Dissertation notice: “Pedagogy as Theological Praxis”

“Pedagogy as Theological Praxis”Congratulations to Timothy Shaun Price on his recent dissertation: “Pedagogy as Theological Praxis: Martin Luther and Herman Bavinck as Sources for Engagement with Classical Education and the Liberal Arts Tradition” (PhD diss., University of Aberdeen, 2013).

Abstract

This thesis seeks to put two theologians, Martin Luther and Herman Bavinck, and their theological traditions in conversation with emphasis upon how they approach the topic of education. Specific emphasis is placed upon their understanding and application of the classical education tradition.

The purpose of such a conversation is to point to what returning to Luther and Bavinck as sources can add to a discussion on pedagogy as well as to examine how their theological positions lead to a different emphasis in regards to pedagogy. The thesis is entitled “Pedagogy as Theological Praxis” because it makes the case that there are definite ethical implications in how one approaches pedagogy. In a broader spectrum, the thesis also examines how the epistemological presuppositions of these two traditions may effect the application of their theology.

The first half of the thesis deals primarily with Martin Luther. Luther’s understanding of the three estates of ecclesia, oeconomia, and politia are used as a lens by which to examine his writings. The three estates are used specifically to examine Luther’s 1524 letter, “To the Councilmen of all Cities in Germany that they Establish and Maintain Christian Schools.”

The thesis then shifts to an examination of Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck and his theological tradition of neo-Calvinism. Several prominent themes in neo-Calvinism are noted, and the distinctive contributions of Bavinck are also examined. As the thesis previously applied the framework of Luther’s theology to his work, the thesis also applies the Reformed neo-Calvinist framework to Bavinck’s article “Classical Education” and his book Pedagogical Principles. The thesis ends by putting Luther and Bavinck, as well as their traditions, into conversation in regards to the subject of Christian classical education. Emphasis is placed upon the North American context, which has seen a recent resurgence in the practice of classical education. Luther’s and Bavinck’s distinct contributions are placed alongside the contemporary practice of classical education for the purpose of fruitful dialogue and engagement.

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