Toward A Pentecostal Philosophy Of Education

Toward A Pentecostal Philosophy Of Education

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Toward a Pentecostal

Philosophy

of Education

Jeffrey

S. Hittenberger

Introduction

Michael Parra serves as Outreach Coordinator at

Valley High

School in Santa Ana, California, an urban

community

south of Los

Angeles. Every day

Michael works with students in crisis, on the

verge

of

dropping out, involved in gangs, pregnant, suicidal. He states:

Whereas some people might say, “This kid is lost,” I have an of what God can do. Some

expectation

call

people might say I’m optimistic because I’m But what

young.

or see as a attitude, I would call

people optimism, positive

expectation, vibrant expectation of what God can do. Outside looking in, some might see it as youthful impetuousness, but I see it as a recognition of God’s power, and my wanting to be involved in God’s Kingdom

work.

Michael Parra is one of perhaps millions of Pentecostal educators, tens of thousands of whom are

working

in formal education

systems.

To be a Pentecostal or Charismatic Christian

(henceforth,

for the sake of simplicity, Pentecostal)

is to be one of more than 400 million

people

in the world who have submitted their lives to Jesus Christ and

opened

their souls to receive the

baptism

or

infilling

of the

Holy Spirit. Terminology varies,

but Pentecostals share a belief that the

gifts

of the

Spirit

did not end with the Apostles,

that the

signs, wonders,

and miracles in the Acts of the

Apostles are not confined to the first

century,

but that that

outpouring

of the

Spirit continues into the presents.

I

How do Pentecostal Christians think about and do education? How do Pentecostal

experience

and

theology shape

Pentecostal educational

philoso- phy

and

pedagogy?

I am

especially

interested in how Pentecostal

experi- ence and

theology

influence our

teaching

and

thinking

when we teach in formal education

systems

and in higher education

systems.

Do our

experi- ences of Spirit

baptism

or Spirit in filling and our beliefs about the ongoing outpouring

of the

Spirit give

our educational ideas and

practices

a distinc-

I David B. Barrett, and Todd M. Johnson, “Annual Statistical Table on Global Mission: 1999,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 23:1 (January

1999),

Johnson estimate

pp. 24-25. Barrett and Pentecostal/Charismatic

population at just over 449 million in mid-1999. define this

They category as “Church members involved in the Pentecostal/Charismatic Renewal.” ”

217

1

tive

quality?

Is there some

special gift

that Pentecostal educators have to share with the

larger

church and with the wider world?

Four sections

follow, corresponding

to the

major questions

to be addressed:

What do Pentecostals

say

about how their

experience

and

theology impacts their educational

thought

and practice? .

What framework

might

allow us to formulate and

compare philosophies

of education?

How do Pentecostal educators

adopt

and adapt various educational

philoso- phies ?

What framework

might

enable Pentecostals to further

explore

and articulate the

impact

of Pentecostal

experience

and

theology upon

their educational philosophy

and

practice?

The bulk of this study is descriptive and analytic in character,

covering the first three questions above in some detail, while

suggesting

a preliminary framework in response to question four. This

study

is exploratory in nature and seeks to contribute to Pentecostal

thinking

and

practice regarding

edu- cation. The structure of this article is inductive,

moving

from the

specifics of Pentecostals

reflecting

on their own

experience

as educators toward the generalities

of educational

philosophy.

I do not presume to articulate a Pentecostal

philosophy

of education in any

definitive fashion. I do

suggest, however,

that Pentecostal

experience and

theology

have relevance for the educational

philosophies

and

practices of Pentecostal educators, a relevance that

opens fascinating possibilities

for further research and development.

For the

purposes

of this

study,

“Pentecostal” is defined

broadly

to include those Christians who consider themselves Pentecostal or Charismatic, embracing

the works of the

Holy Spirit

in the

first-century church as described in Acts and elsewhere in the New Testament as relevant and normative for

contemporary

Christians. Pentecostal

experience, by extension,

is defined as personal participation in Christian communities that embrace and seek the continuous

outpouring

of the

Holy Spirit

and practice the multiple

gifts of the Spirit

described in the New Testament. A subsequent study might fruitfully

examine distinctions

among

various Pentecostal and Charismatic

groups (with

their varied ideas of the nature of the continuous

218

2

outpouring)

with

regard

to educational

philosophy.

