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Online Learning

Course Number: THL 110
Fundamental Theology
Term: Fall 2014

Professor

Randy Watson

rwatson@holyapostles.edu

1. Course Description

Welcome to an exciting semester at Holy Apostles and Seminary Distance Learning Program. This course will provide you with an understanding of the sources, concepts, and history of fundamental theology which are a vital foundation to future topics in theology. Rather than focus on the content of theology, attention will be given to the origins and the forms, which are important to almost all branches of theology. This course will cover the following five categories of studies:    

  1. The role of philosophy in theology
  2. The use of the Bible in theology
  3. The resources of tradition for theology (Fathers, councils, creeds, liturgy, art and the sense of the faithful)
  4. The two aides to discernment in theology (Christian experience and the Church’s magisterium)
  5. A survey of theological history from the New Testament period to the present day.

At the conclusion of the course we will examine how the Church can allow a plurality of theologies to co-exist with one another side-by-side, and at the same time be unified in the object that defines them—revelation.

The required text for this course is John Aidan Nichols’ book The Shape of Catholic Theology. Links will be provided to supplemental information, such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church and The Dogmatic Constitution of the Church (Dei Verbum). You should immediately order this book from the distance learning bookstore so that you have it before the course begins.

I have design this introductory course in a way that will create a comprehensive map outlining the important areas mentioned above. The mapping of these central ideas will be a joint effort. I think that you will find the learning experience enjoyable as this highly visual method will help you organize, analyze and understand a large number of complex subjects.

2. Envisioned Learning Outcomes

  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the importance of the habit (disposition) of theology.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the task of theology.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the role of philosophy in theology.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the authority and interpretation of scripture in theology.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of tradition as a source in theology.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the aids to discernment in theology.
  • Students will demonstrate adequate knowledge of theological history.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of the theological principle of order.

3. Course Schedule

In addition to the detailed schedule of your lessons, reading requirements, and assignments, there is a summary schedule (matrix) under the “Information” tab of Populi. Also for your convenience I have linked each assignment to your lessons in Populi. These lessons and assignments are manageable if you keep up.

Week 1: The Habit of Theology

Lectures

Lesson 1 (available in PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat)

Readings

Chapter 1 of The Shape of Catholic Theology by Adrian Nichols

Assignments

Complete Part I of your student assignment map questions for “The Habit of Theology” and email it to rwatson@holysapostles.edu by Wednesday.

Complete Part II’s discussion question for “The Habit of Theology” and post it on the Week One discussion board by Saturday. Respond to at least one other post.

Post a short biography of yourself explaining who you are, what your major goal is for enrolling at Holy Apostles, and what you wild like to get out of this course. Please post this in the “Discussion Tab” under “Student Introductions”.

Week 2: The Task of Theology

Lectures

Lesson 2 (available in PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat)

Readings

Chapter 2 of The Shape of Catholic Theology by Adrian Nichols

Assignments

Complete Part I of your student assignment map questions for “The Task of Theology” and email it to rwatson@holysapostles.edu by Wednesday.

Complete Part II’s discussion question for “The Task of Theology” and post it on the Week Two discussion board by Saturday. Respond to at least one other post.

Week 3: General Principles

Lectures

Lesson 3 (available in PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat)

Readings

Chapter 3 of The Shape of Catholic Theology by Adrian Nichols

Assignments

Complete Part I your student assignment map questions for “General Principles” and email it to rwatson@holysapostles.edu by Wednesday.

Complete Part II’s discussion question for “General Principles” and post it on the Week Three discussion board by Saturday. Respond to at least one other post.

Week 4: The Existence and Concept of God

Lectures

Lesson 4 (available in PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat)

Readings

Chapter 4 of The Shape of Catholic Theology by Adrian Nichols

Assignments

Complete Part I of your student assignment map questions for “The Existence and Concept of God” and email it to rwatson@holysapostles.edu by Wednesday.

