North Central College - Naperville, IL

Religious Studies Courses

NOTE: This page contains all of the regular course descriptions for this discipline or program. Academic credit for each course is noted in parenthesis after the course title. Prerequisites (if any) and the general education requirements, both Core and All-College Requirements (ACRs), which each course fulfills (if any) are noted following each course description. Not all courses are offered every year. Check Merlin, our searchable course schedule, to see which courses are being offered in upcoming terms.

REL 100 Introduction to World Religions (3.00)
An introduction to the major religions of the world. The primary methodology is phenomenological. Special emphasis is give to the beliefs, rituals, sacred texts, and ethical dimension of each religion. Core: Humanities; ACR: Religion & Ethics.

REL 110 Introduction to Bible (3.00)
An introductory survey course of the Bible that identifies major historical and cultural forces that influenced the development of Biblical religion and analyzes dominant theological themes in the Biblical texts. May not take 110 after REL 210 or 220. Core: Humanities; ACR: Religion & Ethics.

REL 115 Christian Ethics (3.00)
An examination of the Christian basis for morality and arguments by which specific moral actions are justified. Attention is given to such perennial moral issues as capital punishment, sexuality, biomedical ethics, and political obligations. Core: Humanities; ACR: Religion & Ethics.

REL 125 Religious Ethics (3.00)
A comparison of ethical experience, sources, norms, and methods as interpreted by at least one Eastern religion and one Western religion. Attention is given to specific issues such as marriage and family, war and peace, and social responsibility. Core: Humanities; ACR: Religion & Ethics.

REL 210 Old Testament (3.00)
An introduction to the Old Testament in its historical setting. Attention is given to the interpretation of the exodus, the monarchy, the prophetic movement, the exile, and the postexilic experience. Core: Humanities; ACR: Religion & Ethics.

REL 215 The Evolution of God (3.00)
This course examines the origin and development of ancient Israel's portrayals of God. It traces these beliefs from their origins in the religions of the surrounding ancient Near Eastern cultures through the development of monotheism and the apocalyptic worldview, exploring the various ways in which ancient cultures contrasted divine and human standards of ethical behavior. The course concludes with various early Christian descriptions of the relation of the Christian Messiah to the God of Israel in the writings of the New Testament. Core: Humanities; ACR: Religion & Ethics.

REL 220 New Testament (3.00)
An introduction to the New Testament in its historical setting. Attention is given to the social and religious milieu of the early Christian community, the interpretation of the Synoptic Gospels, the theological themes in Paul's letters, and the unique motifs in the Johannine literature. Core: Humanities; ACR: Religion & Ethics.

REL 222 Violence, War, and Peace in the Bible (3.00)
This course examines traditions from both the Old and New Testaments in regard to issues of violence, war, and peace in the biblical texts. Different portrayals of the character of God as warlike and vengeful, as well as beneficent and peace-loving, are examined, in places in dialogue with the religious traditions of the surrounding cultures. The different portrayals of violence and peace in the human community are discussed in light of these depictions of God. Core: Humanities; ACR: Religion & Ethics.

REL 225 Urban Ethics and Religion (3.00)
This course examines the relationship between urban problems in America and religious communities and their teachings. Attention is given to the ways religious institutions can be both part of the problem and part of the solution within urban contexts, as well as to specific resources within religious traditions for illuminating and improving urban life. Field trip and guest speaker(s). Required: Field trip. Core: Humanities; ACR: Religion & Ethics.

REL 230 Gender in the Judeo-Christian Tradition (3.00)
The study of how gender affects religious practices, beliefs, and experiences in Christianity and Judaism. Same as: GWS 230. Core: Humanities; ACR: Religion & Ethics.

REL 235 Sexuality and Christianity (3.00)
An examination of contemporary Christianity approaches to sexuality in a dialogue with secular philosophies of sexuality. Same as: GWS 235. Core: Humanities; ACR: Religion & Ethics.

REL 240 Religion in the United States (3.00)
This course addresses religious diversity in the U.S. by examining several religious traditions. These traditions serve as a lens through which to view issues relevant to contemporary American culture. Particular attention is given to the resources present within each tradition for spiritual transformation within the North American context. Core: Humanities; ACR: Religion & Ethics.

REL 245 Religion and Ethics in Film (3.00)
A study of religious and ethical values present in popular film. Attention is given to issues such as race, gender, minority religious traditions, sexual norms, and the intersection of religion and politics. Core: Humanities; ACR: Religion & Ethics.

REL 255 The Religions of India (3.00)
An exploration of the major indigenous religions of South Asia with particular emphasis on shared concepts such as karma, the cycle of rebirth (samsara), and the transcendence of rebirth (nirvana/moksha). The course traces the evolution of Indian religion from its roots in the Vedas and the Upanishads through the development of Buddhism, Jainism, Hinduism, and Sikhism, and concludes with an examination of inclusivistic and exclusivistic approaches to religious pluralism in contemporary Indian thought. Core: Humanities; ACR: Religion & Ethics.

REL 260 The Religions of China (3.00)
An examination of the history, theory, and practice of the major religious traditions of China: Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, and the folk traditions that blend all three. The course focuses on the evolution of Chinese religion through a process of mutual influence within a general atmosphere of religious tolerance for sectarian differences. Core: Humanities; ACR: Religion & Ethics.

