Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Annual Meeting of The Midwest American Academy of Religion


Rock Island, IL

Publication Date



Religion and Philosophy


My purpose today is to share the results of an experiment I conducted and to suggest ways it could be improved and reproduced. In a 200-level course called “Christian Beliefs” at a Saint Louis University, a Catholic institution, I staged a mock trial. All students in the class were assigned to read the Gospel of John with an eye for how its author portrayed Christ’s nature. From among the thirty students, I asked for four volunteers, two each for two competing teams, the defense and prosecution. The defense was charged with summarizing John’s Christology and with making the case that this was the correct view of Christ’s nature. The prosecution could agree or disagree with the defense’s summation of Johannine Christology, but needed to attack the assumption that John’s view of Christ was a correct one by presenting at least one alternative. I, the instructor, served as the judge, while the remaining students in the class served as the jury.

~Presentation excerpt~