teaching since the end of the nineteenth century in relation either to economic justice or to the sacredness of human life. What is the theological basis for such pronouncements? What theologically do you have to say on these issues?

(used: 978fCII 989fCIII)

Explain a process theologian’s understanding of God. Compare this with the view of God attributed to Jesus by the New Testament Gospels and with the view of either a conservative evangelical theologian (e.g. Bloesch, Carnell, Henry, Thielicke) or an orthodox theologian (e.g. Bulgakov, Florovsky, Lossky, Zizioulas). How does your view of God relate to these views?

(used: 978fCII)

Compare the liberation theologies of an East Asian thinker (e.g. Chung Hyun Kyung, Kosuke Koyama, C.S. Song) and a Latin American thinker (e.g. Boff, Gutierrez, Segundo). Characterize differences in style, method, and content. Say how your theology has been or ought to be influenced by their theological concerns and approaches.

(used: 978fCII 989fCIII)

Why are women treated differently than men? To what extent is this a justice issue? In what sense does Christian doctrine explicitly or implicitly give support to unjust differences in treatment? How do two of Daly, Johnson, and Ruether see the matter?

(used: 945fCI 945sCI)

Choose two of the following documents of Vatican II and explain their theological and ecclesial significance: (i) The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, (ii) Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, (iii) Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, (iv) Declaration on Religious Liberty, and (v) Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.

(used: 967sCII)

Discuss and evaluate the ways Vatican II changed the Roman Catholic stance toward other Christian denominations and other religions.

(used: 945fCII 945sCII)

Briefly trace the history of the ecumenical movement (within Christianity only, not the so-called "wider ecumenism") through the 20th century. How important is ecclesial cooperation? ecclesial unity? theological unanimity? What, in your judgment, are the prospects for the ecumenical movement?

(used: 945fCII 945sCII)

Can Christian theology be atheistic? If so, how so? If not, why not? Answer with reference to an exponent of radical theology in the 20th century.

(used: 945fCII 945sCII)

Explain the advantage process theology allegedly enjoys in regard to the problem of theodicy. Is this advantage real or illusory? Refer to the theological reflection of Cobb, Suchocki, or another process theologian in your answer.

(used: 967sCII)

Some contemporary theologians conceive God as Co-Creator and in mutuality with us. What does this mean? Evaluate the arguments for this view furnished by one process and one feminist theologian.

(used: 945fCII 945sCII)

What is at stake in the way the relation between theology and the natural sciences is conceived? Justify your answer by means of an analysis of one area of substantive dialogue between the two fields.

(used: 945sCII)

What do you consider to be the proper nature of systematic theology for our time? Justify your own view by means of a discussion of three twentieth century thinkers: (i) a transcendental Thomist, (ii) an anti-systematic theologian, and (iii) a Protestant systematic theologian. (Make sure you select figures not written on elsewhere in this examination.)

(used: 967sCII)

Compare three of Troeltsch, H.R. Niebuhr, Rahner, Bloesch, and Lindbeck on the topic of revelation and religious language. Delineate the main issues involved and argue for your own position on the issue.

(used: 945fCII 945sCII)

Is God male? Can one speak of God as having "gender"? Summarize and compare two interestingly different views on this question, paying attention to the question of religious symbols and theological models as you do so.

(used: 945fCII 945sCII)

What are exclusivism, inclusivism, and pluralism? Associate each of the Christian approaches to understanding the relation between Christianity and other religious traditions with one significant exponent.

(used: 945fCII 945sCII)

Is liberation theology inimical to systematic theological reflection? Answer with reference to the liberation theologies of two of the following figures:
(i) Cone (or another representative of African-American liberation theology),
(ii) Gutierrez (or another representative of Latin American liberation theology),
(iii) Song (or another representative of Asian liberation theology).

4. Figure-Oriented Essay Questions for a Specific Period

4.1. Patristic and Medieval Periods

(used: 967sAII 978fAII 989fAIII)

Explain Marcion’s view of the Old Testament and Judaism. Evaluate his view in dialogue with your own argued opinion on these matters.

(used: 945sAI)

Expound Origen’s view of God. Critically assess this view, making explicit the criteria for an adequate view of God that give shape to your criticism.

(used: 945fAI)

Expound Origen’s view of salvation. Critically assess this view, making explicit the criteria for an adequate view of salvation that give shape to your criticism.

(used: 967sAII 978fAII)

What was at stake in the debate between Arius and Athanasius over salvation and the nature of Christ? Argue for your own resolution of the problems expressed in that debate.

(used: 967sAII 978fAII)

Expound those themes in Plotinus’ writings that were most influential on Christian theology, being specific about the lines of influence. Relate your own view to these themes. Are there levels of reality between God and our public world?

(used: 945fAI 989fAIII)

Why did Augustine write City of God? Evaluate the view of the institutional church expounded there, drawing into your evaluation understandings of church preserved in the New Testament.

