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Northern SeminaryME 305 - Intro to World ReligionsSpring Quarter, Thursday: 4:00 – 6:40pmRev. Dr. Chakravarthy [email protected] Rationale: Twenty-first century Christian leaders will carry out theirministries in communities marked in various degrees by a plurality of religiousbelief. They will be called upon to lead their congregations (and other gatherings) inthe development of respectful and community-edifying relationships withneighboring religious groups and institutions. To justify this kind of engagementfrom the fundamental sources of Christian faith, and to articulate and bear witnessto Christian faith in multi-religious context is the need of the hour.Course Description: This course is designed to provide a broader overview ofselected religions with a focus on the religions from Abrahamic origins, origins inIndia, religions of Asia along with Indigenous religions in North America. The coursetakes a missiological approach, as how these religions are practiced in NorthAmerica rather than a theoretical study of World religions. This approach gives thestudents basic familiarity with major religious traditions and their praxis so as torelate with them in an informed way. It also provides tools for understanding majorworld religions that will help to engage people of other faiths, while familiarizingthe participants with the contemporary missiological trends around Inter-faithrelations.Objectives: An overall aim for the course is to provide a comprehensiveunderstanding of different world religions to gain the ability to use missiologicalresources critically and responsibly to articulate a constructive and coherentinterpretation of Christian faith pertinent to a missional church and divergent socialcontexts. Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:1. Identify the influence that major world religions have on society andillustrate the importance of studying religion today.2. Describe and evaluate the key beliefs and characteristics of each major worldreligion and show how they are reflected in political and social structuresand attitudes.3. Examine and summarize the universal and unique forms of religiousexpression found in the major world religions (eg., sacred places, symbols,ethics and rituals).4. Distinguish the basic concepts that make up a religious world view (eg.,creation of the world, good and evil, salvation, suffering).5. Articulate, in an elementary way (but reasonably accurate, respectful, andopen to correction by adherents), the fundamental beliefs and practices ofsome religious traditions other than their own.

6. Be good and respectful guests of religious communities other their own –visiting, observing, engaging in conversation, learning, and reporting back tothe class.7. Reflect with missiological acuity and pastoral sensitivity on issues that arisein North American settings as people of different religious traditionsencounter one another in shared communities.Course Requirements: Satisfactory completion of all course assignments isrequired to insure a passing grade in this course. The following are required for allparticipants:1. Attendance and Active Class Participation (10%): Consistent classattendance and participation are required of all persons taking the course forcredit. Each participant is expected to engage in discussions, pose questions,and make comments in class. Participants will be graded on the quality andquantity of their class participation.2. Personal Inter-faith encounter (10%): Two-page reflection of personalexperience about an Inter-faith encounter (a real incident with a personfrom different religious tradition).3. Reading Respondent (20%): All participants will have one opportunity tolead the class in a discussion of the reading materials. The presenter isexpected to outline the salient features of the selected religion, reflecting onselected texts and engage the conversation about the convergence anddivergence of their common experiences with the Christian tradition. Twocritical questions generated by these readings in understanding the faithtradition will also be required to engage the discussion.4. Third site visit (20%): Two site visits will be led by the instructor; the thirdsite visit is the responsibility of each individual student, who will give a twopage written report to the class during the study of the respective religion.It is advised to plan the visit with at least one other fellow student.5. Final Research Paper (40%): Each student will be responsible to submit aresearch paper. Choose a relevant topic that provides an opportunity to usethe knowledge and skills being gained to enhance your capacity to interactwith a particular religious tradition. Students are to write on one of thecontemporary faiths being examined in the course which has particularrelevance to the student’s ministry context. Students should explore how thereligious tradition being studied shapes the culture of its adherents. It isparticularity important that students engage the following questions:i. What is the religions ultimate concern (this means the final goal adherentsare seeking.)2