Complete Part II’s discussion question for “The Existence and Concept of God” and post it on the Week Four discussion board by Saturday. Respond to at least one other post.

Week 5: The Theodicy and the Idea of Salvation

Lectures

Lesson 5 (available in PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat)

Readings

Chapter 5 of The Shape of Catholic Theology by Adrian Nichols

Assignments

Complete Part I of your student assignment map questions for “The Theodicy and Idea of Salvation” and email it to rwatson@holysapostles.edu by Wednesday.

Complete Part II’s discussion question for “The Theodicy and Idea of Salvation” and post it on the Week Five discussion board by Saturday. Respond to at least one other post.

Week 6: The Possibility and Historicity of Revelation

Lectures

Lesson 6 (available in PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat)

Readings

Chapter 6 of The Shape of Catholic Theology by Adrian Nichols

Assignments

Complete Part I of your student assignment map questions for “The Possibility and Historicity of Revelation” and email it to rwatson@holysapostles.edu by Wednesday.

Complete Part II’s discussion question for “The Possibility and Historicity of Revelation” and post it on the Week Six discussion board by Saturday. Respond to at least one other post.

Week 7: The Philosophical Principle of Order in Theology

Lectures

Lesson 7 (available in PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat)

Readings

Chapter 7 of The Shape of Catholic Theology by Adrian Nichols

Assignments

Complete Part I of your student assignment map questions for “The Philosophical Principle of Order in Theology” and email it to rwatson@holysapostles.edu by Wednesday.

Complete Part II’s discussion question for “The Philosophical Principle of Order in Theology” and post it on the Week Seven discussion board by Saturday. Respond to at least one other post.

Week 8: The Authority of Scripture: Canonicity

Lectures

Lesson 8 (available in PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat)

Readings

Chapter 8 of The Shape of Catholic Theology by Adrian Nichols

Assignments

Complete Part I of your student assignment map questions for “The Authority of Scripture: Canonicity” and email it to rwatson@holysapostles.edu by Wednesday.

Complete Part II’s discussion question for “The Authority of Scripture: Canonicity” and post it on the Week Eight discussion board by Saturday. Respond to at least one other post.

Week 9: The Authority of Scripture: Inspiration and The Authority of Scripture: Inerrancy

Lectures

Lesson 9 (available in PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat)

Lesson 10 (available in PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat)

Readings

Chapter 9 of The Shape of Catholic Theology by Adrian Nichols

Chapter 10 of The Shape of Catholic Theology by Adrian Nichols

Assignments

Complete Part I of your student assignment map questions for “The Authority of Scripture: Inspiration” and email it to rwatson@holysapostles.edu by Wednesday.

Complete Part II’s discussion question for “The Authority of Scripture: Inerrancy” and post it on the Week Nine discussion board by Saturday. Respond to at least one other post.

Week 10: The Interpretation of Scripture: The Letter and The Interpretation of Scripture: The Spirit

Lectures

Lesson 11 (available in PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat)

Lesson 12 (available in PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat)

Readings

Chapter 11 of The Shape of Catholic Theology by Adrian Nichols

Chapter 12 of The Shape of Catholic Theology by Adrian Nichols

Assignments

Complete Part I of your student assignment map questions for “The Interpretation of Scripture: The Letter” and email it to rwatson@holysapostles.edu by Wednesday.

Complete Part II’s discussion question for “The Interpretation of Scripture: The Spirit” and post it on the Week Twelve discussion board by Saturday. Respond to at least one other post.

Week 11: The Nature of Tradition and The Liturgy and Christian Art

Lectures

Lesson 13 (available in PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat)

Lesson 14 (available in PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat)

Readings

Chapter 13 of The Shape of Catholic Theology by Adrian Nichols

Chapter 14 of The Shape of Catholic Theology by Adrian Nichols

Assignments

Complete Part I of your student assignment map questions for “The Nature of Tradition” and email it to rwatson@holysapostles.edu by Wednesday.

