Theological Inquiry Experience (TIE)

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…

Some Topics in Theological Inquiry

Hebrew Bible – Masoretic Text, Dead Sea Scrolls, Law (Torah), Prophets, Writings

Greek New Testament – manuscript variations/ translation histories/ extra-canonical literature

Synoptic gospels and the gospel parallels

Formation of the biblical canon

Lectionary: Choosing the greatest hits of the Bible

Creeds: Apostle’s creed, Nicene creed

Sacraments: Eucharist & Baptism

Liturgy, Order of Worship… Book of Common Prayer

Church History: Early church/ Council of Nicea/ Reformation

Church music: Differences of hymnals, gospel, contemporary, sacred music, sung mass

Theology: Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, ML King, Jr., Liberation theology (James Cone, Gutierrez), Reinhold Niebuhr

Literary Influences: Dante’s Divine Comedy, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, C.S, Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, John Donne’s poetry

Philosophical Influences: Aristotle, Plato & Neo-platonists, Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche

Architectural Influences: Romanesque & Gothic movements in church/ monastic buildings

Comparative Religions/ Interfaith Dialogue: Judaism and Christianity, Monotheism vs. Polytheism, Non-theist religion, Contemplative traditions within multiple traditions: Sufism in Islam, Christian contemplative prayer, Jewish mysticism