Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

150 hours in total with a normal expectation of 24 hours of directed study and the total contact hours should not exceed 24 hours. Directed study might include lectures, tutorials, webinars, podcasts etc. The balance of the hours then become private study.

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit explores the human quest for intimacy from the perspective of the Christian theological tradition, and in dialogue with contemporary social and individual psychology, sociology, and anthropology. The unit begins with an examination of the human imperative to form relationships of intimacy and the human capacities that allow such relationships to flourish. This examination of human intimacy is then placed in the theological context of God's invitation to intimacy in the ministry, death, and destiny of Jesus Christ. By considering community as that which is formed through discipleship and encounter with the Risen Jesus, the communal dimension of intimacy is explored. The unit concludes by considering the central Christian doctrine of the Triune God, and images human relationships from the perspective of God's relational nature. It is in this context that the phenomena of religious violence and abuse are examined.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Identify and describe the psychological and theological dimensions of the imperative for human   intimacy in relation to what supports healthy human intimacy and that which diminishes it;

LO2 - Explain the centrality of the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as foundational to the Christian view of human intimacy, trust, and flourishing;

LO3 - Examine/assess the significance of the relational nature of the Trinity as the locus of the Christian understanding and practice of human intimacy; 

LO4 - Integrate the various theological, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of this unit into the context of their own life, ministry, and place in the world. 

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 


Topics will include:

  • The role and significance of intimacy within human flourishing; bonding and different forms of belonging as understood by various psychological, sociological, and anthropological models/theories; the nature of intimacy (including compassion and a commitment to the wellbeing of others) and its role in positive mental health, psychological resilience, and safety;
  • The ministry of Jesus as God’s Word to a struggling world; Jesus’ healings, meals, and parables as symbols of God’s desire for humanity and creation.
  • Jesus’ death as sacramental cause of salvation, and the accomplishment of God’s saving love.
  • The resurrection as confirmation and vindication of Jesus’ life, teaching, and death; the beginning of the final transformation of human life, relationships, and the whole of creation through the invitation to intimate friendship with the Risen Jesus.
  • The communal dimension of intimacy: the community formed in encounter with the Risen Jesus.
  • The doctrine of the Trinity as emerging from early Christians’ experience of their own transformation by means of relationship through Jesus, in the Spirit, with the Father: the Trinity as relational; human participation in divine life.
  • Contemporary theologies of grace and original sin.
  • Relationship of love of self, neighbour, and love of God.
  • The relationship between theology and other disciplines such as psychology, sociology, and anthropology; theology as the foundation for a positive psychology of human flourishing.
  • Integration of the fundamental dimensions of intimacy (theological, psychological, and spiritual) through reflection, writing, and prayer.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit is offered in intensive learning mode. The use of LEO will be integral to the unit in exploring concepts and testing understandings and propositions. Strategies used will include lectures and reading, self-directed learning, participant critical reflection, case studies, engagement with the literature, dialogue and interrogation of concepts, theories and practices, and the application to current professional contexts.


150 hours in total with a normal expectation of 24 hours of directed study and the total contact hours should not exceed 24 hours. Directed study might include lectures, tutorials, webinars, podcasts etc. The balance of the hours then become private study.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment will relate directly to the achievement of the outcomes above. Some flexibility may be exercised in the assessment tasks to align with the needs of the student cohort and their professional situation.

Assessment 1 assesses students’ understanding of a key connection between psychological/anthropological insights, and the theology of Jesus Christ.

Assessment 2, Integrative Response to Journal, challenges students to reflect on their own learning, and to integrate that into practice.

Assessment 3, the essay, draws together students’ learning across the Unit, into a view of the relationship between the human search for intimacy, and the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

 Assessment Task 1

Communication Task

For example: a forum post & responses, reflecting on key readings in dialogue with the participant’s professional context

(1,000 words)



GA1, GA3, GA4,

Assessment Task 2

Critical Reflection

For example: Integrative response to Journal

(2,000 words)



GA4, GA5

Assessment Task 3

Written Task

For example: essay

(2,000 words)


LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5

Representative texts and references


Pope Francis, Gaudete et Exsultate. London: CTS, 2018.

Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia. London: CTS, 2016.

Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium. London: CTS, 2013.

Pope Francis, Laudato Si’. London: CTS, 2015.

Baylin, J., & D. A. Hughes, The Neurobiology of Attachment-Focused Therapy: Enhancing Connection in the Treatment of Children & Adolescents. New York: Norton & Co, 2016

Coakley, Sarah. God, Sexuality, and the Self: An Essay ‘On the Trinity.’ Cambridge: Cambridge University, 2013.

Cozzens, Donald. Sacred Silence: Denial and the Crisis in the Church. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2002.

Cozzens, Donald. The Changing Face of the Priesthood. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2000.

Dünzl, Franz. A Brief History of the Doctrine of the Trinity in the Early Church. Trans. John Bowden. London: Continuum, 2007.

Edwards, Denis. Breath of Life: A Theology of the Creator Spirit. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2004.

Hoffman, Kent, Glen Cooper, & Burt Powel. Raising a Secure Child. New York: Guildford, 2017.

Johnson, Elizabeth A. Abounding in Kindness: Writings for the People of God. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2015.

Johnson, Elizabeth A. She Who Is: The Mystery of God in Feminist Theological Discourse. New York: Crossroad, 1992.

Kasper, Walter. The God of Jesus Christ. Trans. Matthew J. O’Connell. London: SCM, 1984.

Kasper, Walter. Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life. Trans. William Madges. New York: Paulist, 2014.

Lohfink, Gerhard. Jesus of Nazareth: What He Wanted, Who He Was. Trans. Linda M. Maloney. Collegeville, MN: Michael Glazier, 2012.

McIntosh, Mark A. Divine Teaching: An Introduction to Christian Theology. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2008.

Moore, Sebastian. The Fire and the Rose are One. London: DLT, 1980.

Moore, Sebastian. Jesus: The Liberator of Desire. New York: Crossroad, 1989.

Porges, Stephen. The Pocket Guide to the Polyvagal Theory: The Transformative Power of Feeling Safe. New York: Norton & Co, 2017.

Rahner, Karl. Foundations of Christian Faith: An Introduction to the Idea of Christianity. Trans. William V. Dych. New York: Seabury, 1978.

Schillebeeckx, Edward. Christ: The Christian Experience in the Modern World. Trans. John Bowden. London: SCM, 1980.

Schillebeeckx, Edward. Jesus: An Experiment in Christology. Trans. Hubert Hoskins. London: Collins, 1979.

Williams, Rowan. Tokens of Trust: An Introduction to Christian Belief. Norwich: Canterbury, 2007.

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