Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon


    The motivation, nature and outcomes of authentic Christian witness in today's secular environment and the implications for local church and ministry contexts.

    Being 'true to yourself' is a common ideal in popular culture. Where has this deep-felt desire for authenticity come from? Is it good? Bad? What resources does Christian theology offer to understandings of who we really are? How can Christians, churches and other agencies respond to this contemporary yearning?

    This paper offers a fresh look at Christian witness in the light of today's secular context and considers the implications for Christians, churches and agencies.

    About this paper

    Paper title Christian Witness in a Secular World
    Subject Pastoral Studies
    EFTS 0.15
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period Not offered in 2024, expected to be offered in 2025 (Distance learning)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $981.75
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    36 points in any subject
    PAST 319
    Schedule C
    Arts and Music, Theology
    May not be credited with PASX 307 or PASX 405 passed in 2009 or with PASX 308 or MINX 405 passed in 2011.
    Any student can study Theology, whether they are of the Christian faith, another faith or of no religious faith at all. Theology is an examination of the scriptures, history, content and relevance of the Christian faith, but it presupposes or requires no Christian commitment from students. All it requires is an inquiring mind and an interest in those skills that can be gained through the study of any subject in the Humanities.

    Dr Lynne Taylor:

    Teaching staff

    Paper Coordinator and Lecturer: Dr Lynne Taylor

    Paper Structure


    Module 1: Introductions
    This module provides an introduction to the framework that pastoral theology offers as students consider culture in the light of experience, reason, Scripture and tradition. It is also an introduction to the focus and central concepts of the paper.

    Module 2: Secularisation
    Students will explore the concept of secularisation, becoming aware of some of the key proponents and opponents of secularisation theories and exploring strengths and weaknesses of the various perspectives.

    Module 3: Authenticity
    This module explores authenticity as a deep contemporary desire. Students will consider the prevalence of notions of authenticity and investigate the benefits and dangers of an emphasis on and a drive for authenticity.

    Module 4: Relational Authenticity
    True authenticity is much more than narcissistic self-actualisation. In this module students will specifically consider the relational nature of genuine authenticity. Such authenticity focuses not just on the self, but also on relationship with God and significant connection with, and responsibility toward, others and the world.

    Module 5: Christian Witness
    Like authenticity, Christian witness is a broad concept. It includes virtues, words and actions. In this module students will consider two key questions: 'What do the realities of our 21st-century world and the prevalent deep desire for authenticity mean for Christian witness?' and 'How can Christians be involved in the sort of witness that helps processes of faith-finding?'

    Module 6: Models and Methods of Evangelism Considered
    We turn to consider one example of Christian witness, reflecting on some models and methods of evangelism in the light of these understandings. Biblical examples of evangelism will be considered as well as recent and contemporary models.

    Module 7: Implications for Church Life and Leadership
    In this final module we explore the implications of our learnings for church life and leadership. Selected ministry settings will be considered as case studies.

    This paper is internally assessed. There are four assessment tasks:

    1. Essay (1500 words; worth 25%)
    2. Essay (1500 words; worth 25%)
    3. Essay (1800 words; worth 30%)
    4. Online discussion (worth 20%)
    Teaching Arrangements

    This Distance Learning paper is a combination of remote and in-person teaching.

    There is a teaching day and six two-hour videoconferences on Zoom spaced throughout the semester. Recordings will be available on Blackboard for students who cannot attend the teaching day live.


    There is no compulsory textbook for this paper.

    Course outline
    View the course outline for PAST 219
    Graduate Attributes Emphasised
    Scholarship, global perspective, interdisciplinary perspective, critical thinking, ethics, communication.
    View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
    Learning Outcomes

    Students who successfully complete PAST 219 will be able to:

    1. Compare and contrast selected secularisation theories
    2. Outline what scholars mean by 'authenticity', including its origins and current forms
    3. Understand how the trope of authenticity can be understood in the light of Christian tradition
    4. Describe ways Christians and local congregations can and do engage in Christian witness
    5. Articulate specific ways an understanding of secularisation and/or authenticity can shape the practice of a local congregation
    6. Apply understandings to a specific ministry context


    Not offered in 2024, expected to be offered in 2025

    Teaching method
    This paper is taught through Distance Learning
    Learning management system
    Back to top