Studying with Religious Scholars
An adult forum with professors from the Iliff School of Theology, the University of Denver, and other academic and religious institutions
Trinity Academy provides an exciting venue for learning through both lecture and class participation. Now in its ninth year, this unique, intergenerational class with nearly 100 members might be compared to an abbreviated seminary course. Topics for study include world religions, spirituality, the Bible, and current theological issues. There is a nominal fee of $60 attached to membership, which covers stipends to our speakers. Scholarships are available upon request. Childcare is offered; contact the church office for information. You are welcome to try us out to see whether you would like to join as a member. Come early for refreshments and conversation prior to class start at 9:30 a.m. We look forward to seeing you! Contact Mary and David Jackson with questions or to register: 303-770-6247 or MARYJACK@aol.com.
Scroll down to see this year's speakers.
The Rev. Dr. Thomas V. Wolfe
Preparing for General Conference 2020 and beyond: What do UM theological schools need to be preparing for?
The world of theological education is rapidly evolving into new forms and areas of interest. The current debate within the United Methodist Church has the potential to have a major impact on its seminaries. These same schools are also experiencing changes from recent trends impacting graduate education across all disciplines.
This presentation will explore what theological education will look like in the future.
Thomas V. Wolfe currently serves as president and CEO of the Iliff School of Theology.
Dr. Sandra Dixon
Ethical philosophies and thoughts for Christians today
Two classes will explore basic concepts of ethics, each class standing on its own.
The first class will examine ideas of Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804), the Prussian philosopher who shaped modern philosophy. Kant’s concepts can serve as principles to give us perspective on moral concerns.
Moral character is the topic of the second class, as set forth in Aristotle’s (384 – 322 B.C.E.) theory of the soul, as well as of virtues and their development. Both classes will note influences of the respective philosopher’s theories on Christian ethics, in addition to critiques from today’s philosophers and theological ethicists.
Sandra Lee Dixon is associate professor of psychology and religion in the Dept. of Religious Studies at the University of Denver.
Rev. Ken Brown
Inclusion: What is it and why does it matter to the lifeblood of Trinity and its future?
In a position statement formally adopted by our church in June, we say:
Our inclusion knows no boundaries or conditions. Our intentional hospitality welcomes and values all of God’s people. We see the image of God in every human face. We welcome people of every race, ethnicity, and country of origin; gender identity, marital status, and sexual orientation; faith, culture, and language. We include people of all ages, levels of education, and physical and mental ability; socio-economic class, political affiliation, and life experience; shape, size, and appearance.
It has been said that diversity is being invited to the party and inclusion is being asked to dance.
Shall we dance?
Ken Brown is senior pastor at Trinity UMC.
Dr. Rebecca Chopp
the future as vocation
The trends for work, society and individual meaning disrupt the traditional understanding of vocation. By some accounts, nearly 60 percent of today’s jobs will be automated by 2030. That means seven out of 10 workers face an uncertain future. Continuous vocational navigation through career, life and society will be more important than ever, and this process will be shaped by a person’s faith commitments, values and talents, and political and cultural perspectives.
In this world of constantly accelerating change, how must higher education design a 21st-century understanding of vocation to encourage students and graduates to develop lives of meaning, purpose and commitment? And how must we remake educational practices to support the skills, practices and capacities for lifelong vocational design and agility?
Rebecca Chopp, Ph.D., was chancellor of the University of Denver until July 15, 2019, and remains as an advisor for significant projects.
Dr. Gregory Robbins
Voting about God: controversies, councils and creeds in early Christianity
Early Christianity began as an exegetical enterprise. Followers of Jesus, the crucified and risen Messiah, sought to understand their experience by consulting the witness of the Jewish Scriptures.
Their interpretations of the sacred texts differed; they came to different conclusions. In the second and third centuries, controversies about the Supreme Being arose—differences of opinion about the nature of the created order, about salvation, and, most importantly, about the savior.
This short course focuses on the councils that addressed these controversies and the creeds they produced.
Greg Robbins has served on the faculty of the Dept. of Religious Studies at the University of Denver since 1988.
A spiritual and yogic moral guide: the yamas and niyamas
The yamas and niyamas are the moral observances and restraints laid out by Patanjali, the father of modern yoga, in ancient texts, the yoga sutras.
We will explore how these 10 philosophical and spiritual moral guidelines relate to our lives and the similarities between these and the Ten Commandments. Through these spiritual practices we can begin to connect with a higher power and our highest self.
Samantha Lawrence is a certified lifestyle and mindset coach, as well as an E-RYT 500 yoga instructor.
