Christ and the Good Life course

The Christ and the Good Life course explores the ways in which Christ—as a character in the gospel narratives, an object of Christian theological reflection, and a living presence in the life of the Church—informs Christian visions of the good life.

Following upon the success of the Life Worth Living project in Yale College, the Center has pioneered a new course at the Yale Divinity School, known as Christ and the Good Life, in the fall of 2015. Taught by Founding Director Miroslav Volf and by Associate Research Scholar Matthew Croasmun, the course approaches the good life from a distinctly Christian perspective, seeking to answer the questions: what does it mean for Christ to be the key to human existence and flourishing, and what does the good life look like if Jesus Christ is taken to be the key? To that end, the course examines Christ’s engagement with the concrete phenomena of human experience, focusing on a different class of phenomena each session.

Students are presented each week with relevant readings from the Gospel of Luke, along with Christian theological texts engaging the same theme. Additional readings from secular authors frame each session’s question as a human question, answered in various ways by the gospel text and Christian theological reflection.

Students are encouraged to read the texts not just for the sake of a second-order understanding of an author’s viewpoint, but above all for the sake of a first-order engagement between the message of the text and their own lives, centered on the question “How might my life be altered if I take this text to be saying something true?”

Session topics include:

  • Birth, Family, and Tradition
  • Call and Responsibility
  • Freedom and Bondage
  • Wealth and Poverty
  • Forgiveness and Repentance
  • The Vita Activa vs. the Vita Contemplativa
  • Food
  • Suffering and Death
  • Joy
  • Temporality and Desire

Readings from:

  • Howard Thurman
  • Bonaventure
  • Karl Barth
  • Hannah Arendt
  • Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Charles Taylor
  • C.S. Lewis
  • Jürgen Moltmann
  • Miroslav Volf

View the Syllabus