Online · School of Divinity · Theological Studies
Apologetics in a Secular Age
- Section 8WK
- 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020
- Modified 07/28/2020
This course develops an apologetic approach which takes into account the values and plausibility structures of the late modern, secular age. Particular emphasis will be given to understanding current cultural movements and values and constructing a person-centered approach to the apologetic task.
Apologetics is an important area of study for all believers. It serves a dual role of not only providing answers to the tough questions people ask but also strengthening one’s own faith along the way. In order to communicate the Christian story/narrative effectively, we must be able to understand the “air we breathe” as a culture – knowing/understanding both how we got here and how to move forward. This course teaches the characteristics of the current culture – what the Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor calls the “Secular Age” – and how to craft an effective apologetic response.
Measurable Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Identify the current plausibility structures of late modernism.
- Understand the importance of presuppositions in a worldview and where they can be challenged.
- Recognize the complexity of belief and the need for a person-centered apologetic.
- Develop effective strategies for engaging apologetically with current cultural plausibility structures.
The resource below is provided in the course at no cost to the student
Keller, Tim. Making Sense of God: Finding God in the Modern World. New York: Penguin Books, 2018.
The resource below is provided in the course at no cost to the student. However, if the student prefers a physical copy of the resource, he or she may purchase it through the Liberty University Online bookstore, MBS Direct. The purchase of physical copies is optional.
Smith, James K. A. How (Not) to Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing, 2014.
Disclaimer: The above resources provide information consistent with the latest research regarding the subject area. Liberty University does not necessarily endorse specific personal, religious, philosophical, or political positions found in these resources.
Additional Materials for Learning
- Computer with basic audio/video output equipment
- Internet access (broadband recommended)
- Blackboard recommended browsers
- Microsoft Office
- School of Divinity Writing Guide: https://www.liberty.edu/divinity/index.cfm?PID=28160
Textbook readings and lecture presentations.
Course Requirements Checklist
After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in Module/Week 1.
Discussion Board Forums (2)
Discussion boards are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to create a thread in response to the provided prompt for each forum. Each thread must be at least 350 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to 1 other classmates’ thread. The reply must be at least 250 words. (MLO: A, B, C, D)
The student will write a 1,800–2,000-word research-based Essay in current Turabian format that focuses on the application of apologetics in the Secular Age. The Essay must include at least 10 scholarly references in addition to the course textbooks and the Bible. These must be credible articles or books. No unscholarly websites or blogs will be accepted as sources. The Essay will be completed in 3 phases:
Phase 1: Pick a topic, Selected Bibliography
Phase 2: Introduction Paragraph, Thesis Statement, Outline, Annotated Bibliography
Phase 3: Final Draft
Each phase will be graded separately and will be due in intervals throughout the course. (MLO: A, B, D)
Reading Reflections (7)
Throughout the term, the student will compose 7 Reading Reflections centered on the respective module/week’s reading assignment. For some module/weeks, the student will respond to a particular claim made by a hypothetical atheist. This will be a chance to apply that module/week’s reading in an apologetic scenario. For other module/weeks, the student will be asked to pick out a quote (or point) from the reading and interact with it by offering analysis, explanation, etc. Each reading reflection must be 7–8 sentences in length and demonstrate course-related knowledge. (MLO: A, B, C, D)
Course Requirements Checklist
Discussion Board Forums (2 at 150 pts ea)
Phase 1 (Topic and Bibliography)
Phase 2 (Intro, Thesis, Outline, Annot. Bib.)
Phase 3 (Final Draft)
Reading Reflections (7 at 50pts ea)
(Modules 1–5, 7–8)
Late Assignment Policy
Course Assignments, including discussion boards, exams, and other graded assignments, should be submitted on time.
If the student is unable to complete an assignment on time, then he or she must contact the instructor immediately by email.
Assignments that are submitted after the due date without prior approval from the instructor will receive the following deductions:
- Late assignments submitted within one week after the due date will receive up to a 10% deduction.
- Assignments submitted more than one week and less than 2 weeks late will receive up to a 20% deduction.
- Assignments submitted two weeks late or after the final date of the course will not be accepted outside of special circumstances (e.g. death in the family, significant personal health issues), which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the instructor.
