Historical & Theological Foundations Of Paulo Freire’s Educational Praxis -- By: Vernon Blackwood

Journal: Trinity Journal
Volume: TRINJ 08:2 (Fall 1987)
Article: Historical & Theological Foundations Of Paulo Freire’s Educational Praxis
Author: Vernon Blackwood

Historical & Theological Foundations
Of Paulo Freire’s Educational Praxis

Vernon Blackwood

Chicago, Illinois


The current generation of evangelical Christians, forged as it has been in the crucible of controversy, is quite accustomed to contending for the truth of God. Often overlooked in this battle, however, is an equally profound concern for and commitment to the love of God between persons and justice of God among social groups. Although historically known for origination of and involvement in social action, until recently evangelicals have frequently been on the opposite side of the fence from those who have championed the social implications of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the realm of evangelical Christian education, which has too often been characterized by either an inward looking emphasis upon edification of the saints, or a narrow concern for the evangelism of souls. Given the prevalence of social tensions around the globe, the time has definitely arrived for this state of affairs in Christian education to be substantially altered, so as to incorporate the dimension of God’s justice within its purview.

In order for this to occur, a spirit of dialogue and teachableness must pervade the church as it learns from others and seeks to re-discover its heritage of holistic ministry after the example of Christ. Instead of perpetuating the nit-picking and in-fighting over issues both monumental and minute, which more consistently produces weary warriors and hence stagnation rather than progress, there needs to be in the church an openness to truth, love, and justice wherever they may be found. As an equal partner, and with unlimited spiritual resources, God’s people must join with other groups to strive together for full embodiment of the new creation agenda inaugurated by the incarnate Lord of history. Collaboration of this sort need not be based in common subscription to every point of theology, as evangelicals have learned in joining forces with numerous odd bedfellows in attacking select social problems such as abortion, freedom of religious observance, pornography, and private schooling. No, a measure of pluralism is inevitable in any human group, and in the end this diversity enriches when founded on mutual respect and caring.

In our day a new voice crying in the educational wilderness has come upon the scene. Such a person is Paulo Freire, who has begun to build a new foundation for education, especially Christian religious education. Within one short decade the place of this seminal figure has gone from a

virtually unknown outsider from Latin America to one of the most wide...

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