ii. What is this religion’s view of reality?a. God or gods (are they real? What are they like? Can they help us?)b. The human self (What is human nature? For example, is it bad,good, created, divine?)c. The physical world (Is it real, eternal or created, bad or good?)iii. What is the basic human problem?iv. How is the basic human problem resolved?The paper should be 10-12 pages. Your topic must be selected and approvedby the course professor.The paper should include:Summary of central beliefs of the faithReflections on personal interactions with persons who embrace thefaithProposals for interactions with the religion and its followersAnalysis of the potential contributions the other faith might make toour livesPapers should be submitted in hard copy form or electronically on orbefore 9pm of June 8, 2017.Grading Scale:A 100-95B 89-87B- 82-80C 76-73D 69-67D- 62-60A- 94-90B 86-83C 79-75C- 72-70D 66-63F 59 and belowRequired Reading:Brodd, Jeffery (et all). Invitation to World Religions, second edition. New York:Oxford University Press, 2016. ISBN-978-0199378364. 648 pgs. 73.22Vaughn, Lewis. Anthology of World Religions: Sacred Texts and ContemporaryPerspectives. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016. ISBN-9780195332360. 560 pgs. 64.95Recommended Readings:Anderson, Norman Sir. Christianity and World Religions: The Challenge of Pluralism.Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1984.Ariarajah, Wesley S. The Bible and People of Other Faiths. Geneva: WCC, The RiskBook Series, 1985.3

Chryssides, George D. Exploring New Religions. New York: Cassell, 1999.Corduan, Winfried. Neighboring Faiths: A Christian Introduction to World Religions.Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998.Fisher, Mary Pat and Lee W. Bailey. An Anthology of Living Religions. Upper SaddleRiver, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000.Ghiloni, Aaron J ed. World Religions and Their Missions. New York: Peter Lang, 2015.Johnson, Todd M. And Brain J. Grim eds. The World’s Religions in figures: AnIntroduction to International Religious Demography. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell,2013Juergensmeyer, Mark ed. Global Religions: An Introduction. New York: Oxford Press,2003.Knitter Paul F, Introducing Theologies of Religions. Maryknoll New York: OrbisBooks, 2005.Largen, Kristin Johnson. Finding God Among Our Neighbors: An Interfaith SystematicTheology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2013.Neusner, Jacob ed. Introduction to World Religions: Communities and Cultures.Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2010.Novak, Phillip. The World’s Wisdom: Sacred Texts of the World’s Religions. SanFrancisco: Harper, 1994.Van Voorst, Robert E. Anthology of World Scriptures. Belmont: Wadsworth/ThomsonLearning, 2003.Vos, Johannes G. A Christian Introduction to Religions of the World. GrandRapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1965.Typical Flow of Events in Class Sessions: 4:00pm – 6:40pm4:00pm – 4:10pm4:10pm – 4:50pm4:50pm – 5:50pm5:50pm – 6:05pm6:05pm – 6:30pm6:30pm – 6:40pmOpening prayer, Announcements,First session: Site visit and Reading RespondentSite visit -15 minutesReadings Respondent- 20 10 30 minutesSecond sessionBreakSmall group workRap-up4

Typical Flow of Events during site visits: 4:00pm – 6:40pm4:00pm – 4:15pm4:15pm - 6:30pm6:30pm – 6:40pmMeeting at the defined location, Opening prayer,Debriefing about the site & Announcements.Taking a guided tour, Q&A with the resource person,Individual time to meet people.Group debriefing and departure.Class Outline with Assignments:Week 1: April 6, 2017:Learning Objectives: Assignments; Students’ Agenda and Discerningthe comprehensive Impact of Religion on Today’s WorldUnderstanding Hinduism, Orientation about the site visitReadings for Hinduism:Brodd, Jeffery (et all). Invitation to World Religions, secondedition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 89-141.Vaughn, Lewis. Anthology of World Religions: Sacred Texts andContemporary Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016,pp. 83-131.Week 2: April 13, 2017:Hindu Temple site visit: (4:00pm – 6:40pm)The Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago10915 Lemont Rd, Lemont, IL 60439www.htgc.org 60439Phone: 630-972-0300(Geeta)Readings for Jainism & Sikhism:Brodd, Jeffery (et all). Invitation to World Religions, secondedition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 189-243.Vaughn, Lewis. Anthology of World Religions: Sacred Texts andContemporary Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016,pp. 133-154; 207-230.Week 3: April 20, 2017:Site visit report & Reading Respondent: Discussion about Hinduism,Jainism & Sikhism: Reflections from the readings,Questions for critical engagement.Presentation on JudaismReadings for Judaism:Brodd, Jeffery (et all). Invitation to World Religions, secondedition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 351-409.5

