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SPIR 500

The Christian Spirit: A History of Christian Spirituality

This course is also offered as HIST 500

This course offers an introduction to the Christian spiritual tradition up to the modern period.  For two millennia Christians have been praying and responding to the self-giving love of God in Jesus Christ by the gift of the Holy Spirit.  This response to God has taken place under the conditions of our humanity and it is therefore possible to trace a cultural history of the spiritual life.  The value of learning this history of Christian spiritual life is that it allows us to see the threats and opportunities of our own times more clearly.  It also exposes us to resources, exemplary models, and warnings of which we might not otherwise be aware.  In short, it gives meaning to that article of faith whereby we declare our faith in the communion of saints.

This course therefore begins with the Scriptures and their witness to God’s culminating revelation in Jesus Christ, for if spirituality is to be Christian it must start and end with Christ.  This is also the standard by which authentic spirituality must be judged.  We will then survey a number of historical traditions of spiritual life and thought as they have emerged among believers during the chronological and geographical spread of Christianity.  The survey will be representative, rather than exhaustive, but it should give the student an opportunity to become familiar with the map of Christian spirituality.  And with a map, one can enjoy a lifetime of further exploring.

Credit Hours:
Audit Hours:

Additional Info

Fall 2023
This course is available onsite and online. Students must register for the online section to gain Zoom access to the course. All lectures must be attended live, with no asynchronous option.

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