A Place for the Bible in Religious Education

A Personal Choice

For the Bible; or God’s Word, to mean anything to the individual he or she must first understand the history of what it, the Bible covers. Such as, Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? If you cannot answer any of these questions then you fall in line with the majority of people in this world who are oblivious to what the Bible teaches us for our own well-being.

Yes, it takes work, paying attention too, continuous study, and all the applications, which seem too difficult to fit into our daily, modern, busy, lives. However, by not doing so is the sure way to destruction, as perpetrated by atheists, and a secular society. http://godsplan.org.uk/messianicage.htm

 

Religious Instruction Among the Hebrews.

The early Christian records of the N.T., and the earlier Hebrew Scriptures as well, were produced from a sense of obligation to pass unto others the religious knowledge gained by the writers as a matter of personal insight and experience. The various writings of both the O.T. and the N.T. were produced in response to the need for religious inspiration and guidance. These books of the Bible for the most part were written for purposes of religious instruction. This was true of the Torah or Law preserved in part in the Pentateuch. Concerning this Law the children of Israel were exhorted: (to urge, advise, or caution earnestly; admonish urgently).

 

Deuteronomy 6:6—9

6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:

7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

8 And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.

9 And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

 

The same is true of the writings of the earliest seers and wise men of Israel, who sought diligently to draw within the circle of their influence the youth who most needed instruction.

 

Proverbs 4:1—9

1 Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.

2 For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law.

3 For I was my father's son, tender and only beloved in the sight of my mother.

4 He taught me also, and said unto me, Let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments, and live.

5 Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth.

6 Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee.

7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

8 Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her.

9 She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee.

 

The stirring messages of the great prophets, Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, Jeremiah, gave expression to religious insight and experience of their own, and appealed in the name of Jehovah for righteousness, justice, mercy, and obedience to the voice and the law of Jehovah. In fact, however, the books of the O.T. represent only the sifted treasures of a larger Jewish teaching literature, parts of which did not survive the successive periods of religious persecution and decline, such as those, which followed the final downfall of the Hebrew kingdom.

 

Dependence of Christianity on the Written Record.

Isolated fragments of literary treasures of the first Christian centuries, in addition to the writings of the N.T., have been discovered in ancient rubbish heaps and scattered libraries in Bible lands. Such were the early Christian Psalter, discovered in 1909 by Professor Rendel Harris; the “Didachē” or “Teachings of the Twelve Apostles,” the “Apostolic Constitutions” preserved in the archives of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, and the “Pædagogus” of Clement of Alexandria, dating from the close of the second century. None of which was included in the canon of the N.T. itself. Christianity, as “the Jesus way” of thinking and living, has been perpetuated and re-interpreted repeatedly over two thousand years, because the dependable records of the life, experience, and teachings of Jesus existed. As an organised fellowship of believers, with its creeds, ritual, ministry, and diversified forms of administration, Christianity has developed because to the original record of the work and words of Jesus, each succeeding generation has given its own interpretation in the light of its own religious experience.

Jesus Himself left no written account of His life or teachings. His immediate followers, however, strove diligently to produce a record of both. They sought, moreover, to communicate to others, in writing, their own experiences in relation to Christ. In these earliest apostolic writings, the Gospels, and the Epistles, there is already a marked element of interpretation as well as of record. The N.T. writings, therefore, constitute the beginning, or, as it were, the first installment of the teaching literature of historical Christianity. In this teaching literature, which has now grown to almost immeasurable proportions, are preserved both its original message and the progressive interpretation of that message.

There is an interesting passage in Paul’s second letter to Timothy 3:16 suggesting that the great apostle, while doubtless conscious of the promptings of the Holy Spirit; (in writing as he did to Timothy and others), was unaware of his contemporaries. He believed that the Spirit of God was a silent partner in the production of many of these first Christian records, Gospels, sermons, and letters.

