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Reformation Theology (0649)

Department of Theology

Tyndale Seminary

Fall 2012

Office Hours: Wednesday 6:30-9:20pm

Instructor: Victor Shepherd

416 226 6380  ext. 6726

email: vshep@tyndale.ca


To access your course materials at the start of the course, please go to  https://www.mytyndale.ca



This course chiefly investigates the theology of three foundational foci of Sixteenth Century evangelical understanding: Luther, Calvin and the English Reformers (Ridley and Tyndale.)  In addition Gabriel Biel will be probed as the immediate, late-Mediaeval foil for the Sixteenth Century Reformers, as well as Erasmus, who represents the Humanist alternative to evangelical conviction.

Prerequisites: THEO 531 and THEO 532

This course aims:

1]  to inform students of the theological diversity on the eve of the Reformation;
2]  to enable students to discern convergences and divergences with respect to this diversity;
3]  to acquaint students with the theological substance of major thinkers;
4]  to have students relate major Reformation motifs to contemporary theology;
5]  to enable students to assess Reformation doctrine in light of the history of Christian thought;
6]  to provide students with a tool for evaluating the doctrinal position and ethos of denominations that claim a Reformation root;
7]  to have students grasp why theology that is 500 years old will be read until the parousia;
8]  to acquaint students with the exegetical riches of the Reformation.



A “Kinkos” volume of selected readings will be purchased from the Tyndale Bookstore.

Note: All written material may be submitted in French

1] Essay – 50%
2] Examination – 50%

The essay is to be approximately 3000 words long.  It is to be submitted no later than the conclusion of the final examination. See below for a list of essay topics.


Please note:

1]  Written materials are to be submitted in conformity with academic standards. Consult the  HYPERLINK “http://ezproxy.mytyndale.ca:2048/login?url=http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org.ezproxy.mytyndale.ca:2048/tools_citationguide.html” Chicago-Style Quick Guide (Tyndale e-resource) or the full edition of the  HYPERLINK “http://ezproxy.mytyndale.ca:2048/login?url=http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org.ezproxy.mytyndale.ca:2048/16/contents.html” Chicago Manual of Style Online, especially  HYPERLINK “http://ezproxy.mytyndale.ca:2048/login?url=http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org.ezproxy.mytyndale.ca:2048/16/ch14/ch14_toc.html” ch. 14. For citing scripture texts, refer to sections  HYPERLINK “http://ezproxy.mytyndale.ca:2048/login?url=http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org.ezproxy.mytyndale.ca:2048/16/ch10/ch10_sec046.html” 10.46 to 10.51 and  HYPERLINK “http://ezproxy.mytyndale.ca:2048/login?url=http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org.ezproxy.mytyndale.ca:2048/16/ch14/ch14_sec253.html” 14.253 to 14.254.

2]  Students should consult the current Academic Calendar for academic polices on Academic Honesty, Gender Inclusive Language in Written Assignments, Late Papers and Extensions, Return of Assignments, and Grading System (the Academic Calendar is posted at  HYPERLINK “http://tyndale.ca/registrar” http://tyndale.ca/registrar). Integrity in academic work is required of all our students. Academic dishonesty is any breach of this integrity, and includes such practices as cheating (the use of unauthorized material on tests and examinations), submitting the same work for different classes without permission of the instructors; using false information (including false references to secondary sources) in an assignment; improper or unacknowledged collaboration with other students, and plagiarism. Tyndale University College & Seminary takes seriously its responsibility to uphold academic integrity, and to penalize academic dishonesty.


Evaluation is based upon the completion of the following assignments [Sample]

50 %
50 %
Total Grade
100 %


Sept. 12        Gabriel Biel
Late Mediaeval Scholasticism
“The Circumcision of the Lord”

Sept. 19        Desiderius Erasmus
Renaissance Humanism
“The Handbook of the Militant Christian”

Sept. 26        Martin Luther
The early Luther    
 “Disputation Against Scholastic Theology”
“The Ninety-Five Theses”
“Preface to the Wittenberg Edition of Luther’s German Writings”

Oct. 3            The Righteousness of God
 “Two Kinds of Righteousness”
“A Meditation on Christ’s Passion”

Oct. 10            The Lord’s Supper (comparisons with Rome, Zwingli and Calvin)
“The Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ – Against the Fanatics”

Oct. 17             Freedom in Christ
 “The Freedom of a Christian”

Oct. 24            Reading Day: No Class

Oct. 31            John Calvin
Justification     III:11 (Institutes)

Nov. 7            Law and Gospel  II:7,9

Nov. 14          The Mediator and His Work    II:6,12,15

Nov. 21          The Holy Spirit and Faith III:1,2

Nov. 28          Predestination III:21,22 (omit 6-9)

Dec. 5            William Tyndale
A Pathway to the Holy Scripture

Dec. 12        Examination


A select bibliography will be handed out in class.






What was Erasmus’ Theological Agenda?

Was Erasmus a Christian?  How did his work assist or contradict the Reformation?

What aspects of Renaissance Humanism most immediately affected the Reformation?

How did Luther understand marriage?  How did the Roman Catholics of his time?  Why did he insist that marrying Katarina von Bora was an act of faith?

What was the theology of the ‘Schoolmen’ that upset Luther?

What did mediaeval scholasticism mean by “justification”?

How did Luther understand the Eucharist?

What would any two (or three) of the following have said to each other concerning the Lord’s Supper: Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, the Anabaptists, Rome?

What was Melanchthon’s theological contribution to the Lutheran Reformation?

Compare Melanchthon and Luther on the Law of God.

Write a “Review Article” on the debate between Erasmus and Luther on the bondage of the will.

What did Luther mean by the “Righteousness of God”?

Expound Luther’s understanding of freedom.  Contrast it with popular contemporary notions.

How did Luther and/or Calvin understand the relation of law to gospel?

What was Luther’s Ecclesiology?

What did Luther mean by “Two Kingdoms”?

Discuss the theology of Luther and Eck at the Diet of Worms.

What was the image of the Jew in the late mediaeval and early Reformation eras, and how did this image affect the treatment accorded Jewish people?

How did Luther understand faith? (fides qua creditur)

According to Luther, what was God’s mandate for the state, and how did Luther’s understanding here influence his advice during and subsequent to the peasant revolt?

Expound and comment on Calvin’s understanding of any ONE of the following:
-Lord’s Supper
-the Triplex Muni (the three offices of Christ: Prophet, Priest, King)
-the Church
-the knowledge of God
-Holy Spirit

State and comment on the major developments in Ridley’s life and thought.

State and discuss Latimer’s theology of preaching.

Expound Tyndale’s doctrine of scripture OR his doctrine of justification.

Expound the theology of any one of the “articles” in Cranmer’s Book of Common Prayer. (Please see the instructor.)

(any topic approved by the instructor)