Major theological beliefs of the Churches of Christ and their implications for Christian education
Sanders, Joseph Enloe
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Purpose of the Dissertation The purpose of this dissertation is to set forth in an objective and critical manner some of the major theological concepts of the Churches of Christ in America and to show what the implications of these are both for a philosophy of Christian education and for a program of Christian education. Procedure A high lighting of relevant eighteenth century church history is first given, since it forms the background of the Restoration Movement out of which the Churches of Christ developed. Major works of Barton W. Stone, Thomas Campbell, Alexander Campbell, and Walter Scott are used. Later works of Churches of Christ leaders are cited to show that these beliefs remain basically unchanged. Beliefs concerning the nature of God, Christ, man, reality, revelation and human knowledge, and the church are discussed. An outline of a philosophy of Christian education consistent with these beliefs is developed and the implications of such a philosophy for Christian education are given. Results of the Investigation The following concepts are prominent in Churches of Christ theology. (1) The Scriptures are a revelation from God to man. (2) The Scriptures constitute the primary source for knowing God. (3) God is both immanent and transcendent. (4) Jesus Christ is the unique point of entry of divinity into the stream of humanity. (5) The virgin birth, vicarious suffering, and substitutionary atonement are cardinal beliefs. (6) Man is a finite creature subject to the limitations of his particular environment, and at the same time capable of reaching after that which transcends his finiteness. (7) Man is preeminent among the works of creation. (8) Man has freedom to make choices. (9) The gap between God and man is bridged by God descending to meet the limitations of human nature, not by man himself overcoming them. (10) Reality consists of many levels. Each level finds its own fulfillment when it is possessed by a higher level, and each higher level uses levels below itself for its own fulfillment. (11) There are two levels of truth, revealed and natural. (12) The content of Christianity is not a rational deduction from premises. (13) The church is a divine-human institution. Membership in the church is essential to salvation. (14) Conversion is both an event and a process. Specific Conclusions Based Upon the Theology of the Churches of Christ 1. The Scriptures occupy a central place in the curriculum. 2. Both God and the individual must be at the heart of Christian education. 3· The needs of the individual and the basic demands of the Christian faith are criteria for curriculum construction. 4. Based upon a metaphysics which assumes a stable universe and an absolute truth, objectives of Christian education should have a stable and fixed quality. 5· The meaning and content of Christian education should be based upon super-naturalistic pre-suppositions, while the method of Christian education should be based upon naturalistic pre-suppositions. General Conclusions Based Upon the Implications of the Theology of the Churches of Christ 1. There should be greater co-operation between the church and the home. 2. A larger use of the findings of modern psychology in the field of child study and the nature and conditions of learning must be made. 3. The curriculum of Christian education includes, not only formal, printed lessons based principally upon the Bible, but all the planned activities and experiences by which persons become Christ-like. The criteria by which activities are selected are both Christian and developmental. 4. Since learning the proper content does not necessarily lead to Christian behavior, it is necessary that opportunities be provided whereby these truths can become related to life. 5. Further study is needed to resolve the dilemma between man's freedom and God's authority, and the role of the teacher in this relation.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University
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