THM3130 Insiders Versus Outsiders: Early Christian Missional Ethos

Course Overview

Educational Level: Upper undergraduate, Bachelor
Credit Hours: 3 Credits
Instructor: Dr. Thomas Grafton

Course Description:

Examines a crucial component to missions, namely, the effort to maintain a distinctive Christian ethos in the pursuit of extending the gospel to those outside the Church. The dynamic between drawing and maintaining boundaries on the one hand, and having the flexibility to adjust and accommodate, is as vital as it is tricky. How the early Church navigated these issues for contemporary consideration and emulation will be explored. Readings, discussion forums, and lectures will structure the course, and assessment will be done through a service project, an informative essay, and an exam focused on the application of the present material.

How This Course Benefits Students:

Students will be helped along as they think through the various aspects of Christian identity. Determining which are crucial, and which are not, is key. Sometimes our sense of what constitutes true Christianity has been so informed by particular cultural and contextual expressions of Christianity that we mistake certain expressions with necessary components of Christian ethos. This is particularly important for our missional witness because we do not want to make our cultural expressions of Christianity binding or normative for others in different contexts, and at the same time we do not want to compromise our identity for the sake of promoting conversion at any cost.

Why This Course Is Important:

In order for Christianity to be Christian in any meaningful sense of the word, it must maintain its distinctive boundaries. This is a tricky taskhow inclusive should these boundaries be and where precisely are they to be drawn? Which practices and beliefs are essential to Christian ethos, and which are cultural/contextual expressions? Towards answering these questions for the contemporary Church in its global and multi-ethnic makeup, we will look at how the Christians maintained their ethos in their missional efforts across the known world.