Complete Part II’s discussion question for “The Liturgy and Christian Art” and post it on the Week Thirteen discussion board by Saturday. Respond to at least one other post.

Week 12: Father, Councils and Creeds and The Sense of the Faithful

Lectures

Lesson 15 (available in PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat)

Lesson 16 (available in PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat)

Readings

Chapter 15 of The Shape of Catholic Theology by Adrian Nichols

Chapter 16 of The Shape of Catholic Theology by Adrian Nichols

Assignments

Complete Part I of your student assignment map questions for “Father, Councils and Creeds” and email it to rwatson@holysapostles.edu by Wednesday.

Complete Part II’s discussion question for “The Sense of the Faithful” and post it on the Week Twelve discussion board by Saturday. Respond to at least one other post.

Remember that your final paper will be due by the last day of the semester. If you have not started your research and the first draft, please begin work immediately.

Week 13: Experience and The Magisterium

Lectures

Lesson 17 (available in PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat)

Lesson 18 (available in PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat)

Readings

Chapter 17 of The Shape of Catholic Theology by Adrian Nichols

Chapter 18 of The Shape of Catholic Theology by Adrian Nichols

Assignments

Complete Part I of your student assignment map questions for “Experience” and email it to rwatson@holysapostles.edu by Wednesday.

Complete Part II’s discussion question for “The Magisterium” and post it on the Week Thirteen discussion board by Saturday. Respond to at least one other post.

Week 14: Soundings in Theological History and The Theological Principle of Order

Lectures

Lesson 19 (available in PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat)

Lesson 20 (available in PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat)

Readings

Chapter 19 of The Shape of Catholic Theology by Adrian Nichols

Chapter 20 of The Shape of Catholic Theology by Adrian Nichols

Assignments

Complete Part I of your student assignment map questions for “Soundings in Theological History” and email it to rwatson@holysapostles.edu by Wednesday.

Complete Part II’s discussion question for “The Theological Principle of Order” and post it on the Week Fourteen discussion board by the last day of class. Respond to at least one other post.

Week 15: Complete Final Paper

Using the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraphs 26 – 141) and the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Vatican II, Dei Verbum), write a three page paper summarizing the Church’s teaching on the revelation of God. Be sure to include the five main topics of this course, which are 1) the use of reason 2) the two sources of revelation and 3) the two aides of discernment. Email the paper to me no later than the last day of this course (rwatson@holyapostles.edu). Please see the “Evaluation” section of the syllabus for more details on the final paper assignment.

4. COURSE REQUIREMENTS

  • Lesson Map Questions – 40%
  • Discussion Questions and Participation (responses) – 40%
  • Final Paper – 20%

5. REQUIRED READINGS and RESOURCES:

  • Adrian Nichols, The Shape of Catholic Theology, $24.95, ISBN 0-8146-1909-6 (The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota)

6. OTHER READINGS and RESOURCES:

  • DOGMATIC CONSTITUTION ON DIVINE REVELATION (Dei Verbum)
  • You are encouraged to also make full use of the HACS Online Library Resources.  You can use this link or one provided in then “Info Tab” of Populi.  http://www.holyapostles.edu/library

7. EVALUATION

You will be evaluated based on your weekly assignments and the final exam.

Students who have difficulty with research and composition are encouraged to pursue assistance with the Online Writing Lab available at http://www.holyapostles.edu/owl.

Part I of your weekly assignment is worth up to 10 points per week and accounts for 40% of your total grade. Part II of your weekly assignment is also worth up to 10 points per week and accounts for another 40% of your total grade. The other 20% of your grade will come from you final paper.

There is also an opportunity to earn extra credit points by completing lesson surveys.

