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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.
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.