new Nov. 26  (posted 14 Nov 2013)

new research paper due date & length  (posted 18 Nov 2013)

It is not so very important for a person to learn facts. For that he does not really need a college. He can learn them from books. The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.

(Albert Einstein, 1921, in response to Thomas Edison’s opinion that a college education is useless)


The growing precision of our understanding should enhance, and not diminish our sense of wonder.

(Alfred Brendel)


Without education we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously.

(G. K. Chesterton)


In much wisdom is much vexation, and those who increase knowledge increase in sorrow.

(Ecclesiastes 1.18)


Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.



Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

(William Butler Yeats)


You must unlearn what you have learned.

(Yoda [Star Wars V: Empire Strikes Back])


The unexamined life is not worth living.

(Socrates [Plato, Apology, 38a])

(Ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα.)



Na home


Westminster College 

Westminster homepage

 REL 212: Reformed / Presbyterian Theology and Worship

Fall Semester • 2013



Welcome to Religion 212: Reformed / Presbyterian Theology and Worship. The course title indicates the focus of the semester, which is to gain a better understanding of Reformed or Presbyterian traditions. More specifically, our aim will be:

to identify what the Reformed tradition is, its significance for the history of Western civilization, the US, and the world
to identify and discuss significant themes and emphases of Reformed theology
to identify and discuss characteristic forms and content of Reformed worship, especially in contrast with those of other Christian traditions
to read carefully and critically passages from John Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion and to explore the meaning of these passages in their historical context as well as in relation to contemporary thought and practice
to cultivate an informed appreciation of, and a sensitivity to, the Reformed tradition that is both critical and creative or constructive

Achieving these goals will require hard work on your part, which will bring many challenging, enlightening, exciting, frustrating, and rewarding experiences.


Accessibility Statement:

Westminster College actively strives for the full inclusion of all our students. Students with disabilities who require access solutions for environmental or curricular barriers should contact Faith Craig, Director of Disability Resources: 209 Thompson-Clark Hall; 724-946-7192;


Students who consider themselves to be followers of any religion, or no religion at all, are all welcome on this semester journey to become better acquainted with the Reformed tradition, to learn to appreciate it better, and to become informed and responsible interpreters of it. Anyone, Reformed or not, who does the required work can attain the goals mentioned above. This course is not designed to persuade you to become Reformed or Presbyterian. Nor is it intended to build up or disparage existing faith, although an informed understanding of the Reformed tradition can lead to a deeper appreciation of it.

 Requirements and evaluation for the course


For my criteria for evaluation of assignments go to Evaluation and read the information carefully.

If you have any questions about any assignment, please ask in class or make an appointment to see me.

If you have any questions about how you are doing in the course, please make an appointment to see me.



Assigned readings should be completed before the class for which they are assigned—use your best judgment to divide the readings evenly for each week. Keeping notes on the readings is highly recommended. Occasionally I may assign additional readings, but these will ordinarily be short. You must come to class with at least 2 written questions or comments in response to the readings (see Participation). Cultivate the ability to ask informed questions about the readings based on the knowledge you gain along the way; the demonstration of your ability to formulate questions will affect the evaluation of your semester grade.

N.B.: Not all the assigned readings may be covered in class discussions or exams, but they are assigned for your edification in achieving the goals of the course. Your use of them in class discussion and in your work will affect the evaluation of your semester grade.


You will take part in a group presentation (2030 minutes) that compares worship bulletins critically. Collect church bulletins from 3 Presbyterian or Reformed churches and 3 non-Reformed churches (e.g., Baptist, Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Orthodox, "non-denominational," Pentecostal). Highly recommended would be to procure bulletins from other countries for N.B.: You do not have to attend any worship service. The presentation should analyze the contents and order of the contents in actual worship services from the very first act of worship to the last. Focus on the significant contrasts. Consider also what information is printed on the front of the bulletin and on the first page of the order of worship as well as what information is not printed there. Most important is your critique revealing your knowledge of Reformed theology.