GRADING SCALE:

A 94-100; A- 90-93; B+ 87-89; B 84-86; B- 80-83; C+ 77-79; C 74-76; C- 70-73 60-69; F 59 and below

Part 1 of your weekly assignments is referred to as “map questions” because the topics are related to the subject area identified on the lesson maps. All the answers for these questions can be found directly in the reading materials. The point of these assignments is to make sure that you are reading all your important materials. They are also meant to be a learning aide, as these maps are designed to help you organize the many complex thoughts in theology. With proper effort, these maps can be the skeleton on which to build the rest of your studies in theology.

Since there are 20 lessons, there will be some weeks where there are two lessons per week. However, there is only one set of questions per week, even if there are two lessons. The answers to these questions should be emailed to me by no later than Wednesday of each week. You will not receive credit for late assignments unless you make prior arrangements with me.

Each week there will be five questions worth up to two points each. Therefore, you will be able to earn up to 10 points per week for the Part I assignment. You map questions are worth 40% of your total grade.

You can find these assignments either at the end of each lesson, or under the “Assignment Tab” in Populi.

Part 2 of your weekly assignment is the weekly discussion board question and response(s). These assignments are intended to test the application of the materials that you have learned. I am looking for “orthodox” responses based on what you have learned in the lessons. You must also respond to at least one other student’s answer. Please review the rubrics below for the expectations of how you should respond to the discussion board question and responses. Try to keep your answers and responses to less than 100 words. I am looking for an efficient application of what you have learned. I will make appropriate discretionary comments.

Again, since there are 20 lessons, there will be some weeks where there are two lessons per week. However, there will be only one discussion question per week, even if there are two lessons. Your answers to these questions should be posted no later than Saturday of each week. You will not receive credit for any answers if they are late, unless you make prior arrangements with me.

You can earn up to 10 points per discussion question answer, which includes your response to other student’s question. The criteria (rubrics) for grading are listed below. Your discussion board assignment is worth 40% of your total grade.

Water Cooler

Post any none assignment related discussion under the “Assignment” tab in the “Water Cooler” discussion board. While this is not a graded assignment, I will monitor your dialogue and make comments if appropriate.

Your final paper will be worth 20% of your total semester grade. You will be required to write this paper using these two magisterial documents, 1) the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and, 2) the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum). Links to these resources are provided in this syllabus, and in the “Assignment Tab” within Populi. While you may also use materials from this course (properly referenced), I want the paper to draw mainly from these two sources, as it is important for theologians to understand the Church’s official teaching on revelation and its transmission.

The topic of the paper is listed under the last week of the “Course Schedule” section of the syllabus and under the assignment tab of Populi under “Final Paper”. The paper is due no later than the last day of the semester. Use MS Word or some text-rich software. In case you are unaware, you can easily embed footnotes within your paper by selecting the “reference” tab and selecting footnotes. However, HACS students are now required to abide by the HACS style sheet, which you can find in the Shared folder of the Files tab in Populi (or see Academic Honesty Section for more details on where to find the style sheet). Although the paper is due by the last day of the semester, you should begin working on it well in advance of this date.

Extra credit will be given for your honest feedback on each lesson. A standard survey will be available for you to email to me each week. I am looking for genuine, open feedback to help develop this course as part of my mission in the Church. Constructive feedback will not affect your grade—positively or negatively. This is totally voluntary. You can earn an additional two points per lesson survey for the semester. A file with a standard survey will be posted in Populi under each lesson as an attached file “Lesson Survey”. Download the file, complete it and email it to me at rwatson@holyapostles.edu.

Grading Rubric for the Final Paper and Discussion Board (DB) Postings

0 pts. – Paper
0 pts. – DB

50 pts. – Paper
2 pts. – DB

60 pts. – Paper
4 pts. – DB

65 pts. – Paper
6 pts. – DB

70 pts. – Paper
8 pts. – DB

75 pts. – Paper
10 pts. – DB Posting

WRITING & EXPRESSION

 (F)

 (C)

(C+)

 (B)

(B+)

 (A)

Incomplete writing

Posting is only partially written or completely misses the topic

Writing difficult to understand, serious improvement needed

Posting fails to address the topic; confusing organization or development; little elaboration of position; insufficient control of sentence structure and vocabulary; unacceptable number of errors in grammar, mechanics, and usage

Episodic writing, a mix of strengths and weaknesses.

