The Conserving Method In Religious Teaching -- By: George Boone McCreary

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 082:325 (Jan 1925)
Article: The Conserving Method In Religious Teaching
Author: George Boone McCreary


The Conserving Method In Religious Teaching

George Boone McCreary, Ph.D.

The teacher who seeks the welfare of those entrusted to his care will endeavor to hold in the learner’s mind all of the values already in his possession. He will introduce the inquirer to new truth and programs in such a way that he will not lose his grip on previous gains.

There are those in the teaching profession who appear to deem it necessary to administer a rude shock to the beginner in their fields, startling them by exposing all the crudities and inconsistencies of their beliefs. The effect is a distressed awakening to shocking novelties with the sense of loss of the world of truth as they have known it. This radical method is consciously adopted by professors in certain institutions with the avowed design of “stimulating” their students and “making them think,” as they state it defensively.

We cheerfully acknowledge the value and at times the necessity of a vigorous awakening of the sluggish mind by somewhat radical pronouncements. It was Immanuel Kant who testified that he had been roused from his dogmatic slumbers by David Hume. Kant’s debt to Hume was for the arousal, not for an acceptable line of teaching. The stimulator whose counsel may be safely taken offers ideas selected with reference to their integration with what is best in the mind of the learner.

While rarely distinct and exclusive in actuality, the two types of teachers—the radically reconstructive and the conservatively constructive—correspond to two types of social forces recognized as at work today. These forces have been personally sketched as follows:

“On the one hand we have the conservatives, the “standpatters,” the maintainers of the existing order; on the other hand are the progressives, the radicals, the reformers of the existing order. For the former the moral standards of their particular age and country tend to have an absolute and unconditioned worth. For the latter a commendable impatience with the imperfect is apt to foster a blindness to the value that almost always lies in ancient customs

and a lack of regard for the need of stability and common agreement on some plane. These iconoclasts, vociferous in condemnation, are often most empty-handed, giving us nothing wiser or more advantageous wherewith to replace the conventions they discord.” (Drake, Problems of Religion, pp. 55-56.)

In secure construction of religious thinking the first step is not to knock the rim off the horizon. True enough, at the proper time the extraction of baby teeth, though mildly painful, is justified by the speedy coming of new and permanent ones. ...

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