The Master of Arts in Theological Studies (M.A.T.S.) fosters development of theological understanding as part of educational, professional, and spiritual growth. The M.A.T.S. is a general academic degree, providing balanced exposure to the theological disciplines while allowing for focus on an area of interest. This degree is appropriate for students who:
• Are not seeking ordination but wish to work in a church setting.
• Are ordained but need further academic work in theological studies.
• Wish to enhance one’s understanding of theological perspectives and religious practices for personal growth or to relate to another professional field.
The program allows for concentration in a field of study to a greater extent than the M.Div. requirements generally permit. The faculty and disciplines are organized into three curricular areas: (1) Biblical Studies, (2) Church History & Theology, and (3) Ministry & Spirituality. The specific learning outcomes of the M.A.T.S. degree are to:
• Know a selected theological discipline.
• Analyze and comprehend major questions in the field and alternative solutions to them.
• Formulate and effectively explain an original solution to a theological problem.
The M.A.T.S. requires a total of 16-semester courses (48 units). Nine of the courses are to be distributed evenly among the three major theological disciplines of the SFTS M.Div. curriculum (Biblical studies, History/Theology, Ministry/Spirituality) and the remaining seven courses may be used to provide more depth in an area of particular interest. Courses in the field of Functional Theology (e.g., field education courses) do not fulfill degree requirements.
M.A.T.S. students also write a substantial paper under the guidance of a faculty advisor—either for an upper-level course or as an independent project—as the culminating experience of the program.
Students with a baccalaureate degree who have done graduate studies in theology at an accredited institution of higher education with at least a 3.0 (B) average may transfer or apply up to eight courses (24-semester units) toward the M.A.T.S. degree requirements.
Biblical Studies: 3 courses
OT 1200 Pentateuch & Former Prophets.
This course introduces the text, history, and theology of the first nine (eleven) books of the Hebrew Bible (i.e. Genesis through 2Kings) in the context of ancient Near Eastern culture, the history of the biblical period from early Israel to the Persian period, and the nature of critical study of the Bible. It assumes no prior study of the Bible. Method of evaluation, classroom participation, short exams, papers, final exam.
OT 2149 Prophets.
We will situate the pre-exilic writing prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Amos, Hosea, Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum, Habbakuk, and Obadiah) as well as the non-writing figures within the historical context narrated by the books of Former Prophets (Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings). Though in survey format, we will investigate the phenomenon of prophecy, the historical backgrounds, literary character and religious issues of the writing prophets. A critical introductory course in OT at the graduate level, 25 max enrollment/Sig. on Reg. Card.
NT 1001 New Testament Introduction: Paul.
This course is an examination of Paul's life, letters, and theology, as well as of the deutero-Pauline letters and theology. Debated today, e.g., are Paul's relationship to Jesus, more broadly his relationship to contemporary Judaism(s), whether justification by faith is the center of his theology, his attitude to women's leadership in the congregations, what Paul meant by advising slaves to remain in their "call," his relationship to Roman imperialism, and how the deutero-Pauline epistles (re)interpret Paul's theology and ecclesiology. This introduction to Pauline letters will also include practicing exegesis, as well as increasing awareness of Judeo/Greco/Roman culture, religion, and society, e.g., of the houses in which Pauline congregations lived and worshipped. The course is partly taught as a "flipped classroom", Flipped classroom is a form of blended learning in which students learn content online by watching video lectures, and in tutorials is done with teachers and students discussing questions. Evaluation, Final examination, book review M.Div., M.A.T.S.
NT 1014 New Testament Introduction: Gospels/Acts.
This course is a general introduction to the canonical and apocryphal Gospels and Acts in early Christian literature. Major methodological issues in current Gospel scholarship will be introduced first. Then, each text of the Gospels and Acts will be interpreted in terms of its literary characteristics, historical background and theological ideas. Throughout the course hermeneutical implications of the critical interpretation of the bible will be raised and discussed.
Other – Course may be chosen at the discretion of the student, with approval from their academic advisor.
Church History, Theology, Ethics: 3 courses
HS 1080 OR HS 8010 Online: History I.
Christianity from Jewish Sect to Colonial Churches. This course is an introduction to the history of Christianity and historical theology from the second to the seventeenth centuries. During this time, Christianity developed the main features of what is today the world's largest religion. Along the way, Christianity was transformed again and again as it adapted to vastly different, changing cultural and social environments. This course is about Christianity in the real world. You will learn how to study the origins and development of beliefs and practices, but you will also study much more. The course will introduce you to the continuities and varieties of Christian experience and belief in different times and places, from the Roman Empire to Persia, China, Africa, Europe, and Latin America, and you will be introduced to the complexity of Christianity's social, cultural, and political entanglements in all these places. The course will help you learn to break down real-life situations and understand the fine points at which religious innovation and change occur, even when people try to resist change or return to the past. Audio files of weekly lectures, illustrated with slides, and videos are provided for each week. Readings from primary sources in translation are indicated on the course schedule. The readings will illustrate history, but more importantly, they will give you the opportunity to develop basic skills in assessing and evaluating the belief and behavior of religious communities in the real world. Weekly exercises will ask you to apply analytical skills, draw conclusions, and communicate them to your peers. You will be introduced to the history of the interpretation of the bible on the example of commentaries on the first day of creation in Genesis 1. You will learn about the historical entanglement of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. You will read and study several theological and mystical classics. You will be exposed to the politics, ideas, and actions that gave rise to Protestantism and the intimate relationship of Protestant and Catholic reforms. You will discover the birth of the tension between theology and natural science. Finally, you will be encouraged to apply the critical skills and aptitudes you are developing in your study of the past to situations of religious life, leadership, and service today.
