Alcuin Study Center teams up with Muncie Fellows to offer 4 graduate-level courses every year
Spring Courses (register below)
Kingdom Thinking: Logic, Liturgy, and Imagination
Our world is increasingly noisy and dizzying. We believe in the Scriptures, we love Jesus, and yet we still get confused. Pretty easily sometimes.
This course is an attempt to recalibrate the compass of the Christian, recognizing that we are not, as James K. A. Smith is fond of saying, “brains on a stick” but neither are we simply emotional kites tossed by the wind. Our hearts, minds, and bodies work together. We need Logic, the organizing principles of thought, to inform our minds even as Liturgies form the muscle-memory of our hearts. Then, through self-conscious exercise of our hearts and minds, worship and worldview, emotion and reason, we may cultivate our Imagination—our inward eyes—to envision the good life of the Kingdom, a sort of spiritual map, and order our steps aright.
In the introduction to his book, Socratic Logic, Peter Kreeft says, “No course is more practical than logic, for no matter what you are thinking about, you are thinking, and logic orders and clarifies your thinking. No matter what your thought’s content, it will be clearer when it has a more logical form. The principles of thinking logically can be applied to all thinking and to every field” (emphases original). James K. A. Smith would certainly agree, but he and Jacobs both stress that logic is not enough to steer our ships to shore. Smith says that the fundamental question is not “What do you know?” but “What do you want?” In other words, what captures your imagination?
We will be looking to Smith, Kreeft, Alan Jacobs, and others to help us to navigate our way in the world and plot the spiritual maps of our imaginations, all within the context of the local church and the church universal.
Church in the World: Kingdom Living for the Common Good
What is the Church? What makes the Church different from any other public institution? What is worship? What is discipleship? How does the Church universal, as well as the local church root its identity in Christ and his Word? How is she directed by his Holy Spirit? How does she interact in and through the world around her?
We’ll be using Edmund Clowney’s The Church as an outline, with a variety of guest speakers addressing the themes and topics therein. We’ll be challenged to love the local church by Megan Hill in her new book A Place to Belong. We will then explore the place of the Church in our “secularized” culture by reading Lesslie Newbigin’s Truth to be Told: The Gospel as Public Truth. And finally, we’ll discuss the place of the Church in politics, leaning on Vincent Bacote’s The Political Disciple.
Kingdom Worldview: From the Garden to the City
Genesis 1:28, often called the cultural mandate, is God’s commissioning of his sub-creators, Adam & Eve, to continue His work in the world: “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” Theologian Richard Pratt uses the phrase “numerical and geographical expansion of the garden” in reference to both this, the first commission given to God’s people, and the so-called great commission of Matthew 28: “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
Between these two commissions, or callings, God’s people got off track, and the effects of the Fall turned the cultural mandate into a redemptive project. And though Christ came to inaugurate his Kingdom, we must wait for his return for the Kingdom to be consummated. In the meantime, he has chosen to work through his Church to bring Kingdom restoration to the world. Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles (Jer. 29) will prove to be a helpful guide for us in this, the already-but-not-yet Kingdom of God.
Other guides include Graeme Goldsworthy, Albert M. Wolters, and C. S. Lewis.
Kingdom Callings: Work, Vocation, and Rest
The class examines the biblical concept of calling – or vocation – with special emphasis on work and labor, exploring the specific implications a biblical view of work has both culturally and individually in contrast to other contemporary views, and identifying specific personal applications involved in adopting a distinctively biblical approach to work. The class also explores the process of discerning divine callings, the divine limits placed on work and the need for rest, and the dangers of idolatry associated with work.