This Core course will be taught by Dr. Brad Littlejohn, and will run from April 12 through June 18. The syllabus is available here.
Once upon a time, Protestants liked to take credit for the glories of the modern world: freedom, prosperity, civilization. As attitudes on modernity have soured, many have been quick to turn the narrative around and blame Protestantism for the licentiousness, greed, and exploitation that we see around us. Influential books by Catholic scholars have told a tale of a Reformation that disenchanted the cosmos, banished beauty and sacraments, and opened the door for rampant individualism. What is the true story? This course will offer students a fuller perspective on why the Reformation was necessary, what aspects of Christendom it did and did not seek to change, and the lasting legacy it left, both good and ill, for the world we live in today.
The course will be divided into two main sections. Part I, comprising the first six weeks, will focus chiefly on the Reformation itself, its protest against Rome, and the debate over seminal doctrines—with particular emphasis on developments often seen as having harmful unintended consequences in the modern world. Part II, comprising the last four weeks, will look more closely at certain downstream effects of the Reformation that are generally (though not unambiguously) recognized as positive achievements of modernity. The key texts for this course will be the Davenant Institute’s anthology, Reformation Theology, Paul Avis’s The Church in the Theology of the Reformers, and Alister McGrath’s history of Protestantism and the modern world, Christianity’s Dangerous Idea, supplemented with other excerpts.
Dr. Bradford Littlejohn (Ph.D, University of Edinburgh) is a scholar and writer in the fields of political theology, Christian ethics, and Reformation history. He is the author of several books, including The Peril and Promise of Christian Liberty: Richard Hooker, the Puritans, and Protestant Political Theology (Eerdmans, 2017).