Vaughn, Lewis. Anthology of World Religions: Sacred Texts andContemporary Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016,pp. 325-382.Paper due on Personal Inter-faith encounter.Week 4: April 27, 2017:Site visit report & Reading Respondent: Discussion about Judaism:Reflections from the readings, Questions for criticalengagement.Presentation on BuddhismReadings for Buddhism:Brodd, Jeffery (et all). Invitation to World Religions, secondedition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 143-187.Vaughn, Lewis. Anthology of World Religions: Sacred Texts andContemporary Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016,pp. 155-206.Week 5: May 4, 2017:Site visit report & Reading Respondent: Discussion about Buddhism:Reflections from the readings, Questions for criticalengagement.Presentation on Daoism and ConfucianismReadings for Daoism & Confucianism:Brodd, Jeffery (et all). Invitation to World Religions, secondedition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 245-295.Vaughn, Lewis. Anthology of World Religions: Sacred Texts andContemporary Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016,pp. 261-286; 231-260.Week 6: May 11, 2017:Site visit report & Reading Respondent: Discussion about Daoism &Confucianism: Reflections from the readings, Questions forcritical engagement.Presentation on ShintoReadings for Shinto:Brodd, Jeffery (et all). Invitation to World Religions, secondedition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 297-321.Vaughn, Lewis. Anthology of World Religions: Sacred Texts andContemporary Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016,pp. 287-302.6

Week 7: May 18, 2017:Site visit report & Reading Respondent: Discussion about Shinto:Reflections from the readings, Questions for criticalengagement.Presentation on Islam (guest lecture by Ayse Arslan PhD student)Readings for Islam:Brodd, Jeffery (et all). Invitation to World Religions, secondedition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 469 - 523.Vaughn, Lewis. Anthology of World Religions: Sacred Texts andContemporary Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016,pp. 433-479.(Class does not meet on Thursday May 25th rather on Friday May 26th afternoon)Week 8: May 26, 2017Site Visit to a Mosque (1:00pm – 3:40pm)Islamic Society of Midwest501 Midway Drive, Mount Prospect, IL 60056*free lunch served after 1:30pm prayerReadings for New Religious Movements:Brodd, Jeffery (et all). Invitation to World Religions, secondedition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 525 - 567.Vaughn, Lewis. Anthology of World Religions: Sacred Texts andContemporary Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016,pp. 481- 512.Week 9: June 1, 2017Site visit report & Reading Respondent: Discussion about Islam &New Religious Movements: Reflections from the readings,Questions for critical engagement.Presentation on Indigenous Religions of North AmericaReadings for the Indigenous Religions of North America:Brodd, Jeffery (et all). Invitation to World Religions, secondedition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016, pp. 31-57.Vaughn, Lewis. Anthology of World Religions: Sacred Texts andContemporary Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016,pp. 33-67.7

Week 10: June 8, 2017Site visit report & Reading Respondent: Discussion aboutIndigenous Religions of North America: Reflections from thereadings, Questions for critical engagement.Final reflectionsCourse evaluationResearch Paper due @ 9:00pmPOLICIES FOR ALL MASTERS CLASSESNOTE: All communications from the seminary will go to your seminary emailaccount. Contact All Covered at (877) 224-8911 if you need help forwarding yourseminary email address to your personal email address.As a seminary community we hold integrity/hospitality as core values. Individuals areable to do their best work and thinking when their peers are fully present and engaged.We expect each person to both participate in class and carefully listen to others with thebelief that everyone’s contribution is equally important. Therefore, the followingpolicies have b