 

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

 

After reminding Timothy, that the sacred writings of the O.T., which, he has known from his youth, were indeed intended to make him wise unto salvation. The apostle declares that not only these sacred O.T. writings, but “every scripture inspired of God,” i.e., every writing with the production of which the Divine Spirit has anything to do, “is also profitable for teaching” and “for instruction in righteousness,” as well as for “reproof and correction,” the negative factors in the same teaching process.

 

2 Timothy 3:15--17

15 And that from a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

 

It is as though Paul would say, “The writings of the Hebrew wise men, lawgivers, and prophets are still our textbooks of religion, but even now there is in preparation a new teaching literature for the better an more perfect instruction in the Christian way.”

Jesus Himself emphasised the teaching value of His precepts and life example in His final exhortation to His disciples that they “teach all nations the things that He,” by word and example, “had commanded them”.

 

Matthew 28:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

 

During the centuries since the completion of the N.T., the Bible has been translated into practically all languages, and dialects of the world. It has been distributed to the ends of the earth, in the interests of a worldwide programme of Christian education, and with the definate purpose that it should serve as the textbook par excellence of the Christian way of life. But to this first authentic collection of Christian writings there were added, during the centuries, the writings of the early Christian Fathers, of the mediæval saints, the leader of the Reformation and subsequent periods of church history, all of which, like the writing of the O.T. and N.T., were primarily intended for purposes of religious teaching. This is true also of the formulated creeds of the church, the decrees of the church councils, and in particular, of the homilies, breviaries, and catechisms that appeared in great number during the centuries following the

Reformation. During recent years, especially, the multiplication of textbooks and periodical for use in religious instruction has been one of the outstanding in the work of the Christian

Church. Until recently, however, all of this teaching material has been based directly on the Bible itself. It was intended to interpret

and apply the teachings of the Bible to daily life

The Varying Emphases in the History of Christian Education.

In actual teaching conduct, Christian education in the beginning i.e., in the period immediately following the death of Jesus, was Christ-centered. Since that earliest period of vivid, vivid, inspiring, mouth-to-mouth tradition regarding the actual precepts and example of Jesus, Christian education has been consecutively church-centred, and book, creed, and conduct centred.

Recently, while under the influence of a rapidly developing educational psychology, it has become pupil centred, or better still, experience-centred. In each of these successive historic emphases in Christian education, there have been elements of TRUTH and value. Neither has entirely excluded the other.

1.      In the Early Church: Conduct and faith. The religious instruction of the early catechumenate (Historic Christian practice) had a twofold emphasis, conduct and faith in Christ. Inquirers (audientes) who were instructed regarding the two ways: the way of life. & The way of death. The way of life was the way of virtue, honesty, temperance, chastity, industry, and service. It was the Jesus way. Christ Himself was the great instructor (Paedagogus) Also spelled "Pædagogus", originally παιδαγωγός in Greek, commonly translated as "The Instructor" or "The Tutor" He was the point of reference, the touchstone, the standard of measurement for faith as He was for conduct. Hence, faith in Him as the great teacher and revealer of the Father, as example and Saviour, was the second essential to discipleship.  Audientes gave evidence of their sincerity by becoming genuflectentes (knee-benders), believers in the worshipers of the Christ. After that, they were instructed in the tenets (doctrine, dogma &c) and practices of the new way, the Christian mysteries, until their understanding and proficiency as learners of the Christian way entitled them to consideration as competentes (competent), candidates in waiting under final instruction for admission to the Christian fraternity. Once within the close drawn-circle, the educative process was continued through the fellowship of the sacrament of the Common Meal, the coming together for worship and mutual testimony and exhortation, the reading of letters to and from individuals and churches, and later, of the first fragmentary Gospel records of the words and works of Jesus. The entire instruction, however, centered in Christ. His way of living, His example. His teaching, the meaning and value of His life, His suffering and His final triumph—these were the subject matter and the goal of Christian teaching. It was a glorious, heroic period of initial enthusiasm and daring, with persecution and martyrdom for many. It was a fellowship of the mystic sign and secret meeting place. Life and teachings were Christ-centred.

2.      In the Mediæval Period: Obedience to the Church. Then, suddenly, the church emerged from the catacombs triumphant, powerful, and mightier than the state that had tried to crush it. Its organisation was strengthened—its administration centralised. Rules and interpretation of the church superseded the simple example of the Jesus way of life.  Christ became subordinated to an earthly vicegerent (an administrative deputy of a king or magistrate. Origin of VICEGERENT. Medieval Latin/Roman). The organised church assumed absolute control over body and soul, over conduct, and thinking of the people. Education became education by and for the church. Military service and other non—Christian that once were anathema (a person or thing detested or loathed: That subject is anathema) were now sanctioned by the church now in league with the empire and the self-appointed final interpreter and arbiter of the Christian tradition and faith. The light of the WORD was hidden under a bushel.  http://www.godsplan.org.uk/thetrumpet.htm  Tapers burned or dimly smouldered like pagan incense under the domes of great Cathedrals. All through the Middle Ages the church commanded obedience to itself as the authoritive divine agent in human affairs. http://www.godsplan.org.uk/teacher.htm  Yet there was effective teaching by and for the organisation. However; it was the teaching of the confessional and of the altar, of ritual and ceremony, pilgrimage, and pageantry, feasts and festivals. Christian education during the Middle Ages was church-centred. In the Roman Catholic Church, and to a lesser degree in the Protestant Episcopal Church, education has retained this church-centred emphasis to this present day.

3.      In Protestantism: The Bible and Dogma. The Protestant Reformation substituted for the authority of the church the authority of the printed book, the re-discovered unchained Bible, the Divinely inspired Word of God. Catechetical instruction based on the Bible as interpreted by the Reformation leaders took the place of the secret confessional. Popular education became the watchword. The free elementary school was born. Textbooks of religious education multiplied. The Bible itself was made accessible to the people in the vernacular. (native dialect) Christian education was book-centred, and, in the spirit if not in universal practice, Bible-centred.

However, with the reformation and its catechism came emphasis on the doctrinal differences of major and minor Protestant groups. The reformation, born in protest, gave rise to de- nominalisation, with its rivalry of interpretations of the printed Word, and with its diversity of administrations. Christian school became a denominational institution. http://www.godsplan.org.uk/usurpation.htm

Christian education was centred in creeds and doctrines, and so remained, for the most part, until the discovery of the greater importance of the child and the subsequent triumph of the Psychological movement in education, and until the equally important change to the scientific and historical method of Bible study and interpretation.

With the advance in scientific knowledge, including this better understanding of the nature and contents of the Bible as well as a better psychological insight into child nature and the laws of human development, a marked change has come, in both the subject matter and the method of religious education. This change has vitally affected both the place and the use of the Bible, if not its importance, in the teaching work of the church. Fundamental to a right estimate of the importance and place of the Bible in modern religious education. It is therefore, an understanding of the learning process and of the teaching objectives in terms of Christian character as these are conceived in the best theory and practice of today.

 

The Learning Process and the Character of the Bible.

We have a new understanding of the learning process, and a new understanding of the character of the Bible. The problem is, to relate them both together.

1.      Aims of Modern Religious Education. Modern education regarded as a purposeful activity of organised society, has as its objectives the interpretation, control, and enrichment of human experience. It seeks among other things to transmit to each succeeding generation the accumulated social, intellectual, and spiritual (moral & religious) heritage of the race. http://www.godsplan.org.uk/spiritualmessage.htm More particularly, it seeks the physical, mental, and moral development of persons though their intelligently directed participation with other persons in the progressive mastery and improvement of their common, social and spiritual heritage, by the discovery of new TRUTH, and the progressive reconstruction of human society.   It results in the acquisition of the symbols and techniques of civilisation. Languages, arts, and sciences, and is reflected in improved attitudes, powers of appreciation, and skills in actual individual and group living. Man learns to do by doing. He learns to live by living. Learning begins in life situations that stimulate interest and call forth response. It results from purposeful activities carried through to successful outcomes in the solving of problems and the completion of individual and group enterprises. What formal education seeks to do, and the only thing it really can do, is to facilitate and expedite the process of learning. By controlling and manipulating the environment in which that process takes place, and by doing this in such a way that interesting and worthwhile problems and enterprises will emerge naturally and in a sequence, which is advantageous to the uninterrupted growth and development of the learner.

