The CURE for Your Vocation

Follow current students and alums on the McCormick blog, The "Cure" for Your Vocation.

We have fun, too.

We're not all reading, writing, and study. We have fun, too! 

Reformed Tradition


Program Masters
Field of Study History
Class# H/T 402
Instructor Case-Winters, Anna, Sawyer, Ken
Location MTS room 101
Start Date 9.7.2010
End Date 12.10.2010
Time 1:00-3:50p.
Day Tue

Course Description HT 402 Fall 2010:


This course is an overview of the Reformed Tradition, with special attention to the PC(USA) Book of Confessions as a document of the Church. This class will read and engage documents and topics from the broad Reformed traditions, and each student will develop and present a personal statement of faith. The class will include some online resources for theological reflection and use in congregational ministries. The class will include broad reading, as well as lectures, discussion, and small group interaction.  Students will be evaluated on the level of preparation and engagement with fellow students, texts, and topics. This is a participatory class that asks all of us to read, reflect, and discuss topics in Reformed theology  -- in its historical forms, and in some of its contemporary forms. We live in a world with many competing world views and theological traditions. In this class we ask a series of important questions (especially for those preparing for ordination):   What is the Reformed tradition?  How do you relate to the Reformed tradition, and how will your standing within this tradition form/inform your ministry? How do you make use of the resources of the Reformed tradition to inform and challenge and explain your deepest commitments and affirmations?

This course encourages participants to identify resources for contemporary theological reflection in the rich resources of the diverse and demanding Reformed tradition. While one goal is to identify and reinforce Reformed distinctives in historical and contemporary theology, another goal is to challenge parochial views that fail to recognize the breadth of the Reformed tradition. This class will pursue close readings of confessions and contemporary texts from the Reformed tradition, in pursuit of a growing and constructive engagement with the Reformed tradition. The approach of the course is integrative, engaging both the theology and the history of Reformed tradition. Our intent is to provide opportunities for theological reflection useful in the ongoing preparation for ministry, including the PCUSA ordination examinations.

A central component of this class is engagement with the documents of the PC(USA) Book of Confessions, with a goal to encourage you to develop informed discussion of topics by drawing upon the confessions and key secondary sources. You will be assessed on your ability to engage in a conversation with the confessions and the secondary sources of the course.



Expected Learning Outcomes:


Upon successful completion of this course, you should be able to:


  • Identify and describe the theological and historical relationships among the Reformed tradition, the broader Reformation traditions, and the Church catholic;
  • Name and explain distinctive values, ideas, and practices that characterize the Reformed tradition; 
  • Negotiate the relationships among a variety of authentic voices and perspectives within the Reformed tradition and, within this context, define concepts such as faithfulness, boundaries, innovation, dissent, and continuity;
  • Articulate, in both discussion and written statements of faith, your own identity and voice within or in relation to the Reformed tradition;
  • Demonstrate a broad and engaged knowledge of the PC(U.S.A.) Book of Confessions, including the social and historical contexts in which each confession emerged; and
  • Practice critical and constructive theological reflection upon the resources of the Reformed tradition.
  • Demonstrate an ability to assess and engage the course readings.





1. Active attendance at class sessions that exhibits a close reading of the assigned texts and a readiness to bring your reading and reflection into the continuing work of this class.


2. Creative and critical participation in class projects, small group work, and class discussion. This includes an empathic and constructive engagement with the texts and the other members of the class.


3. Timely completion of all assignments, exhibiting proper use of sources, and pursuing standards of academic excellence.


4. Constructive response to the comments and feedback to your work – especially in the written assignments relating to the Book of Confessions. Your writing should show some changes over the course of the semester, as you respond/incorporate comments and feedback responses to your work.




1. Class presence, preparation and participation, with special emphasis on informed discussion of the readings and constructive (generous, empathic, and critical) engagement with fellow students and teachers.  You are expected to seek ways to appropriately participate in every part of every week of this class. This is a participatory class, not a class for spectators!


2. A critical book review (five pages double-spaced) due at the beginning of class on November 19 summarizing and assessing one of the books on the “optional readings” list. Since this is a text-rich class, we ask each person take one of the reserve books and prepare a critical assessment essay, to be posted to the web site.  You may be called upon to make a brief presentation on your text for the class. 


