Anti-pagans and Teaching the Faith
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?