Theology of Grace in Six Controversies

Home / Modules / Theology-of-grace-in-six-controversies

Module Level

Level 9 MTh/STL/PHD

Time Allowance

For one 10 EC course, there are 200 hours. The students of this course are expected to complete: • 20 contact hours (10 seminar meetings x 2 hours) • 120 study hours for up to 50 pages of reading per week • 20 hours for preparation of presentation • 40 assignment hours for the preparation and writing of research paper

Module Aims


How does God act in the world to achieve God’s good ends? This postgraduate course introduces students to six neuralgic theological topics in an historical and systematic way to better understand the theology of grace in an ecumenical way. Difficult questions will be explored, such as: given the empirical data of contemporary science, how can a theological position be made coherent? Does God’s action compete with human freedom? Can Protestants and Catholics find agreement about Mary?

Course objectives

After having completed the course you will be able to:

  • describe the main features of the concept of grace and connect it to other relevant issues
  • critically evaluate the significance of the concept within traditional and contemporary catholic theology
  • critically assess theological positions that have an affirmative stance towards this concept as well as positions that have reservations about it
  • communicate insights, thoughts, and ideas that are related to this concept
  • critically develop your own theological position towards this concept or to aspects that are related to it.

Indicative Syllabus

This course will explore various questions that relate to grace and introduce students to the field of Systematic Theology. Students will be introduced to key terms, questions, and debates that include the relation of nature and grace, sin and justification, evolution and original sin, free will and predestination, human experience and divinization, and the role of the Virgin Mary.

Indicative Bibliography


Any additional texts will be uploaded as PDFs to Moodle


Each class meeting requires your attendance as a student. If you are unable to attend class, please inform the teacher in charge by email in advance. Students that have more than 2 unexcused absences will not receive a grade on their presentation and final paper. It goes without saying that all students are expected to have carefully read and prepared the assigned texts in advance. Usually, each class meeting starts with small groups reviewing the assigned reading. Within 45 minutes, students present the assigned texts’ basic concepts, ideas, and lines of argument. Moreover, they submit relevant questions on the topic which guide the plenary discussion during the following 45 minutes. After that, the teacher will lecture and facilitate a class discussion in the next 45-minutes to go deeper into related issues and explore questions to enhance the student’s understanding of the topic and to broaden their horizon.

Group presentation x 2 – 20%

Each student will to give two presentations, one in the first half of the course, the other in the second half. Depending on the total number of students, each presentation will be given by a group (consisting of max. 3 students). The presentations will be assessed and receive a completed feedback form from the teacher.

Research paper 5,000 words – 80%

Students have to write a research paper (max 5000 words including bibliography and footnotes) on a topic of their choice that is related to the course material. The topic has to be submitted and accepted by the teacher in advance.

Example Research Questions:

  • How does Augustine of Hippo understand divine sovereignty in Romans 9?
  • How does Thomas Aquinas understand the relation of divine motion and human freedom after the Fall?
  • How does Hildegard of Bingen understand the relationship between creation and the Creator?
  • How does Henri de Lubac attempt to overcome the pitfalls of Neo-Scholastic views of grace?
  • How does Bernard Lonergan and Mattias Scheeben approach the natural desire for God?
  • How does Karl Barth understand predestination in relation to salvation and damnation?
  • How does Hans Urs von Balthasar respond to the question: if God’s grace is efficacious and desires everyone to be saved, why is not everyone saved?
  • How does the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins exhibit a theology of Mary?


  • Textbook: