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.

Religion section descriptions — Spring 2017

REL 100.01 Which Jesus?
“Which Jesus?” — Everyone seems to have a different opinion about Jesus. Where did these ideas about Jesus come from? Which one is the “real” Jesus? What do those around me and in society believe about Jesus? These are the questions we will address as we explore Jesus through the centuries and search for the historical Jesus.

REL 100. 02 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 100.04 and 05 Mystery of the Incarnation
This course is an introduction to Christology; it is a study of the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Word of God made flesh. Our starting point and norm of reasoning will be the New Testament, but we will also be guided by the conciliar teachings of the undivided Church (especially the councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon) as well as representative early, medieval and modern accounts of the mystery of Jesus Christ. By reflecting on Scripture and Tradition, we will attempt to answer Christ’s ever-relevant question to us, “Who do you say that I am?” (Mark 8:29).

REL 100.06 Earth and Ethics
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 100.07 Fierce and Faithful: Women in the Bible
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.

REL 100.08 Ain’t Misbehavin‘
The goal of this course is to make you conscious of the ways in which Christian faith affects the moral life.

REL 195.01B Text Analyzing Python
Python is today’s premiere programming language for text and language analysis in the humanities and other disciplines. This course will build on and apply the coding skills you acquire in the CSCI 195-01A Introduction to Python course, which is a prerequisite. CSCI 195 will be available during the first half of the semester and will be taught on the same days (MWF) and at the same time (2 p.m.) as REL 195-01B, which will meet the second half of the semester. REL 195 will teach the basics of text corpus analysis, that is, automated analysis of large collections of texts. This course satisfies the Religious Studies 1 (RL1) general education requirement.

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 369.01 Reading Scripture Theologically
What is the key to understanding scripture? What is the relationship between scripture and tradition? Where do contemporary academic approaches to analyzing scripture, such as the historical, critical method, fit into a faithful Christian interpretation of the Bible? How should we read scripture in its divine and human dimensions? This course is an introduction to a theological approach to reading scripture. It seeks to provide students with the basic tools for interpreting the Bible form the heart of the Church. We will approach scripture as the inspired word of God, written in the words of men, which was revealed for the sake of drawing us into a loving union with God and neighbor.

REL 389.01 The Gita and its Readers
Through a close reading of English translations of the Bhagavad Gita, this course will offer a detailed exploration of Hindu ways of life, with special attention to notions like dharma, karma, bhakti and Hindu soteriology. The course will also open a window into the global influence of the Gita through a study of reflections on the Gita by Shri Ramanuga, M.K. Gandhi, Bede Griffiths, Jawaharlal Nehru, B.G. Tilak, Annie Besant, Cathering Cornille and Eric Sharpe.

REL 440.01 Recent American Religion
We will learn about the issues, ideas and authors of recent American religion; further develop skills in critical thinking and reading and discussion; develop skills of self-expression, both written and oral; develop the ability to research and write a major paper; and prepare for graduate school/seminary/ministry/life.  Students will be able to choose a research topic in line with their interests.