3. A personal statement of faith as an example of, or in engagement with, Reformed theology due November 12.  In addition to preparing and presenting this statement in a small group setting, you will also read and constructively comment on the statements of other members of a small group.  Copies of your statement should be provided to the small group and these may also be posted on the class website.   Discussion of the statements will be November 19.


4.  A weekly quiz given at the beginning of class (so be on time!) on topics and texts relating to the PC(USA) Book of Confessions.  There will also be an in class test on the PCUSA Book of Confessions on November 5.


5. Two page (double spaced) assessment/essay on each of the Confessions in the PC(USA) Book of Confessions.  Each essay is due the week that readings on that confession are listed.  Come to class ready to discuss the content of the confessional documents.  In each paper address three things: historical context and contemporary relevance to you in ministry (1/3), key theological issues/themes (2/3). You will need to summarize each of the confessions for your own purposes, but that important task is not the focus of these essays – instead you will be assessed on your theological engagement with the confession – recognizing the historical and theological “voice” of each confession, aware of the content and sometimes contentious insights of the particular confession. These essays will be a rich resource for all the members of the class, with some posted on the class website.  


6. A written examination in response to these questions, based on materials in this class and your continuing engagement with these matters:


What is Reformed tradition? How is the Reformed tradition distinguished (from) among the broadly Reformation traditions? Which of its distinctive gifts are most needed today, and why?  How are Scripture and the confessions part of your theological self-understanding and self-expression? How would others recognize you to be part of the Reformed tradition?


This will be an in class exam administered December 10 with a maximum writing time of three hours.


Evaluation of Assignments:


#1-4 taken together account for 40%

#5 accounts for 30% and

#6 accounts for 30%




Class Schedule and Timetable of Assignments:


                        PART ONE: The Historical Roots of the Reformed Tradition

            Week 1:           Confessing our faith: reading contemporary culture

                        The nature of confessions and confessionalism

                                    What is Reformed tradition?

Week 2:           Confessions and the Faith


PART TWO: A Broadening Tradition

Week 3:          Reformations!

Week 4:          Teaching the faith

Week 5:          The nature of the Church

Week 6:          Reading Week

Week 7:           The emergence of Protestant Orthodoxy

Week 8:           Resistance as faithful witness

Week 9:           Reconciliation as faithful witness

Week 10:         Word, Sacrament, order and freedom


PART THREE: Confessing the Faith Today

Week 11:         (en)gendering the question of sin      

Week 12:         Contemporary topics

Week 13:         Thanksgiving break

Week 14:         Contemporary topics

Week 15:          Exam Week



PART ONE: The Historical Roots of the Reformed Tradition


Week 1:  September 3

            Approaching the topics, introducing the course.

            Tradition and traditions in your work as a theologian.

Tradition as impediment and resource.               

What is Reformed tradition?

            Aspects of the Reformed tradition: a case study



Week 2: September 10

Confessions as expressions of faith, and confessions as documents of the Church

The catholic roots of the Reformed tradition


-Weeks, L. “A Brief Look at the ‘Reformed’”  The Institute for Reformed Theology Bulletin 5, no. 1 (Fall 2005). Also published in The Encyclopedia of Christianity vo. 4 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005). At:


 -"The Confessional Nature of the Church" Selected Theological Statements,  (pp. 89-110) or at:


-Small, Joseph, “The Church’s Conversation with the Confessions,” in Small, Conversations with the Confessions

-Van Dyk, Leanne, “A Conversation with the Ecumenical Creeds,” in Small, Conversations with the Confessions

-          Nicene Creed

-          Apostles Creed

-          Relevant sections in Rogers

-          Dowey, pp. 159-172


PART TWO: A Broadening Tradition


Week 3: September 17

            Reformed Tradition:  Catholic, Evangelical, and Reformed

            The shared revolt of the 16th Century: the European Reformations

            The emergence of a distinctively Reformed theological tradition



                        -Scots Confession

            -Rogers (relevant sections)

-Dowey , pp. 173-186

-McKim "Scots Confession”                          

-Thompson, J. L., “A Conversation with the Reformation Confessions,” in Small, Conversations with the Creeds, pp. 33-50.

-Zachman, R.C., “The Generosity of God: The Witness of the Reformed Tradition,” The Bulletin of the Insitute for Reformed Theology 6, no. 1 (Spring 2006), pp. 1, 2-5. at:



Week 4:  September 24

Teaching the Faith: catechism as an aspect of the teaching office of the Church


-Heidelberg Catechism

                        -Rogers (relevant sections)

                        -Dowey, pp. 187-200

                        -McKim “Heidelberg Catechism”


Week 5:  October 1

            Consolidation in the Reformation traditions: Church, Scripture, Tradition


            -Second Helvetic Confession

            -Dowey pp.201-213.

