“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: CT2350Y

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 2

Unit discipline: Systematic Theology

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

Unit sequence

CT 1000Y


Use of “visible learning” pedagogy Seminar format: short lectures; class discussions and activities

Indicative Bibliography

  • Bradshaw, Paul F. and Maxwell E. Johnson, The Eucharistic Liturgies: Their Evolution and Interpretation. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2012.
  • Johnson, Maxwell E. The Rites of Christian Initiation: Their Evolution and Interpretation. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1999.
  • Johnson, Maxwell. Sacraments and Worship: The Sources of Christian Theology. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2012.
  • Mick, Lawrence. Living Baptism Daily. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2004.
  • Morris, Thomas. The RCIA Transforming the Church – A Resource for Pastoral Implementation. New York/Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1989, 1997.
  • Osborne, Kenan. The Christian Sacraments of Initiation. New York: Paulist Press,1987.
  • Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Australia and New Zealand: E. J. Dwyer, 2003.
  • Turner, Paul. Confirmation: The Baby in Solomon’s Court. New York: Paulist Press, 1993.
  • Wood, Susan K. One Baptism: Ecumenical Dimensions of the Doctrine of Baptism. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2009.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Essay 1500 words

1500 40.0

Major Essay 2500 words

2500 60.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 27 Sep, 2019

Unit record last updated: 2021-06-07 08:43:50 +1000