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Will Our Children Have Faith? Revised Edition [Paperback]

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Item description for Will Our Children Have Faith? Revised Edition by John H. Westerhoff, III...

Originally written in 1976, this classic critique of Christian education is back in a revised edition. Christian education, according to Westerhoff, has modeled itself on the scholling-instructional paradigm of our secular schools. Instead of expecting faith formatioin to happen within a variety of contexts-the family, the church family, the school, and the church school-religious education has been relegated entirely to Sunday morning classes. There children learn the facts about religion, but will they learn or experience faith? How can we be communities that nourish and nurture the faith of children, instead of only teaching them facts? This revised edition includes a new foreword, chapter updated, and afterword that incorporate Westerhoff's thinking-and re-thinking-of the issues in Christian education since the book was originally published.

Publishers Description
Deckhead: The revised edition of a classic in Christian education

Originally written in 1976, this classic critique of Christian education is back in a revised edition. Christian education, according to Westerhoff, has modelled itself on the schooling-instructional paradigm of our secular schools. Instead of expecting faith formation to happen within a variety of contexts -- the family, church, school, and the church school -- religious education has been relegated entirely to Sunday morning classes. There children learn the facts about religion, but will they learn or experience faith? How can we be communities that nourish and nurture the faith of children, instead of only teaching them facts?

This revised edition includes a new foreword that summarizes Westerhoff's own faith journey that led him to write this book, and even to rethink portions of it today. Each of the original chapters concludes with notes that reveal some of Westerhoff's rethinking of the material since 1976. A new Afterword explores the context in which we live currently, and its implications for catechetical ministry.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Morehouse Publishing
Pages   143
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.41" Width: 5.58" Height: 0.34"
Weight:   0.43 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 1, 2000
Publisher   Morehouse Publishing
Edition  Revised  
ISBN  0819218367  
ISBN13  9780819218360  

Availability  0 units.

More About John H. Westerhoff, III

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Westerhoff was Professor of Theology and Christian Nurture at Duke University Divinity School for 20 years, and is now founding director of the Institute for Pastoral Studies at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Atlanta, GA.

John H. Westerhoff currently resides in the state of Georgia.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Christian Living > Faith
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Education > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Education

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Books > Christian Living > Relationships > Family Concerns

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Reviews - What do customers think about Will Our Children Have Faith??

Faith in community  Jul 5, 2003
Westerhoff's book, `Will Our Children Have Faith?' is interesting in format. Unlike many revised editions that incorporate revisions directly into the text, this one appears to leave the text of the 1976 edition intact, with addendum updates added at the conclusion of each chapter. This kind of revision is one that makes it easy on scholars and other interested readers - one doesn't have to guess which parts are new and revised. In some cases, Westerhoff softens his criticism (for instance, regarding church school); in other instances, Westerhoff clarifies earlier points, or makes subtle shifts of context and nuance that come from increased experience and reflection.

Westerhoff's 1970s criticism of church school starts out rather dramatic in tone: a `very serious disease', he calls it, distinguishing himself from others who see the problem as more of a `surface infection'. (p. 2) He saw the problem as a general systemic problem with society as well as the theoretical framework: `The church's educational problem rests not in its educational programme, but in the paradigm or model which undergirds its educational ministry - the agreed-upon frame of reference which guides its educational efforts.' (p. 5) Speaking of scholars and church education program theory of the past, Westerhoff states they agreed that `the church teaches most significantly through nurture in a worshiping, witnessing community of faith, and they clearly explained that explicit instruction in the church schools was only a small part of Christian education.' (p. 4) His 1990s update is somewhat less critical of church school itself, but many of his criticisms remain for the overall paradigm of instructional education.

Westerhoff identifies some conceptual problems with Christian education today. `Education correctly understood is not identical with schooling. It is an aspect of socialization involving all deliberate, systematic and sustained efforts to transmit or evolve knowledge, attitudes, values, behaviours, or sensibilities.' (p. 14) Too often, Christian education had followed the pattern of general education in that `we seem to have created an institution more concerned with teaching strategies, instructional gimmicks, and curricular resources than with spiritual mentors.' (p. 83) In a text reminiscent of Howard Gardiner's multiple intelligences theory, Westerhoff states: `Today we desperately need to remind ourselves that both the artistic and the rationalistic perspectives have value, and that a return to congregational singing of the St. Matthew Passion is as important for understanding and interpreting the story of our faith as the critical literary-historical study of its message.' (p. 69)

Not only do different methods need to be employed, but the recognition that people learn in different ways and have different intellectual aspects to which they respond must be considered.

In addition to this, Westerhoff is concerned about the single-mindedness of instructional-based education with regard to concepts of progress. `[I]f we take seriously the styles of faith and faith's expansion, we must conclude that no single educational programme for any age-group is valid.' (p. 96) Westerhoff addresses the ideas of basing education based upon chronological age, developmental states (which reminds one of Colarusso), and characteristics of life. Westerhoff's 1970s text outlined four types of faith that progress through life: experienced faith, affiliative faith, searching faith, and owned faith. These can fit the above patterns of progress, but are more flexible in their application. Westerhoff's 1990's addition to this section creates a paradigm that is somewhat more subtle. These three processes are important for `a community of faith enculturation paradigm' (p. 45) that does more than incorporate rationalistic content in school-based instructional styles, but interact with each other to provide a holistic approach that can carry the meaningful content of Christian education into the entire lives of the learners.

Beyond the educational methodologies, however, is the problem of content. It is not only important how one teaches, but what one teaches. `[N]ot only do we face the crisis of a bankrupt paradigm, we face a corresponding crisis in our theological foundation.' (p. 25) Westerhoff recognises the danger of concentrating on the school-components rather than faith. `Faith is expressed, transformed, and made meaningful by persons sharing their faith in an historical, tradition-bearing community of faith. An emphasis on schooling and instruction makes it too easy to forget this truth.' (p. 19)

Too often, the concern for curriculum, strategy and other components get in the way of the central message, that in Christian education should never be lost. `A unity of theology and education is a necessity, not a luxury.' (p. 26) Christian education should prepare learners for Christian living, which takes place inside and outside the four walls of the church. A successful Christian education space facilitates `the actions between and among faithful persons in an environment that supports the expansion of faith and equips persons for radical life in the world as followers of Jesus Christ.' (p. 45) Strong connections need to be made, not only with the formal, instructional-based pieces of Christian education, but with the whole of the church experience, to make it a learning and nurturing environment. These connections can then strengthen the Christian message in lives outside of church; as Christians, `we need help turning jobs into vocations.' (p. 64)

Westerhoff quotes Tertullian's saying that Christians are made, not born. If this is true, it must be a life-long process. Church camp can be a valuable component in this process in many ways, but it is up to the community of faith to carry its meaning and relevance.

Critically important for parents, clergy, educators.  Mar 4, 2000
Will Our Children Have Faith? was first published in 1976 and became a classic work on Christian education. Now it has been revised and updated to include a new foreword, chapter updates, and an afterword that incorporates John Westerhoff's thinking (and rethinking) of the issues in Christian education that have arisen in the last quarter century. Westerhoff points out that Christian education modeled itself on the curriculum approach of secular schools, thereby relegating religious education for children entirely to Sunday morning classes, and disregarding a variety of other educational contexts and opportunities represented by the family and the community of faith. The principle message of Will Our Children Have Faith? is that teaching facts alone is insufficient in communicating, nourishing and nurturing faith in our children. Will Our Children Have Faith? is critically important reading for parents, clergy, as well as church school administrators and teachers.

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