Master of Arts: Theology

The Master of Arts at the Augustine Institute is a faithful handing-on of Catholic Truth from the very sources of the Faith: Sacred Scripture, the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and the documents of the living magisterium, chief among which the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the decrees of the Second Vatican Council.

The degree is awarded after the successful completion of twelve courses of three credit hours each and a comprehensive examination. In addition, students have the option of writing a senior thesis in place of one of their elective courses.

Core Curriculum

27 credit hours

Salvation History

This course helps students to understand the unity of God’s plan of salvation from Creation to the Second Coming. By a thorough overview of the Old and New Testaments, this course introduces Catholic exegetical approaches and theological interpretation, aiding students in reading Scripture as the word of God. Students engage some comparative primary texts and grapple with historiographical questions that help them to demonstrate the reliability of the Bible. With a special focus on the themes of covenant and mission, the course illustrates how Jesus fulfills God’s promises and how he invites his followers to share in his work of evangelization.

The Creed: The Trinity, Christ, and the Church

This course presents a synthetic summary of the symbolum fidei, the Christian Creed, with particular reference to its effective presentation in catechesis. The presentation follows that of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, making reference to other statements in minor creeds and magisterial documents, with particular emphasis given to the relevant portions of the Summa Theologiae of St. Thomas Aquinas. Throughout the course the unity and coherence of the fides quae are stressed. In addition to the Catechism, two recent but classic explorations of Catholic doctrine are considered: Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, and Sheed, Theology and Sanity.

Evangelization of the Ancient World

This course treats the spread of the Gospel and the growth of Christian theology and culture from the Apostles through the rise of the Mendicant orders. Special attention is devoted to the evangelization of the Roman Empire, the emergence of Christian modes of thought and life—especially as seen in the lives and writings of the Fathers of the Church, and the building of Christian culture in the medieval West. Texts considered include: the Acts of the Apostles, the epistles of St. Ignatius of Antioch; The Didache; selections from the works of St. Justin and St. Irenaeus; St. Augustine, Confessions; and the Rule of St. Benedict.

Jesus and the Gospels

Among all the books of the Bible, the Gospels have “a special preeminence,” according to the Second Vatican Council, “for they are the principal witness for the life and teaching of the incarnate Word” (Dei Verbum, 18). This course examines Jesus’ life and mission in light of the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John. Students engage insights from historical research into the life of Jesus and the world of first-century Judaism as well as gain a deeper understanding of the Gospels as narrative. In addition, the Gospels are also studied for their perennial theological and spiritual significance.

Mystagogy: Liturgy and the Sacraments

Mystagogy is the ancient practice of learning to “see” the invisible Mystery made present in the visible signs of the sacraments. In this course, the Catechism and other sources of mystagogical practice serve as guides for a deeper knowledge of the plan of God made present in these wonderful gifts. After a theological and liturgical study of Christian worship, we gaze into each the seven sacramental mysteries, learning to decode the signs they employ to dispose us better to receive what they reveal and communicate. In addition to the Catechism, texts considered include Ratzinger, Spirit of the Liturgy, and Corbon, Wellsprings of Worship.

The Church and Modernity

This course examines the progress of the City of Man and the City of God during the last six centuries, with an emphasis on the emergence of secular modernity as a successor culture to Latin Christendom and on Catholic responses to modernity. Each section of the course treats an important Catholic—typically a saint—in comparison to a significant rival to Catholic life or thought. Texts considered include: Luther, Freedom of a Christian; Descartes, Discourse on Method; Newman, “Tamworth Reading Room”; Saint Thérèse, Story of a Soul; Dawson, Judgment of Nations; John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae; and Ratzinger, Truth and Tolerance.

Pauline Literature

This course considers the life and writings of St. Paul, exploring his Jewish origins, life-changing conversion, and vocation. Students encounter St. Paul’s writings in context and understand both as essential to the Church’s teaching and in light of varying exegetical approaches through the centuries. Students see St. Paul as a rabbi and a theologian, and also as a catalyst in the early Church, who simultaneously criticizes and utilizes the Greco-Roman and Jewish worldviews in his proclamation of the gospel. This course treats St. Paul’s mastery of rhetoric and his pastoral sensitivity in a way that prepares students to formulate effective strategies for evangelization.

Moral and Spiritual Theology

Through an investigation of human freedom and personhood, this course helps students to understand moral action and the habits of character it establishes. Students examine the Biblical foundation of Catholic moral teaching in the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. The course treats the dynamics of sin, repentance, and grace, as well as prayer and the stages of the spiritual life. In addition to the Catechism and selections from the Summa Theologiae, texts considered include: Servais Pinckaers, O.P., The Sources of Christian Ethics, and Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., The Three Conversions of the Spiritual Life.

Theology of the New Evangelization

This course examines the magisterial texts from Vatican II and the post-Conciliar pontificates in view of identifying the theological principles of the New Evangelization. Analysis of these principles focuses on: the Church’s missionary nature; holiness as the source and goal of evangelization; conversion as the condition for evangelization; and witness as the primary mode of evangelization. The course includes some pastoral indications based on these principles. Key texts include: Gaudium et spes, Ecclesiam Suam, Evangelii Nuntiandi, Redemptoris Missio, Tertio millennio adveniente, Ubicumque et semper, Porta Fidei, and the documents of the Synod on the New Evangelization.

Electives*

9 Credit Hours

  • Senior Thesis
  • Discipleship and Christian Life
  • Leadership for the New Evangelization
  • Ecclesial Life and Pastoral Care
  • Catechesis for the New Evangelization
  • Advanced Topics in Sacred Scripture
  • Peter, Paul, and the Origins of the Church
  • Mariology
  • Nature and God
  • The Challenge of Secularism
  • Catholic Social Doctrine

*A variety of elective topics cycle through the curriculum each year. The electives shown above are examples of courses that have been taught or are going to be taught at the Augustine Institute.