Posting noticeably neglects or misinterprets the topic; simplistic or repetitive treatment, only partially-internalized; weak organization and development, some meandering; simple sentences, below-level diction; distracting errors in grammar, mechanics, and usage

Acceptable writing, but could use some sharpening of skill

Posting is an uneven response to parts of the topic; somewhat conventional treatment; satisfactory organization, but more development needed; adequate syntax and diction, but could use more vigor; overall control of grammar, mechanics, and usage, but some errors

Solid writing, with something interesting to say.

Posting is an adequate response to the topic; some depth and complexity in treatment; persuasive organization and development, with suitable reasons and examples; level-appropriate syntax and diction; mastery of grammar, mechanics, and usage, with hardly any error

Command-level writing, making a clear impression

Posting is a thorough response to the topic; thoughtful and insightful examination of issues; compelling organization and development; superior syntax and diction; error-free grammar, mechanics, and usage

CONTENT

(F)

(C)

 (C+)

(B)

(B+)

(A)

Absence of Understanding

Posting shows no awareness of the discipline or its methodologies as they relate to the topic

Lack of Understanding

Posting seems to misunderstand some basic concepts of the discipline or lacks ability to articulate them.

Inadequate understanding

Posting is sometimes unclear in understanding or articulating concepts of the discipline.

Adequate understanding

Posting demonstrates an understanding of basic concepts of the discipline but could express them with greater clarity.

Solid Understanding

Posting demonstrates a clear understanding and articulation of concepts with some sense of their wider implications.

Insightful understanding

Posting clearly demonstrates an understanding and articulation of concepts of the discipline as they relate to the topic; highlights connections to other concepts; integrates concepts into wider contexts.

Discussion Board INTERACTION

(F)

(C)

(C+)

(B)

 (B+)

 (A)

Inadequate response

Response merely provides laudatory encouragement for original post, e.g., “Excellent post! You really have thought of something there.”

Poor response

Response misses the point of the original posting.

Weak response

Response summarizes original posting to which it responds.

Acceptable response

Response makes a contribution to the posting to which it responds.

Individually-conscious contributory response

Response makes a contribution to the posting to which it responds and fosters its development.

Community-conscious contributory response

Response makes a contribution to the learning community and fosters its development.

 

8. DISABILITIES ACCOMMODATIONS POLICY

Holy Apostles College & Seminary is committed to the goal of achieving equal educational opportunities and full participation in higher education for persons with disabilities who qualify for admission to the College. Students enrolled in online courses who have documented disabilities requiring special accommodations should contact Bob Mish, the Director of Online Student Affairs, at rmish@holyapostles.edu or 860-632-3015. In all cases, reasonable accommodations will be made to ensure that all students with disabilities have access to course materials in a mode in which they can receive them. Students who have technological limitations (e.g., slow Internet connection speeds in convents) are asked to notify their instructors the first week of class for alternative means of delivery.

9. ACADEMIC HONESTY POLICY

Students at Holy Apostles College & Seminary are expected to practice academic honesty.

Avoiding Plagiarism

In its broadest sense, plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas, presented or claimed as your own. At this stage in your academic career, you should be fully conscious of what it means to plagiarize. This is an inherently unethical activity because it entails the uncredited use of someone else's expression of ideas for another's personal advancement; that is, it entails the use of a person merely as a means to another person’s ends.

