St. John’s University, Queens Campus, Summer Session I 2019

Section 30800: Online

Dr. Matthew Lewis Sutton

Associate Professor of Systematic Theology

Office: St. John’s University, Queens Campus, St. John’s Hall B20–27

Student Hours: online via Slack

718.990.5052 | | | @doctorsutton

Your Course Website: and

Undergraduate Bulletin: “Prerequisite: THE 1000C. The theology of the Christian community: its Scriptural warrants and history, issues such as: the role of the Church in salvation, the relation between the local and universal Church, Vatican II, ecumenism, authority. Credit: 3 semester hours.”

This course provides the student with a Christian theological encounter of the mystery of the Church with particular attention to the Church’s foundations in the Old and New Testaments as well as the contemporary situation of the Church in the Postmodern Age. The student will see that, for Christians, the Church is the essential assembly where one encounters the God revealed in Jesus Christ and encounters each other as his people formed for him. The student will also see that this belief about the Church affects how Christians interpret the world, the human person, and culture. In addition, the student will be challenged to evaluate intellectually the future of the Church in the twenty-first century.

By the conclusion of the course, the student should be able:

  • to articulate (in writing and speaking) knowledge of Christian perspectives of the Church
  • to analyze critically scripture and other theological texts pertaining to the Church
  • to appreciate intellectually the biblical and early church documents foundational place within Christian faith’s understandings of the Church
  • to express the issues facing the Church in the postmodern age and appreciate the Church’s place within the developing cultures of the twenty-first century

Course Texts: Required:

  • Bible, must be an appropriate translation for academic work, such as the RSV, NRSV, NAB, NABre, NIV, ESV, NKJV. (recommended translation The Ignatius Bible (Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition). Second Edition. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2007. ISBN: 9780898708349 Paperback or Kindle. If you have questions, see me.
  • Norman Tanner, ed. Vatican II: The Essential Texts. Image, 2012. ISBN: 978-0307952806 Paperback or Kindle
  • Philip Jenkins. The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity. Third Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. ISBN: 9780199767465 Paperback or Kindle.
  • Pope Francis. The Joy of the Gospel: Evangelii Gaudium. Vatican City: Vatican, 2013. ISBN 9780819875051. Online.

Course Structure:

Three learning units structure the course. The first unit will be on the Old Testament and the New Testament will explore the foundations of the Christianity’s beliefs about the Church. The second will be on the Catholic Church today as seen through the Second Vatican Council. The third unit will be on Christian churches today in all of its many manifestations, especially the fascinating growth in the global south. As a final assessment, we will be engaging in the thought of the current leaders of Christianity, especially the recent papacies of the Roman Catholic Church. These three learning units will have assignments and assessments designed to give you an initial mastery of Christian understandings about the Church and its dynamic future, ending with an important reflection on Pope Francis’ The Joy of the Gospel: Evangelii Gaudium.

Learning Assessment:

In this course, you can earn 100 points. You earn these points by successfully completing the following:

  • Get Online Course Ready = 3 points
  • Class Participation: active engagement (questioning, answering, discussing) = 12 points (3 dialogue challenges - 3 points each)
  • Encountering the Church Assignment Sheets = 20 points (1 point each)
  • Occasion of Joy Exams = 25 points (2 exams)
  • Occasion of Jubilation Final Research Paper = 20 points
  • Occasion of Exaltation Final Cumulative Exam = 20 points

Progress reports are available through

Grading Scale:

A = 100 - 93 points (100 - 93%); A- = 92 - 90 points (92 - 90 %); B+ = 89 - 87 points (89 - 87%); B = 86 - 83 points (86 - 83%); B- = 82 - 80 points (82 - 80%); C+ = 79 - 77 points (79 - 77%); C = 76 - 73 points (76 - 73%); C- = 72 - 70 points (72 - 70%); D+ = 69 - 67 points (69 - 67%); D = 66 - 60 points (66 - 60%); F = 59 - 0 points (59 - 0%)

We are at our best when:

  • We act with Academic Integrity, which means no plagiarism, no cheating, no damaging of other people’s work, and no assisting someone else’s dishonesty. Plagiarism is the act of appropriating and using the ideas, writings, or works of another person as your own without giving proper citation to the person who created it. I will follow the university’s procedure for plagiarism and discipline to the highest extent allowable, which can include an “F” for this course and the act of plagiarism noted in your academic file. Any further offenses entail suspension or expulsion.
  • We are Actively Engaged with each other. As a student, you must attend class regularly, attentively, and promptly with readings and assignments completed. As a professor, I must be available to you for encouraging and guiding you to excel in your education. St. John’s College mandates “Regular and prompt attendance is expected of all students and is an individual student’s responsibility. Absence from class does not excuse a student from any work missed. There is no penalty for absence from class considered in itself. Students are, however, responsible for all announced exams and for submitting all assignments given in class at the proper time. Ignorance of such exams and assignments is not an acceptable excuse for failure to complete them.”
  • You are Responsible for Everything said in class. You are responsible for getting class notes from another student. Only after you have received and read those notes can you contact me with further questions about the class.
  • We do not use any Digital Devices inappropriately during class time such as cell phones, text messaging, mp3 players, tablets, or laptops. If you do not follow this policy, you will not be able to earn participation points for the class meeting. If it continues to be a problem, your overall point total will be reduced according to the severity of your lack of engagement. ASK PERMISSION IF YOU NEED TO USE A LAPTOP OR TABLET FOR NOTE TAKING AND READING ASSIGNMENTS.
  • We turn in our Assignments and Papers promptly as directed by the professor. Even if you are absent, you are still responsible for turning in your assignments by the beginning of class or as directed. If your assignment is late, your grade for that assignment will be lowered at least by 10% for each day that it is late. Your grade will continue to be lowered to zero at my discretion until it is submitted.
  • We attend Prepared for all Exams and the Final Cumulative Exam and these should not be missed. If you cannot attend an exam, you must consult me in advance and receive clear approval from me. No make-up exams will be given unless you receive clear approval beforehand or as determined by me. Since the dates of the exams are clearly communicated to you, it is unlikely that you will receive approval.
  • We learn because We Are Human and we desire to know the truth about the divine, the world, and ourselves. We strive for Excellence without Excuses.