Fall Quarter begins with asking “What is…”

I’ve been teaching full-time for 6 years now.  Just about every term over the last six years I’ve had a new class to develop.  Maybe 1 or 2 where I didn’t have a new class, but then there was some kind of other major change, like moving to a new online learning management system.

This quarter I am teaching 2 classes I’ve taught before and do not have any major changes. They did throw a new modality at me (online live!) but it only requires some minor shifts.

Which means for the first time in six years I can spend more time making adjustments and reflecting on the courses.  As part of that, I decided I’m going to add a public element, and talk a little about what I’m doing each week in my two classes over the next ten weeks.  A little peek into seminary teaching and topics.

The quarter started this last week and I’m definitely enjoying the diverse and thoughtful posts from my students all over the country (and some are even in different parts of this world).

I don’t quite have students from all the states this quarter, but I have a student in Hawaii and a student in Alaska, so that’s a pretty good reach.

I’m teaching two classes, HT501 and IS501. That doesn’t mean anything to most people, of course.

HT501 is a systematic theology class on the topic of God. Of course, isn’t all theology about God?

Well, in a way. But not all theology classes focus on God specifically.  There’s theology about church, and theology about salvation, theology about creation, and even theology about people. At Fuller those are separate classes.

HT501 is about God, specifically as Christianity asserts that God is Trinity: three-in-one. So, it’s a class about God the Father, God the Son, God the Spirit.  God is a big topic, to say the least, or rather God is a substantive subject, infinite even.

The first week we don’t even get to our main subject.

It’s the first theology class for many students after all, and so we talk about approaches to Christian theology in general and how systematic theology fits into that and into what each student is doing in their ministry/vocation.

Here’s a look at a small part of the discussion from this week:

IS501 is called Practices of Worship.  It’s about practices that we engage as part of Christian worship, not surprisingly.

As one of the four “Integrated Studies” classes (that’s the IS part) , the goal isn’t just to say “Here’s how to lead worship songs” or here’s “10 steps to better communion.” The goal is to provide a big picture exploration of very immediate experiences.

So, each week we look at a different ‘practice’ (such as “gathering and sending” in week 2), and explore it in light of Scripture, history, theology, and practical ministry.  Understanding how a practice fits into all these helps each student better grasp the overall place each practice has and gives them tools for creative/deepening development in their setting.

This first week, though, we don’t get to those. We talk big picture, “What is Christian worship?”  Sometimes seemingly easy questions like that can have a lot more complexity than first realized.

Here’s an extended clip from the first week’s IS501 lecture:

Another big step for me this quarter is beginning to learn video editing. I’m new to this, so am starting with the basics. Which for this quarter is streamlining the discussions and getting everything neater.

It’s not very dynamic yet, so really it’s more like podcasts with accompanying text. I have hope for continued development!

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