For hundreds of years, people have wondered what we can know about God based on the evidence of the world in which we live. Theologians and philosophers have pondered this question under the name of Natural Theology, with greater or lesser success. Prof. N.T. Wright asserts that to answer this question with fidelity requires putting Jesus back in the middle of the question. The line of thought explored in this course seeks to do just that, through a thoroughgoing investigation into modern Western attitudes about history and its validity as a domain of inquiry. The result being that in learning something about God we might also learn a thing or two about our knowledge of the natural world, and about the nature of our knowledge.
Along the way, Prof. Wright
Defines Natural Theology and the debates which have sustained it.
Breaks down and dispels the ways of thinking since the Enlightenment which have made the idea of an active God all but unthinkable.
Asks, How does history fit into a picture of the natural world? What is history? How can it inform how and what we know about God? How we know at all?
Explores whether the events of the Gospels, seen as historical evidence, might provide a platform from which to ask necessary questions of Natural Theology.
Probes how we understand history, giving way to even more fundamental questions of how we ‘know’ at all, leading into a theory of an ‘epistemology of love’.
This course covers thoroughly advanced material, first explored in 2018 when Prof. Wright delivered the prestigious Gifford Lectures at Aberdeen university under the title Discerning the Dawn: History, Eschatology, and New Creation. These lectures were subsequently expanded and published in book form as History and Eschatology: Jesus and the Promise of Natural Theology.
In Part One of this planned two-part course, Prof. Wright covers major themes from the first half of this book, broken down into accessible, 15-20 minutes video lectures which you can watch or listen to, online or on the Udemy mobile app. We encourage students to proceed through this course at their own pace, and consult the supplementary resources provided, including quizzes, indexes, concept diagrams, glossaries, and reflection prompts. Every effort has been made to clarify the thorough survey of historical ideas and hypotheses so that students might see how theological debates of the past still affect our life and theology today.
What students will learn in this course:
Interrogate modern assumptions about history.
Reflect on a basic history of ideas as it relates to the discipline of Natural Theology.
Ponder the created world and where you fit into the picture of God’s ongoing involvement in the created world.
Discover what investigation of Jesus as part of the created order can reveal to us about God.
Explore the Jewish worldview of the 1st century, and how Jesus saw himself in this worldview.
Discover love as the basis for a method of ‘knowing’ what we can about history, creation, and others.
This course is for:
Students of modern religious culture, seeking the intellectual background of modern assumptions.
Those interested in debates of natural theology.
Those interested in the discipline of history and the methodologies it employs.
Pastors seeking a robust program for how we can know about the world around us.
Registered 501c3 non-profit organization Courses developed for N.T. Wright Online are made possible by the generous donations of people who support the Wisconsin Center for Christian Studies, Inc., a registered 501c3 non-profit organization. Tuition paid enables us to provide scholarships for those in need and allows us to fund new courses and translations of existing courses, and we are able to offer courses at significant discounts.