Department of Church History

Virginia Christian University / Academics  / Master of Divinity / Department of Church History

Historical Studies: Historical studies at Covenant focus on the development of Christian churches throughout the centuries, including the contemporary church, and its mission to the world. The Holy Spirit has given the churches an accumulation of wisdom in carrying out the Great Commission over time.

An appreciation of this heritage is important to a solid understanding of the church messages and responsibility in our own society. Courses include study of great figures, documents and events of the past, as well as a concentration of courses in world mission.

Course Description

HI 500. American History and Government (3 credits)
A study of political, social, and economic development of the U.S., with emphasis on the growth of the democratic tradition. Topics will include the founding fathers, voting behaviors, the judicial branch, civil rights, civil liberties, the legislative branch, the presidency, and the role of religion.

HI 501. The Ancient Church (3 credits)
From the close of the apostolic age. The church and the Roman Empire; ecclesiastical organization; development of theology and dogma; Christian life and worship.

HI 502. The Medieval Church (3 credits)
A survey of the period to about the year 1500. The growth of the power of the papacy; the rise and development of monasticism, scholasticism and doctrinal controversies; mysticism and the mystics; popular piety and religious life; the demand for reform.

HI 503. The Reformation (3 credits)
A broad survey of the movement as a whole. The conditions which prepared the way and the forerunners. The leaders and the environments in which they worked. The revolution in the message and methods of the church.

HI 504. The Church in the Modern Age (3 credits)
The change in intellectual background which developed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The claims of reason; pietism; the evangelical revival. The conflicts and attitudes of the present day.

HI 505. The History of the Korean Church (3 credits)
A study of the Korean church history from its beginning to the present. All the major periods and incidents will be discussed. Emphasis will be on the development of the Presbyterian church, but other traditions, including the Pentecostal movement will also be discussed. Particular attention will be given to the theology of the early American missionaries and their educational policy, the Korean church, the church under the Korean dictatorship, Min-jung Theology.

HI 506. The Reformation in America (3 credits)
An intensive study of some of the major leaders and controversies in the development of Reformed theology in America from 1620 to 1770. Among the issues discussed will be: the visible saints” criterion for church membership, New England covenant theology, the Antinomian controversy, the Half-Way covenant, the relation between Church and State in New England, the Old Side-New Side Controversy, and the Great Awakening. Among the people who will receive special attention are John Cotton, Roger Williams, Anne Hutchinson, the Mathers, the Tennants, George Whitefield, and Jonathan Edwards. Students will be required to read fully and carefully the two volumes of Perry Miller’s seminal work, The New England Mind.

HI 507. Presbyterian Polity (3 credits)
An examination of the principles of presbyterian polity as they have been developed and practiced in the history of the presbyterian churches from the Reformation to contemporary America. Such subjects as the role of the ruling elder, the graded courts of the church, and the functions of committees and boards will be considered.

HI 508. History of Christianity America (3 credits)
This course designed to survey of the religious history of North America from the arrival of the Puritans until the present. Colonial religion and theology, frontier revivalism, 19th century evangelical “united front,” the rise of the religious liberalism and neo-orthodoxy, African-American Christianity, the religious impact of the Vietnam War, the relationship between church and state, and the contemporary American religious diversity.

HI 608. American Evangelicalism (3 credits)
A study of characteristic evangelical thought and practice since the revivals of the eighteenth century. First and Second Great Awakenings, Perfectionism, Dispensationalism, Pentecostalism, Fundamentalism,and New Evangelicalism. Special attention to Christianity and popular culture in the U.S.

HI 609. The Major Sects of the Korea (3 credits)
In a seminar format students examine the lives, communities, and document of the Sects of Korea. Attention is given to the historical contexts in which Christian mysticism took from, found expression, and has influenced in seminar sessions.

HI 610. American Presbyterianism (3 credits)
Developments from the colonial period till the present, including interactions with the American philosophical and cultural climate. Special attention to Southern and New England concerns, responses to urbanization, and the rise of Liberalism.

HI 611. English Puritan Ethics (3 credits)
A study of the English Puritans’ application of God’s Word to both personal and social ethics in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Special consideration will be given to the handling of cases of conscience by such figures as William Perkins and William Ames.

HI 612. The Westminster Standards (3 credits)
Historical research of Catechism and Confession of the Westminster. The Westminster Standards exposition of the moral law. Participants will present papers on related topics from research in primary materials with the Westminster Assembly, and with related political and social issues.

HI 714. English Puritan Piety (3 credits)
A study of the spirituality of the English Puritans of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, concentrating particularly on the writings of such men as Richard Sibbes, William Gurnall, Thomas Brooks, John Bunyan, and John Flavel. Papers will be presented by participants on such topics as the Puritans’ practice of piety, their handling of Scripture, and their understanding of the Holy Spirit.

HI 715. English Reformed Theology (3 credits)
A study of the writings of the English Reformers during the reigns of Henry VII, Edward VI, and Elizabeth I for the purpose of establishing their teaching on the major themes of theology; seeking the influences that helped to form their thinking; and comparing their theological positions as reformers.

HI 716. The Origins of Covenant Theology (3 credits)
A study of the theological and social movements that helped to shape covenant theology from the late medieval period, through the Protestant Reformation, to its maturation in the era of Reformed orthodoxy.

HI 717. British Puritans and Presbyterians (3 credits)
An examination of the origins and developments of Puritanism and Presbyterianism in England and Scotland from 1550 to 1750. Among the people and events studied will be the rise of nonconformity in the English Church, the Covenanted movement in Scotland, the Westminster Assembly, John Knox, William Perkins, Oliver Cromwell and the Commonwealth, and the effects of the Restoration and The Act of Toleration.

HI 718. History of Doctrine (3 credits)
A study the historical development of selected doctrines. with attention to the development of each theological theme from the church fathers to the present day. A Seminar studies of major theological works in the history of the church prior to the Reformation including Irenaeus, Athanasius, Hilary of Poitiers, Augustine, John of Damascus, Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, and others. Seminar presentation required. May also be credited in the Department of Systematic Theology.

HI 719. Augustine and Augustinian Theology (3 credits)
A study of the life, theology, and influence of Augustine of Hippo, with attention to Augustinian thought in the Middle Age, the Reformation, and modern times. May also be credited in the Department of Systematic Theology.

HI 720. Theology of Thomas Aquinas (3 credits)
A study of the thought of Thomas Aquinas in the context of the developments in scholasticism from the 12th to the 16th century. May also be credited in the Department of Systematic Theology.

HI 721. Calvin and Reformed Theology (3 credits)
A study the theology of John Calvin with attention to its formative influence on Reformed theology. May also be credited in the Department of Systematic Theology.

HI 722. History of the Charismatic Movements in America (3 credits)
A historical and theological study of the origin and development of the several manifestations of so-called Pentecostal/ charismatic experience today, with attention to the recent expressions of such phenomena in traditional noncharismatic, separatist evangelical communities. May also be credited in the Department of Systematic Theology.