All TCU students in both the English and Japanese tracks take a series of 3 courses titled “Christ and the World” during their first year at TCU. (These courses are optional for short-term students in the EAI Program.)
In the English track, the first course focuses on issues facing the church today. The second course looks at issues facing the church over the past 2,000 years. And the third course introduces students to issues facing ancient Israel and the early church during Bible times.
We begin not at the beginning but where we are right now: in the world today. Here are a few reasons for this approach:
- When learning something new, it’s usually helpful to start with what’s familiar.
- People of faith in every age have struggled with “big issues” that threaten entire communities and, at times, entire civilizations. Thinking hard about the sorts of problems we’re facing and struggling with today can help us to empathize with “the great cloud of witnesses” who have gone before us.
- We can find some surprising similarities and parallels between today’s and yesterday’s issues. Suddenly the issues of a thousand years ago, or the issues of three thousand years ago, seem far more relevant. Recognizing relevance can be a powerful motivator of the sort of learning that leads to wisdom.
With that in mind, take a look at the description of each course. As you do, ask yourself what issues you’d like to think and learn about if you were to take these courses.
Christ and the World I: Issues Facing the Church Today
This course guides students in identifying and understanding the most pressing conundrums and challenges the church is facing both locally and globally. With issues multiplying and modulating at a dizzying pace, this course seeks to explore ways to identify, analyze, and communicate the nature and scope of various issues, and to invigorate students’ pursuit of a Christian liberal arts education as an invaluable asset for coming to think and relate in redemptive kingdom-oriented ways that bear the life-renewing presence of Christ into His world today.
Christ and the World II: Issues Facing the Church through Time
This course introduces students to Christ’s relevance in their contemporary context by exploring the church’s call to perceptive biblical engagement in the most pressing conundrums and fractures besetting all corners of culture, local and global. From the impact of religious extremism, to the rise of naturalistic atheism, to the popularity of pluralism, the church’s concept of God continues to require reevaluation and articulation. Simultaneously, the church grapples with embodying a biblical concept of community that dignifies all image-bearers. For instance, presently salient—particularly for Japan—is navigating issues of gender and sexuality. The church faces fresh challenges in its relation to power as structures consolidating influence now incorporate complex international and economic dynamics. As technological advancement ushers in an unprecedented information age and exposes environmental crises, the church encounters a new set of hermeneutical hurdles, considering if and how the Bible speaks to such matters. With issues multiplying and modulating at a dizzying pace, this course seeks to invigorate students’ pursuit of a Christian liberal arts education as an invaluable asset for coming to think and relate in redemptive kingdom-oriented ways that bear the life-renewing presence of Christ into His world today.
Christ and the World III: Issues Facing Ancient Israel and the Early Church
Struggles faced by the Bible’s original audiences to discern and abide by God’s redemptive plan provide vital wisdom for today’s church. Situated in a land of geo-political and agricultural vulnerability, God’s people in (and pre-dating) ancient Israel faced constant threats to a life of peace (shalom) in the land. Many threats were internal, stemming from their own failure “to tend and keep” it according to the Torah. Other threats came from living in the shadow of empires all around. Oppression was not the only threat. God’s people themselves wrestled with how to wield and relate to power, whether royal, priestly, or other. Failure to wield it for the sake of the poor, the orphan, the widow, and the foreigner, for instance, ended in exile and dispersion. The earliest Christians, too, wrestled with the gospel’s call for socially radical equality and incorporation of Jews and Gentiles into one body. Hermeneutically speaking, the Babylonian exile posed jarring covenantal issues, given Israel’s breach and God’s age-old promises to Israel; the New Testament church interpreted them according to a new light and rule of faith. In this course, students will examine these and other issues facing ancient Israel and the early church as they sought to live out their callings faithfully as “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession.”