Our classes help you understand the Christian faith and the role of religion in human society.

Religion department courses are an integral part of the college curriculum. Six credits in religion are required for graduation: a two-credit basic Studies in Religion course (REL 100) and one four-credit course (REL 220s, 240s, 260s or 280s).

Our majors and minors have a wide range of introductory and advanced courses from which to choose, from courses on the Pentateuch to world religions, from Christian ethics to the Gospels.

View full course descriptions in the catalog

Special Topics (rel 100)

Catalog course REL 100 consists of multiple topics of focus that vary each semester. Current and/or forthcoming descriptions are listed below. To see course details, including dates, times and professors, please use the Registrar’s course scheduler.


REL 100.01 Religion and Atrocity
In this course we will examine the relationship between religion and atrocity. At times, religion has been a causative factor in the perpetration of violence — or has failed to marshal resistance against it. The perceived connection between religion and atrocity or religion’s apparent impotence to do anything about it has led some to denounce religion. Whether we renounce it or not, it is important to ask: “Why does religion sometimes function to fuel and justify atrocity?”  How do the resources of religion — especially Judaism and Christianity — enable people to cope with the suffering that is caused by personal atrocities or tragedies they suffer?

REL 100.02 From Rabbi to God
This is an introductory course about the origin and spread of Christianity. It begins with Jesus of Nazareth and continues through the fourth century CE when Christianity became the only legal religion of the Roman Empire. We will learn by means of a careful examination of primary texts (Jewish, Christian and Greco-Roman writings) and a secondary text.

REL 100.04A Earth and Ethics (first half semester only)
Global warming, holes in the ozone layer, toxic wastes, oil spills, acid rain, drinking water contamination, overflowing landfills, topsoil erosion, species extinction, smog. The earth and its many inhabitants are in trouble, claim numerous professional earth-watchers. In this course we will ask these and other crucial questions. And we will learn how religious folk — Jews, Christians, Muslims and Buddhists — answer such questions. This course, in short, is an inquiry concerning earth and ethics.

REL 100.05 and 100.06 Many Faces of Christianity
This course will examine the ways different denominations and cultural traditions interpret Christianity in their worship and teaching. Students will attend and report on worship services at a variety of Holland area churches.

REL 100.07 Fierce and Faithful Bible Women
Women in the Bible are often thought to be either “bad girls” (Eve, Delilah, Jezebel) or desperate to have children (Sarah, Rachel, Leah). There are many other biblical women that you never learned about in Sunday school. Some are victims of sexual violence. Some are warriors. Others are strong, courageous, compassionate, and wise. This class will explore the “texts of terror,” the “bad girls of the Bible” and the many other women who are both fierce and faithful.

Special Topics (Upper-Level Courses)

Several upper-level religion courses consist of multiple topics of focus that vary each semester. Current and/or forthcoming descriptions are listed below. To see course details, including dates, times and professors, please use the Registrar's course scheduler.


REL 329.01 Bible and Science: Friends or Foes?
It sometimes seems as if the Bible and religious faith are in a winner-take-all battle with science for the hearts and minds of believers. At least, that’s the way our culture and the media often structure the debate. But is this necessarily the way it has to be? Are there maybe other options for understanding the intersection of the Bible and science?

 This course will focus study on a collection of biblical texts that stand at the meeting place of Christian faith and modern science, including cosmic creation, emergence of human life, the flood of Noah’s time, the development of morality and law, ecology and earth-keeping, health and wellness, and more. We will develop skills in reading the Bible contextually and we will relate the text to contemporary scientific and intellectual frameworks in such a way that thinking students of all persuasions will find their views challenged, and all will become equipped to articulate their views with confidence and integrity.

 This is a special topics course in the category “Studies in Scripture.” Although it is a 300-level biblical studies course, it fulfills the RL2 general education Religion 200 slot.

REL 349.01 Faith of the Early Church
The faith of the early church is a common source of wisdom and guidance for all Christians. In this course, students will meet Ignatius, Augustine, Perpetua and Felicity, Basil, Cyprian and others who are our mothers and fathers in the faith. They will encounter firsthand the beliefs, controversies and personalities of the earliest Christians, including those who knew the apostles, those who died because of their love of Christ and those who articulated the faith which we hold today. Through a careful study of the major saints and theologians of the first five centuries, students will be introduced to the pattern of early Christian thought on topics such as the Trinity and Incarnation, the authority and nature of the church, worship, prayer, marriage and family, social justice and the mystical life.

REL 420.01 Prophecy, Miracles and the Holy Spirit
This course is an in-depth study of the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. The author of these books presents Jesus as “the Prophet like Moses” who fulfills the scripture “would that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that he would put his Spirit on all of them” [Deuteronomy 18:15; Numbers 11:29]. Special attention will be paid to what Luke/Acts teaches about the role of the Holy Spirit, the mission and ministry of the church and the Spirit-empowered proclamation of the gospel.