Bachelor in Theology & Religious Studies
The undergraduate programme in theology and religious studies provides a broad but essential grounding for understanding and further study of Christianity and world religions. Religion has a diverse and multiform presence in today's secular culture. People ask a lot of questions. Some are downright negative, others do not know and still others know they are called by God. But what are we talking about when we use the word 'God'? Clearly, we did not come up with this word ourselves. A long history precedes it and countless interpretations have been given to it. And what about the experience or perception of the divine? Spirituality then resurfaces more in recent decades. Actually, spiritual movement has never been gone and therefore the question is also legitimate as to where spiritual developments lead. Different perspectives are discussed, while a multicoloured spectrum of methodologies and interpretation possibilities is unfolded.
The programme consists of three areas:
Bible science, theology and religious studies
This primarily concerns Biblical literature, which is discussed in an orderly and culturally oriented manner. The basis of Biblical scholarship is formed by the ancient languages: Hebrew and Greek. A thorough knowledge of the principles of the authentic Bible languages teaches the student the very specific frame of mind of the authors. From there, the specific embedding of the Bible in the mythological and literary landscape of Antiquity is clarified. This offers deepening insight into the particular cultural dynamics from which Biblical monotheism and Christianity emerged. This is complemented by an overview and analysis of ancient and classical literature from the Middle East and the Greco-Roman world.
The second pillar of the Bachelor's programme emphasises theological reflection. In the first place, reflection is given to the Judeo-Christian roots of our culture, its implications for people and the world, and this in the context of modernity and the Enlightenment. Current affairs are never far away, hence ample attention is also paid to ethical questions. The pressing ethical issues are addressed in a Christian perspective. Pastoral action and the practical theological consequences of faith and community are also covered. Ultimately, church history is also a distinguished component of a deeper understanding of the roots of European culture. The formation of Christian dogmas to modern developments in the 19th and 20th centuries are also highlighted. A special segment of the theological subjects is the specific focus on Reformation theology and confessions.
The period when Western culture bore a distinct religious stamp is forever behind us. The almost complete secularisation of our environment was followed by globalisation. Thanks in part to migration, we now come into daily contact with other religions and worldviews. To make this multicoloured worldview a lasting enrichment, it is important that we promote a thorough knowledge of both our own traditions and of world religions. This is the third pillar of the bachelor's programme in theology and religious studies. The religious studies disciplines take extensive account of developments in evolutionary psychology, sociology of religion, anthropology of religion and interreligious dialogue. In addition, the many alternative movements in Christianity are also covered, from Gnosticism over Manichaeism and Cathars, to Rosicrucians, Freemasonry and New Age.
The Bachelor's programme at our faculty starts from a broad cultural interest and links it to the most current developments in the field of Biblical and religious studies. In this context, the student's participation in research in progress is certainly an asset, as all courses are based on original research. On top of this, the student is given space to orientate through electives. The growing range of online modules contributes to this possibility.
Our small scale is more than compensated for by the intense and personal support we provide. This is certainly an advantage for the Bachelor's programme. Theology and religious studies are confrontational sciences that not only challenge the cognitive level, but also prompt us to reflect on our own biography and cultural roots. This going through a reflexive process together is a qualitative strength that is unique at the faculty in Brussels.
Another important asset of the faculty in Brussels is its context. Located in the heart of Europe, a stone's throw from the European institutions, the faculty keeps its finger on the pulse of current affairs. Besides various visits, seminars and colloquia, students are already confronted with this international context during the Bachelor's programme.
A third and final motivation may be that you want to and can push your limits not only literally but also figuratively. This involves mental flexibility and resilience. The Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies in Brussels is pluralistic and independent in terms of confession. The small scale then ensures that we can enter into debate with other opinions and strive for unity, without doctrinal restrictions.
An additional reason is the cultural-historical importance of the Christian tradition, which in a rapidly changing world is in danger of being submerged in unsubtle populism and identitarian ideologies. The student of theology and religious studies in Brussels learns to shape the spiritual frameworks of society with an open mind and solid baggage.
The multitude of religious phenomena can seem confusing. However, the scientific approach to it does not involve the student choosing. The course is not a buffet, still less a tribunal, where one has to judge this or another perception as a judge. In the Bachelor's programme, one gains perspective, which is deepened in the Master's programme with research and specialisation.
Knowledge of Hebrew and Greek is essential to enter the Master's programme in Theology and Religious Studies. It is possible to take an abbreviated Bachelor's programme, which provides access to Protestant-Evangelical Religious Education in Flanders (PEGO). This course results in a certificate (see below in the study guide). Additional training for 'late vocations', offered in consultation with the United Protestant Church in Belgium (VPKB), is also without language subjects. A module Shortened Biblical Languages has been set up for this purpose.
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