The UChicago Theology Workshop

Are you applying to Ph.D. programs this fall or considering applying in the future? Don’t miss the Applying to Ph.D. Programs in Theology event brought to you by the Theology workshop on Tuesday, November 4, 4:00 – 5:30 in the Common Room.  Our very own professor, Willemien Otten and Dwight Hopkins, seasoned application reviewers and mentors of doctoral students, will share their advice on navigating different aspects and writing effective Ph.D. program applications.  There will be ample time for Q&A.  Bring your questions!    Refreshments will be served.

You are cordially invited to a special meeting of the Theology workshop with Prof. Christine Helmer from Northwestern University on Tuesday, December 2, 4:00 – 5:30 in the Common Room (Swift Hall)  Prof. Helmer will lead a discussion of her brand-new book Theology and the End of Doctrine (Westminster John Knox Press, 2014).  The book uses historical theology (in particular, but not exclusively, the works of Luther and Schleiermacher, and mystical theology) to make a constructive proposal with regard to the future of theological inquiry.

Prof. Helmer is a senior scholar of academic theology.  In addition to her new work to be presented at the workshop, she wrote and edited eleven books, including The Global Luther: A Theologian for Modern Times (Fortress Press, 2009) and Schleiermacher and Whitehead: Open Systems in Dialogue (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2004).

The workshop will follow our regular format: a presentation by Prof. Helmer, followed by a brief response, with significant time reserved for discussion.  There is likely to be an opportunity to go out to dinner with Prof. Helmer after the workshop meeting.

Prof. Helmer asks that, if possible, workshop participants read chapter 2 and chapter 5 in preparation for the workshop to ensure a more stimulating discussion. Copies of Theology and the End of Doctrine are made available for sale at the campus Barnes & Nobles and the Seminary Coop.  Alternatively, the chapters are available for a free download (30-day trial) at You would need to create an account to enable download.

You are invited to the 2014 -2015 inaugural meeting of the Theology and Religious Ethics Workshop next Tuesday, October 7, 12:00 – 1:20 pm in Swift 106.

We will briefly introduce our vision for the workshop this year and highlight some exciting events we will be bringing to the Swift and the University community this quarter and beyond. That will be a great time for students interested in Theology to meet each other, socialize, and meet the relevant faculty. Lunch will be served.

For the feast of the mind, Daniel Owings (MA student in Theology) will present his paper entitled “Warranted Christian Belief? The Noetic Effects of Sin as a Warrant-Defeater for Alvin Plantinga’s Model of Knowledge of God.” David Barr, a Ph.D. student in Ethics will respond.

The abstract is below:

The paper is a critique of Alvin Plantinga’s “Reformed Epistemology,” which construes Christian belief as knowledge in the strict philosophical sense.  Essentially he argues that Christian belief, if true, constitutes warranted true belief; he admits that he cannot prove that the belief itself is true, but instead seeks to dispel the criticism of Christianity that “even if this is true, it’s so contrary to rationality that we have no reason to believe it.” Plantinga argues quite convincingly that we do  have good reason to believe that it is true, and that therefore if it is true, then it should qualify as knowledge insofar as it would be warranted true belief. My critique argues that Plantinga relies on Calvin’s concept of the noetic effects of sin to show that other belief systems do not constitute knowledge, but that these same noetic effects of sin should render his own beliefs so uncertain that they could not possibly be knowledge. Plantinga is correct in saying that his beliefs are not inherently irrational, but he goes too far in arguing that they are knowledge.

Aaron HollanderMonday, April 7, 2014 12:00 noon-1:25 pm Swift Hall, Room 200

Join us for a special joint session of the Theology Workshop and the Workshop on Late Antiquity and Byzantium for Aaron’s Hollander’s paper, “A Heart Like Bright Water: Contemplating and Cultivating Holiness with the Theological Metaphor of Evagrius Ponticus”.

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Olivia BustionMonday, January 13, 2014 12:00 noon-1:30 pm Swift Hall, Room 200

What do queer culture, Star Trek fandom, and the Quiverfull movement have in common?  Come find out at the next Theology Workshop, where Olivia Bustion will present her work-in-progress, “Counterpublic Theology and Pacifist Ways of Knowing (with John Howard Yoder and Virginia Woolf).”  The essay maps out a new way for theology to travel publicly, namely, ‘counterpublic theology.’

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