Thursday, May 08, 2008

Luther and Religious Education

"The emphasis on Christian education is not what it once was in Lutheran circles. Some branches of Lutheranism have practically conceded all education to the state, attempting to fill the void in spiritual training with youth programs, family ministries, and the like. Some Lutheran church bodies no longer support a system for training ministers of the gospel to any great extent. Among others, support for such a system is waning rapidly.

One sometimes hears of Lutheran pastors and teachers that no longer teach the catechism to any great extent, of others that require little, if any, memory work. What would Luther say? Would he say that since times have changed, the Small Catechism is no longer relevant? Would he say that children can no longer be expected to memorize the chief parts of the catechism, or Scripture verses, or
hymn stanzas? Would he say that more important than doctrine is making children feel good about themselves, helping them realize their full potential as human beings, and keeping them entertained and happy all the time?

If Luther could speak today, it is this writer’s opinion that he would have more than a few choice words (maybe even some very colorful and shocking words) to say to our society and possibly even to many of those who bear the name Lutheran."

"If we fail to put forth our best efforts to establish and maintain Lutheran educational institutions, if we are not willing to do whatever it takes and to spend whatever is necessary to give our children and young people a Christian education, if we let our children and young people decide for themselves what to believe or
how to live, then we can be certain that the devil will quickly take over. A smattering of religious knowledge would seem to be hardly enough these days to keep our children strong in the faith. There are too many temptations, too many dangers, too many pitfalls. Add to that the concerted efforts of anti-Christian social engineers who not only seek to remove all evidence of Christianity from our society,
but who strive to portray Christianity as ignorant, repressive, and even offensive. Faced with such opposition and persecution, it is the rare young Christian who can remain steadfast unless he or she is firmly grounded in the faith."

Luther and Religious Education, by Mark Lenz, Lutheran Synod Quarterly, 46:1, 2006. Evangelical Lutheran Synod [this is not ELCA].

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