You will take part in a group presentation (2030 minutes) of a worship critique that analyzes (= criticizes) a worship service you attend. Document a worship experience in a Presbyterian or other Reformed church, providing a commentary and critique of every part of the worship service, including the order of worship (= bulletin) with respect to Reformed theologymost important is your critique revealing your knowledge of Reformed theology. If you wish, you may interview the pastor(s) or worship committee members of the church you attend for this assignment.

Provide a copy of the order of worship.
Describe the physical surroundings (e.g., worship space, seating arrangement).
Provide a list or description of every part of the worship service.
Use PowerPoint.
Follow the instructions on my Evaluation page under Presentations.



You will submit a research paper at on one of the topics below. If you wish to choose a different topic, please consult the instructor. Whatever your topic and thesis, make sure that connections with course materials are evident in your final work. Consult the instructor as you pursue your interest and as you research (the earlier you do so, the earlier you will know how feasible your research paper will be). You may also find the Tips for writing papers helpful.

Make an appointment as early as you can in the semester to discuss (1) your choice of topic and (2) your preliminary bibliography (bring a hard copy). The narrower and more specific your thesis—i.e., the argument you plan to make in your paper—the better.

Baptism (e.g., of infants)


Polity (e.g., presbyterianism)new

Bible (authority of scripture)

Grace (prevenient)

Predestination (Calvin, Institutes, 3.21–24)

Christian Freedom

Lord's Supper








The paper should consist of 1,5001,700 2,000
The paper should demonstrate your understanding of Reformed perspectives with regard to your chosen topic. Include at least Calvin's Institutes and the Leith texts in your paper.

You must submit (in one file on a paper proposal that includes:

a brief, thoughtful, and clear articulation of your research interest, which can be a person (e.g., John Knox)the more detailed, narrower, and specific the research interest, the better (try to formulate a thesis)


a preliminary bibliography that includes at least 10 secondary sources (besides course textbooks and reference books) you found to be promising for your paper, including 5 academic journal articles (articles in newspapers or magazines are acceptable if appropriate for your paper)

Electronic sources count only if you provide evidence that they are scholarly sources. Use the Chicago Manual of Style (or Turabian) for footnotes and the bibliography.

Submit your proposal as early as possible in the semester, so that it can be approved for you to begin work. Make an appointment as early as you can to bring a hard copy of your proposal for discussion and approval.

You are strongly encouraged to make further appointments for feedback on your progress.

The paper should represent original work (i.e., your own thoughts), not a mere digest of other people's opinions. Your own reading and re-reading of the relevant texts, as well as review of other materials, are fundamental to the task. I want to know what you discover in your engagement with your text(s)—a "text" can be written works, art works, music, plays, movies, interview, research results, poll data etc.—whether or not you agree with the opinions presented in any of the course texts or in class discussions (including my opinions).


N.B.: Focus on honing your ability to argue for your opinions and conclusions persuasively by supporting them with evidence from texts (especially primary sources) and other relevant sources.

Your final bibliography (NB: not works cited) must contain at least 8 sources used in your paper, including 4 academic journal articles.

Electronic sources count only if you provide evidence that they are scholarly sources.


Use the Chicago Manual of Style (or Turabian) for footnotes (or endnotes) and the bibliography. Learn the automatic footnote (and endnote) function of your word processor.

Use footnotes (or endnotes) to document your sources following the Chicago Manual of Style (or Turabian)for help: NoodleTools. Learn the automatic (foot)note function of your word processor.

Follow all the instructions given on my Evaluation page under Written assignments.


Throughout the semester, you will be responsible for learning significant terms covered in our texts or in class (see the “terms” file on the R-drive). You will be responsible for the definitions. Use (1) the course texts, e.g., glossary, index, (2) the resources listed in Resources to consider below, or (3) any other appropriate sources of information. The terms may constitute a part of any quiz or exam.




