Knowing God in the Created World
What you'll learn
- Interrogate modern assumptions about history.
- Reflect on a basic history of ideas as it relates to the discipline of Natural Theology.
- Ponder the created world and where you fit into the picture of God’s ongoing involvement in the created world.
- Discover what investigation of Jesus as part of the created order can reveal to us about God.
- Explore the Jewish worldview of the 1st century, and how Jesus saw himself in this worldview.
- Discover love as the basis for a method of ‘knowing’ what we can about history, creation, and others.
- This course references and builds from the book 'History and Eschatology' by N.T. Wright, but does not require familiarity or engagement with the text.
- 'History and Eschatology: Jesus and the Promise of Natural Theology' by N.T. Wright (ISBN: 9781481309622 or 9780281081646)
For hundreds of years, people have wondered what we can know about God based on the evidence of the world in which we live. Theologians and philosophers have pondered this question under the name of Natural Theology, with greater or lesser success. Prof. N.T. Wright asserts that to answer this question with fidelity requires putting Jesus back in the middle of the question. The line of thought explored in this course seeks to do just that, through a thoroughgoing investigation into modern Western attitudes about history and its validity as a domain of inquiry. The result being that in learning something about God we might also learn a thing or two about our knowledge of the natural world, and about the nature of our knowledge.
Along the way, Prof. Wright:
Defines Natural Theology and the debates which have sustained it.
Breaks down and dispels the ways of thinking since the Enlightenment which have made the idea of an active God all but unthinkable.
Asks how history fits into a picture of the natural world. What is history? How can it inform how and what we know about God? How we know at all?
Explores whether the events of the Gospels, seen as historical evidence, might provide a platform from which to ask necessary questions of Natural Theology.
Probes how we understand history, giving way to even more fundamental questions of how we ‘know’ at all, leading into a theory of an ‘epistemology of love’.
This course covers thoroughly advanced material, first explored in 2018 when Prof. Wright delivered the prestigious Gifford Lectures at Aberdeen University under the title Discerning the Dawn: History, Eschatology, and New Creation. These lectures were subsequently expanded and published in book form as History and Eschatology: Jesus and the Promise of Natural Theology.
In Part One of this planned two-part course, Prof. Wright covers major themes from the first half of this book, broken down into accessible, 15-20 minutes video lectures which you can watch or listen to, online or on the Udemy mobile app.
We encourage students to proceed through this course at their own pace, and consult the supplementary resources provided, including quizzes, indexes, concept diagrams, glossaries, and reflection prompts. Every effort has been made to clarify the thorough survey of historical ideas and hypotheses so that students might see how theological debates of the past still affect our life and theology today.
Who this course is for:
- Students of modern religious culture, seeking the intellectual background of modern assumptions.
- Those interested in debates of natural theology.
- Those interested in the discipline of history and the methodologies it employs.
- Pastors seeking a robust program for how we can know about the world around us.
N.T Wright received his BA, MA and D.Phil. from Oxford University. He taught New Testament at Cambridge, McGill and Oxford Universities 1978-1993. He was Dean of Lichfield, then Canon of Westminster, then Bishop of Durham (Church of England), 1994-2010. Prof. Wright is Professor Emeritus of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, and is currently Senior Research Fellow at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University. He has published over 85 books and hundreds of articles. In 2014 Prof. Wright received the Burkitt Medal from the British Academy for services to New Testament scholarship. He enjoys music, golf the Isle of Harris, and spending time with his family in the midst of a busy schedule of writing and travelling.
David Seemuth has a Ph.D. from Marquette University in the field of Religious Studies with an emphasis on New Testament Theology. He has taught at the graduate level for over 30 years at numerous universities and seminaries. He also has 21 years of on-line teaching experience. His passion is to see that people not only understand the Scripture, but also apply them to daily life.
Jennifer Loop is currently a doctoral student at Durham University. She is the Director of Ministry Engagement for the Wisconsin Center for Christian Studies, and plays a critical role in the online education, both organizational and theological, by guiding the online student experience. Jennifer enjoys engaging with a virtual community of diverse students and learners to explore how theology, faith and practice intersect.