2.       Pupil-Centred and Society-Centred. In harmony with this conception of the learning process, Christian Religious Education undertakes to stimulate and guide the developing religious experience of the individual and group with a view to a progressive realisation of the Christian way of life in human society. Like all education, it is pupil-centred and society-centred. Its contents and its methods, the subject matter, the materials and forms of activity, which it employs, are determined at every stage of the process by the religious status, i.e., the stage of religious development, and by the consequent religious needs of the persons, and the community of persons to whom it ministers. In religious education, therefore, the determining factor is not the subject matter of instruction but, rather, the nature and need of the pupil. In relation to the Bible, the pertinent question is not how to get successive portions of its contents, considered as subject matter, over into the knowledge equipment of the pupil. http://www.godsplan.org.uk/howtostudy.htm It is, rather, the question of where the human religious experiences in this or that portion of the Bible fit into the growing knowledge and experience of the pupil. So stated, the problem of the religious educator becomes one of the selective and graded use of Biblical materials in his total programme of nurture and training.

3.      The Modern View of the Bible. The selection and use of Biblical materials for the purposes of religious education raises the further problem of a correct understanding of the character and contents of the Bible regarded as the most important, and, for Christian education, an indispensable source book of religious experience and progress. The Bible is not just one book it is a compilation, or series of books, written by different authors over a period of time. http://www.godsplan.org.uk/hebrew.htm Present-day practice in religious education takes into account the historical origins, literary forms, and gradual growth of the Scriptures. The Bible is not a book of magic or science but a collection of Divine human- records of Divine-human experience, written in terms of the thought and the forms of expression of the people of their own day. It reflects man’s faltering but successful search for God and His gradual and often imperfect solution of the problems individual and group conduct in the light of his discovery of God. The Bible is composed of many separate documents by many different authors, written many centuries apart, in widely separated places. Some of these documents have come down to us substantially in their original form. Others, like the total collection itself, are the composite product of various writers, skilfully woven together by successive editors, with a view to meeting immediate and changing needs for moral and religious guidance. The writings of the O.T. and the N.T. are, therefore, necessarily of decidedly unequal value as aids to Christian experience today, and they retain their highest values only as the problems that their educational use presents are recognised and frankly faced in the light of the fuller knowledge of the character and purposes

of God revealed in Christ, and in the light of the known Laws of character development in the individual.

The religious-political traditions and history of the Hebrews as set forth in the writings of the O.T. extend over many centuries from Abraham to the time of Christ. Before Abraham is revealed in  http://www.godsplan.org.uk/threestages1.htm  beginning with (“the world that then was” 2 Peter 3:5—6).

Rearranged in accordance with the chronological order of their production,  http://www.godsplan.org.uk/charts&tables.htm their writings reveal successive periods of social progress, with successively higher levels of moral and religious understanding. The conception the Hebrews had of God, and their ideals of worship of law and right moral conduct were different; and at differing times in their history. When considered chronologically they reflect clearly the successive stages of their social and religious development (See Hebrews link).  http://www.godsplan.org.uk/hebrew.htm 

Compared with the highest religious conceptions and ideals of the O.T., those of the N.T. based on and including the teachings and life example of Jesus furnish the culmination of all religious inspiration and guidance to be to be found in the combined writings of the two Testaments. For Christian life and conduct; understanding of the whole Bible O.T and N.T. is brought together in one harmonious whole: http://www.godsplan.org.uk/thestarsalso2.htm

 

Psalm 97:6 The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory.

 

Psalm 111:6 He hath shewed his people the power of his works, that he may give them the heritage of the heathen.

 

 they prophesy “day by day”, “night by night”, The question is; What do they prophesy? What knowledge do they show forth? What glory do they tell?