REL 261 Sociology of Religion (3.00)
A study of interplay between religion and society. Attention given to religion as a system of ideas and ritual patterns as well as a social institution. Same as: SOA 261.

REL 265 The Religions of Japan (3.00)
A survey of the major religious traditions of Japan, including Shinto, Buddhism (Tendai, Shingon, Zen, Pure Land, and Nichiren), and the various New Religions that have come to prominence in the post-war period (such as Soka Gakkai and Tenrikyo). The theory and practices of specific religious traditions are examined in their historical context, beginning with the early roots of Shinto and concluding with the dramatic changes that have transformed the Japanese religious landscape from the nineteenth century to the present. Core: Humanities; ACR: Religion & Ethics.

REL 270 Judaism (3.00)
Beliefs, traditions, ethics, and history of Judaism, with special attention to Zionism and the Holocaust. Core: Humanities; ACR: Religion & Ethics.

REL 280 Islam and the Middle East (3.00)
Islamic society, culture, and theology, with special attention to Turkey, the Arab World, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Field trip to nearby Islamic community. Core: Humanities; ACR: Religion & Ethics.

REL 297 Internship (0.00-9.00)
Instructor consent required.

REL 299 Independent Study (1.00-9.00)
Instructor consent required.

REL 310 Death and Dying (3.00)
An examination of general topics related to death and dying in America, with a special emphasis on the study of selected ethical and theological issues. ACR: Religion & Ethics.

REL 315 Buddhism (3.00)
A detailed exploration of the historical evolution of Buddhism from its initial formulation in India to its various incarnations in Southeast, Central, and East Asia, as well as its more recent manifestation in North America. Particular attention is given to the distinctions between the three major branches of the religion (Theravada, Mahayana, and Tantrayana), as well as to the theory and practices of individual sects such as Zen and Pure Land. ACR: Religion & Ethics; ACR: Intercultural.

REL 325 Jesus and Buddha in Dialogue: Spiritualities of West and East. (3.00)
An exploration of spiritual traditions of Christianity and Buddhism with attention to their similarities and differences arising from their unique cultural backgrounds. This course will examine Buddhist and Christian teachings on variety of issues such as their founders, ritual prayers, love, consumerism, and gender. ACR: Religion & Ethics; ACR: Intercultural.

REL 330 Social Justice and Theology (3.00)
An examination of those contemporary Christian theologies which are making an impact on the direction of current theological discourse. Attention is given to African-American theology, feminist theology, liberation theology and the contemporary debate on Christology. ACR: Religion & Ethics.

REL 344 Religion and the Political Order (3.00)
A historical survey of primary texts engaging the intersection of religion and political theory as well as the relationship between political leadership and religious/ethical visions. Emphasis is placed upon Western political philosophers shaped within the traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and/or Islam as well as upon the themes of theocracy, civil religion, and secularization. Thinkers studied may include Plato, early Christian authors, Eusebius, John Chrysostom, Augustine, Al-Farabi, Maimonides, Averroes, Aquinas, Marsilius of Padua, Reformation authors, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, or De Tocqueville. Same as: PHL 344. ACR: Leadership, Ethics, & Values.

REL 345 Religion, Ritual, and Symbol (3.00)
A cross-cultural examination of religious beliefs and religious institutions, and the symbolic meanings and social functions of myths and rituals. Special emphasis on the beliefs and practices of selected indigenous peoples. Same as: SOA 345. ACR: Intercultural.

REL 350 Gender and World Religions (3.00)
An analysis of feminist thought in non-Western religious traditions. The course discusses women's redefinition of traditional concepts, rituals, and practices in a number of religious traditions across the globe. Same as: GWS 350. ACR: Religion & Ethics; ACR: Intercultural.

REL 355 The Historical Jesus (3.00)
A systematic review of scholarly attempts to construct an accurate portrait of Jesus of Nazareth as he actually lived and worked in Palestine in the first century of the common era. Special attention is given to the new quest for the historical Jesus characterizing the scholarly debate on this topic since 1950. ACR: Religion & Ethics; ACR: Leadership, Ethics, & Values.

REL 360 Philosophy of Religion (3.00)
An examination of the basic issues in the philosophy of religion, including the relation of faith and reason, the problem of the existence and nature of God, and the nature and significance of religious experience. Same as: PHL 360. ACR: Religion & Ethics.

REL 361 Science and Religion: Conflict or Dialogue? (3.00)
This course examines the contemporary dialogue between science and religion in relation to different Western and Asian religious traditions. The course considers the implications of recent scientific theories for understanding and assessing the belief systems of various theistic and nontheistic religions. Same as: PHL 361. ACR: Intercultural.

REL 375 Topics in Religious Ethics (3.00)
An intensive study of one topic or theme in contemporary religious ethics through the lens of at least two major religious and cultural traditions. Philosophical and scientific sources, films, and/or literature that illuminate the topic may also be examined. Content may vary and students may repeat the course with different content. Possible topics include: Pacifism and Just War, Work and Family, the Environment, Accounts of Human Nature and Human Perfection, and Asceticism. ACR: Intercultural.

REL 397 Internship (0.00-9.00)
Instructor consent required.

REL 399 Independent Study (1.00-9.00)
Instructor consent required.

REL 497 Internship (0.00-9.00)
Instructor consent required.

REL 499 Independent Study (1.00-9.00)
Instructor consent required.