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Anti-pagans and Teaching the Faith

May 15, 2010

It must be the season of seminars. A few days ago I went to a training seminars for those who teach Christianity in New Zealand’s secular schools (‘Christian Religious Education’). At that seminar we were discussing the way that children younger than about 10 years of age are not able to think in abstract categories and thus educationalists ought to use concrete images to talk of God. In this same discussion we noted that CRE is one of the main ways that large numbers of unchurched NZ kids learn their Christianity. However, we also noted that very few ‘intermediate schools’ if any actually have CRE taught in them. Thus their Christian education finishes before they are able to process thinking beyond concrete images. What might this mean? It occured to me that if the first Judeo-Christian revolution centred around the departure from paganism by means of a radically transcendent conception of God, then might it not be the fact that our CRE kids are never actually able to appreciate that revolution. Are we not in danger of leaving them with a notion of God which is essentially pagan – a big man in the sky with whom we must negotiate? Once we talk of Jesus it then becomes two men and a ghost. If that is the case, is it any wonder that many (perhaps most) people in their later life reject their childhood paganism and live under the illusion that this is all there is to Christian faith?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. kim fabricius permalink
    May 15, 2010 10:59 am

    That’s the rock. The hard place is that they retain their childhood paganism, adolescents in love with Jesus the friendly, therapeutic ghost, not only quite ignorant of the fact that this romance is completely incongruent with historic Christianity, but also utterly convinced that those who don’t share their fantasy are dangerous liberals.

  2. bruce permalink
    May 16, 2010 1:24 am

    So how do we get the opportunity to teach theology to teenagers and subvert the either-or between paganism and idealism that they appear to be faced with? Even the CRE we do in primary schools is largely contained within the parameter’s of the state’s idealism. It is mostly taught by fundamentalists who’s response is often to use the opportunity to smuggle in some more or less pagan version of theology. At a primary school level this can form an alliance with developmental theory. Officially, we are ‘supposed’ to teach within a ‘values framework’ and it is really hard to reverse the logic and locate the values within a metanaratival and ontological framework.

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