(used: 945sAI)

The New York Times, 26 December 1993, p. 4E, reads:

"Beyond its similarities to other species of intolerance, homophobia is unique in that it is linked to feelings about sex, and in much of Western religion, sex is dirty, nasty and best avoided if procreation is not the goal.

"‘I blame the whole thing on St. Augustine,’ said John DeCecco, a psychologist at San Francisco State University and editor of the journal Homosexuality. ‘He made the flesh something that was the embodiment of corruption and said we simply cannot save ourselves from our corrupting sexual desires without the church.’ AIDS has exacerbated uneasiness about sexuality, crystallizing the link between pleasure and punishment."

Indicate your agreement or disagreement with this judgment by way of a critical evaluation of Augustine’s understanding of the issues at stake.

(used: 945fAI 945sAI)

Summarize the achievement of the Council of Chalcedon in 451 CE in both theological and sociological (i.e. theoretical and institutional) terms. In what sense, if at all, should current theological reflection consider the formulations of this council normative?

(used: 945fAII 945sAII)

Discuss the contribution of the works whose unknown author is called Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite to the development of apophatic theology. State and evaluate the scriptural, historical, and philosophical basis for apophatic theology.

(used: 945sAII 989fAIII)

Summarize the argument of Anselm’s Cur Deus Homo? Clearly state and critically evaluate his view of the atonement in relation to two others in the history of Christian thought, indicating the virtues of your own perspective as you do so.

(used: 967sAII 978fAII)

Explain Anslem’s and Thomas’ theories of "proving" the existence of God. Analyze at least one proof from each as illustration of their theories of proof. How would you reframe their concern for the existence of God for our time, and what is your resolution of the issues surrounding theories of proof?

(used: 967sAII 978fAII)

Thomas argued that God’s will expresses God’s nature, so that we can make inferences about God’s nature based on states of affairs in the world. Scotus, by contrast, argued that God’s will produces God’s nature. Explain the dispute and resolve it for your own theology.

(used: 945fAI 945sAI 989fBIII)

Carefully compare Aquinas’ and Calvin’s views of scriptural authority. Critically relate these views to your own view of scriptural authority.

(used: 945fAI 945sAI)

What made Luther’s view of grace and faith different from that of his Roman Catholic theological opponents? Was this difference a theologically superficial matter, to be put down to the clash of a reformer with advocates of the status quo, or was it a matter of great theological consequence? Justify your answer.

4.2. Modern Period

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Compare and contrast the views of Wesley and Locke on the nature of religious knowledge and the possible warrants for theological assertions. Which view is closer to your own? Justify your answer.

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Why did Kant think that his critical philosophy performed an invaluable service for theology? Summarize the various ways subsequent modern theology responded to Kant, and indicate the response with which you are in closest agreement.

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Did Hegel espouse a pantheist view of ultimate reality? Justify your answer by way of a critical exposition of Hegel’s philosophy of history.

(used: 945sBI)

Explain Hegel’s view of Jesus Christ by way of a critical exposition of Hegel’s philosophy of history. Do you find Hegel’s point of view persuasive? If so, how so? If not, why not?

(used: 945sBI)

Critically evaluate Schleiermacher’s view of religious language as he describes this in his Glaubenslehre. How does this viewpoint find expression in his distinctive understanding of the church? of doctrinal statements? of salvation? Indicate your own view as you evaluate Schleiermacher’s.

(used: 945fBII)

Compare the views of Schleiermacher and Kierkegaard on the dual issue of the nature of Jesus Christ and the necessity for Christians to have reliable information about the historical Jesus of Nazareth. Which view is more consonant with the Apostle Paul’s views on the same issue?

(used: 967sBII 978fBII 989fBIII)

Why did Newman convert from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism? Evaluate his reasons from your own point of view.

(used: 945fBII)

Critically expound Newman’s interpretation of the development of Christian doctrine. Evaluate its explanatory power by means of a comparison with two views that you take to be persuasive competitors of Newman’s view, one from the period prior to, and one from the period after, Newman.

(used: 945sBI)

Critically contrast Newman’s interpretation of the development of Christian doctrine with that of Harnack, evaluating the explanatory power of both approaches against an actual episode in the history of doctrine. Which view do you find more persuasive? Explain what would you modify (if anything) to produce a more adequate theory of development?

(used: 945sBI 989fBIII)

Explain Kierkegaard’s view of faith, and how it conditions his interpretation of "the aesthetic," "the ethical," and "the religious." What are the strengths and weakness of this viewpoint? How does your own understanding of faith qualify or follow Kierkegaard’s?

(used: 945fBII 945sBII)

What was Coleridge’s view of the relation between faith and reason? What problem did he believe himself to be solving through his view of this relation? Indicate your own view of this relation by means of a critical appraisal of Coleridge’s.

(used: 945fBII 945sBII 989fBIII)

In what sense, if any, can Feuerbach’s Essence of Christianity be regarded as a positive breakthrough for Christian theology? Justify your answer.

