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 Critical Assignment: Each student must write a research paper on one of the religious traditions that we cover in this course. This paper consists of one of the more significant learning opportunities in this class to enhance your writing, research, critical engagement with the world, and your communication skills. A list of paper topics appears below.

 Paper Goals: The goals of this assignment are:

  1. To help you cultivate a deeper appreciation for the Christian tradition.
  2. To introduce students to questions and a variety of religious traditions in the world.
  3. To introduce students to standard reference and critical resources in the field of religious studies.
  4. To develop critical research skills, form intellectual arguments, and hone writing skills.
  5. To develop your ability to comprehend, evaluate, formulate, and present biblical and theological argumentation.
  6. To increase your knowledge of a chosen topic in order to engage more meaningfully the world in which we live.

Paper Instructions: Students must exclusively select a religious tradition from the list below—unless they have sought approval regarding another tradition. Communicate with me if you are in doubt about your topic, research-related questions, or paper structure. Each paper must identify a tradition, clearly adhere to the paper structure, and offer an intellectually argued and adequately researched argument. If you have questions about research, email me or consult The Craft of Research, 3rd ed. by William Booth, et. al.  Paper Length and Format: Length requirement is 10–11 pages (12 max), excluding the title page and bibliography. Include primary headings to help structure your paper, a title page, bibliography, and page numbers. Use Times New Roman, 12 pt. font, and double spacing (or 24 pts. exactly).  Paper Structure: The paper must adhere to the following structure. Part of this two-fold structure is to require students to learn, comprehend, and articulate a position that may not be their own prior to assessing such position. In How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler, he winsomely notes, “You must be able to say ‘I understand,’ before you can say ‘I agree,’ or ‘I disagree,’ or ‘I suspend judgment.’” 

  1. Paper Introduction: ½ page
    1. Identify and define the Religious Tradition
    2. Identify the set of research questions that you aim to discuss
    3. Overview of paper
  2. History of the Religious Tradition: 2 pages
    1. Detail the “Origins” of the religious tradition
    2. Detail the broad contours of the origins to the currents of the religious tradition
    3. Detail the current historical expression of the religious tradition
  3. Doctrinal Beliefs of the Religious Tradition: 3 pages
    1. Detail the Worldview assumptions of the religious tradition
    2. Detail the essential theological beliefs of the religious tradition
  4. Critically Analyze the Doctrine of Salvation: Christian Tradition with the Researched Religious Tradition: 1 Page
    1. Engage the religious tradition and your reading with Morgan’s Christian Theology
    2. Document at least two systemic differences between the Christian tradition and the religious tradition
  5. Critically Analyze the Religious Tradition: Christian Tradition with the Researched Religious Tradition: 3 Page
    1. Engage the religious tradition and your reading with Morgan’s Christian Theology
    2. Document at least four systemic differences between the Christian tradition and the religious tradition
    3. Critical engage how the Christian tradition responds to and engages with the systemic differences with the religious tradition
  6. Reflective Conclusion: 1 Page
    1. Offer 3 substantial lessons learned from this semester about the Christian faith, religious tradition, and how they impacted worldview (thinking and ethics).
    2. Offer 2 substantial lessons that influence you in your university major.

Use of Sources: The credibility of your research will depend in part on your bibliography. This is a “Works Consulted” bibliography, meaning that an item is included if it contributed significantly to your understanding of the research topic. Each student must use a total of 7 sources, including the religious-traditions “sacred text.” Also, students must use three of the sources provided by the professor in the “suggested resources” section of the syllabus. The other 4 sources must be peer-reviewed sources, non-online sources. A note about sources: 

  1. Make use of a primary text per religious tradition. E.g., if writing on Islam, use the Qu’ran; if writing on the Roman Catholic tradition, use the Christian Scriptures and Catholic Catechism; etc. Give quotations where needed. Provide citations as follows: Matt 24:14; Gen 12:1–3. These sources are a given and do not count for one of the four sources.
  2. Use and cite four scholarly sources (Theological Dictionaries, Monographs, and Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles). Students may not use web resources, unless the professors give approval. At least three sources should be scholars and theologians from the perspective of your project (e.g., Use Muslim scholars when writing on Islam). Use at least one source from the Christian tradition to assist your evaluation with Christian theology.
  3. If students need assistance finding particular sources or have questions regarding sources, please feel free to ask. Consult, also, the “Suggested Resources” at the end of the syllabus. All of these sources are available through the CBU Library or “Inter-library loan.”

Paper Grade: Grade for paper will be based on the following:

  1. Clarity of Research
  2. Evidence of engagement with primary and secondary sources.
  3. Arguments and clarity of communication.
  4. Adherence to the assigned structure.
  5. Use of Sources
  6. Format and Writing

Religious Traditions: Exclusively select from the following religious traditions for your paper. If you have another religious tradition, seek approval prior to writing. 

  1. Roman Catholicism
  2. Eastern Orthodoxy
  3. Judaism
  4. Islam
  5. Buddhism
  6. Hinduism
  7. Jainism
  8. Sikhism
  9. Taoism and Confucianism
  10. Mormonism
  11. Jehovah’s Witness
  12. Scientology
  13. Native American Religious Traditions

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