Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2014-2015 (archived)

Module THMN44330: Forgiveness in Pastoral Ministry Today

Department: Theology and Ministry

THMN44330: Forgiveness in Pastoral Ministry Today

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2014/15 Module Cap


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • The module will be taught over two periods of residence and will fulfil the following objectives:
  • 1. To enable students to reflect critically on Christian pastoral practices as to forgiveness and reconciliation;
  • 2. To enable students to suggest new approaches to pastoral practices as to forgiveness and reconciliation in view of their own critical reflection and of the contemporary work on forgiveness and reconciliation;
  • 3. To provide students with an in-depth understanding of the development of the Christian tradition of forgiveness and reconciliation;
  • 4. To enable students to reflect critically on their own experience (or non-experience) of forgiveness and reconciliation and to relate that experience (or non-experience) to their learning in this module.


  • The module will
  • (a) examine research on forgiveness and reconciliation in other disciplines (such as psychology, philosophy and political science);
  • (b) consider the implications of the findings of research in other disciplines for a Christian understanding of forgiveness;
  • (c) explore related notions and practices (such as restorative justice and truth commissions ) and distinguish them from forgiveness;
  • (d) trace the development of Christian thinking about forgiveness and reconciliation from the period of the New Testament and beyond.
  • Below is an indicative summary of topics that may be covered in the module:
  • 1. Models of Forgiveness and their application
  • (a) R D Enright and the HDSG; E. Worthington
  • (b) Models of Christian practice
  • 2. Contemporary ethical debates and application
  • (a) Forgiveness and justice
  • (b) ‘Unconditional’ forgiveness
  • (c) Forgiveness of the dead
  • (d) Proxy forgiveness
  • (e) Forgiveness as a virtue or duty
  • (f) Can groups forgive and be forgiven?
  • (g) John-Paul II and corporate forgiveness
  • 3. The Hebrew and Christian Scriptures
  • (a) The Hebrew Scriptures on forgiveness, repentance
  • (b) The Jesus tradition and forgiveness
  • (c) The Pauline developments
  • (d) The post Pauline period
  • (e) Relationship of forgiveness and reconciliation.
  • 4. The Historical Story of Forgiveness
  • (a) The development of forgiveness in the patristic period
  • (b) Forgiveness in medieval Catholic theology
  • (c) Forgiveness in the Reformation
  • (d) Bishop Butler
  • (e) Forgiveness in the 20th century
  • (f) The Coventry Cathedral Story
  • (g) The truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa
  • 5. Liturgy, Spirituality and Forgiveness
  • 6. Reflections on Contemporary Stories
  • a) Real case studies
  • b) In fiction and drama

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Upon successful completion of the module students should have knowledge of:
  • a. the biblical approach(es) to forgiveness and reconciliation
  • b. the post-biblical approach(es) to forgiveness and reconciliation in the Christian tradition
  • c. secular contributions to the field and the implications of these for Christian theology
  • d. Christian pastoral practices as to forgiveness and reconciliation
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Upon successful completion of the module students should have:
  • Reflected critically on the varieties of Christian practice of forgiveness and reconciliation in practical and academically responsible ways.
  • Set that tradition in the wider context of interdisciplinary research on forgiveness and reconciliation
  • Developed skills of critical reflection on primary and secondary literature; on the extent of the diversity and congruence in the different approaches to forgiveness and reconciliation; on the gap, if any, between the findings of scholars and contemporary pastoral practices as to forgiveness and reconciliation.
  • Practised and planned for the appropriate, wise and imaginative application of principles of forgiveness and reconciliation to pastoral situations
Key Skills:
  • Upon successful completion of the module, students should have
  • Demonstrated their ability as self reflective, critically aware practitioners
  • Acquired and synthesised information through reading and research and presented that information clearly and effectively in written format
  • Developed research based skills
  • Effectively communicated complex interdisciplinary ideas orally in a clear, concise and engaging manner

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • The methods will vary, incorporating
  • 1. Lectures: to convey information and exemplify an approach to the subject-matter, enabling students to develop a clear understanding of the subject matter
  • 2. Small group discussions: to promote deeper critical engagement with the subject, to offer opportunity for developing and exploring questions relating to the subject-matter of the course and to encourage self-reflection and modelling of good practice through interaction with students and staff.
  • 3. Critical reflection in small group discussions on ‘real life’ examples.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures (including small group discussion and plenary sessions) 16 During Blocks 1 & 2 1 hour 16
Tutorials 2 During Block 2 2 hours 4
Seminars 8 During Blocks 1 & 2 1 hour 8
Practical 2 During Block 2 1 hour 2
Independent preparation & reading 270
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 3000 words 100%
Component: Seminar Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Seminar 45 minutes 100%

Formative Assessment:

1. Book reviews of three scholarly articles or one scholarly book on forgiveness and reconciliation. The review(s) to be taken from a select bibliography or of a book(s) agreed with the module co-ordinator.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University