The Rev. Dr. Kristin Johnston Largen
Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg


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2.362-25  20th Century Theologies of Liberation


Fall 2010

Mondays, 1:30 – 4:30 pm

Office Hours: by appointment

Dr. Kristin Johnston Largen



Typically when we hear or read the word “theology,” what is implied is that which has come down to us through the mainstream Western European tradition, primarily constituted by [dead] white men.  Any “other” theology is just that:  appropriate and applicable for certain segments of the population, but not universal the way ‘traditional’ theology is.  This continuing misconception about the context and content of “real” systematic theology is no longer tenable.  Therefore, this course seeks to educate future public ministers on the importance of recognizing the influence of social location on any expression of systematic theology, and the need to be open to the insights of theologies done by those in very different locations from one’s own.  In this way, this course addresses the following objective of the Master of Divinity Degree as stated in the Gettysburg Catalog:  “Relate their denominational heritage to a mission context in the 21st century.”  Further, it also addresses one of the goals of the historical-theological studies department:  “Understand and evaluate the plural forms of Christian identity, particularly the Lutheran tradition, and relate that tradition to other ecumenical and religious perspectives.”


Course Outcomes

Upon completion of this course, the students should be able to:

1)  Define and describe each specific theology covered in this course

2)  Relate each different theology to the practice of public ministry

3)  Integrate the insights of the theologians read and discussed in class into one’s own theological framework of origin [Lutheran, AME, Methodist, etc.]

4) Engage each of the required texts with depth and understanding

5) Clearly express sophisticated theological reasoning in both written and oral communication


Strategies for achieving course objectives


Students will be expected to meet the following course requirements:


  1. Required Reading: 

The students are expected to read all assigned readings carefully.          

Choose 4 of the following six texts:

                                                Sexism & God-Talk, Rosemary Radford Ruether

                                Slave Religion & Black Theology, Dwight Hopkins

                                Enfleshing Freedom, M. Shawn Copeland

                                Caminemos con Jesus, Roberto Goizueta

                        Super, Natural Christians, Sallie McFague

                                Longing for Running Water, Ivone Gebara


  1. Class Attendance & Preparation: 

Students are expected to attend class regularly, listen to lectures attentively and take notes, and actively engage in all class discussions.  Repeated absences will be reflected in the student’s final grade.


In this class, and in this seminary, we respect the rules of inclusivity, as stated in the academic catalog, pages 13-14.  Please note that written work that does not conform to these standards will be returned for a re-write; and in the classroom, we will practice referring to both human beings and God in ways that are expansive, as related to God-talk, and respectful of personhood and inclusive in terms of gender, race and class.


  1. Class Assignments:

Timely completion of all assignments is expected of all students.  Late work  

may or may not be accepted, at the instructor’s discretion.   A reduction in the

grade should be expected for late work.

a)   Book Evaluations

Of the books assigned, the student is required to do a short theological analysis of four of the textbooks, which will consist of the following.  First, the student will summarize the book – the main objectives of the author, the thesis, the structure of the chapters, etc.  This should take roughly 2 pages.  Then, the student will engage a particular argument/statement/truth claim of the author, and offer her/his analysis of it.  This should take roughly 4 pages.  The student will bring this paper to class on the due date assigned, and will use it as a basis for group discussions on the books.  The papers then will be turned in to the instructor, and each of these short papers will count 10% toward the final course grade. 


b)   Final Theological Analysis

The final paper in the class will consist of a constructive analysis of one of the different theologies of liberation discussed in class as it relates to one’s public ministry.  The paper should be organized as follows.  First, the student should demonstrate a knowledge of the particular theology under discussion by defining it and summarizing its key characteristics.  This should take roughly 3-4 pages of the paper.  The bulk of the paper, then, should be devoted to discussing how this particular theology is relevant for one’s public ministry; that is, how it might positively inform the thinking and praxis of the Church today.  This could include ideas that challenge traditional Lutheran theology [or Presbyterian, Assemblies of God, Methodist, etc.] and also those that help us to see things in a positive new light.  This paper should be roughly 10 pages in length, with proper footnotes/endnotes, and a bibliography.  The paper is due the final day of class, where each student will present a summation of his/her analysis.  



c)   Dialog Review

One of the long-term goals of this course is to inspire interest and enthusiasm for systematic theology that will continue on into the student’s public ministry.  One excellent means of developing and sustaining such interest is through the reading of quality theological journals.  To that end, one of the course requirements is a short review of any major journal article from the past three years from Dialog.   This review should be no more than 2-3 pages, and simply summarize the article read, including the main points of the author, and conclude with a short response by the student.  This assignment is due on the last day of class, but may be submitted at any point in the semester.


1.      Book Evaluations:  40% [each book worth 10%]

2.      Theological Analysis:  40%

3.      Class attendance & participation:  10%

4.      Dialogue Review:  10%


Course Outline:


September 13th                                                Class Introductions

                                                                                    Review of Syllabus

                                                                                    Introduction to the course


September 20th                                      Latin American Liberation Theology           

                The Liberation of Theology, Juan Luis Segundo,

                                chapter 1, “The Hermeneutical Circle” [on reserve & on Blackboard]



September 27th                                                Feminist Theology, introduction      

            Peggy McIntosh article [on Blackboard]

            “Women’s Experience between a Rock & a Hard Place,” Serene Jones,

in Horizons in Feminist Theology, edited by Rebecca Chopp

 & Sheila Greeve Davaney  [on reserve & on Blackboard]              

Beyond God the Father, Mary Daly

Introduction & chapter 1, “After the Death of God the Father”

[on reserve; on Blackboard; also available online on Google Books]      



October 4th                                             Feminist Theology & Ruether

*Book Evaluation Due & discussion

                Sexism & God-Talk, Rosemary Radford Ruether,






October 11th                                                    Liberation of Bodies: 

                                                                                                Gay & Lesbian Theology

                                                                                                Queer theology

                                                                                                ‘Definitely-abled’ theology

Video:  “Out of the Past: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Rights in America”



October 18th                                 NO CLASS—Reading Days



October 25th                                           Black Theology, introduction

                “Strange Fruit”--Cone video



November 1st                                 Class meets for “Eyes on the Prize” video



November 8th                                           Black  Theology today

*Book Evaluation Due & discussion

            Down, Up, and Over, Dwight Hopkins



November 15th                                         Womanist Theology

*Book Evaluation Due & discussion

                Enfleshing Freedom, M. Shawn Copeland



November 22nd                                        Latino/Latina Theology,                                                                                                          introduction





November 29th                                        Latino/Latina Theology

*Book Evaluation Due & discussion

             Caminemos con Jesus, Roberta Goizueta                                                                  


December 6th                                           Eco-Theology, part one

*Book Evaluation Due & discussion

            Super, Natural Christians, Sallie McFague



December 13rd                                        Eco-Theology, part two                       

*Final deadline for journal article

*Book Evaluation Due & discussion

            Longing for Running Water, Ivone Gebara



December 16th—MAKE UP DAY!                    Final Presentations



















Descriptive Report

2.321            20th Century Theologies of Liberation

Fall  2010




Course Objectives






Define and describe each specific theology covered in this course





Relate each different theology to the practice of public ministry





Engage each of the required texts with depth and understanding





Integrate the insights of the theologians read and discussed in class into one’s own theological framework of origin





Clearly express sophisticated theological reasoning in both written and oral communication








Final Course Grade:________                            Date:_______










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