This list of the top theology classes or programs includes free classes that are available online. Some of the classes are from big name universities. Some are from well-known seminary schools. A few of the classes convert to university credit. Students can take a single class, or where offered, they can take an entire course of study.
The list’s ranking includes several factors. First, whether or not the class or course is a theology topic versus a historic religious topic versus a cultural topic that includes theology. Another factor is how often a university offers the class. The last aspect is whether or not the student receives anything from the class beyond learning. Remember that theology is not just about Christianity, but also about the role of religion in different societies and comparisons of different religions. In this article, we list the ten top theology classes that are both free and from an online venue.
This is a class that is about ancient Israel. It is more of a cultures study than a theological class, but it has a unique focus that many people may find beneficial. Cultures & Contexts is a class about the making of the Jewish Bible. It pairs readings about the biblical world, the politics, culture, and the aspects of living during the time that would lead up to when the Christian Bible was being made. Dr. Daniel Fleming, who graduated from Gordon-Cromwell Theological Seminary, teaches this class. The course is made up of 19 lessons that begin with Ancient Israel and leads the student to a place that teaches students how to write like a prophet. Along the way expect to explore the House of David, Israel, and get to know people such as Judah.
Religion & Law in Ancient Greece is a humanities class that focuses on the religious laws of ancient Greece. It is in the number nine spot because it offers a different perspective on religion from most classes that focus on Christianity. This class offers insight into a culture that thrived before Christ. From this perspective, students get to see how civilizations formed, how culture evolved, and can then compare this ancient culture to the modern version. Greece is one of the few countries with such an intact history and one that spans the rise and fall of religion. The course stretches from the Bronze Age to the Hellenistic era. Students gain knowledge about how religion impacts the creation of law and how culture evolves around religion.
Jesus in Scripture and Tradition is a class in the eighth spot because it focuses on a single entity of religion — Jesus. The class examines the religious aspects of Christianity from both the New Testament and the Old Testament. It is an outstanding course that offers students an introduction to important people, places, and events within Christianity and from the perspective of Israel and Christ. Jesus in Scripture and Tradition is an exploration of Jesus, the mystery that surrounds his life, and how he influenced modern religion. Students learn by comparing Bible passages and correlations within the Bible. This free course is eight-weeks in length, and the university offers it on a periodic basis.
Introduction to the New Testament History and Literature is a class in the number seven spot because it is religion-specific and relevant to world culture today. Yale offers several theology classes and as such that makes their free theology program a richer experience. This class is scripture based, and the lessons within the course apply to the historic context of ancient Israel. Those lessons have a bearing on today’s politics within the United States and worldwide. Students also learn about the development of Western ideals and how they relate to scriptures from the bible’s new testament. For those who want a deeper understanding of the Old Testament, Yale also offers an introduction class about the Old Testament. Introduction to the New Testament History and Literature is a video lecture series with the option to download all of the lessons at one time. Students can also find this course on iTunes or YouTube.
Anthropology of Religion is a class for those students who want to understand the broader scope of religion and the way that it links to cultures around the world. The class is perfect for people who want an introduction to theology whether their goal is a degree or for those who are casual learners. Students learn in visual and auditory format via online videos and by online lecture. There are even textbooks available, but those must be purchased. Anthropology of Religion is the six theology course on this list because it is generalized and not focused on a single religion. It is also an offering of a reputable school with an outstanding open coursework program. For students of the university, it is possible to convert this course to credits that apply towards a degree via departmental testing. For first-time theology students, if you want to go further into a program, this class makes a lot of sense. The course was last offered in 2005 and is available via download so that students can learn at their own pace.
The Gospel Demystified is an interesting university that offers free online classes and traditional college classes too. The free classes easily convert to college credits. A benefit to students who take classes here is that there are many subjects available, and the list is outstanding. This class, The Gospel Demystified, is by Dr. Daniel Briggs. The class deals with death, burial, resurrection, and ascension as it appears in the Bible, and in real life. Throughout the course, the class exposes wisdom from the bible and then explains it in a modern way. In so doing, students gain both an insight into the Bible and the gospel as they learn how to think about topics with a critical eye. The Gospel Demystified is a perfect first class or as an ongoing option for those who are life-long learners.
Intro to Theology is a class that is in the fourth position on this list simply because it is a learn-as-you-go class without the support of those classes above it on this list. The class is made up of a series of 60 lectures that are mostly about 15-minutes in length. They are all free and available via iTunes. As an introductory course, Intro to Theology allows students to look at the nature and method of theology. In so doing, students discover what prolegomena is and how theology came to be. This course uses the Bible as a main text and students learn about the deeper concepts of theology such as hermeneutics, canonicity, and dispensationalism. The class is easy to access and can be enjoyed free of charge online or via a mobile device.
Genesis to Jesus is a series of lessons, six of them, presented from the Catholic point of view. This course ranks number three on this because it seems to lack accreditation. That does not mean that the lessons here are sub par. It simply means that it becomes more restrictive to transfer such learnings to a degree program if one wanted to go on to a university. This facility overall offers students a lot of different classes and programs. For people who wish to learn, that is an outstanding asset. This specific course is an overview of the Bible from Genesis until the appearance of Jesus. It offers fascinating and in-depth analysis of scripture, church documents, and often refers to scriptures in the Bible, which is also the primary textbook. Other course offerings include Covenant Love, Reading the Old Testament in the New, The Lamb’s Supper. Expect an easy to use site where students learn by reading, audio, and visual methods.
The focus of the Theology and Culture class is about the link between culture and theology. It approaches theology from different aspects of human life — work, home, politics, and even sports. There is a focus on how what we do in our own lives is or is not important to God. The goal is to teach people to bring God into all areas of their lives and how to look consciously at how they live and how humans believe. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary has a long list of free online classes developed by Dr. Danny Akin. This school ranks in the number two slot simply because their free online programs do not count towards a certificate or degree. The plus here is their entire collection of free online classes. Other classes that students and professionals may find interesting include: A Biblical View of Wealth and Poverty, Evangelism in the Local Church, Interpreting and Teaching the Bible. Theology and Culture is a perfect class for people who want to evaluate their own lives in comparison to the Bible and God’s view of the Bible.
Dimensions of Faith is a program ranked in the number one spot because it is not just a single class though students may take just a single class. Together, all ten classes qualify students for a certificate in theology. The classes and program are free, and available online via the Ockenga Institute. There are many options here for students and professionals. Students can opt for an overview of world missions, or delve into a two-part series of the New Testament, Old Testament, or the history of the church. There is also a two-part series on theology. The program is designed to enlighten while allowing students to keep an open mind about faith. The instructors of each course or set of courses all hold a Ph.D. Any or all of these classes provides benefit and value, and together they encourage and uplift students with a certificate of achievement.