            -Rogers (relevant sections)

-Pauw, A.P., “The Graced Infirmity of the Church,” in A.P. Pauw and S. Jones, Feminist and Womanist Essays in Reformed Dogmatics, pp. 189-203.

-Leith, J.L. “The Church and the Means of Grace” in Basic Christian Doctrine, pp. 234-261.

-Sorge, S. “Why the Church?” in Small, Conversations with the Creeds, pp. 151-169.


Week 6:  October 8 Reading Week


Week 7: October 15

                        From Reformation to Protestant Orthodoxy     


                        Westminster Confession of Faith and Smaller Catechism

-Burgess, John P., “A Conversation with the Westminster Standards,” in Small, Conversations with the Creeds, pp. 51-68.

-Leith, J.L. “The Prevenience of Grace,” in Basic Christian Doctrine, pp. 220-233.

-Ernst-Habib, M. “’chosen By Grace’ Reconsidering the Doctrine of Predestination,” in Pauw, A.P., and S.Jones, Feminist and Womanist Readings in Reformed Dogmatics, pp. 75-94.


 Week 8:  October 22

Resistance as a Reformed value



-Barmen Declaration

-Kairos Document

-McKim "Covenant," "Kairos Document"

--Kulp, K.A., “Always Reforming, Always Resisting,” in A.P. Pauw and S. Jones, Feminist and Womanist Essays in Reformed Dogmatics, pp. 152-168.

-Dowey on Barmen

Suggested-Wilmore, Black and Presbyterian

       -Boesak, Black and Reformed


See also the Confession of Belhar (September 1986) at:


Week 9:  October 29

Reconciliation as a Reformed value



-Confession of 1967

-Wilkinson, J., “The Making of the Confession of 1967,” Church and Society, Volume 92, No. 5.

-Dowey, pp. 27-157


Given its combination of themes of resistence and reconciliation, see also the Confession of Belhar for this week, too, at:


Week 10:  November 5 

Brief Statement of Faith, and

Issues of worship as expressions of the Reformed tradition


Word, Sacrament, Order, and Freedom 



              -Brief Statement of Faith

-"Presbyterian Understanding and Use of Holy Scripture," Selected Theological Statements, (pp. 463-486).

-Scripture, tradition, and sexuality

-McKim, "Scripture," "Authority"

Suggested: Rogers, Reading the Bible and the Confessions: the Presbyterian Way.


            -McKim, "Church," "Baptism," "Lord's Supper," "Sacraments"


                        -McKim "The Priesthood of Believers," "Ministry," "Ordination,"


            Readings: Freedom

                        “The Person and Work of the Holy Spirit” PCUS (1971) at:




NOTE:  An exam on the PCUSA Book of Confessions will be given today.



PART THREE: Confessing the Faith Today


Week 11:  November 12

(en)gendering questions of human identity, agency, and theological anthropology


-Niebuhr,R.  Nature and Destiny of Man vol. 1, pp. 178-240.

               -Hess, C. L.Caretakers of Our Common Household, Introduction and chapter one “Giving Ourselves Away”

-Fulkerson, Mary McClintock, “The Imago Dei and a Reformed Logic for -Feminist/Womanist Critique,” in Pauw, A.P., and Serene Jones, Feminist and Womanist Essays in Reformed Dogmatics, pp. 95-106.

              -McKim "Sin"


NOTE:  Your Statement of Faith is due today and will be discussed next week in small groups.


Week 12:  November 19  


Presentation of some of the critical book reviews.

Discussion in of Statements of Faith in small groups.


Week 13  November 26  Thanksgiving Week


Week 14  December 3


Presentation of some of the critical book reviews. 

Discussion of topics chosen by the class.


Week 15    December 10  


Final exam is administered today in our classroom 1:00 – 4:00. 