Dr. Larry Donnithorne
The faith of C. S. Lewis and the man he regarded as his master
C. S. Lewis was a gifted British educator at Oxford and Cambridge who experienced a slow-but-sure adult conversion from atheism to Christian faith. Author of more than 30 books, Lewis is widely appreciated for his common-sense elucidation of Christian themes for adults and children.
Less well known than Lewis is the Christian author whom Lewis called his master, saying, “I owe to George MacDonald almost as great a debt as any man can owe to another.”
To appreciate C. S. Lewis’ faith, we will explore his work, as well as its roots in the writings of George MacDonald.
Larry Donnithorne is the author of “The West Point Way of Leadership;” published in 1993, it is currently described on Amazon.com as THE book on learning to lead.
Dr. Robert Neuwoehner
Psyche and soul
“Soul” is one of those religious terms we use without entirely knowing what it means. In part, that’s because whatever the soul is, it’s ephemeral and ultimately ineffable. It exceeds our ability to know.
In addition, however, most of us have spent little time studying or even thinking about the soul. In this lecture series, we’ll explore the soul in some depth. We’ll look at a model of the soul’s structure, at how the soul functions, and at the ways this knowledge can enrich our lives, our spirituality, and our relationship with God.
A biblical scholar, who has been a student of religion and Jungian psychology for more than 40 years, Robert Neuwoehner has published essays in “Psychological Perspectives,” a leading Jungian journal, and in “Psychology and the Bible: A New Way to Read the Scriptures,” a four-volume collection of essays by scholars working to define the emerging field of psychological biblical criticism.
Dr. Ted Vial
What is atheism?
Do atheists have as richly meaningful and moral lives as religious people? Why do atheists make some religious people nervous? Why is the atheistic population in America growing? Does religious freedom cover atheism, and why is the Supreme Court so bad at defining what counts as religion?
Ted Vial is the Harvey Potthoff Professor of Modern Western Religious Thought and associate dean of Curriculum and Institutional Assessment at the Iliff School of Theology.
Rabbi Brian Field
The Torah and the arising of human consciousness – Part 2
What does it mean to be human? How did we come to be the kind of beings with lives that are both wonderful and painfully challenging?
Last time, we looked at how the creation story told in Genesis, examined through a mystical reading of the original Hebrew, is a story about the origin of human consciousness. This time, we’ll explore how this story plays out through the story of the Garden of Eden.
Brian Field has been a rabbi for 25 years. He came to Denver in 2004 to become the rabbi of a creative and evolving Jewish outreach nonprofit called Judaism Your Way.
Dr. Gregory Robbins
Gnostic gospels: discovery, translation, interpretation
These three sessions focus on the 1945 discovery of the Gnostic gospels and other, previously unknown early Christian texts—texts that have come to be called the Nag Hammadi Library.
We will examine a few of these non-canonical gospels to see what they can tell us about the various forms of Christian faith and practice in the second and third centuries.
A second-century bishop, Irenaeus of Lyon, labeled these works as purveying “knowledge falsely so-called.” How gnosticism should be characterized is a lively debate in the study of early Christianity.
Greg Robbins has served on the faculty of the Dept. of Religious Studies at the University of Denver since 1988.
Contemplative spirituality: looking to the heart of our being
Contemplative spirituality is an ancient practice of bringing deeper awareness of God’s presence in our lives through prayer and contemplation.
When we practice contemplative prayer in the midst of lives filled with busyness, we begin to notice a new stillness in ourselves. We cannot change the external noise; however, we can practice staying fully present in each moment.
The world needs this gift, which we all carry within. All we have to do is practice. This is not easy, though it is indeed life changing.
We will explore the roots of contemplative spirituality and learn about several practices.
Cami Twilling is the director of contemplative spirituality at Trinity. She has studied meditation in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of Shambhala and received spiritual direction certification at the Hesychia School of Spiritual Direction in Tucson, Ariz.
Dr. Amy Erickson
Death and life in the Hebrew Bible
Both Christians and Jews have given the topic of the afterlife a considerable amount of thought. And yet, it has long been assumed that the Hebrew Bible is silent on the issue, offering no meaningful understanding of an afterlife (i.e., no heaven, no transmigration of the soul to an otherworldly destination). Recent scholarship, however, challenges this academic orthodoxy. In fact, in the Hebrew Bible, we can perceive a richly embodied and deeply communal sense of what constitutes a good death—and, in turn, appreciate what that suggests about what constitutes a good life.
In these sessions, we will explore the archaeological record and texts in the Hebrew Bible, in order to learn about how ancient Israelites interacted with their dead, how they grieved, and what they imagined would happen to them after death.
