Faith and the Catholic Tradition
In every historical period and cultural context, there are fundamental questions that concern human beings: the nature of the universe, the existence and nature of God, the nature of human beings, the relationship of humans to God and to the world, the nature of evil, and the possibility of redemption.
The Department of Theology has designed a sequence of courses that acquaint students with these questions and assist them in articulating thoughtful responses formulated in light of the Catholic tradition and Christian faith. These courses contribute to the students’ liberal arts education at the University through the development of writing, reading, and critical thinking skills.
The first course, “The Christian Theological Tradition,” introduces students to the theological frameworks that Christians have historically used to address questions of faith and human existence. The core readings for the course are from the Bible and from classic writers within the Christian tradition. The course provides students with an opportunity to reflect critically on the Catholic and Christian traditions within the context of contemporary life. Finally, it provides students with a basic level of theological literacy to prepare them for the second and third-level courses.
The second-level (200-numbered and 300-numbered) courses invite students to practice theology by engaging at a deeper level in the discipline of “faith seeking understanding.” Courses at this level focus on a particular area of the Christian tradition, namely: the Bible, historical theology, systematic theology or moral theology. Students critically examine core elements of the tradition, such as classic texts, concepts, persons, and events while remaining mindful of the contemporary context. Through these courses, students learn the skills and methods of the discipline. These second-level courses then serve as a foundation for the interdisciplinary “Bridge Courses” at the next level.
The “Bridge Course,” as the third course in the Faith and the Catholic Tradition sequence (400-numbered THEO, or CATH 401), will provide an opportunity for students to draw upon their entire program of studies. Serving as the culminating point for the curriculum, the Bridge Course prepares students to build connections between their studies in the liberal arts and the broader world for which their St. Thomas education has prepared them. A principal concern of the course is to guide students toward experiencing a sense of vocation in their professional, familial, and social lives. Because no single type of course can be expected to address all such areas, students will be offered three different types of bridge courses exploring different aspects of the broader world they are preparing to serve.
The three levels of course, thus, form an integrated sequence in the Faith and Catholic Tradition core area requirement. The first course (THEO 101) introduces the tradition of Christian theological reflection. The second-level courses (at the THEO 200 or THEO 300 level) invite students “to do” theology—that is, to engage in reasoning about faith. In the third-level courses, students bring theological concepts and methods into dialogue with other disciplines.
Students select three courses as follows:
- Theology 101
- One Theology course at the 200 or 300-level
- One Theology course at the 400-level, or CATH 401