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Christian Church Today (RT5202)

Module Tutors: Rev Dr Craig Gardiner / Rev Dr Peter Sedgwick

Summary of course content

The Course is taught in three sections. The first examines the historical and contemporary understanding of the identity and purpose of the Christian Church. The second section  examines critical issues of contemporary debate such a gender and homosexuality. The final section explores  historical landmarks in the theology of mission and critically evaluates current theory and practice.

Credits: 20

Availability of module: Autumn and Spring Semesters: Available every year

RT 7107 Introduction to Christian Beliefs
RT 4103 The Story of Christianity   

Necessary for: N/A


A) Introduce biblical, traditional and varied modern conceptions of Christian 'church' its nature, identity and meaning as a background for critical analysis in the concepts of 'ministry' and 'mission'
B)  Introduce biblical, traditional and modern theologies of ministry associated with 'church'.
C) Enhance critical skills through examination of some crucial modern debates in the field.
D) Provide a historical background for study of the theology of mission and explore important contemporary debates and practical  challenges.
E) Enable development of an ongoing reflective theological basis for practice.  

Learning outcomes

Students should be able to:
A)  Explain the main features of the biblical background for Christian concepts of 'church' and the key historical anchors of the tradition
B) Analyse and evaluate leading ways of conceiving the 'church' in relation to the world and as one community through its varying expressions
C) Analyse and evaluate significant approaches to leadership and organisation of church'
D) Trace historic landmarks for the theology of mission and critically appraise approaches to current issues in the field

Teaching methods

An initial greater amount of tutor introduced material that develops into more interactive learning, peer exchange on prior reading, group and plenary discussion, and class question time.  Data projection and printed materials will supplement Learning Central resources.


A portfolio of two assignments each of 3000 words:  One essay is an evaluative and analytic piece of work, the other is designed to reflect upon an aspect of contemporary culture.

Suggested book purchases

Section 1
Avery Dulles, Models of the Church, New York, Image/ Doubleday, 2002 OR
Veli-Matti Karkkainen, An Introduction to Ecclesiology, Downers Grove, IVP, 2002

Section 2
S. Croft, Ministry in Three Dimensions,  D.L.T., 1999 OR
R .Greenwood, Transforming Church, S.PC.K., 2002

Section 3
D.J. Bosch, Transforming Mission, Orbis, Maryknoll ,1998 OR
J Andrew Kirk, What is Mission, D.L.T., London, 1999

Suggested preparatory reading

Veli-Matti Karkkainen, An Introduction to Ecclesiology, Downers Grove, IVP, 2002
S. Croft, Ministry in Three Dimensions,  D.L.T., 1999
S. Spencer, SCM Study Guide: Christian Mission, London, S.C.M. 2007

Primary sources

To be made available on Learning Central