The Theological Bases of Neo-orthodox Christian Education -- By: Roy B. Zuck

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 119:474 (Apr 1962)
Article: The Theological Bases of Neo-orthodox Christian Education
Author: Roy B. Zuck

The Theological Bases of Neo-orthodox Christian Education

Roy B. Zuck

On the horizon of Christian education theory and philosophy a “new Christian education” is fast emerging. In her recent book Sara Little refers to “the new philosophy of Christian education.”1 Because educational practices and procedures are based on and influenced by educational theory, it is important that individuals engaged in Christian teaching, whether laymen and pastors in local churches or professors in Christian colleges and seminaries, know something of the implications of this new Christian education, including both its forceful lessons and its subtle dangers.

A casual survey of Christian education literature in the last decade or two reveals an increasing disregard for a pragmatically based religious education and an accompanying growing concern for a theologically oriented Christian education. This shift is well represented by the writings of theology-minded educators such as Iris V. Cully, Howard J. Grimes, Reuel Howe, Sara Little, Randolph Crump Miller, Lewis J. Sherrill, James D. Smart, H. Shelton Smith, D. Campbell Wyckoff, and others. These people are approaching the Bible seriously and are interested in making it “central” in Christian education.2 To them, the Bible is not merely a human document to be used as a resource in teaching (as it was used in liberal religious education in the 1920’s and 1930’s). They

have rejected the liberal position of men such as George Albert Coe, William Clayton Bower, and C. Harrison Elliott who propounded a Dewey-ized, experience-centered religious education.

But does this shift in position mean that educators of the “new philosophy” are moving toward the evangelical position? What can be learned from their writings? What in their writings is contrary to evangelical theology and education? Should evangelical schools accept the writings of these men and women as representative of the evangelical position? A recent survey of Christian education textbooks used in evangelical schools of higher learning indicates that a number of evangelical professors of Christian education are using books by the above-mentioned writers as class texts or collateral reading. This fact highlights the importance of this study and of the question, to what extent should evangelicals follow this new philosophy? One wonders if students and laymen, while justly interested in the current up-to-dateness of this new approach and its return to the Bible, may be unfavorably influenced, perhaps even unconsciously, by its theology.

It is clear that this curren...

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