Students, where applicable:

  • Should identify the title, author, page number/webpage address, and publication date of works when directly quoting small portions of texts, articles, interviews, or websites.
  • Students should not copy more than two paragraphs from any source as a major component of papers or projects.
  • Should appropriately identify the source of information when paraphrasing (restating) ideas from texts, interviews, articles, or websites.
  • Should follow the Holy Apostles College & Seminary Stylesheet (available on the Online Writing Lab’s website at http://www.holyapostles.edu/owl/resources).

Consequences of Academic Dishonesty:

Because of the nature of this class, academic dishonesty is taken very seriously. Students participating in academic dishonesty may be removed from the course and from the program.

10. ATTENDANCE POLICY

Even though you are not required to be logged in at any precise time or day, you are expected to login several times during each week. Because this class is being taught entirely in a technology-mediated forum, it is important to actively participate each week in the course. In a traditional classroom setting for a 3-credit course, students would be required, per the federal standards, to be in class three 50-minute sessions (or 2.5 hours a week) and prepare for class discussions six 50-minute sessions (or 5 hours) a week. Expect to devote at least nine 50-minute sessions (or 7.5 quality hours) a week to this course. A failure on the student’s part to actively participate in the life of the course may result in a reduction of the final grade.

11. INCOMPLETE POLICY

An Incomplete is a temporary grade assigned at the discretion of the faculty member. It is typically allowed in situations in which the student has satisfactorily completed major components of the course and has the ability to finish the remaining work without re-enrolling, but has encountered extenuating circumstances, such as illness, that prevent his or her doing so prior to the last day of class.

To request an incomplete, distance-learning students must first download a copy of the Incomplete Request Form. This document is located within the Shared folder of the Files tab in Populi. Secondly, students must fill in any necessary information directly within the PDF document. Lastly, students must send their form to their professor via email for approval. “Approval” should be understood as the professor responding to the student’s email in favor of granting the “Incomplete” status of the student.

Students receiving an Incomplete must submit the missing course work by the end of the sixth week following the semester in which they were enrolled. An incomplete grade (I) automatically turns into the grade of “F” if the course work is not completed.

Students who have completed little or no work are ineligible for an incomplete and must receive the grade that they have earned. Students who feel they are in danger of failing the course due to an inability to complete course assignments should withdraw from the course.

A “W” (Withdrawal) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the first week of a semester to the end of the third week. A “WF” (Withdrawal/Fail) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the third week of a semester and on or before the Friday before the last week of the semester.

12. ANNOUNCEMENTS AND UPDATES

Changes, updates and announcements will be placed in the “Dashboard” tab of the course. Please check this section each time you sign-on.

13. ABOUT YOUR PROFESSOR

Dear Students,

I would like to welcome all new and returning students to Holy Apostles College and Seminary distance learning program. My name is Randy Watson and I will be your professor this semester for an Fundamental Theology. One element of effective learning is gaining insight to how others comprehend a subject by sharing our understanding. I would like to invite everyone to write a short biography explaining who you are, what your major goal is for enrolling at Holy Apostles, and what you would like to get out of this course. Please post this in the “Discussions Tabs” under “Student Introductions”.

Let me begin by telling you about myself. I am a cradle Catholic who has been on a life long journey of augmenting my faith with a richer understanding of God and His plan for us. I have been married for 36 years to Bonita, and we have two wonder sons—Sean and John. I have an undergraduate degree in Medical Technology (Biology/Chemistry/Physics), a Master’s degree in Business Administration (lifelong Administrator/CEO), and a Master’s degree in Theology.

In every aspect of my life I have sought to discover the mystery of God’s presence. I have done this in the laboratory, board room, as well as the Church. Through both studious efforts and a growing life of prayer, aspiring theologians can discover what our Church Fathers learned. While faith and understanding are different, they are not in conflict with one another because they have the same object--God. By the time you finish this course you should be able to comfortably describe the reasonableness of the foundations of Catholic theology to anyone-- from a Catholic to an atheist. Please contact me as often as you like rwatson@holyapostles.edu.          --Professor Randy Watson

(860) 632-3010