Religion

The mission of the Religion Department, in accord with the mission of the University and the College of Arts & Sciences, is to “prepare leaders to transform church and society, inspired by the love of Christ and the vision of His Kingdom.”

The original and historic purpose of Concordia-Portland was the education of future pastors for ministry in the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. While Concordia has greatly expanded its mission in the last century, the preparation of pastors, other church workers, and church leaders continues to stand at the core of Concordia’s identity.

The Religion Department offers a flexible major which provides a solid theological grounding for those who are called in a variety of directions: seminary studies and pastoral ministry; graduate studies and teaching in religion; professional ministry directly following the bachelor’s degree; and those simply interested in studying the Christian religion. For those who already have a bachelor’s degree, it also offers a Pastoral Studies Certificate to better prepare them for seminary-level education. Ministry Training Center (MTC) is a program under the Center for Applied Lutheran Leadership (CALL) at Concordia-Portland, in partnership with the Northwest District of the Lutheran ChurchMissouri Synod, which trains and develops local leaders for Christian ministry. 

Phillip L. Brandt, Ph.D., Professor, pbrandt@cu-portland.edu

Nolan R. Bremer, M.S.L.S., Professor Emeritus

Ted Engelbrecht, D.Min., Associate Professor, tengelbrecht@cu-portland.edu

Herbert E. Hoefer, Ed.D., Professor Emeritus, hhoefer@cu-portland.edu

Chad D. Lakies, Ph.D., Associate Professor, clakies@cu-portland.edu

Norman P. Metzler, Th.D., Professor Emeritus

Robert F. Schmidt, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

Hans G.R. Spalteholz, D.Litt., Professor Emeritus

Michael Thomas, Ph.D., Professor, mithomas@cu-portland.edu

Orlando Trier, M.Div., Professor Emeritus

REL 211      HISTORY AND LITERATURE OF THE OLD TESTAMENT      Credits: 3

This course surveys the origins and early history of the religion of ancient Israel and early Judaism. The main objectives are to comprehend the circumstances and causes of the emergence of this religion, to trace its major early developments, to describe the beliefs and practices of ancient Israelite and early Judaism, to understand the books of the Hebrew Bible within their historical and canonical context, and to appreciate how these writings function as Holy Scripture in religious communities, both in the ancient world and today.

REL 211H      HISTORY AND LITERATURE OF THE OLD TESTAMENT-HONORS      Credits: 3

This course surveys the origins and early history of the religion of ancient Israel and early Judaism. The main objectives are to comprehend the circumstances and causes of the emergence of this religion, to trace its major early developments, to describe the beliefs and practices of ancient Israelite and early Judaism, to understand the books of the Hebrew Bible within their historical and canonical context, and to appreciate how these writings function as Holy Scripture in religious communities, both in the ancient world and today.

REL 221      HISTORY AND LITERATURE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT      Credits: 3

This course surveys the foundational texts of Christianity, their context, origins, genre, and content. The main objectives are to equip to the student to undertake the study of religion at the university level by understanding authoritative Christian literature within its historical and canonical context, and to appreciate how these writings function as Holy Scripture in Christian communities, both in the ancient world and today.

REL 221H      HISTORY AND LITERATURE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT-HONORS      Credits: 3

This course surveys the foundational texts of Christianity, their context, origins, genre, and content. The main objectives are to equip to the student to undertake the study of religion at the university level by understanding authoritative Christian literature within its historical and canonical context, and to appreciate how these writings function as Holy Scripture in Christian communities, both in the ancient world and today.

REL 275      OUTREACH, ASSIMILATION, VISITATION      Credits: 3

Students will identify how they, as Christians, can participate in outreach to seekers and the unchurched. The diverse components of a congregation's evangelism ministry will be discussed, while considering various methods and resources for that ministry. Primary emphasis will be on helping students understand the importance of the role of every Christian in evangelism, so that they can move into congregations to motivate and educate members, developing and implementing an effective and intentional ministry of evangelism. Evangelism is the content, education is the process.
Prerequisites: REL 211 or REL 221 with a D or higher.

