Pazmino, Robert W. (2001).
God Our Teacher: Theological Basics in Christian Education.
Michigan: Baker Academic. 202 pp.

    The discipline of Christian education has suffered the image of being a "little sister" to theology, the "big brother" and has received criticism for a lack of theological foundations to warrant its existence.  In response, Pazmino has set out to balance the stormy relationship in his latest book.  He is a strong defender of the fact that Christian education is Christian because "theological basics provide the bedrock on which to build Christian education" (p. 160).
    Christian education, therefore, is not practised without Christian theology.  In an unusual approach, the author uses six prepositions to form the six chapter headings to connect the relationship.  In the initial chapter, "God For Us" Pazmino discusses the doctrine of Trinity as the central "theological theme for the theory and practice of Christian education. The vitality of Christian education depends on the theological roots of the Trinity" for the "Triune God being for us . . . recognizes the continual place of mystery, wonder, and awe in relationship to God and of partnership with God in teaching" (pp 9, 35).  The second chapter, "God Despite Us" explores the doctrine of sin and salvation and their connection to the issues of conversion and transformation in the ministry of teaching.  However, his attempt to link soteriology with Larry Richards' model of the hook, book, look and took approach for creative Bible teaching (Pazmino added "cook") to provide "theological insights to actual teaching" (p. 47) needs further investigation.  The concept of connecting hook to prevenient grace; the book to justification; look to sanctification; cook to edification; took to glorification is not clearly presented to support the integration between the five theological categories and Larry's teaching approach.
    The chapter, "God With Us" looks at Jesus, the Master Teacher who provides a model for "teaching that transcends time" (p. 86).  In "God Through Us," the chapter describes the theology of the Holy Spirit as the "person" who assures teachers of an "empowered partnership for teaching" (p. 112).  Ecclesiology and missiology are explored in chapter 6, "God Beyond Us" to establish the theology of God who "works through us in the teaching ministries of the church that extend God's mission in the world" (p. 132). This is a worthy point to note that Christian education can contribute significantly to building God's church in the mission field.
    In the final chapter on "God Beyond Us," Pazmino mentions seven mandates to chart the future of Christian education but the mandates are not spelt out. And it is not certain whether the mandates are referring to the "seven teachings" or the "seven invitations" on pages 159 and 164.  Furthermore, the author's concept of connecting the Educational Trinity comprising of the content, persons and context of education to the three persons in the Godhead may not be well received by readers.
    True to the concern of author, the book provides a helpful reflection for both Christian educators and teachers on the link between theology and the ministry of teaching in the local church and beyond.  It also serves as a strong reminder that teachers of Christian education are not ordinary volunteers.  They are serving as "teachers of the Christian faith" whose "minds need to be theologically informed, formed, and transformed. A lesser commitment fails to give glory to God" (p.10).  A mindset that is both theologically informed and educationally equipped is valuable for evaluating the different models of doing Christian education available in the market.  The discernment is necessary to select a model that will not cheapen the teaching of the Scripture and the process of educating individuals to "live a life worthy of the Lord" and to "please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:8).

(Review by Dr Ng Peh Cheng)

An Untheological Rambling
on the Nature of Truth & Communication

(by Rev Ng Seng Chuan, June 26, 2002)

The speaker began with a reference to the work of American literary critic, Joseph Brodsky, who once defined communication as an act of aggression.  Agreeing with this, the speaker went on to suggest that all acts of communication are attempts on the part of the speaker to dominate the minds and personalities of his listeners.  If this be true, then communication becomes, for the Christian, an awesome ethical responsibility.

How can we know, then, that we are dealing with the truth when we speak, and that we are fair and objective?  The speaker hints at the importance of developing sensitivity to what is genuinely authentic.  And this is by no means easy.  We assume, for example, that the Scriptures echo the voice and the truths of God.  Yet even the Scriptures are not immune to demonic perversion, as when Satan used it proficiently in the attempt to dissuade Christ from His mission in the "temptation in the wilderness" episode.
The speaker then went on to suggest a false echo of God's voice as represented by Abraham's offer of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-14); as opposed to a genuine encounter with the presence of the divine, as when Peter bade Christ to depart from him, "the sinful man" (Luke 5:8).
The contrast between Abraham's hearing of God's voice and Peter's sensing of the divine presence in Christ points to a need to "rightly divide the word of truth".  And the preacher's admonition?  Never trust yourself!  "Learn to listen.  And if you listen hard enough and for long enough, you will hear a faint echo of that which J.B. Phillips once coined, 'the ring of truth'."

Chapel speaker for this Wednesday (3 Jul) is Dr Peter Tow, who was formerly a lecturer at the Singapore Bible College, pastored for 17 years and since 1994 was a missionary with Global Missions Partnership, ministering in the Ukraine and in other countries. He will give a Powerpoint presentation on mission work in the Ukraine.

Next week's chapel speaker will be our resident Lecturer, Dr Philip Satterthwaite, who has just returned from his sabbatical.

1.  LIBRARY ANNOUNCEMENT

  • Broadband internet service is now available at our library. Please note that the usual charge @ 50 cents per 15 minute has been adjusted to 60 cents per 15 minutes.
  • Items Renewal: Library users are advised to do this on the OPAC screen in the library or when they telnet into the library system. A "how-to" slip is available at the library counter. Renewal through the phone and email will still be handled by the staff.
  • Library users are reminded not to hold discussionsat the study area as it will disrupt others who are studying there.
  • The library has just recently acquired the Theological Journal CD-ROM. However, we are unable to let library users make use of this yet as it requires a Pentium II or III computer with 256MB of RAM. Please contact Kok Weng if you can contribute to this need.
2.  CTS Cheques. With effect from 1 July 2002, please use only the new standardised cheques if you are making cheque payments.

3.  TITLE PAGE. This is a one-page template cum guideline for students who are submitting assignments. You may also download the Title Page from http://bgst.edu.sg/assignmentform.doc.

4. CONDOLENCE. We wish to extend our deepest condolence to Ms Godiva Ysip on the demise of her father last week.

5.  The Dean presented this year's BIBLE LANDS STUDY TOUR to Turkey and Greece (not Israel) at the Mt Carmel BP Church. Those interested in the details please contact Serene Woon at BGST.

6.  On July 13, Dr Quek will lead a one-day CHURCH HISTORY FIELD TRIP to Melaka for CH 101 students and Bible Study leaders of the Bible Study Fellowship.

Wishing you God's blessings on your Birthday!
Mr Paul Tan Chee Sim  1/7
Mr Walter Edman  2/7
Mrs Yeo Ee Ee  4/7
Ms Wenny Setiawan  7/7

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This page is updated on 3 Jul 2002 by Jacob-Tan Lee Pin
    Jul 2002