PTSL 2016


Thursday, March 3 - Friday, March 4 


Two-day course offering Thursday afternoon - Friday (all day) 

Theodore Walker, Jr.
Theological Ethics in American Politics: From 1932 to the Present
(Dr. Theo Walker)

Reinhold Niebuhr's 1932 book, Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics, is the book that taught American politicians (including Barack Obama) that Christian ethics [sacrificial love] applies only to individuals, families, and congregations; however, when dealing with large groups, such as tribes, states, and nations, we do "politics," not Christian "ethics." Hence, a Christian president can execute an unethical war because Christian ethics is not about politics. Martin Luther King Jr. disagrees with Niebuhr and argues for extending Christian ethics into national and international affairs. In this course, both Niebuhr’s and King’s arguments will be presented and critical deliberations will be invited by class participants.

Suggested Readings:
 Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics and Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?

Lindsey Trozzo

Galatians: A Window to the Ups and Downs of Paul's Inclusive Agenda (Lindsey M. Trozzo)

In the Letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul pulls no punches. Incensed at a community whose faith is faltering in the midst of conflict, Paul tries every trick in his rhetorical tool belt to shake some sense into his beloved brothers and sisters and bring them back to the heart of the Gospel. In this class, we will dive into this dynamic exchange, focusing particularly on one of the most iconic statements in all of Paul's writings: "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 2:28). We will consider the significance of these words in the context of Galatians as well as their importance for living as faithful Christians today.

Suggested Readings: 
Read the Letter to the Galatians in one sitting. Note elements of the language or aspects of the argument that stick out as particularly persuasive or hard to understand. Try to imagine receiving such a letter. What issues might prompt such a strong reaction from Paul? How does 3:28 figure in Paul's argument?

If you choose to attend a Thursday/Friday two-day course, you will not be able to attend a Friday one-day course.


Friday, March 4, 2016


One-day course offering (all day)

Dr. Ted A. Campbell, Associate Professor of Church History, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University SMU
Ways Forward for Old-Line Churches in the United States
 (Dr. Ted A. Campbell)
This course will examine some of the challenges as well as strengths of old -line (main-line, historic, ecumenically engaged) denominations and congregations in the USA. It will consider ways forward for strengthening core constituencies, evangelism and outreach, worship. We will reflect on whether ecumenical insights and contemporary challenges may lead us to re-think the meaning of denominations and “connectionalism,” the pooling of church resources for the common good. 

Suggested Reading:
Ted A. Campbell, The Sky Is Falling, The Church Is Dying, and Other False Alarms (Abingdon, 2015). 

Alyce M. McKenzie
“Short Sentences from Long Experience: The Bible’s Proverbial Wisdom for Today”
(Dr. Alyce McKenzie)
Proverbs are often called “short sentences drawn from long experience.” The Book of Proverbs is a rich resource of everyday wisdom, which promises that God gives us Divine Wisdom as a gift to guide us through the twists and turns of life. This study will get us in touch with the Book of Proverbs’ practical guidance for growing in faith, self-discipline, and courage.

Suggested Reading: Preaching Proverbs: Wisdom for the Pulpit, Alyce McKenzie (Westminster John Knox 1996) and Preaching Biblical Wisdom in a Self Help Society, Alyce McKenzie (Abingdon, 2002)


Saturday, March 5, 2016


One-day course offerings (all day) 

Dr. O. Wesley Wes Allen, Lois Craddock Perkins Professor of Homiletics, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University SMU

The Bible’s Longest Parable: The Gospel of Mark (Dr. Wes Allen)
In this study, we will consider the possibility that Mark was not written as a journalistic or historical biography, but instead as a parable and intended to challenge and re-direct the early church’s understanding of Jesus. But be warned: in the process of exploring this interpretation we may find that Mark continues to challenge and redirect our own understanding of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God.
Suggested Reading: Read through the Gospel of Mark quickly. Instead of focusing closely on individual passages, look for overarching patterns (such as the way the disciples are characterized), repetition (such as the predictions of Jesus’ death and resurrection), and elements that seem different from what you recall in the story of Jesus.

Larger Image

Cultural intelligence: Understanding and Engaging a Culturally Complex World
(Dr. Robert Hunt)

Rapid change abounds in the demographic and cultural makeup of many churches, communities, and businesses. In order to navigate and engage this complexity, we need to do more than learn facts about different cultures. A more effective approach is possible by incorporating the strategy of cultural intelligence. This course will introduce you to cultural intelligence. It will explore the fundamental differences between modern and non-modern cultures, and through examples and exercises, it will deepen your ability to recognize cultural differences and respond to them with new strategies and behaviors. 

Suggested reading: Leading with Cultural Intelligence: The Real Secret to Success,  David Livermore and Soon Ang. (American Management Association, 2nd edition 2015); “Porous and Buffered Selves,” and “Western Secularity,” essays by Charles Taylor (available from the instructor)

Tamara E. Lewis, Instructor in Church History, Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University (SMU)
Praying with Early Christian Women (Dr. Tamara Lewis)
This course travels back in time to rediscover the ascetic mothers of the desert who left mainstream society to devote themselves to worship, prayer, and contemplation of Christ through individual and/or community life in the deserts of Egypt and Syria. Despite the harshness of the terrain and physical dangers from men and beasts, these powerful women risked all to achieve what they believed were the essential mental, spiritual, and physical purifications for oneness with God. Included in the course will be reflection on their sayings and engaging in their prayer practices.

Suggested reading:
Laura Swan, The Forgotten Desert Mothers: Sayings, Lives, and Stories of Early Christian Women (Paulist Press, 2001)