Required Texts:


  • E. Dowey, Jr. A Commentary on the Confession of 1967 and An Introduction to the Book of Confessions. Westminster, 1968.  [BX 8955.D68]
  • M. Fulkerson. “Church Documents on Human Sexuality and the Authority of Scripture.” Interpretation Vol. 49, no.1 (January 1995):46-58.
  • C. Hess. Caretakers of our Common House introduction and chapter one. [BV 639.W7 .H47 1997]
  • Leith, J. Basic Christian Doctrine. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993. [BT 75.2 .L47 1993] posted for class
  • McKim, Donald K., editor. Westminster Handbook to Reformed Theology. Westminster/John Knox Press, 2001. [REF BX9406.W47 2001]
  • R. Niebuhr. Nature and Destiny of Man. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1941). [BT 701.N5 1941] portions scanned and posted for class.
  • Pauw, M.P., and S. Jones, editors. Feminist and Womanist Essays in Reformed Dogmatics. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 2006. [BT 83.55 .F445 2006]
  • J. Rogers. Presbyterian Creeds. Westminster/John Knox Press, 1985.[BX 9183.R59 1985]
  • Small, Joseph, editor. Conversations with the Confessions: Dialogue in the Reformed Tradition. Louisville: Geneva Press, 2005.
  • Selected Theological Statements of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assemblies (1956-1998). Published by the Office of Theology and Worship, Congregational Ministries Division, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 1998. [EPRC DPCUSA O2 BK]
  • PCUSA, Office of Theology and Worship, The Crucified One is Lord. At

PCUSA, Office of Theology and Worship, Hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. At:




Supplementary Reading:


The following are at the JKM Library.


  • Alston, W. N., Jr., and M. Welker. Reformed Theology: Identity and Ecumenicity. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003. [BX9422.3 .R45 2003]
  • Benedetto, R., D. Guder, and D. McKim, Historical Dictionary of Reformed Churches. Lanham, MD.: Scarecrow Press, 1999. [BX9415 .B46 1999 REF.]
  • Boesak, A. Black and Reformed. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1984. [DT 763.B55 1984]
  • Boesak, A. Tenderness of Conscience: African Renaissance and the Spirituality of Politics. Stellenbosch: Sun Press, 2005.  [not held by JKM]
  • Finney, P. ed. Seeing Beyond the Word: Visual Arts & the Calvinist Tradition. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999. [BX 9423 .A77 .S44 1999]
  • S. Guthrie.  Christian Doctrine. Revised edition. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1994. [BX 9175.2 .G88 1994]
  • S. Guthrie. Always Being Reformed. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1995.
  • Hall, J., and D. Hall, Paradigms in Polity. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994. [JKM BX 9175.2 .P29 1994]
  • Hall, D.J. The Cross in Our Context: Jesus and the Suffering World (Minneapolis:Augsburg, 2003) [BT 75.3 .H340 2003]
  • Hesselink, J.I. On Being Reformed: Distinctive Characteristics and Common Misunderstandings. Ann Arbor: Servant Books, 1983. [BX 9422.2 H.47 1983]
  • Johnson, S. comp. Analytical Concordance to the PCUSA Book of Confessions.

[BX 8969.6 .P7420 1993]

       Johnson, S. A Time to Embrace.

  •  Jones, S. Feminist Theory and Christian Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press), chapters 3, 5, and 7. [BT83.55 .J66 2000]
  • Langer, Rebecca Bradburn. Harvest of Righteousness: A Spiritual Discipline of Devotion in the Reformed Tradition. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1998.
  • Leith, J. Introduction to the Reformed Tradition. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1981.

[BX 9422.2 .L45 1981]

  • McKim, D. editor. Encyclopedia of the Reformed Tradition. [BX 9406.E56 1992]
  • Placher W. and D. Willis-Watkins. Belonging to God. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1992. [BX 9422.5 .T68 1999]
  • Rice H.  Reformed Spirituality.  Louisville:  Westminster/John Knox, 1991.[BV4501.2 .R5112 1991]
  • Rogers, J. Reading the Bible and the Confessions the PresbyterianWay.Louisville: Geneva Press, 1999. [BX 8969.5 .R64 1999]
  • Smith, J.K.A, and J. H. Olthuis, editors, Radical Orthodoxy and the Reformed Traditio: Creation, Covenant, and Participation. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2005. [BT 40 .R35 2005]
  • Spinks, B. and T.Torrance. To Glorify God: Essays on Modern Reformed Liturgy.

[BX 8969.5 .T6 1999b]

  • Wilmore, G. Black and Presbyterian. New and revised edition. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox, 1998. [EPRC CAFGO3 BK]
  • van Wijk-Bos, J. W. H..  Reformed and Feminist.  Louisville:  Westminster/John Knox, 1991.[ BS680.W7 V35 1991]