Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Christianity and Culture

LEVEL 01 - Year 1 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Moral Theology

DESCRIPTION This study-unit will offer an analysis of the mutual influence of Christianity and culture from two perspectives: historically and theologically. From a historical perspective, we will reflect on four periods: (1) the early Christian appropriation of Greek paideia, (2) to Christendom as culture, (3) to the rise of modern secularity and the separation of Church and state (4) to the post-modern worldview emerging today. For each period of "mutual self-mediation" (Bernard Lonergan), we will reflect on representative theological opinions that capture the contentious character of understanding "rightly" the relationship between Christianity and culture.

H. Richard Niebuhr's classic five-fold theological schema--Christ against culture; Christ of culture; Christ above culture; Christ and culture in paradox; Christ transforming culture--will be used to interpret the fundamental moral tension of Christian "discipleship-as-witnessing", often summarized in the dictum, "being in the world but not of the world."

Study-unit Aims:

- To disinguish between the Christian life in its transcendental character and how it is lived in time (historicity) and culture.
- To appreciate the wide theological implcations of taking different stances on the relationship between Christianity and culture.
- To apply the understaning gained from careful scrutiny of the past to actual issues of inculturation being faced by the church today.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- apply principles of historicity and cultural mediation to different branches of theological discourse.
- critically assess the relationship between theological commitments and differing conceptions of the relationship between Christianity and culture.
- reflect on the importance of critical engagement with culture for moral and spiritual formation.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- gain interpretative skills through reading primary texts.
- understand the role of hermeneutics and critical reflection for living with integrity (Paul Ricoeur's phenomenological hermeneutics as ethics will be implied and referred to) .
- practice critical reflection skills (Bernard Lonergan's transcendental method will be implied and referred to).

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Niebuhr, H. Richard. Christ and Culture. New York: HarperOne, 2001.

Gallagher, Michael Paul. Clashing Symbols: An Introduction to Faith and Culture. Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 2003. [BQT 3483.G27 1998]

Tanner, Kathryn. Theories of Culture: A New Agenda for Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997.

[Primary resources will be accessed and made available through the CCEL and Vatican websites. Additional essays and articles will be made available to students.]


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM2 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Nadia Delicata

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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.