 

The answer is-Genesis 3:15. And I will put enmity between thee [Satan] and the woman, [Eve] and between thy seed [Satan’s] and her Seed [Eve’s]; It shall bruise thy head, and thou shall bruise His heel.

See Superfecundation: the fertilization of two or more ova from the same cycle by sperm from separate acts of sexual intercourse.

 

The one great central truth of all prophecy –the coming of One [Christ the Second Adam], http://www.godsplan.org.uk/firstandsecondadam.htm Who, though he should suffer, should in the end, crush the head of the old serpent, the Devil.

Therefore, the O.T. is as important as the N.T. for one cannot be truly understood without the other. Christian education undertakes the cultivation of intelligent Christian attitudes and conduct in individuals and groups. The inclusion of any given passage of the Bible in the curriculum, of Christian education, can be justified only as it can be shown that the moral and religious experience, which, the passage reflects, is adapted to promote growth toward mature Christian character. Further, that it is especially adapted to promote such growth at a specific period of the religious development of the individual, from the milk of the Word to the meat of the Word.

Used in this way the portrayals of religious experience and the record of Spiritual insight and growth contained in the Bible may be made to enrich the life experiences of the pupil. Inferring definate mental activity, i.e., through intellectual contemplation of classic examples of typical human experiences such, as the problems and projects of the pupil’s immediate environment do not provide.

     Tower of Babel (O.T.)

The Tower of BabelThe Graded Use of Biblical Materials in Modern Religious Education.

What are known as “graded” lessons conform to the sound principle that the lesson material must be adapted to the needs and capacities of the pupil.

Extensive Use of Bible Material in Modern Graded Lessons.

Far from lessening the amount of biblical material used effectively in the religious training of youth. The rigorous restriction and adaptation of this material in accordance with recognised educational principles of selection, and gradation, makes possible the more profitable use of a wider range and a greater total amount of biblical material. This allows place in the total curriculum for that rich variety of other materials demanded for the full and symmetrical development of Christian character. Just as the pre-eminence of Jesus as a teacher has not been lessened by the subjection of His precepts and example to the test of modern pedagogical (teacher, or educator) principles. So is the importance of the Bible as the one indispensable sourcebook of Christian religious instruction.

Graded lessons teach more of the Bible than uniform lessons because graded lessons undertake to teach children in various years only those portions of the Bible, which they can understand and which are best, suited to further their religious and moral development. Freed from the principles of uniformity and not compelled to seek biblical passages that may serve as lesson material for young and old at the same time, the graded curriculum can effectively use difficult passages of the Bible, as well as its simpler passages. These can be used in such fashion as most helpfully meet the moral and religious growth of various age groups and classes in the church school.

 

Adapting the Material to the Pupil.

One of the results of this selective and graded use of Bible materials in the modern church school has been the compilation of various lists of biblical materials for use with various age groups.

The Assured Permanence of the Bible in Religious Education.

The miracle of the preservation of these ancient Jewish-Christian records is accounted for by their intrinsic interest and value to men of each succeeding age in their search for God, and in their efforts to regulate personal and group conduct in accordance with their deepest insight into the TRUTH, and righteousness. Moreover, this same continuing helpfulness makes these records, rightly understood and used, indispensable in the work of religious education even today. Wherever Christian character is highly developed in an individual or group, there it will be found that selected portions of the Bible, especially the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, have exercised a determining influence in the religious development of that individual or group.

1.      Perceptually as subject matter of instruction.

2.      Vicariously through the exemplary Christian life of parents and teachers.

As a source book and record of religious experience, the Bible will always have a place in religious education commensurate with its influence in the development of Christian character in the individual and the progressive transformation of human society. Nor can we conceive of the extension of Christianity apart from the extension of knowledge of the literary source materials of the Christian faith. The place and use of these materials in the programme of religious education will be in harmony with an increasingly accurate understanding of their exact character and contents and with an understanding of the learning process and the laws of character development in the individual. http://www.godsplan.org.uk/knowledge.htm

 

2 Timothy 2:15  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.