REL 276      PERSONAL CARE MINISTRY      Credits: 2

Introduces students to active listening, spiritual resources in crisis situations, helping people care, peer counseling, and hospital visitation. Some field work in a local hospital will be required.

REL 288      DEPARTMENTAL SEMINAR      Credit: 1

A seminar on a current issue in religion, ministry, or a mutual relationship with another discipline. Topic will be announced in advance of each seminar offered.

REL 289      RELIGION MAJOR SEMINAR      Credit: 1

A required seminar of all Religion Majors every year of enrollment, this one hour/week seminar will provide the community of Religion Majors an opportunity to explore deeply a single, narrowly defined topic of religion under the direction of a faculty member. The topics vary from year to year, please consult department for current year's topic.

REL 299E      EXPERIMENTAL COURSE - RELIGION      Credits: 3

Experimental course option varies by term. Please see academic department for course description.

REL 315      OLD TESTAMENT WRITINGS      Credits: 2

This course examines and analyzes individual texts (e.g. Genesis, Exodus, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.), collections of texts (e.g. Pentateuch, Prophets), historical periods (Deuteronomic History, Second Temple Judaism, etc.) and/or themes (wisdom, apocalyptic, pseudepigraphic texts) from the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. Commensurate with course topic (which varies each semester), students will explore the varieties of religious, historical, literary, and socio-cultural context which underlies the primary texts. Inquiry into these themes will be aided by modern scholarly methods and tools. Students will also examine how these writings function as Holy Scripture both in Jewish and Christian communities, both in the ancient world and today.
Prerequisites: REL 211 or REL 221 with a D or higher.

REL 325      NEW TESTAMENT WRITINGS      Credits: 2

This course examines and analyzes individual texts (e.g. Matthew, Luke, Romans, Revelation, etc.), collections of texts (e.g. Synoptic Gospels, Pauline Epistles), and/or themes (Johannine Signs, Apocalyptic Thought, Miracles as Performed Parables, etc.). Commensurate with course topic (which varies each semester), students will explore the varieties of religious, historical, literary, and socio-cultural context which underlies the primary texts. Inquiry into these themes will be aided by modern scholarly methods and tools. Students will also examine how these writings function as Holy Scripture in Christian communities, both in the ancient world and today.
Prerequisites: REL 211 or REL 221 with a D or higher.

REL 331      THE CHRISTIAN FAITH      Credits: 3

An exploration of the various teachings of the Christian faith, including the doctrines of God and atheism, the relationship of Christianity to the world religions, creation, the person and work of Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit in Christian life, in Scriptures, the church, ministry, sacraments, and the return of Christ to usher in the kingdom of God. We will approach these teachings from the Lutheran perspective, using also the Lutheran confessions, but will compare other denominational views of doctrinal issues.
Prerequisites: REL 211 or REL 221 with a D or higher.

REL 332      CAN RELIGION BE RATIONAL      Credits: 3

Westboro Baptist Church. The Roman Catholic priest sex scandal. Islamic terrorism. Israeli aggression. Jim Jones. Religion has sometimes taken forms that are not only hard to comprehend rationally, but are downright dangerous. However, it has also taken forms that have benefited society such as the creation of hospitals, charities, development projects, and care for the weak. This course will investigate the disconnect between a rationality that can serve the world and a perceived irrational religion particularly the Abrahamic scriptural religions. Can such religions be beneficial, rational enterprises?
Prerequisites: REL 221 or REL 221 with a D or higher.

REL 335      TRENDS IN MODERN THEOLOGY      Credits: 2

A study of the development of major religious trends from the Reformation to the present, especially as reflected in some of the leading theologians and philosophers, from Luther and Kant to Bultmann and Hans Kueng. These religious developments will be examined in relation to their various historical and cultural contexts.
Prerequisites: REL 211 or REL 221 with a D or higher.

