The CURE for Your Vocation

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Our student body is not only ethnically diverse, it is also boasts a variety of faith backgrounds.

Our student body is not only ethnically diverse, it is also boasts a variety of faith backgrounds.

Black Theology & Religious Experience


Program Masters
Field of Study Theology
Class# T 418
Location Common Room West
Start Date 9.7.2010
End Date 12.10.2010
Time 6:00-8:50p.
Day Wed

Course Description Masters Level

McCormick Theological Seminary



Course Number and Title: T 418 - Black Theology and Religious Experience


Faculty: Bernard Chris Dorsey


Term: Fall 2010


Course Description:


This course examines the form, content and history of Black Theology and the varieties of religious experience within the African-American community. While dealing primarily with African-American Christian thought, it also briefly engages Islam and African Religions.


As theology course, it is designed to engage students in an analytical exploration of how African-American religious thought both raises and attempts to answer questions of ultimate meaning and value for people of faith. We will explore particular questions such as: What are Black theology and Womanist theologies?  To what extent is African-American Religious experience shaped by historical events? How do race, class, and gender factor into the religious experiences of African-Americans.


Course Objectives:


  • To understand the characteristics and methodology of Black Theology and Womanist Theology
  • To critically engage a variety of sources related to African-American religious experience past and present
  • To become more acutely aware of the historical events that have shaped Black Theology and African-American religious experience
  • To understand some of the unique challenges and opportunities faced by contemporary African-American religious communities.


Masters Program Learning Outcomes

The learning outcomes established for each degree program are below. The ones that are underlined are those addressed by the course above. Because a course may be taken by students in any masters degree program, outcomes in more than one degree program may be addressed by this course.


M.Div. Learning Outcomes            

  1. Lead communities of faith with integrity, imagination and compassion.
  2. Perform the skills related to nurturing the life of faith (for self and others) including preaching, teaching, care-giving, leading public worship and public ministries.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge of the Bible and Christian traditions and the ability to interpret texts and practices.
  4. Work and worship with people from diverse backgrounds (racial, ethnic, religious) informed by knowledge from cross-cultural and anti-racist perspectives.
  5. Analyze social locations and cultural contexts in order to develop contextual forms of Christian ministry.
  6. Be proficient in the theological and ethical reflection related to situations and decisions in local, national and global contexts.
  7. Practice appropriate habits of spiritual formation and self-care and possess a growing, healthy sense of vocational identity.

MTS Learning Outcomes

  1. Exhibit the ability to interpret and teach Christian traditions, texts, and practices that nurture the life of faith and scholarship in themselves and the communities they serve.
  2. Articulate a point of view effectively and coherently in spoken and written communication.
  3. Engage in theological research and analysis based upon an argument and construct a theological essay or thesis article.



MA in Discipleship Development Learning Outcomes

  1. Teach basic concepts of Christian belief, traditions and practices.
  2. Equip others to engage in a variety of spiritual practices (such as prayer, hospitality, or worship).
  3. Plan and lead programs of Christian formation in a variety of settings.
  4. Analyze and evaluate resources and practices for Christian formation.


MA in Urban Ministry Learning Outcomes

  1. Examine and analyze urban contexts using Chicago as a laboratory / case study.
  2. Draw on biblical and theological resources to reflect ethically on issues of church and society.
  3. Demonstrate capacity to engage in cross-cultural ministries.
  4. Evaluate skills and strategies to organize communities and access political power in urban settings.


Primary Texts

Du Bois, W. E. B. The Souls of Black Folk, Penguin Classics. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 1989.

Cannon, Katie G., Katie’s Cannon: Womanism and the Soul of the Black Community

Cone, James H. God of the Oppressed. New York, NY: Seabury Press, 1975.

X, Malcolm, and Alex Haley. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. 1st Ballantine Books trade ed. New York: One World/Ballantine Books, 1992

Hopkins, Dwight N. Introducing Black Theology of Liberation. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1999.

Sernett, Milton C. African American Religious History: A Documentary Witness. 2nd ed, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1999

Walton, Jonathon, Watch This!: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Black Televangelism. New York, NY: New York University Press, 2009


Approximate amount of work per week students can expect (reading, writing, etc.)

100 – 150 Pages of reading per week

Writing will vary from week to week. Total number of written pages for course: 15 - 20


Course Assignments and Projects

1.         Attendance and Participation in Class                                    10%

2.         One (1) Reflection Paper                                                        15%

3.         In-class Mid-term Exam                                                         25%

4.         Class Presentation                                                                   15%

5.         Final Paper                                                                              35%