There will be a midterm exam covering all the materials in the course, including the reading assignments and terms we will have covered by the time of the exam. The final exam, which will be an oral exam, will cover the entire sweep of the course. There may be pop quizzes, the results of which will affect the evaluation of your participation. See my Evaluation page under Quizzes and examinations.


Grades will be assigned as fairly as possible. See my Evaluation page under Grades for more information. The final grade for the course will consist of the following:



Participation is a significant part of this course.

See my Evaluation page under Participation

for more information and instructions.

final examination


midterm examination


worship critique presentation


bulletin comparison presentation 15%




NB: If you have any questions about how you're doing in the course, please make an appointment to see me.


You may earn extra credit any time during the semester.

Submit a worship critique (500–700 words) of a non-Reformed church commenting on the parts of the worship service that represent the most significant contrasts to perspectives of Reformed theology.

Submit a reflection paper (500–700 words) relating something from popular culture (e.g., movie, play, TV show, book, any performance) to a particular course topic (consult the instructor). It should be mostly critique and not merely a plot summary.

  Do other extra credit assignments described in the file on the R-drive.

The instructor reserves the right to make the final determination concerning any extra credit. You can earn a maximum of 5% toward the final grade. You may write more than one, if you wish, but you won't receive more than 5% total in extra credit.


The class may visit various Reformed churches to experience their worship services. Although not required, church visits are highly recommended and may be very helpful for exploring the relationship between theology and praxis.

 Required books

Calvin, John. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Translated by Ford Lewis Battles and edited by John T. McNeill. The Library of Christian Clasics, vol. 20. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1960. (different, older on-line translation)

Leith, John. Basic Christian Doctrine. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993.

Leith, John. Introduction to the Reformed Tradition. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1981.

 Recommended books (* = highly recommended)


Achtemeier, Paul. Inspiration and Authority: Nature and Function of Christian Scripture. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999.


Allen, Diogenes. Philosophy for Understanding Theology. Louisville: John Knox Press, 1985.


_____ and Eric O Springsted, eds. Primary Readings in Philosophy for Understanding Theology. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1992.


Battles, Ford Lewis. Interpreting John Calvin. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996. [very helpful charts]


Dowey, Edward. The Knowledge of God in Calvin's Theology. Eedrmans Publishing Co., 1994.


Guthrie, Shirley. Christian Doctrine. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994.


Hall, Christopher A. and John Sanders. Does God Have a Future?: A Debate on Divine Providence. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2003.


Joint Office of Worship for the PC(USA) and CPC. The Service for the Lord's Day. Supplemental Liturgical Resource 1. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1984. [great resource for worship leaders]


Lindberg, Carter, ed. The Reformation Theologians. Malden: Blackwell Publishers, 2002.


McKim, Donald. Introducing the Reformed Faith. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001.


_____. Presbyterian Questions, Presbyterian Answers: Exploring Christian Faith. Louisville: Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, 2004. [very practical]

  Migliore, Daniel. Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004.


Rogers, Jack. Presbyterian Creeds. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1991.


Weaver, J. Presbyterian Worship. Louisville: Geneva Press, 2002.



Bruce Almighty

The Count of Monte Cristo


*Flatliners (cf. baptism)

The Game

*Gods and Generals (cf. predestination)

Groundhog Day (cf. regeneration)


*Overboard (cf. baptism, regeneration)

Prince and the Pauper (Mark Twain novel)

Shawshank Redemption


Strunk, William, Jr., and E. B. White. The Elements of Style. New York: Macmillan Publishing, 1979. (See my Resources page under Miscellaneous for the first edition of Strunk.)

 Resources to consider

  CRTA (Center for Reformed Theology and Apologetics)

Reformed distinctives ("Essential Tenets and Reformed Distinctives")

  Resources page for McGill, AV, & Web resources
  R-drive: course folder and the "Religion" folder

 Keeping in touch

During the semester check your e-mail regularly for messages regarding course matters (e.g., changes in the syllabus). Visit and reload this page for updates to the syllabus; see also my homepage for other information and resources related to the course. Please feel free to make an appointment any time about any course matters.

