Abstract: What does it mean for the Church to be Church? This course explores the Catholic Church's understanding of its own nature, role in the modern world, its relationshp with other Christians and with other faiths.
Abstract: The 20th century has witnessed an explosion of new forms of ecclesial movement in the Catholic Church. The 1940s, '50s and '60s saw the birth of many lay movements with active members. After Vatican II, the 1970s and '80s witnessed a renewal of religious life, with renewal movements in nearly all the major religious orders. More recently, the times have favoured loose-knit movements with more focus on outreach and less on membership. These signs teach us something for Catholic life today, and in 2000 I explored these themes in a magazine article and a Lent course for the parishes of Billingshurst and Pulborough.
Abstract: Catholic theology traditionally speaks of Purgatory, a state experienced by souls after death who are ultimately destined to enjoy the presence of God in heaven for eternity, but must first undergo some kind of purification. This dissertation shows how the church's doctrinal definitions on purgatory are best understood if the experience of purgation has both penal ('detention') and non-penal yet purifying ('refinement') elements. Particular attention is paid to the saying of Jesus 'You will not get out until you have paid the last penny' (Mt 5:26, 18:23-35; Lk 12:59): although this is not a traditional locus for teaching on Purgatory, there is nothing in tradition to prevent this interpretation, and the tools of Biblical criticism suggest that the most natural reading is that Jesus is indeed teaching about a post-mortem state of finite duration.
Abstract: Catholic teaching on Original Sin requires a repudiation of polygenism for the origin of the human race which, prima facie, challenges scientific orthodoxy. However, a correct understanding depends on a definition of what constitutes a true human being, and what constitutes polygenism. If a particular random mutation equips a hominid with sufficient development for God to grant it a soul, and this hominid – ‘Adam’ – sins before begetting offspring, then the genetic inheritance of this ‘human’ capacity must inevitably be accompanied by the spiritual inheritance of Original Sin as it spreads through the hominid population. Therefore Catholic teaching is shown not to be in conflict with scientific orthodoxy. Alternative scenarios are also considered, and theological and moral consequences of this position are explored.
Abstract: In August 2003, I delivered four illustrated talks at a Catholic People's Week in North Wales, entitled Great are the Works of the Lord. My brief was to explore topics in science and religion from a Catholic perspective, and the slides used (in the files above) are quite self-explanatory. I would be very happy to present part or all of this course for any group on request.
Abstract: The second year of the BTh at St John's Seminary includes a course on Christian Ethics which is based on Alasdair MacIntyre's After Virtue. MacIntyre does not take a chronological approach to the history of ethics; this file, which is largely a precis of After Virtue arranged chronologically, may be of use to students of this text.