REL 336      THE CHURCH AT WORK IN MISSION      Credits: 2

An introduction to the mission of the Church from the time of Jesus to the most recent strategies used at home and overseas. Students will discover their own roles in the mission of the Church, but will be able to analyze the characteristics of a healthy missionary congregation.
Prerequisites: REL 211 or REL 221 with a D or higher.

REL 341      ART IN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH      Credits: 2

A hands-on study of traditional and new church symbols from early Christianity to the present. Students explore various artistic ideas for worship today. The course applies to teachers, directors of education, pastors, and lay people.

REL 349      RENAISSANCE AND REFORMATION      Credits: 3

An introduction to the major themes and issues of the Renaissance and Reformation, approximately 1350-1550. The first half of the course explores the Italian origins of the Renaissance, humanism and the politics, literature and fine arts of the period. The second half focuses on Reformation Europe, the Protestant reform movements in Germany, Switzerland and England as well as the response by the Roman Catholic Church.
Prerequisites: REL 211 or REL 221 with a D or higher.

REL 351      RELIGION IN AMERICAN LIFE      Credits: 3

A study of the history and character of the principal religious traditions of the United States, with special emphasis upon contemporary issues involving religion and society.

REL 352      CHURCH HISTORY I: EARLY CHURCH TO REFORMATION      Credits: 3

This course provides the student with a basic understanding of the history of the Christian Church in its early formative years until the Reformation period. The course covers the intellectual, artistic, liturgical, organizational, devotional, and mission activities of the church, utilizing primary source materials. Emphasis is given to inspiring figures of the era and the challenge they bring also to our contemporary church work.

REL 353      CHURCH HISTORY II: REFORMATION TO TODAY      Credits: 3

This course explores the history of the Christian Church from era of the Reformation through the present, with special attention paid to broad movements which continue to impact the religious scene in much of the world, but especially in North America. Extensive readings in original documents will facilitate an ability to grasp the thought and importance of various figures as well as build critical thinking skills associated with the study of History.

REL 354      MINISTRY IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST      Credits: 2

The course will discuss the issues of ministry peculiar to the Northwest, studying the particular geography and history of the region. Students will study the social issues of particular concern to the peoples of the region and the effective models of ministry that have been developed, as well as developing their own.

REL 361      INTRODUCTION TO ETHICS      Credits: 3

This course will explore the theory and practice of ethics from the Christian perspective, including an overview of personal ethics and critical examination and discussion of major social ethical issues such as sexuality, abortion, the death penalty, cloning, and assisted suicide.

REL 371      WORLD RELIGIONS      Credits: 2

This course introduces the student to the other major religious traditions of the world: Animism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Analysis of these religions includes their historical development, basic teachings and beliefs, practices, institutions and cultural expressions. Similarities and differences between various religious traditions as expressions of human spirituality are explored through lectures, discussions, guest speakers and field experiences.

REL 371H      WORLD RELIGIONS - HONORS      Credits: 2

This course introduces the student to the other major religious traditions of the world: Animism, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Analysis of these religions includes their historical development, basic teachings and beliefs, practices, institutions and cultural expressions. Similarities and differences between various religious traditions as expressions of human spirituality are explored through lectures, discussions, guest speakers and field experiences.

REL 372      BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION      Credits: 3

This course engages students in learning and practicing the steps of careful, thoughtful, and responsible biblical interpretation, or hermeneutics. Students enrolled in the course will become familiar with various tools for biblical interpretation, and learn how to apply various approaches and methodologies to Scripture.
Prerequisites: REL 211 or REL 221 with a D or higher.

REL 377      DEPARTMENTAL TOUR      Credit: 1

A tour offered by the Religion Department. Details vary by year.
Prerequisites: Instructor approval.

REL 380      CHRISTIAN ENCOUNTER WITH OTHER RELIGIONS      Credits: 2

This course enables students to increase their understanding of the relationships between Christianity and several other religions. The course will look at the basics of traditional Biblical Christianity and explore ways in which other religions parallel and diverge in thought, in belief and in practice. As a result the student will be able to see and appreciate the depth and breadth of Christianity as it relates to other religions as well as understand more clearly what makes Christianity unique.

