“Christians are made, not born” (Tertullian). This unit explores with ecumenical sensitivity the origin, history and meaning of the processes involved in persons becoming Christians. The unit begins by briefly exploring insights drawn from cultural anthropology and ritual studies regarding the significance attached to initiation. On this basis, the unit then follows two lines of inquiry. The first represents an historical survey, charting the practices of Christian initiation in the early Church and the subsequent emergence of the three separate sacraments of initiation: baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. The second line of inquiry investigates the sacraments of initiation as they stand in the post-Vatican II Catholic Church, paying particular attention to the RCIA, continuing debates surrounding different approaches to the sacraments of initiation and, finally, the significance of the Eucharist as both the high point of the journey of faith for persons joining the Church, and as the repeatable and ongoing sacrament of Christian initiation.

Unit Code: DR9350Y

Points: 24.0

Unit Level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit Discipline: Religious Education

Delivery Mode: Face to Face

Proposing College: Yarra Theological Union

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Learning Outcomes


Explain the cultural significance attached to initiation as a ritual process;


Identify key historical developments in the emergence and evolution of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist as sacraments of initiation;


Articulate major theological insights regarding Christian initiation following the Second Vatican Council, especially in relation to the RCIA;


Demonstrate skills in reading and analyzing key texts and rites associated with the sacraments of initiation;


Discuss the place of the Eucharist in the church's sacraments of initiation;


Explain debates surrounding the understanding and celebration of the sacraments of initiation in the contemporary Church.


Differentiate between differing ecumenical understandings of initiation, and Evaluate the theological issues involved.

Unit sequence

One Foundational Unit in Systematic Theology


Lectures and Seminars


Type Description Wordcount Weight (%)

2000 word essay on the history of initiation in the early Church

2000 30.0
Seminar or Tutorial

1000 word seminar paper

1000 20.0

3000 word major essay

3000 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 31 Dec, 2014

Unit Record last updated: 2019-06-26 13:54:57 +1000