Department of Religion
Faculty in the Department of Religion: Jonathan Baer (chair), David Blix***, Derek Nelson, Robert Royalty, and Harvey Stark. ***sabbatical leave, full year
In keeping with the mission of Wabash College to educate men to “think critically, act responsibly, lead effectively, and live humanely,” the Religion Department promotes the academic study of religion as part of a rich, well-rounded liberal arts education. We recognize that learning how people have understood and practiced religion throughout history and around the globe is not only important for understanding our world, but also intellectually exciting and personally enriching.
In our courses, we encourage broad and rigorous critical thinking about, and engagement with, religion and theology. We use lectures, discussions, and immersion learning, as well as a wide diversity of methods, including those of theology, philosophy, history, sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, and literature and the arts. We invite students to study everything from ancient texts to contemporary issues, from religious traditions that they likely know well to those that are new to them.
As such, our courses are intended for all students, including believers, skeptics, and seekers of all kinds. They typically challenge and complicate students’ religious beliefs, while at the same time giving them the tools to broaden and deepen their beliefs. We thus prepare our students for success in graduate school, in religious vocations, as teachers of religion, and in all the career options open to liberal arts college graduates.
As it has done for many years, the Religion Department also supports a variety of activities on campus, such as the annual Christmas Festival with the Music Department, events hosted by the Muslim Students Association, a weekly religious chapel in the Protestant Christian tradition, the Roman Catholic Newman Club, and other student religious activities.
We try to provide a large number of “entry points” for interested students.
Courses numbered in the 100s are all appropriate to take as a first course in religion. Most are lecture courses, but some are discussion courses (e.g. 194, 195, 196). 100-level courses do not have prerequisites.
Courses numbered in the 200s are smaller discussion courses. Some have prerequisites; some do not. 200-level courses without a prerequisite are also appropriate to take as a first course in religion.
Courses numbered in the 300s are more advanced seminars and have prerequisites as indicated.
REL 490 is usually taken by majors in their senior year.
Comprehensive Examinations: Students write for two days, three hours each day. The usual pattern has been to write on two questions the first day. There is a wide range of questions from which to choose, and questions characteristically draw on material from more than one course. On the second day, students typically write on one question, which focuses on an issue having to do with the nature and study of religion in general.
Requirements for the Major: A minimum of nine course credits including:
A. The History of Christianity, REL 171 and 172
B. A total of two course credits from the following:
• Hebrew Bible—REL 141, 240, or 340
• New Testament—REL 162, 260, or 360
• History of Christianity—REL 272 or 372
• Theology—REL 173, 273, 370, or 373
• Ethics—REL 270, 274, or 374
• American religion—REL 181, 280, or 380
• Judaism—REL 150, 250, or 350
• Independent Study—REL 287 or 387
C. A total of two course credits from the following:
• Islam and South-Asian religions—REL 103, 210, 220, 310, or 320
• East-Asian religions—REL 104, 230, or 330
• Judaism—REL 151, 251, or 351
• Independent Study—REL 288 or 388
D. REL 297 or 298, or 370, taken before the senior year
E. Senior Seminar, REL 490
F. At least one course at the 200-level or 300-level, apart from those courses listed under D and E.
If, out of 297, 298, or 370, one of these courses has already been taken in order to satisfy requirement D, then either of the remaining two may count as a 200/300-level course to satisfy requirement F. But if not, then it may not.
Requirements for the Minor: A minimum of five course credits, including at least one of the following sequences:
REL 103 and 104
REL 141 and 162
REL 171 and 172
And at least one credit from Religion courses numbered 200 or above.