 Tips from former students

For some practical advice from former students, see the tips page.

 One last word . . .

Regardless of how demanding all of this is, I promise to be as fair as possible. I recognize that you will be very busy this semester pursuing various obligations and passions. I understand. I have my passions too, e.g., my family, music, philosophy, nature, mountain biking, fixing things, food. But I am also very passionate about education, both yours and mine—I mean not just the business of acquiring knowledge but more importantly the total development of honorable human beings. I do not require you to share my excitement about all the things we will cover, but I do expect you to do your best to complete the requirements for the course. To help you do that, I will make myself available outside the class time and the office hours. I will be glad to help you when you are struggling with an assignment. Or if you have any questions, concerns, complaints, and even compliments, I will do my best to take the time to listen and offer my response. Keep in mind that I am here to help you learn. So again, welcome to Religion 212: Reformed / Presbyterian Theology and Worship.

C o u r s e   S c h e d u l e

TR 1530–1710          PH 210


Assigned readings

= required

> = recommended

+ = read in the library (do not check out)


Project / texts

bold = primary text(s) for discussion

red bold = important date

highlight = R-drive file


Class / topics

Week 1


Aug 27 T

Aug 29

Course syllabus (including Evaluation link; review requirements, expectations & criteria for grading—ask Qs, if you have any)

Fisher: Effective Learning


Calvin: xxix–xxxv, l–lxxi, 3.2.7 (definition of faith)

Leith, Intro: preface, ch. 1

Leith, Doctrine: preface, ch. 1


>Calvin: xxxvi–l

>What Presbyterians Believe

Keep (& update) copies of all relevant Web pages


Reminder: bring your Qs & Cs to each class (see Participation)

>Perception quiz



>Study Guide 1 (These may be helpful, but they may not always correspond to the readings.)

Bible Hunt

Optical conditioning

Optical Illusions


General orientation

"Christian Theology in Reformed Perspective"

Week 2


Sep 3 T

Sep 5

Calvin: 1.1.1–1.2.2

Leith, Intro: ch. 1

Leith, Doctrine: ch. 2


>Calvin: 3–31

Leith, Intro: ch. 2

Leith, Doctrine: ch. 3

>Study Guide 2

"Faith and Doctrine"

"The human Situation, Mystery, and Revelation"

Week 3


Sep 10 T

Sep 12

Calvin: 1.14.1–2, 20–22 (skim 3–19)

Leith, Intro: ch. 2

Leith, Doctrine: ch. 4

Leith, Intro: ch. 3

Leith, Doctrine: ch. 5


>Calvin: 1.15.1–4, 7–8; 2.1–2; 2.3.5–6; 2.4.2 (skim 2.3–5)

>Interesting: Redaction & hermeneutics (funny & instructive)

>Study Guide 3

"The Doctrine of God"


Week 4


Sep 17 T

Sep 19

Leith, Intro: ch. 3

Leith, Doctrine: ch. 6

Rom 9.9–29

Calvin: 1.16–17 (esp. 16.9; 17.3–7)


>Calvin: 2.12.1–5; 2.13.4; 2.17.1

Leith, Intro: ch. 4

Leith, Doctrine: ch. 7

Calvin: 3.2.7, 14–15, 28–29, 31–33 (definition of faith)

•Last day for proposal: Sep 20 (


>Study Guide 4


"The Human Creature"

Week 5


Sep 24 T

Sep 26

Leith, Intro: ch. 4

Leith, Doctrine: ch. 8

Nicene Creed (cf. Apostles' Creed)


>Calvin: 2.12.1–5; 2.13.4; 2.17.1

Leith, Intro: ch. 5

Leith, Doctrine: ch. 9

Definition of Chalcedon

>Study Guide 5

"Jesus Christ"

"The Work of Christ"

Sep 27 F

Movie night with the Nas 7:46 PM-ish

Feel free to bring DVDs or VHSs of movies you think your classmates should see.

