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Online · School of Divinity · Theological Studies


  • CG
  • Section 8WK
  • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020
  • Modified 07/28/2020

Course Description

This course is a study of the origin, nature, purpose, mission, polity, and ministry of the church; a major emphasis will be on Baptist ecclesiology.



THEO 530


This course provides the student with the opportunity to explore the biblical and theological issues involved in the doctrine of the church in a deeper and more extensive manner than possible in the introductory systematic theology course. One benefit of this course is the practical preparation of the student for effective ministry in local churches based on a biblical understanding of the local church.

In addition, the course challenges the student to think of the church in biblical terms, measuring its contemporary expressions against biblical concepts. The student will also be challenged to think broadly about how his/her own church reflects a biblical model and how, as a church leader, he/she can encourage the congregation in this direction.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Identify major issues in ecclesiology.
  2. Defend Baptist ecclesiology.
  3. Describe the nature, purpose, organization, and ministry of the church from a biblical perspective.
  4. Relate biblical teaching regarding the church to the various expressions of the church throughout history.
  5. Understand how various denominations resolve ecclesiological concerns in their current expression of Church life, while being able to defend Baptist ecclesiological commitments.

Course Resources

Required Resources

The resources below are provided in the course at no cost to the student.

Allison, Gregg R. Sojourners and strangers: The doctrine of the church. Wheaton IL: Crossway, 2012.

Bray, Gerald. The church: A theological and historical account. Grand Rapids MI: Baker Academic, 2016.

Hammett, John S. Biblical foundations for Baptist churches: A contemporary ecclesiology. Grand Rapist MI: Kregel Publications.

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 

  1. Computer with basic audio/video output equipment
  2. Internet access (broadband recommended)
  3. Blackboard recommended browsers
  4. Microsoft Word
  5. School of Divinity Writing Guide:

Course Assignments

Textbook readings and lecture presentations/notes

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in Module/Week 1. (MLO: A, B, C, D, E)

Discussion Board Forums (4)

Discussion boards are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student will participate in 4 Discussion Board Forums. The student will submit a thread of 300–400 words in response to the provided prompt for each forum. Each thread must be supported by the assigned readings, Scripture, and an example from either the student’s own experience or from an outside source. In addition to the thread, the student will reply to at least 2 peers’ threads in 100–200 words. (MLO: A, B, D)

Book Review and Analysis

The student will write a review and analysis of John. S. Hammett’s Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches: A Contemporary Ecclesiology. This will be 2000–2500 words. This is not to be a summary of the book, but rather an analysis of major points Hammett emphasizes. These will be considered in light of biblical teaching, historical development, and practical application in churches. (MLO: A, B, C, D, E)

Covenant Essay

Baptist Churches come together in covenant, usually expressed in a written document. Using material from Allison’s book, the student will write an essay of 600–900 words describing the role of a written covenant as a basis for Church unity and polity. The paper must consider ways a church might use a written covenant in its worship, teaching, discipline, and organization. (MLO: B, E)

Exams (2)

There are 2 exams in this course: a midterm exam and a final exam. Both exams are open-book/open-notes and have a 1 hour and 30 minute time limit. The Midterm Exam will cover material from Modules/Weeks 1–4. The Final Exam will cover material from Modules/Weeks 5–8. (MLO: A, B, C, D, E)

Course Grading

Course Requirements Checklist


Discussion Board Forums (4 at 50 pts ea)


Research Paper

Topic and Thesis


Proposal and Bibliography


Final Submission


Book Review and Analysis


Covenant Essay


Exams (2 at 125 pts ea)





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:

  1. Late assignments submitted within one week after the due date will receive up to a 10% deduction.
  2. Assignments submitted more than one week and less than 2 weeks late will receive up to a 20% deduction.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Disability Assistance

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 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.

Course Attendance

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.

Grading Scale

A- B+ B B- C+ C C- D+ D D- F
940-1010 920-939 900-919 860-899 840-859 820-839 780-819 760-779 740-759 700-739 680-699 679 and below

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.

Add/Drop Policy

The full policy statement and procedures are published in the Policy Directory.

Honor Code

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


THEO 620

Textbooks: Allison, Sojourners and Strangers: The Doctrine of the Church (2012).

Bray, The Church: A Theological And Historical Account (2016).

Hammett, Biblical Foundations for Baptist Churches (2005).


Reading & Study




Allison: chs. 1–2

Bray: ch. 3

Hammett: Parts 1–2

1 presentation

Course Requirements Checklist

Class Introductions

DB Forum 1





Allison: chs. 3–4

Bray: ch. 4

Hammett: Parts 3–4

2 presentations

Research Paper: Topic and Thesis



Allison: ch. 5

Bray: chs. 6–7

Hammett: Part 5

DB Forum 2

Book Review and Analysis




Allison: ch.6

1 article

Midterm Exam



Allison: ch. 7

2 presentations

DB Forum 3

Research Paper: Proposal and Bibliography




Allison: chs. 8–9

1 presentation

Covenant Essay



Allison: chs. 10–11

Research Paper: Final Submission



Allison: chs. 12–13

2 presentations

DB Forum 4

Final Exam





DB = Discussion Board

NOTE: Each course week begins on Monday morning at 12:00 a.m. (ET) and ends on Sunday night at 11:59 p.m. (ET). The final week ends at 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Friday.