REL 381      FIELD EXPERIENCE IN CROSS-CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING      Credits: 3

The student will prepare for a practical field experience in cross-cultural mission through anthropological and sociological studies of culture and poverty. The student will gain some skill in the language of ministry and research points of contact for effective witnessing.
Prerequisites: REL 371 with a D or higher.

REL 382      ISSUES BETWEEN CHRISTIANITY AND ANOTHER RELIGION      Credits: 3

This course will present the theological and historical issues of conflict and commonality between Christianity and the other religion. The student will read the sacred texts of the religion, visit worship events, have guest speakers, and pursue research in order to grasp the inner life of another religion. The student will understand the current relations between the religions and grow in comfort relating to another religion.
Prerequisites: REL 211 or REL 221 with a D or higher.

REL 388      CLASSICAL GREECE AND ROME TOUR      Credits: 0

Visit ancient Greek, Roman, and early Christian locales in Greece, Turkey and/or Italy. Details vary by year. Tour is offered every other year. Enrollment in REL 389 or HST 389 is optional.

REL 389      CLASSICAL GREECE AND ROME      Credits: 3

This course offers an examination of the two cultures which laid the foundation for Western Civilization and Europe. The course will investigate the peoples of these cultures (from emperors to slaves), the diverse governments and social structures of Greek city-state (e.g. Athens and Sparta), hoplite and naval warfare, arts, literature, and philosophy, the Hellenistic expansion of Greek culture under Alexander the Great, the rise of the Roman Republic, the growth of Imperial Power under the Caesars, and the transformative impact of Christianity on the Greco-Roman culture.

REL 399E      EXPERIMENTAL COURSE - RELIGION      Credits: 3

Experimental course option varies by term. Please see academic department for course description.

REL 401      FAITH FOR LIFE      Credits: 3

This course provides a capstone experience toward CU's goal of preparing leaders for the transformation of society. Students and instructor will apply basic Christian doctrines to the social issues of our pluralistic society and engage in significant research within at least one area of social need. The student will explore the nature of servant leadership and its implications for a meaningful life.
Prerequisites: REL 211 or REL 221 with a D or higher and REL 371 with a D or higher. Junior or Senior status.

REL 401H      FAITH FOR LIFE - HONORS      Credits: 3

This course provides a religion capstone experience toward CU's goal of preparing leaders for the transformation of society. Students and instructor will apply basic Christian doctrines to the social issues of our pluralistic society and engage in significant research within at least one area of social need. The student will explore the nature of servant leadership and its implications for a meaningful life.
Prerequisites: REL 211 or REL 221 or REL 211H or REL 221H with a D or higher and REL 371 or REL 371H with a D or higher or concurrent enrollment. Junior status.

REL 403      THEOLOGY OF ECOLOGY      Credits: 2

Explores contemporary Christian theology and its response to environmental and ecological issues. The course will investigate the nature of our current ecological crisis and the emerging theological insights by Christians deeply concerned about our global environment. Special emphasis will be given to the God-world relationship, biblical and ethical considerations, as well as ecological issues germane to the Northwest.
Prerequisites: REL 211 or REL 221 with a D or higher.

REL 411      EARLY CHRISTIAN THOUGHT      Credits: 3

This course surveys a particular body of literature produced by the Fathers of the Early Christian Church. These texts are representative samples of the primary documentation regarding the dynamic life and history as well as the struggle and conflict of the church during the Patristic Age (100-500 CE). They introduce a range of topics from Christian worship and ethics, persecution and martyrdom, Trinitarian and Christological theology, anthropology and soteriology, and Biblical interpretation. In this course, we will be introduced to the central figures of this age, the historical context of the issues and debates, and the key tenets of Christianity that emerge during this period to form the heart of Christian theology throughout the history of the church. Finally, we will consider the continuing life of this literature, how it has been read, how it left its mark on diverse Christian communities and cultures in the medieval and modern worlds.