HS 1081: History II.
CHRISTIANITY FROM COLONIAL CHURCHES TO GLOBAL RELIGION This course is an introduction to the history of Christianity from the Sixteenth century to the present. During this time, Christianity became the largest religion in the world. Along the way, it was transformed again and again as it adapted to vastly different, changing cultural, social, and political environments. Topics will include the roles of Christian churches in European colonialism, the impact of expanding cultural networks across the globe on religious knowledge, cultural hybridization, Christianity and the rise of nation-states, the conflict of religion and science, the role of Christianity in slavery and in anti-slavery, suffrage, fascist, and labor movements, the rise and fall of American denominations, and the competition of orthodox and pluralistic theologies. Lectures, readings in primary sources, discussions. Midterm and final examinations (term papers may be substituted).
ST 1084: Systemic Theology I.
The first semester of a two-semester introduction to Christian theology. Beginning with the meaning of religious faith, we move into the method question of the relation between divine revelation and the authority of scripture, human reason and experience. From there, we investigate the meaning of God using ancient and contemporary Trinitarian theology; Reformed theologian John Calvin, feminist theologian Elizabeth Johnson, and Latin American theologian Gustavo Gutierrez. We conclude with differing understandings of creation, and God's relationship to human suffering. Three exams (with option of substituting papers for exams). This course is the prerequisite for ST 1085, Systematic Theology II. [Auditors with Faculty permission]
ST 1085: Systemic Theology II.
This course is the second semester of a two-semester introduction to Christian theology. The purpose is to help the student gain a basic knowledge of the principal topics of the theology of the universal church, especially as these topics are understood in the Reformed tradition and in conversation with feminist and other contemporary theologies. Beginning with the doctrine of humanity, we look at our original goodness and our fall into relational forms of sin as pride, despair and denial. Next, we look at the person and work of Jesus Christ, from a variety of perspectives. We look deeply at the meaning of our being "saved by grace through faith alone," and the roles of the divine Spirit and human spirit in bringing about our healing. We conclude with the nature of the Christian spiritual life, including sanctification and vocation, the church and its mission in the world and sacraments.
CE Elective: Ethics
Any CE Elective course in Ethics may be chosen at the discretion of the student, with approval from their academic advisor.
Course may be chosen at the discretion of the student, with approval from their academic advisor.
Practical Counseling, Spirituality: 3 courses
Course may be chosen at the discretion of the student, with approval from their academic advisor.
ED 2000 Christian Education.
Christian Education is a necessary entity in the life of the Church. The Word of God has given Christian guidelines for everyday living and eternal life; a commitment to understand for ourselves and to support others helps to define the roles of Christian educators. The class introduces an integrative and organizational approach to Christian education. Students will be required to seek an understanding of theology as an academic discipline and how it related to their church environment. The goal of the course is to equip students with information and knowledge that will help them to develop an effective Christian Education Program. Class sessions will present lectures, presentations, and group discussion.
LSFT 2525 Reformed Worship
This course is designed to introduce students to the nature and practice of worship and the sacraments in the Reformed Tradition. Worship and the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord's Supper are studied biblically, historically, and theologically, as well as in contemporary settings. Worship ad pastoral issues attendant to the celebration of weddings and funerals are examined. Skills necessary to leading worship effectively are rehearsed. Preparation for the PC (USA) Ordination Exams included in lectures.
FT 2172 Vital Worship in the 21st Century
Worship is the portal through which visitors find a spiritual home, members grow to greater discipleship and the whole congregation is inspired to "go and do likewise" in the world. The need is great for vital worship at the epicenter of congregational life. This course will explore the theology, history and ritual study of worship, excellence of practice in sensory-rich communication and intentional preparation needed by leaders of the 21st-century church for worship that revitalizes congregations.
Students in the M.A.T.S. program will take differing classes depending on their chosen concentration. These courses will fall under the categories/emphasis of topics such as Christian Education, Polity, Spirituality, Mission/Evangelism, and Church Administration. Please consult with your academic advisor for further information.
Students may choose which course to take, though must have approval from academic advisor.
Special Emphasis (Optional)
Students may take a total of 5 elective courses for the optional special emphasis. Course may be chosen at the discretion of the student, with approval from their academic advisor.
Concluding Exercise - Reading course/ 4000 level course
MA-4090: M.A.T.S. THESIS WORK This course is used to reflect work in progress for the M.A.T.S. paper requirement for graduation. See the registrar to be enrolled in this course. [Faculty Consent required]
Final paper title
MA-5000: IN THESIS All Masters level students in the GTU community should use this designation if they are working on their thesis.
For additional program information, please see the M.A.T.S. Student Handbook.
Please see department for course credit offering and range.