For directions click here.

Week 6


Oct 1 T

Oct 3

Leith, Intro: ch. 5

Leith, Doctrine: ch. 10

>Calvin: 1.13.14–20; 4.1.1– 

Leith, Intro: ch. 6

Leith, Doctrine: ch. 11


>Calvin: 4.14–17

>Study Guide 6

"The Holy Spirit"

"The Beginnings of the Christian Life"

Week 7


Oct 8 T

Oct 10

Leith, Intro: ch. 6

Leith, Doctrine: ch. 12

Calvin: 3.2.7, 14–15, 28–29, 31–33 (definition of faith)

Leith, Intro: ch. 7;

Calvin: 4.20 (What do you think?)

Leith, Doctrine: ch. 13

Calvin: 3.11.1–4, 10–11 (skim 5–12 for refutation of Osiander's "essential righteousness"), 15–23; 3.12.1; (skim 3.13);3.14.1–11; 3.17.1–5

Memorize Calvin's definition of faith in Institutes, 3.2.7


>Study Guide 7


"Justification by Faith"

Week 8


Oct 15 T

Oct 17

Leith, Intro: ch. 7

Leith, Doctrine: ch. 14

Calvin: 3.3; 3.6–3.11

Lews: "Learning in War-Time" (conversion)


>Syncretism and Harry Potter

Leith, Intro: ch. 8

Leith, Doctrine: ch. 15

Calvin: 3.19

>Study Guide 8


"Christian Freedom"

Week 9


Oct 22 T

Oct 24


Oct 26–28 (break)

Calvin: 2.7–9 (skim)

Leith, Doctrine: ch. 16

Course syllabus (including Evaluation link; review requirements, expectations & criteria for grading—ask Qs, if you have any)

Calvin: 3.21–24

Leith, Doctrine: ch. 17

Calvin: 2.7: 3 uses of the law


>Study Guide 9

Midterm exam (Oct 22)

"The Law and Moral Decisions"

"The Prevenience of Grace"

Bulletin comparison

Presentation: Chambers, Lelanski, Stahonnew

Week 10


Oct 31 R

Nov 5

Leith, Doctrine: ch. 18

Calvin: 4.1–3, 8, 12

Leith, Doctrine: ch. 19

Calvin: 3.20

Election Day Nov 5

>Study Guide 10

"The Church and the Means of Grace"

Bulletin comparison

Presentation: Colella, Cozza, Halpin

Nov 5: meet in PH 328, "The Fishbowl"new


Week 11


Nov 7 R

Nov 12

Leith, Doctrine: ch. 20

Calvin: 1.6–10

Leith, Doctrine: ch. 21

>Study Guide 11

Bulletin comparison

Presentation: Jung, Suchcicki


"The Bible"

"Christian Faith and Living Religions"


Movie critique of "Overboard"

Week 12


Nov 14 R

Nov 19

Leith, Doctrine: ch. 22, epilogue

Bring written questions on Calvin texts (also Leith) about which you have questions or comments.

Calvin: 4.10 (esp. 4.10.29–32)

>Study Guide 12

Worship critique Presentation: Chambers, Colella


"The Christian Hope"

Worship critique Presentation: Cozza, Lelanski, Suchcicki


Review of Calvin & Leith


Week 13


Nov 21 R

Nov 26


Nov 27–

Dec 1 (break)

Calvin: 4.14–15 (skim 19)

Calvin: 4.16–17

>Study Guide 13


Worship critique Presentation: Halpin, Jung, Stahon


Nov 26: no class (review course materials; work on research paper)new

Week 14


Dec 3 T

Dec 5

Calvin: 4.18–19

Calvin: 3.21–24


St. Nicholaus

•Last day for paper: Dec 2 Dec 6new (


•Last day for extra credit papers: Dec 13 (


>Study Guide 14



Final thoughts

Dec 10 T

F  i  n  a  l     e  x  a  m: 1130–1400 (regular classroom)

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year


Na home