The unit focuses on three contemporary challenges to orthodox Christian belief – atheism, pluralism and changing notions of truth - seeking to deepen an understanding of their origins within a wider historical and cultural context. Particular attention focuses on the rise of the so-called ‘new atheism’ and the contrast with older forms of atheism. The social reality and theological challenge presented by religious pluralism is critically examined using a variety of theological resources. The related notion of truth, the rise of dogmatic pluralism and the associated breakdown in notions of authority are examined. Differing theological responses to these issues are examined through engagement with significant texts; the response of the local church to these challenges is addressed in a way that is theologically consistent with the Christian Faith and practically relevant.
The historical development of the doctrine of creation is reviewed and this forms the basis for a more detailed investigation of particularly influential modern constructions of the doctrine. The implications of these differing approaches are explored within a wider theological context, with particular attention being played to the concepts of divine agency and the manner of God’s action in creation. This leads to an examination of differing approaches to the engagement between modern science and the Christian doctrine of creation. The implications of the doctrine of creation are explored in relation to contemporary ethical issues relating to the environment.

The unit introduces the theme of biblical hermeneutics in the context of the history of biblical interpretation since New Testament times.  Key movements, theories and strategies will be examined and assessed, including recent developments such as reception history (including the artistic reception of the Bible) and ‘ordinary hermeneutics’.  The potential of these various approaches will be explored in relation to specific biblical genres and texts.  The practical outworking of the subject in the life of the Church will be kept in view.

This unit provides a critical examination of various approaches to the theological task. It also explores the potential of an integrated approach to the process of doing theology, which gives due weight to Scripture, tradition and culture. Key themes, such as soteriology, Christology and the doctrine of the Trinity, will be outlined and critically explored. These central themes will help to demonstrate the relevance of theologys critical and constructive tasks. This focus upon specific doctrinal loci will further demonstrate the value of drawing upon the resources of Scripture, tradition and culture. The unit provides foundations for thinking theologically and critically, and enables students to deepen their appreciation of mainstream Christian belief.

Normally Luke, Acts or 1 Corinthians will be studied.  Introductory questions such as sources, genre, readers and theme(s) are discussed.  The emphasis of the unit is on matters of historical and theological interest and difficulty.  Comparison is made with related texts inside and outside the canon of the NT.  The unit deals with the original purpose(s) of the book and its relevance for today.  Throughout the unit the Greek text is used and relevant passages are translated and analysed.  Class tests may be used in preparation for the exam.