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Choose one of Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud and show how theology was influenced by his thought. Can the bible play any significant and substantive role in equipping theology to make a coherent response to the challenges raised by the figure you chose, or must it be confined to an inspirational role, while these challenges are met using other resources? Explain your answer.

(used: 945fBII)

Critically compare Harnack’s and Schweitzer’s view of the Christian gospel, with special reference to their opposed positions on the issue of the "eschatological Jesus." How, in general, is such plausibility and power as the Christian gospel possesses affected by a position on this issue? Justify your answer.

4.3. Contemporary Period

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Critically evaluate the contribution of Troeltsch’s Social Teaching of the Christian Churches specifically to Christian theology (i.e., not to Christian social ethics).

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Critically evaluate Troeltsch’s view of the essence of Christianity in relation to the competing views he criticizes. How does Troeltsch’s view express his general understanding of the nature of history? Formulate your own view of the essence of Christianity in relation to Troeltsch’s.

(used: 967sCII)

Why was Karl Barth opposed to natural theology? Argue for your own view in dialogue with Barth’s.

(used: 978fCII 989fCIII)

Explain Barth’s fides quaerens intellectum method for doing theology. How does this relate to the methods of one feminist theologian and one liberation theologian? Defend your own view in relation to these three.

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Explain what Barth means by the phrase "knowledge of the possibility of revelation depends upon the actuality of revelation." Is Barth correct about this? Justify your answer.

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Discuss Martin Buber’s ontology of "the Between." Indicate in your answer the difference between "I-Thou relation" and "I-It experience."

(used: 978fCII)

Explicate Tillich’s understanding of the church. Defend your own view in relation to his.

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What is New Being according to Tillich? Explain the position this idea occupies in the ontological analysis of his Systematic Theology, making connections to his interpretations of salvation, Jesus Christ, and church. Is Tillich’s conviction of the decisive reality of New Being correct, in your view? If so, how so? If not, why not?

(used: 967sCII)

Explain Tillich’s method of correlation and say how Rahner addresses the same issue. Give and defend your own theory of the relation of the Christian tradition to the contemporary situation, explaining how this influences your view of theological activity.

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Discuss the doctrine of sin in Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich, clearly indicating the senses in which their views are similar and different.

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Discuss the understanding of human sin in Reinhold Niebuhr. Does this perspective have anything to offer the late twentieth century world? If so, how so? If not, why not? Describe your own view of human sin as you evaluate Niebuhr’s.

(used: 945fCII 945sCII)

Critically assess H. Richard Niebuhr’s view of the relations between Christ and culture. Is one of these relations to be preferred, in your view? Justify your answer.

(used: 945fCI 945sCI)

Critically contrast the views of Pannenberg and Rahner on the relation between revelation and history. What can each view account for that the other cannot? Which view do you find more persuasive? Give reasons for your answer.

(used: 967sCII 989fCIII)

How does Gutierrez or Boff explain the causes of bad social conditions and the causes of their rectification? Relate historical and social causation to divine causation. Argue for what you take to be true in the matter.

(used: 967sCII)

Compare and contrast two of Daly, McFague, and Ruether with regard to their response to what they all agree is the patriarchal character of Christian doctrine, language, and practice. What is your view of these matters?

5. Short Answer Questions for a Specific Period

5.1. Patristic and Medieval Periods

Trinity (Council of Nicea)

Biblical canon (Marcion)

Salvation (Origen)

Emanation (Plotinus)

Evil (Augustine)

Fides quaerens intellectum (Augustine, Anselm)

Jesus Christ (Council of Chalcedon)

Via negativa (Pseudo-Dionysius)

Via positiva (Pseudo-Dionysius)

Ontological argument (Anselm)

Beatific vision (Thomas)

Revelation (Thomas)

Five ways (Thomas)

Bondage of the Will (Luther)

Predestination (Calvin)

5.2. Modern Period

Religious affections (Edwards)

Knowledge of Christian theological claims (Locke)

Argument concerning miracles (Hume)

Legitimate and illegitimate metaphysics (Kant)

Postulates of practical reason (Kant)

Absolute dependence (Schleiermacher)

Fundamental dogmatic form (Schleiermacher)

Logic (Hegel)

Geist (Hegel)

Illative sense (Newman)

Development of Doctrine (Newman)

Syllabus of Errors (Pius IX)

Essence of Christianity (Feuerbach)

Religion (Marx)

Religion (Freud)

Gospel (Harnack)

Church (Loisy)

5.3. Contemporary Period

Historismus or historicality (Troeltsch)

Bible (Barth)

Revelation (Barth)

Religion (Barth)

Theological circle (Tillich)

Spiritual community (Tillich)

God (Tillich)

Demythologization (Bultmann)

Christ and culture (HR Niebuhr)

Humanity as transcendent (Rahner)

Self-communication of God (Rahner)

Anonymous Christian (Rahner)

Liberation (Gutierrez)

God is Black (Cone)

Resurrection (Pannenberg)

Crucified God (Moltmann)

Metaphorical theology (McFague)

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