It has been a great delight to watch several distinctive, possibly iconic types of assignment unfold as we’ve designed the MDIV curriculum at Wesley Seminary@IWU.  One is a particular kind of spiritual formation journaling that we are still fine tuning.  I’ll no doubt report here on it later.

Today I want to share with excitement how innovative what we’re doing is with theological and Church historical research. These disciplines are so consistently taught systematically–from beginning to end!  The idea seems to be that if you know the theologians, if you know the span of systematic theology, if you know the span of Christian history, then you will be able to access it at random to apply it when situations arise.

But how many MDIV students typically get so thoroughly acquainted with systematic theology and Church history to be able to perform such feats?  In fact, it has been quite a challenge for us to figure out how to teach someone to do what all pastors actually do with theology and Church history to the extent they use it at all.  How do you access these disciplines randomly, on the basis of pastoral need, rather than systematically?  How do you find relevant information when you do not know theology and Church history thoroughly?

For theology, we are building a sense of the “usual suspects.”  Not only can one of course approach theological issues from the standpoint of standard textbooks like Oden, McGrath, and Migliore, but we are developing a list of core theological resources to thumb through with each pastoral issue.  Here is the resource list as it has developed so far:

Augustine: The New Advent site is outstanding.  Check out the Enchiridion, for example, a nice overview of Augustine’s thought.  Also his Confessions.

Catholic Catechism: An outstanding sense of the common faith of Christendom, with of course some points you will quickly recognize as foreign to Protestants.  Here is a good table of contents.

Luther: Our new professor hire, John Drury, suggested a helpful way to approach Lutheran thought (even beyond Luther) is the Formula of Concord.  Here is a site where you can search all the contents.

Calvin: His Institutes on the Christian Religion are of course the best overview of Calvin’s theology, found here among other places.  By the way, this Reformed site has an incredible set of links to various historic confessions across the board.

Wesley: Northwest Nazarene University is the place for Wesley sources.  Here are 44 standard sermons and here are others of his works, including his Plain Account of Christian Perfection and Explanatory Notes on the New Testament.

Barth: I suspect you will have to use Google Books to look at Barth (e.g., here) since he hasn’t been dead long enough…