Introduction to Theology

Instructor: Dr  Butler


Office Hours: By Appointment

Phone: (303)765-3124

Zoom ID: 818 608 7210

Class Times: Tuesdays 1-4:30pm (Library Portico)

Synchronous Times: (Use Zoom ID to login)

Course Description:

This introduction to Christian theology will focus on systematic theology, that is, what are the traditional loci (topics or rubrics) that form a complete theological system, how do they fit together, and how does thinking them as a system influence theological thinking? We will look at how the Christian theological tradition provides resources for contemporary theology.

Professional Degree Learning Goals for Constructive Theology Area:

Constructive Theology (TH) : critically engage historical and contemporary theological expressions of religious traditions and articulate one's own constructive theological position in relation to contemporary events and/or situations.

Learning Outcomes:

After taking this class, students will be able to:

  1. Say, with authenticity, “Wow. I read, engaged, and analyzed some really interesting authors. Some were fun, some were a slog, but they pushed me to think and respond in ways I hadn’t yet.”
  2. Articulate what some of the theological genres are that writers in the Christian tradition have developed.
  3. Articulate what systematic theology is.
  4. Speak knowledgably about some of the touchstones in the history of Christian thought in general and on Christology in particular.
  5. Demonstrate awareness of what the traditional theological loci are (and say what a theological locus is), and see how the loci hang together.
  6. Write academic papers with increased ability to formulate a clear and straightforward thesis while supporting it with apt textual evidence and sound logic

Course Requirements:

  1. Preparation and participation. Participation is 15% of your final grade. For more information of participation expectations, see

    Throughout the quarter, we will have several discussions (whether online or in person) which will compose a large part of our engagement with each other in this online learning space. For these discussions to be meaningful conversation spaces, we all need to take responsibility for consistent and substantial participation. Over the course of a conversation, substantial engagement means:

    1. Extend the conversation - creatively and critically push the conversation forward, do not just regurgitate what has already been said. If 1 or 2 other students have already responded directly to a point raised in a student paper, do not simply write another response to that point unless it adds something new to the conversation. You need to extend the conversation by adding an additional or different insight from the course materials, by asking a new question that stems from one of the posts already offered, by offering a related and contextualized example of the issue being discussed from your own experience, or by creatively integrating your own perspective with what has already been posted. 
    2. Ask contextualized questions - situate your questions within the discussion by referencing the course materials and other parts of the conversation thread that inform your inquiry. Give us a little background as to why this question matters to you and how it relates to the course.
    3. Engage others in the course - thoughtful engagement with other students in the course and with the instructional team.
    4. Engage the course materials - thoughtful engagement with readings, lectures, student presentations, and any other materials related to the course. Referencing and citing course materials in your posts where appropriate is encouraged. 
    5. Participate Respectfully - discussions in this course are likely to raise sensitive topics. Please strive for respect in all your comments, and charity in reading the comments of others.

    Each post/conversation does not need to do all of these things, but your overall participation in each conversation should demonstrate all of these components. You might have several short posts and a handful of longer posts in a week or you might have only a few strategic substantial posts (minimum of 2 posts per discussion). Either way, your overall participation in each conversation will be evaluated for substantial engagement. The goal of this discussion design is to encourage and reward interchange, so post often and engage each other with meaningful questions that open to other questions.

    I am looking for conversations that help us understand and analyze the text at hand. Application of our texts to new situations is of course the ultimate goal, but we can't do that responsibly without understanding what the author is doing first. And that can be hard!

  2. Each student will write two papers analyzing one of the readings for a particular week. You may not write on the same author more than once, and you may not write more than one paper for any given week. Each paper counts for 20% of your final grade. For more information on paper requirements, see

    Each student will prepare 3 papers of 3 double-spaced pages each (no less than 1200 words).  You will choose two readings you will write about and one background paper in the Paper Sign up assignment.  

    Post Papers

    On a week you have signed up to write, you will submit your paper on canvas for grading. Background papers and one of your reading papers will also be shared as discussion starters for that week. So, on the week you write a background paper and on the week you have indicated that you want to share you reading paper, you will post the paper both in the paper assignment area and as an attachment to a discussion post in our discussion for that week.

    Discuss Papers

    All students not writing in a week will read all of the posted papers and choose one to engage substantially with a robust response by the first discussion deadline for the week. See Discussion Guidelines for more details on discussion expectations. By the second discussion deadline each week, students will need to participate substantially in the discussion at least one additional time. Late postings will not be accepted.