REL 422      CHRISTIAN MUSIC, WORSHIP, AND SPIRITUALITY      Credits: 2

The student will study the theology and history of Christian worship, spirituality, and the arts, especially music. The student will learn to develop effective corporate worship experiences and to develop a personal practice of spiritual discipline.
Prerequisites: REL 211 or REL 221 with a D or higher.

REL 431      LUTHERAN CONFESSIONAL THEOLOGY      Credits: 3

An introduction to the historic Lutheran Confessions, the Lutheran confessional-theological tradition, and the various contemporary approaches to understanding the Confessions as a distinctive witness to the gospel and as a creative and normative resource for contemporary evangelical theology.
Prerequisites: REL 211 or REL 221 with a D or higher.

REL 460      RELIGION AND THE MODERN WORLD      Credits: 3

This course explores the role of religion in shaping the politics and conflict in the world today. Students will explore the major religions dominant in the world today, and how they do or do not shape the environment. Also studied will be the misuse and radicalization of religion for the support of political agendas. This includes a deeper view of the various major religions, and how mainstream beliefs play into the international landscape.

REL 471      RELIGIOUS WORLDS: INTRODUCTION TO METHODS AND THEORIES IN THE STUDY OF RELIGION      Credits: 3

This course introduces and examines some of the principal theories and methodologies employed in the academic study of religion. Utilizing various psychological, anthropological, sociological, phenomenological, theological, and feminist approaches to the subject, students will examine and explore the central categories of religious thought and ritual to uncovering the specific language, structures, myths, and practices common to all religious traditions. Students will also reflect critically on precisely what religion is and how it can be most appropriately conceptualized and studied.
Prerequisites: REL 371 with a D or higher.

REL 480      RELIGION AND LITERATURE      Credits: 2

The goal of this course is to engage the student in a comparative study of selected texts in a particular genre of classic literature, in order to probe their insights into the major issues of human existence. In a given semester the genre may explore fantasy literature such as C.S. Lewis' Narnia, tragic literature such as Elie Wiesel's Night, or comedic literature such as Shakespeare's As You Like It.
Prerequisites: REL 211 or 221 with a D or higher.

REL 488      DEPARTMENTAL SEMINAR      Credit: 1

A seminar on a current issue in religion, ministry, or a mutual relationship with another discipline. Topic will be announced in advance of each seminar offered.

REL 489      RELIGION MAJOR SEMINAR      Credit: 1

A required seminar of all Religion Majors every year of enrollment, this one hour/week seminar will provide the community of Religion Majors an opportunity to explore deeply a single, narrowly defined topic of religion under the direction of a faculty member. The topics vary from year to year, please consult department for current year's topic.

REL 492      SENIOR THESIS PREPARATION      Credit: 1

This course is required for students planning to complete a senior thesis. The product of this course will be a thesis proposal.
Prerequisites: Upper division standing as a Religion major and Division Chair approval.

REL 493      RELIGION THESIS I: LITERATURE REVIEW AND PROJECT DESIGN      Credits: 2

The first of two courses required to complete the thesis option of the Senior Project for graduation from any major in the College of Arts & Sciences. Thesis students are guided through the initial components of the thesis, including literature review and experimental or project design, obtain approval from Concordia's Institutional Review Board (IRB) to proceed with the proposed research or project, and begin to implement the research or project.
Prerequisites: REL 492 with a B or higher, upper division standing, and agreement of a faculty member to serve as Faculty Supervisor for thesis project.

REL 494      RELIGION THESIS II: RESEARCH, WRITING, AND DEFENSE      Credits: 2

The second of two courses required to complete the thesis option of the Senior Project for graduation from any major in the College of Arts & Sciences. Thesis students are guided through the final components of the thesis, including the research or project itself, data gathering and analysis, and writing and defense of the thesis. The defense of the thesis will be a public event open to faculty, staff, students, and community members.
Prerequisites: REL 493 with a C or higher.

REL 498      INDEPENDENT STUDY      Credits: 1-3