- Group projects, including group discussion board threads and/or replies, and assignments will not be accepted after the due date outside of special circumstances (e.g. death in the family, significant personal health issues), which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the instructor.
Students with a disability and those with medical conditions associated with pregnancy may contact Liberty University’s Online Office of Disability Accommodation Support (ODAS) at [email protected] for accommodations. Such accommodations require appropriate documentation of your condition. For more information about ODAS and the accommodations process, including how to request an accommodation, please visit https://www.liberty.edu/online/online-disability-accommodation-support/. Requests for accommodations not related to disabilities or pregnancy must be directed to the Registrar’s Office, which generally handles medical needs support.
If you have a complaint related to disability discrimination or an accommodation that was not provided, you may contact ODAS or the Office of Equity and Compliance by phone at (434) 592-4999 or by email at [email protected]. Click to see a full copy of Liberty’s Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy or the Student Disability Grievance Policy and Procedures.
In an effort to comply with U.S. Department of Education policies, attendance is measured by physical class attendance or any submission of a required assignment within the enrollment dates of the course (such as examinations, written papers or projects, any discussion board posts, etc.) or initiating any communication with one’s professor regarding an academic subject. More information regarding the attendance policy can be found in the Academic Course Catalogs. Regular attendance in online courses is expected throughout the length of the term. Students who do not attend within the first week of a sub-term by submitting a required academic assignment (such as the Course Requirements Checklist, an examination, written paper or project, discussion board post, or other academic activity) will be dropped from the course. Students who wish to re-engage in the course are encouraged to contact Academic Advising to discuss their enrollment options. Students who begin an online course, but at some point in the semester cease attending, and do not provide official notification to withdraw, will be assigned a grade of “FN” (Failure for Non-Attendance). Students wishing to withdraw from courses after the official start date should familiarize themselves with the withdrawal policy.
For courses with a Pass/NP final grade, please refer to the Course Grading section of this syllabus for the assignment requirements and/or point value required to earn a Passing final grade.
The full policy statement and procedures are published in the Policy Directory.
Liberty University comprises a network of students, Alumni, faculty, staff and supporters that together form a Christian community based upon the truth of the Bible. This truth defines our foundational principles, from our Doctrinal Statement to the Code of Honor. These principles irrevocably align Liberty University’s operational procedures with the long tradition of university culture, which remains distinctively Christian, designed to preserve and advance truth. Our desire is to create a safe, comfortable environment within our community of learning, and we extend our academic and spiritual resources to all of our students with the goal of fostering academic maturity, spiritual growth and character development.
Communities are predicated on shared values and goals. The Code of Honor, an expression of the values from which our Doctrinal Statement was born, defines the fundamental principles by which our community exists. At the core of this code lie two essential concepts: a belief in the significance of all individuals, and a reliance on the existence of objective truth.
While we acknowledge that some may disagree with various elements of the Code of Honor, we maintain the expectation that our students will commit to respect and uphold the Code while enrolled at Liberty University.
Adherence to the principles and concepts established within facilitates the success of our students and strengthens the Liberty community.
The Code of Honor can be viewed in its entirety at http://www.liberty.edu/index.cfm?PID=19155.
Textbooks: Keller, Making Sense of God: Finding God in the Modern World (2018).
Smith, How (Not) to be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor (2014).
Reading & Study
Keller: Preface, ch. 1
Smith: Preface, Introduction
Course Requirements Checklist
Reading Reflection 1
Keller: ch. 2
Smith: chs. 1–2
Essay – Phase 1
Reading Reflection 2
Keller: ch. 3
Smith: chs. 3–4
DB Forum 1 – Thread
Reading Reflection 3
Keller: ch. 4
Smith: ch. 5, Conclusion
Essay – Phase 2
Reading Reflection 4
Keller: chs. 5–7
DB Forum 1 – Reply
Reading Reflection 5
Keller: ch. 8
Essay – Phase 3
Keller: chs. 9–10
DB Forum 2 –Thread
Reading Reflection 6
Keller: chs. 11–12, Epilogue
DB Forum 2 – Reply
Reading Reflection 7
DB = Discussion Board
NOTE: Each course module/week (except Module/Week 1) begins on Tuesday morning at 12:00 a.m. (ET) and ends on Monday night at 11:59 p.m. (ET). The final module/week ends at 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Friday.