    Paper Types

    Evaluating Papers 

    Papers will be graded according to the following 4 criteria:

    1. A clearly stated claim;
    2. Textual evidence to support the claim;
    3. Quality of writing (organization, proper use of sentences and paragraphs, grammar, spelling, and all other mechanics);
    4. Depth and seriousness of analysis. 

    In a short paper the claim typically appears as the last sentence of the introductory paragraph (if it is not there the writer needs clearly to mark where it is, since otherwise readers will assume that sentence is the claim).  A claim states the conclusion of the argument put forward in the paper.  You have a great deal of freedom here.  A claim might state what is the most important idea in the reading, or what the author must assume to make his or her argument, or what the logical extension of that argument might be, or how that argument relates to other readings on our syllabus, or what the author gets right or wrong, etc.   In a short paper you will likely not be able to summarize the all the points the author makes, nor should you try.  Part of your task of analysis is to prioritize what is most important to lift up for discussion for our class.  Your paper will likely not follow the same organization as the reading under analysis, since the logic of your argument will not be the same as the logic of the argument of the reading.  If your paragraphs tend to begin “And then . . .;  Next . . .” then it is probably time to go back and do at least one more draft and re-think what you are presenting and how.  Papers for this class are a little closer to the summary end of the spectrum than a term paper might be, since they are the basis for our discussion.  But they are still papers that make engage the text by making a point about the text.

    The purpose of the papers is three-fold:

    1. the first is to encourage deep engagement with the texts;
    2. the second is to encourage a habit of discussion that is open, respectful, and rigorous.  This is best accomplished when the analytical essays take a charitable stance towards the readings.  Some of them will seem old-fashioned, and the writers may have different concerns than do we.  As in any good conversation, it is important first to try to see where the writer is coming from, rather than to be dismissive of his, her or their ideas.  There will be plenty of time later to decide what is useful to you and what is not.   We must begin with an accurate understanding of what is actually going on in the essay. 
    3. Third, these section papers will help develop your skills as readers and writers.  A great number of studies show that “peer-review” is a very effective way to teach writing.  The feedback you get on these papers during discussion will be quite valuable.

    Papers will be graded on the following scale:

    4 = A
    3 = B
    2 = C
    1 = D
    0 = F

  3. Each student will provide introductory background on 1 topic during the quarter. This background paper is worth 20% of your grade. For more information on this assignment, see Paper Guidelines .
  4. Final project. 25% of your grade.

Required Readings

Philip Butler Black Transhuman Liberation Theology (While you may purchase this book an unlimited use digital copy is available online via Primo.)

Gloria Anzaldua La Frontera

Further readings will be provided via Canvas

Statement of Inclusivity:

If you have a preferred pronoun that you would like for the class to address you by please let me know so that we can honor that for you.

Learn more about the flow of class through the

What to expect

The beginning of each week’s discussion is due every Thursday. Students are expected to respond to each other by Saturday of each week. If you wrote a paper and posted it for the week you should still respond to those who responded to your paper as a means to count toward your second discussion response. Please adhere to the discussion guidelines to ensure everyone feels seen, heard and respected.

Every Tuesday students who signed up to turn in a paper should submit their papers into speed grader. If you are posting your paper in the course discussion board you should also post your paper there as well.



Mar 29, 2022TueSign up for papersdue by 05:59AM
Mar 31, 2022ThuWeek 1 Papersdue by 05:59AM
Apr 01, 2022FriWeek 1 Discussiondue by 05:59AM
Apr 06, 2022WedWeek 2 Papersdue by 05:59AM
Apr 08, 2022FriWeek 2 Discussiondue by 05:59AM
Apr 13, 2022WedWeek 3 Papersdue by 05:59AM
Apr 15, 2022FriWeek 3 Discussiondue by 05:59AM
Apr 20, 2022WedWeek 4 Papersdue by 05:59AM
Apr 22, 2022FriWeek 4 Discussiondue by 05:59AM
Apr 27, 2022WedWeek 5 Papersdue by 05:59AM
Apr 28, 2022ThuWeek 5 Discussiondue by 07:00PM
May 04, 2022WedWeek 6 Papersdue by 05:59AM
May 06, 2022FriWeek 6 Discussiondue by 05:59AM
May 11, 2022WedWeek 7 Papersdue by 05:59AM
May 13, 2022FriWeek 7 Discussiondue by 05:59AM
May 18, 2022WedWeek 8 Papersdue by 05:59AM
May 20, 2022FriWeek 8 Discussiondue by 05:59AM
May 25, 2022WedWeek 9 Papersdue by 05:59AM
May 27, 2022FriWeek 9 Discussiondue by 05:59AM
May 31, 2022TueFinal papersdue by 05:59AM
Jun 01, 2022WedWeek 10 Papersdue by 05:59AM