Amy Erickson is associate professor of Hebrew Bible and director of the Masters of Theological Studies (MTS) program at the Iliff School of Theology.
Chaplain (Colonel) Paul D. Sutter
Spiritual intelligence: knowing God, ourselves and others
As a military chaplain, I have discovered spiritual intelligence as a nonsectarian way to approach spiritual growth, regardless of one’s religious affiliation or no religious affiliation.
Self and other awareness combine with a sense of greater purpose beyond the two enabling individuals to be the best that they can be in service to community.
The Christian tradition seeks to accomplish this by following Jesus’ command: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27, NRSV).
Paul D. Sutter is the academy chaplain at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
Loving our neighbors: a practical theology
The church occupies a distinct space in society. We are not a special interest group advocating for self-preservation but listeners, people of infinite possibility grounded in hope.
We, individually and corporately, have opportunity to be Christ’s faithful presence in our neighborhoods, workplaces, civic involvements and beyond. Our legacy and our calling is to bring healing and wholeness to our cities by serving as bridge builders and advocates for the marginalized.
We seek to create innovative solutions using our God-given gifts, education, experience and time so that all of humanity is recognized as an image bearer of God with dignity and inherent worth to contribute to our communities.
This session allows us to probe together the theology underlying our work in community here at Trinity.
Deb Meyer joined the staff at Trinity in July 2018 as director of servant ministry, having served on staff within a variety of churches.
The Rev. Dr. Eric C. Smith
A journey through John
The fourth gospel has long stood out as special and different. It tells the story of Jesus in distinct and powerful ways, relying on unique narratives and a high christology to paint a portrait of Jesus as a divine force sojourning in the world.
It is in John and only in John where we meet the Samaritan woman at the well, witness the raising of Lazarus, see water turned to wine, befriend the “beloved disciple,” hear the “I am” sayings, and learn with Nicodemus about being born “from above.”
But John has other histories as well. It has long been the favorite gospel of anti-Semites, who mis-read its intramural arguments. The gospel has been thought of as ahistorical, given its departures from the ways the other gospels tell the story.
In these three weeks, we will encounter this book anew, asking where it came from, what kind of Jesus it proclaims, and how it can speak into our lives today.
Eric Smith is assistant professor of Early Christianity and Contemporary Christian Practices at the Iliff School of Theology.
Spring Potluck Social
Our popular Spring potluck and social time will take place from 9:15. a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in our regular classrooms, Rooms 107 – 108, and in the atrium on Level 1.
The social provides a splendid opportunity to meet and visit with other class members, discuss the insights learned from our speakers, and enjoy a delicious brunch.
Please plan to join us.
Dr. Darrel Mount
Current perspectives on the holy land: reflections on our 2019 pilgrimage to Israel and Jordan
How things have changed since our last pilgrimage to Israel eight years ago and my former trip to Jordan 54 years ago!
With new archeological discoveries, the holy land is a different place from Megiddo to Galilee, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Masada, Mt. Nebo, Bethany and Jerash. Our guides, both Bible scholars and authors, and our participants made the pilgrimage meaningful.
I look forward to using recent photos and your ideas to stimulate our discussion. Change is ahead.
Darrell Mount has 47 years’ experience teaching and leading in the United Methodist Church. He retired from his role of Senior Pastor at Trinity UMC in 2006.
Dr. Albert Hernández
April 19 – 26, May 3
The history and impact of the medieval crusades
The history and impact of the medieval crusades is one aspect of the middle ages that continues to influence the modern world.
What exactly were the crusades? Why and how did medieval Christianity participate in “crusading” for hundreds of years? How did Arab historians interpret the crusades differently from European historians? What are the key differences between the crusades to the Near East (1095-1291) and the Spanish Reconquest as the longest lasting crusade of that era (750-1492)?
Join us for three sessions, as we examine and discuss the history of these conflicts and their ongoing legacies in our own times.
Dr. Albert Hernández is associate professor of the History of Christianity at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, where he also served in a number of leadership positions from 2009 to 2017, including interim president, senior vice president for academic affairs, and dean of the faculty.
Joining our hearts in song
Research has shown that when we sing with others, our hearts begin to beat in sync with one another.
Join us in celebration of learning as a community as we sing together!
We will learn the practice of traditional Jewish “nigunim” (wordless melodies) and simple musical settings for selected Psalms. We will explore the challenges of finding our own individual voices and developing our collective voice, as we create a container of sacred space within which we will access the Divine.
Kolby Morris-Dahary is a rabbinic student in the Aleph Ordination Program.