In the life of a Hamilton College student there is typically little opportunity for group theological reflection, study, and inquiry. Theological study, once a foundational discipline within religion departments of liberal arts colleges—including Hamilton—is now absent from curricular and co-curricular campus life. Religious studies classes distance themselves from the “practice” of religion, with the suggestion that analysis and exploration of religious topics should be guided by reason, and not by “faith.”
Co-curricular experiences of faith communities are often limited primarily to prayer / worship experiences, student-led study groups, and fellowship, all of which are crucial opportunities for spiritual growth, but much of which lacks the foundation a theological education can bring.
T I E (Theological Inquiry Experience) is a program designed to offer students an opportunity for an insight into a theological curriculum encouraging a direct connection between faith commitments and theological study, with the following considerations in mind:
• Personal development – how personal faith perspectives might be enhanced by deeper study of scriptures, theology, church history, liturgy and other theological disciplines.
• Faith community development – a recognition of how dedication to a particular faith community can lead to deeper sense of theological meaning
• Vocational exploration – how theological study might shape possible sense of vocational calling, including (but not presuming) the possibility of exploring seminary or divinity school after graduation.
• Peer ministry on campus – ways increased theological education might strengthen leadership of small group and personal discipleship of individuals.
TIE began in the Fall of 2010…
• Biblical readings and other articles/ TED talks/ video clips interpretation
• Relationship between self-care and care of others
• Discussion of Bill Mahar's diatribe against Islam
• Times of self-reflection, concerns and mutual prayer
• Lunch fellowship during reading/exam period
• What is the purpose of the church? The future of the church?
• The moral dimensions of a college education
• We often will start with a problem/ experience someone is working through and discuss