Eksistensieteologie en godsdiensonderrig
Van Wyk, Jan Hendrik
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1. The problem: In order to be able to confront the modern child with a meaningful and intelligible interpretation of Holy Scripture, the teacher in religious education munt have a sound knowledge of contemporary issues regarding Biblical interpretation, as well as of the situation of the modern child. Uncertainty prevails in theology and radicalism and nee-positivism have led some theologians to announce the death of God. Characteristics of the milieu of the modern child are absurdity, chaos, secularism and horizontalism, loneliness, materialism and industrialism tend to depersonalize modern man. Relativism leads to a hyperdynamic and pluriform culture. Prevailing philosophies (existentialism and neo-positivism on one hand and nee-empiricism and nee-realism on the other) determine and dominate contemporary thought. This is the background against which children have to receive religious education nowadays. Contemporary tendencies confront teacher, parent and catechist with problems which demand an answer. 2. The origin of modern existentialist theology: Modern existentialist theology has its origin in the old Gnostics and the "Aufklarung", especially the positivism of Lessing and the anti-metaphysical conclusions of Kant. The search for a concept of reality developed into phenomenology, nee-positivism, neo-realism and secularism. Hegelian dialectics and existentialism with their anti-metaphysical tendencies and anthropocentrism were the cradle of the "new" theology. Contributory factors are the emerging natural and technical sciences, historical criticism, Barthianism, Bible criticism, pietism, nineteenth century modernism, contemporary problems of Biblical interpretation for modern man and the relative neglect by the church of "secular" matters. 3. The nature of ecistentialist theology: The Bible is regarded as mythological writing that needs to be interpreted existentially in order to be comprehensible to modern man. Jesus is conceived of as a human model and not as Saviour. Radicalists plead for the abandonment of religion by the church. For them the church is an altruistic institution for the advancement of human happiness and welfare in this world. Love for one's fellowman is considered to be the sole standard of morality. 4. The implications of existentialist theology for religious education: Recent years have seen the publication of some text-books and educational articles on religious education, which reveal undeniable features of existentialist theology. In Chapter 4 of this thesis a few of these books and articles are discussed as examples of the influence on religious education of the "new" theology. 5. Critical evaluation of existentialist tendencies: in theology and religious education. Modern theology has many valuable contributions to make to religious education, summoning us to responsicle faith in God, demanding a greater interest in man and his world, giving Christ a central position in religion, opening up new perspectives of the human element in Holy Scripture and disclosing the dangers of a purely conventional religious attitude. On the other hand, modern theology contains many negative and dangerous elements. It is humanistic, dualistic and superficial. Atheism is a direct result of the abandonment of religion. Religion disappears in love of one's fellow man and for Christology and Pneumatology the "new" theologians substitute anthropology. The authority of the Bible is denied while the concrete is absolutized and; idolized. If the church agreed to become merely a welfare organisation, it would lose the true message of the Gospel. 6. The correct understanding and interpretation of Holy Scripture: Modern theology compels the teacher to ascertain what the writers of the Bible were saying to the people of their own day. Modern theology also requires the teacher to declare the eternal truths contained in Holy Scripture and to expound its character as the Word of the living God for the present time. To aid the teacher in interpreting the Bible intelligibly to modern children, Chapter 6 of this thesis presents some hermeneutic principles which take into account the socio-historical background as well as the purpose and real meaning of the respective pericopes. 7. Other methodological and didactic guidelines for an intelligible religious education for the present time: Chapter 7 of this thesis presents methodological and didactic guidelines for the teacher in religious education, such as will help him to avoid the adverse and will enable him to utilise the beneficial elements in the new theological tendencies. The author pleads for real Christian emphasis in the teaching of all school subjects, for purposeful religious education, for actuality and existential experience of the Biblical subject matter for education towards responsibility for stimulation of independent thinking, for implementation of meaningful exercises, for accentuation of perceptivity rather than objective knowledge and memory, for involvement of the scholar in the truths he is learning, for development of a proper conception of the unity of Scripture, for understanding of the child in his situation, for cogent proclamation of the risen Christ (also to be seen in the lives of his modern disciples) and for education in compassion for one's suffering fellow man.
- Education