HDS 2194

Theology and the Formation of Modernity

Michelle Chaplin Sanchez


Enlightenment thinkers often described their use of reason and attention to method in stark contrast to an earlier, theological past beholden to faith and authority. This description continues to be associated, more generally, with what it means to be "modern." In recent decades, however, theorists of Western secularization and political theology have argued that modernity has been—and continues to be—structured by the terms of premodern theological debates over divine sovereignty, freedom, reason, will, and knowledge. In this seminar, we will look closely at key arguments from this growing body of literature alongside premodern and early modern theological and philosophical writings. By reading these texts alongside one another, we will discuss how best to approach the relationship between theological discourse and forms of collective life and practice. We will also consider how these conversations can critically engage contemporary efforts at assessing and engaging the political, economic, and ethical legacy of modernity. Readings will include Taylor, Gillespie, Lefort, Agamben, and Kahn alongside Anselm, Ockham, Luther, Erasmus, Descartes, Hobbes, and Spinoza.

Enrollment Limited: Limited to 12 students. Instructor's permission required.
Open to BTI Students: Yes

Course website


0.50 credits
Spring 2015
Wed 4pm-6pm
Divinity Hall Room 106

Relationship to Program Requirements

Program Requirement Area / Category / Art / Designation
MTS Area(s) of Focus
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Religion, Ethics, and Politics
  • Theology
MDiv Distribution Category/ies
  • Christianity
MDiv Art(s) of Ministry None
Language Course Designation(s) None