“Teen angst” (a feeling of anxiety about the state of the world) is more than a cliché. The pandemic and recent cultural changes have significantly impacted teens. Mental health is affected by insecurity, stress, and trauma. Individual identity and mutual respect are caught in cultural cross-fire. Trust in traditional institutions is eroded. Confidence in the future is diminished. How does theology matter for the real needs of teens? Theology is more than just doctrine or apologetics — it is literally “knowledge of God”. Theology’s most essential historical purpose is to help thinking believers coherently understand and successfully interact with God, one another, and their culture. When Job was suffering, his friends brought him bad theology which he countered with his own theological misconceptions — and Job was not settled (or healed) until he listened to God to gain real understanding. This course considers the theological needs and interests of today’s teen. Topics include Creation and God’s Image (individual worth), suffering and trauma (waiting on God), relationships (friendship and romance), theological considerations for law and politics, interrelationships of major Christian denominations, relationships between Christianity and other religions, and more. In all discussions, the Bible is held as true and authoritative in its original form, and emphasis is on understanding the biblical author’s intended meaning as it would have been understood in original context. Students will consider in historical and contemporary context what the Bible has to say about our interactions with God, one another, and our world, with the hope that the Word of God will be their security, identity, redemption, and healing.
Notes and Requirements
Study and Discussion Format: For the purpose of keeping focus on the Word of God, there is no textbook for the course except the Bible. Students will be provided a short set of Bible passages and broad discussion questions to prepare for each class. The passages will require independent study and external research of the passages (i.e., not just reading) and the discussion questions will be open-ended requiring original thought (i.e., not just lookup answers). Participation in each class will be mandatory on microphone (cameras optional) for every student. Students seeking a foundational Bible Survey or Apologetics course are encouraged to take the excellent TPS courses that cover those subjects before or instead of this course.
Creeds, Confessions, and Mutual Respect: The course content adheres to traditional Christian creedal beliefs (Apostle’s Creed, Nicene Creed) and does not favor any specific confessional (denominational) view. When it is instructive to consider distinctions, differing Trinitarian Christian denominational views will be considered with equal academic regard. In all matters, individuals present or absent who hold differing views will be treated with kindness and respect.