Education is also defined

broadly

to include both the formal

(school- based,

credit- or

degree-oriented)

and nonformal

(church-

or home-based, mentoring-oriented).

A Pentecostal

educator, therefore, might

be a teacher, a pastor, a mentor, a parent, or a friend who

intentionally

contributes to the learning

of another. This broad definition of education also

recognizes

that much

learning

occurs

indirectly,

or

informally,

and this is of particular sig- nificance to Pentecostals. The

primary

focus of the

study, however,

is on education in formal and

post-secondary settings.

Peterson has defined a

philosophy

of education as “a unified set of philosophical assumptions together

with their

implications

for the educa- tional

enterprise.”2 Knight

notes that the task of educational

philosophy

is to bring educators into

z

.

Face-to-face contact with the large questions underlying the meaning and purpose

of life and education. To understand these questions, the student must wrestle with such issues as the nature of reality, the meaning and sources of knowledge, and the structure of values. Educational

must

philoso- phy bring students into a position from which they can evaluate alternative intelligent- ly ends, relate their aims to desired ends, and select

methods that harmonize with their aims. Thus a major task of educational philosophy is to help educators think

pedagogical

about the total educational and life process, so that they will be in a meaningfully better tion to

posi-

develop a consistent and comprehensive 3 program that will assist their students in arriving at the desired goal.3

.

This

study’s methodology

includes interviews of Pentecostal educators, a cross

disciplinary

review of literature related to this topic, as well as philo- sophical

and

theological

reflection. This article is also informed

by

a life- time of interaction with Pentecostal educators and

by my

career as a Pentecostal educator

serving

in a variety of educational contexts.

.

What Do Pentecostals

Say

about How Their

Experience

and

Theology

Impact

Their Educational

Thought

and Practice?

Pentecostal educators face a dilemma. The Pentecostal movement is, among

other

things,

a

Spirit-inspired protest against

structures and forms that obscure the truths of God’s

Kingdom.

Pentecostals have

historically

.

2 Michael L. Peterson, Philosophy of Education (Downer’s Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1986), 24.

3 George R. Knight, Issues and Alternatives in Educational Philosophy, 3d ed. (Berrien Springs,

MI: Andrews University Press, 1998), 3.

219

3

shared Jesus’ distaste for religious

systems

that have become instruments of oppression.

“Woe to you experts in the law,” Jesus said, “because

you

have taken

away

the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were

entering.”4 They

have also shared the

per- spective

of the Apostle

Paul,

who wrote, “See to it that no one takes you cap- tive through hollow and deceptive

philosophy,

which

depends

on human tra- dition and the basic

principles

of this world rather than on Christ.”5 Pentecostalism is a renewed

experience

of God’s direct intervention in one’s life, God’s

self-revelation in the world. For a Pentecostal, a second- or third- hand

experience

of God does not satisfy. True ideas about God are no sub- stitute for God’s

tangible presence.

This Pentecostal

emphasis

on

immediacy

makes more abstract thought,

or academic discussion about

spiritual experiences, suspect.

It is one thing to have a theology of Holy Spirit baptism. It is quite another to be baptized

in the Holy Spirit.

These attitudes toward education,

particularly

of the rationalistic vari- ety, are clearly

not

unique

to twentieth-century Pentecostalism. Tertullian, in the second

century,

differed with Justin

Martyr

and Clement of Alexandria as to the value of classical education,

posing

the famous

ques- tions : “What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem? What concord is there between the

Academy

and the Church?”6 For

Pentecostals,

to

quote Cheryl Bridges

Johns,

the

question might

be

rephrased,

“What has Athens to do with Azusa Street?”

Almost six hundred

years ago,

Thomas a

Kempis

wrote in his classic The Imitation

of Christ:

.

