6/30 Forum: Quo vadis?

Quo vadis (where are you going)?" asks Peter--and it's a good question to ask at the beginning of every course.  Today's class is a series of introductions: introductions from class participants, an introduction to the class requirements, and, most of all, an introdution to the apologetics itself.  What is apologetics?  Why is it important?  What can you expect to learn from this class?  I would like all students to post to the first topic in this forum and at least one of the other topics.

Please introduce yourself
Why not?

July 1 Forum: Gospel Truth

Please read Matthew 5-7, Luke 1, 16, and 24, John 1, and Acts 26.  Please be sure also to bring a Bible to class with you.  These chapters illustrate well some of what will become core ideas for Christian apologists. Please choose any two of the prompts below for your comments.  It would be great if you would also add a reply/response to any of the other student posts.

The Sermon on the Mount
The Gospel of Luke 
The Gospel of John

July 2 Forum: Though its portion be the scaffold

Please read Socrates’ Apology online at  http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/socrates/apology.html  or at  http://socrates.clarke.edu/aplg0100.htm.  If you prefer, you can listen to the portions of the Apology online at http://socrates.clarke.edu/aplg0014.htm.  Read also Justin Martyr's First Apology either in the Bush anthology (pp. 1-29) or online here.  Look for similarities and differences between the two works.  I find the Bush editing of the First Apology a bit choppy. The online version might be easier to understand even though it involves a bit more reading. As an alternative to Plato's version of Socrates' apology, you might enjoy reading the less familiar version from Xenophon.  Please add your comments to either the Plato or Xenophon post and to the Justin Martyr post on the class blog.

Socrates Apology (Plato version)
Socrates Apology (Xenopon's version)
Justin's Apology

July 7 Forum: Athens and Jerusalem

"What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?" asked Tertullian, suggesting that the opinions of the philosophers are nothing compared with the wisdom of sacred scripture.  But the works of Athenagoras and of Tertullian himself suggest that Athens (Greek philosophy) and Jerusalem (Hebrew prophetic wisdom) might well go hand in hand.  Please read Athenagoras Plea for the Christians and Tertullian's Apology either in the Bush anthology (pp. 31-61, 81-95) or online links (click on titles for online links).  Add your response to either the Athenagoras or Tertullian posts linked below.  If you are ready for a real challenge, read also the selections from Origen in the Bush anthology (pp. 97-137) and add your comments to either the Celsus or Origen posts linked below.

Athenagoras' Plea for the Christians
Tertullian: Tone and Substance

July 8 Forum: Teach Your Children Well--Extra credit material

Tracing the development of the debates between Christian and non-Christian Platonists of the 2nd and 3rd centuries is fascinating, and would make a good (though rather difficult) alternative paper topic.  On the Christian side of this debate, it's well worth looking at Clement of Alexandria's Stromateis and  Eusebius of Caesaria's Preparation for the Gospel.   You might also like to look  at some more extensive passages from Origen's Against CelsusFew men that have ever lived knew both Greek philosophy and the Bible as well as Clement, Origen and Eusebius.  All three were prolific writers and successful teachers, and, by the time they had finished, the Christian philosophers had, at least temporarily, won the debate.  I will be summarizing the ideas of these men for you in class, and the Dulles book also covers this material well: it's good, though, to at least attempt the material on your own, difficult or not. If you are not planning on doing Christian Platonism for your paper, I'd recommend addressing only one of the topics below.

Clement of Alexandria
Eusebius of Caesarea

July 9 Forum: I believe I understand: Augustine

When the persecutions come to an end and when Christianity becomes the religion most favored by the Roman state, the Great Conversation heads off in new directions.  St. Augustine (AD 354-430) puts the last touches on the argument against the soon-to-be-gone pagan traditions of Rome, and, when the conversation over Christian truth again emerges in the Middle Ages, the discussion is very different.  Please read some of the selections from Augustine in your Bush anthology (pp. 195-236) and add your comment to the blog post linked below.


July 10 Forum: Smart as an Ox

For many, many people, Thomas Aquinas is the theologian that got it right, bringing all of Christian doctrine into a coherent whole and showing how we ought to apply that doctrine to our lives. St. Anselm, a somewhat earlier medieval thinker, also continues to have a special appeal. Please read the selections from Anselm (pp. 237-270) and Aquinas (pp. 271-300) in your Bush anthology (pp. 271-300), and add your comments to one or more of the posts below.

Faith and Reason
A Method to his Sanity

July 14-15 Forum: Evident Reason: Wycliffe, Calvin, and Luther

The Great Conversation takes off in a different direction once again during the Renaissance and the Reformation. The shift is particularly evident in the writings of John Calvin.  Please read pp.  301-326 in your Bush anthology and respond to one of the following posts.

July 17 Forum: The heart has its reasons

Despite the fact that it is only a collection of partially organized notes, Pascal's Pensees is, for many people (including me), one of their favorite books.  Please read a few selections from Pensees at the link here and add your comments to one or more of the topics below (all included on one "main" Pascal blog prompt).

July 21 forum: Who gets it? Naturally.

Typically, when Western Civilization classes deal with what's called the Enlightenment or the "Age of Reason," they focus on writers drifting away from orthodox Christianity, e.g., Voltaire and Rousseau. But, especially in the English-speaking world, some of the greatest champions of reason and the "enlightened" outlook were also champions of Biblical Christianity (e.g., Jonathan Edwards).  Please read the selections from Joseph Butler and/or William Paley in your Bush anthology (pp. 327-374) and add your comments to one of the following topics.

Please read as much as you can of C.S. Lewis "Mere Christianity" and glance through at least one of his other works.  Then comment on one or more of the posts below.