/ Religion Department

Courses

Our classes help you understand the Christian faith and the role of religion in human society.

Religion department courses are an integral part of the college curriculum. Six credits in religion are required for graduation: a two-credit basic Studies in Religion course (REL 100) and one four-credit course (REL 220s, 240s, 260s or 280s).

Our majors and minors have a wide range of introductory and advanced courses from which to choose, from courses on the Pentateuch to world religions, from Christian ethics to the Gospels.

View full course descriptions in the catalog 

Special Topics (REL 100)

Catalog course REL 100 consists of multiple topics of focus that vary each semester. Current and/or forthcoming descriptions are listed below. To see course details, including dates, times and professors, please see the Registrar’s course schedule.

Religion section descriptions — Fall 2020

100.01 Basic Studies in Christianity

100.02 Which Jesus?
Everyone seems to have a different opinion about Jesus. Where did these ideas about Jesus come from? Which one is the “real” Jesus? What do those around me and in society believe about Jesus? These are the questions we will address as we explore Jesus through the centuries and search for The Historical Jesus.

100.03 Many Faces of Christianity
This course will examine the ways different denominations and cultural traditions interpret Christianity in their worship and teaching. Students will attend and report on worship services at a variety of Holland area churches.

100.04 Earth and Ethics
Global warming, holes in the ozone layer, toxic wastes, oil spills, acid rain, drinking water contamination, overflowing landfills, topsoil erosion, species extinction, smog. The earth and its many inhabitants are in trouble, claim numerous professional earth-watchers. In this course we will ask these and other crucial questions. And we will learn how religious folk — Jews, Christians, Muslims and Buddhists — answer such questions. This course, in short, is an inquiry concerning earth and ethics.

100.05 Mystery of the Incarnation
This course is an introduction to Christology; it is a study of the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh. Our starting point and norm of reasoning will be the New Testament, but we will also be guided by the conciliar teachings of the undivided Church (especially the councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon) as well as representative early, medieval and modern accounts of the mystery of Jesus Christ. By reflecting on Scripture and Tradition, we will attempt to answer Christ’s ever-relevant question to us, “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29).

100.06 Religions of India
This course introduces the major religious traditions of India in light of their histories, practices and ongoing life. Through a careful study of credible sources and recognizable claims, the course offers an opportunity to understand religions in India as internally diverse and alive.

100.07 God and Humanity
This course will trace the Christian understanding of the unfolding relationship between God and humanity as narrated in the Christian Bible. The course will explore questions such as: What does the Bible say about who God is? What does it say about who we are as human beings? What is the Christian articulation of the meaning and purpose of human life? We will explore these questions in relation to three concepts in particular: vocation, transformation and destiny. Students will be encouraged to reflect on and develop a clear articulation of their own spiritual convictions in dialogue with classic scriptural and religious texts.

Special Topics (Upper-Level Courses)

Several upper-level religion courses consist of multiple topics of focus that vary each semester. Current and/or forthcoming descriptions are listed below.

This is not a complete list of available religion classes. For a complete list of upcoming classes or to see course details, including dates, times and professors, please see the Registrar’s course schedule.

RELIGION UPPER-LEVEL SECTION DESCRIPTIONS — Fall 2020

221.01 & 02 Introduction to Biblical Literature
Whether you have never read anything in the Bible before or have been reading it all your life, this course is for you. For those to whom the Bible is a new read, you will gain basic knowledge and insights, as well as a comprehensive organizing scheme for understanding the Bible as a whole. For those to whom the Bible is an old friend, you will come to see its cohesiveness in larger segments, and gain new appreciation for the extensive and intensive relationship between Old and New testaments. We will use a secondary handbook to help guide our way and provide outlines and explanatory notes.

221.03 & 04 Introduction to Biblical Literature
This courses aim is to study the Bible, which includes the Old Testament, New Testament and what Protestant Christians call the Apocrypha. Questions like, “What is the Bible?” “What kinds of books are in the Bible?” and “What do these books teach?” will be answered in the context of the academic study of the Bible.

295.01 Business and Religion
This course studies the role of religious ideas in business and the business of religious ideas. Using case studies, it examines leadership, business strategies, investment decisions, product development and company culture. Case studies and course readings cover materials from Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. The course meets the REL 200 requirement and counts as an elective for both the business and religion majors.

349.01 Christianity Goes to the Movies
Screens mediate many things to us, including diverse versions of religion and faith. This course explores Christian history and religion through the medium of film. We will examine how film portrays religion and how biblical, theological and behavioral ideas and expressions are explored on screen. We will likewise ponder how movies and media shape faith, form religious imagination and offer a historical lens on the past and the present.

420.01 The Other Bible
This seminar, for religion majors and minors, will examine the Jewish books found in Catholic and Orthodox Bibles but not in the Protestant Bible. They are commonly known as the Apocrypha books and consist of Jewish writings, most of which predate Jesus and early Christianity. They will be read, discussed and interpreted in light of research that demonstrates their importance for understanding early Judaism and Christianity. Students will write a research paper that explores important facets of these writings.