Cease from an inordinate desire of knowing, for therein is much distrac- tion and deceit. The learned are well-pleased to seem so to others, and to be accounted wise… If thou dost more thine own reason or

than upon that power which

rely upon

brings thee under the obedience of Jesus Christ, it will be long before thou become enlightened; for God industry

will have us perfectly subject unto him, that being inflamed with his love, we may transcend the narrow limits of human reason.7

Apprehensions regarding

formal education and the

pursuit

of knowl-

4 Luke 11:52 (New International Version).

5 Colossians 2:8 (New International Version). All subsequent biblical references are from the New Revised Standard Version.

6 Tertullian, “Prescription Against Heretics.” in D. Bruce Lockerbie, ed.,

A Passion for Leaning:

The History of Christian Thought on Education (Chicago: Moody Press, 1994), 71. 7 Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ (Chicago: Moody Press. 1984), 26; 48.

220

4

edge

have been counterbalanced for Pentecostals

by

Jesus’ inclusion of the mind in the greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord

your

God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all

your

mind, and with all your strength.”8 Moreover,

Jesus and his biblical

followers, including

the writers of

Scripture,

embodied the

Apostle

Paul’s

injunction,

“Be trans- formed

by the renewing

of your minds.”9

Of special interest to Pentecostals is the scholarly

approach

of the writer of Luke-Acts, who frames his Gospel with these words: “I too decided, after investigating everything carefully

from the

very first,

to write an

orderly account for you, most excellent

Theophilus,

so that

you may

know the truth concerning

the

things

about which

you

have been instructed.”10

Spirit

and mind are clearly

complementary

for Luke.

Likewise, church leaders and reformers

through

the centuries have drawn

upon

their formal education in the conviction,

encouraged by leaders like Augustine, that “all truth is God’s truth.” Several of the early leaders of the twentieth

century

Pentecostal movement benefited from their own

expe- rience in higher education, like E.

N. Bell,

first

Superintendent

of the U.S. Assemblies of God, who had a Bachelor’s

degree,

a seminary degree, and three

years

of graduate study at the

University

of Chicago.

So

despite

ambivalence about formal

education,

Pentecostals

recog- nized the need to prepare believers to be effective students of Scripture and articulate ambassadors of Christ. Pentecostals

quickly began

to establish Bible schools, then Bible

institutes, then Bible

colleges,

then Christian lib- eral arts

colleges, and,

most

recently, theological

seminaries and

compre- hensive universities. I I Pentecostals

pursued

and obtained advanced

degrees and Pentecostal churches

began

to

produce

scholars. Each of the Pentecostal educators I interviewed for this

paper

has at least a Bachelor’s degree

and almost 80 per cent have earned doctorates.

They represent

the large

number of Pentecostals who combine a Pentecostal

experience

with advanced formal education

8 Mark 12:30. 9 Romans 12:2. 10 Luke 1:3-4.

11 For

a summary of the development of higher education in the United States Assemblies of God, the largest denomination in Pentecostalism, see William W. Menzies. Anointed to Sen?e: The Story of the Assemblies of God (Springfield, MO:

12

Gospel Publishing House, 1971 ).

For this paper, I interviewed 35 Pentecostal educators either in person or via telephone or email. The profile of my interview group is as follows:

Pastors – 2 ,

Missionary

Educators – 3

,

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5

The

responses

of these educators have

greatest

relevance for Pentecostals in higher education, since over 70 per cent of my respondents fit that

profile.

In principle,

however, many

of the same

findings apply

to Pentecostals in other educational

settings,

as my respondents in these other settings

tended to confirm.

Future studies of this topic would do well to focus on and compare other populations

of Pentecostal educators

(e.g.,

those in two-thirds-world set- tings ;

without formal

higher education;

in various academic

disciplines; from different

generations;

from various Pentecostal and Charismatic move- ments).

My

interviews included five basic

questions,

which I will list below with summaries of the responses I received. These

questions

were meant to elicit

personal

reflection from Pentecostal educators about the

impact

of their Pentecostal

experience

and

theology

on their educational

thought

and practice.

Thus the

questions

were

open-ended,

and in my analysis of their responses

I try to let them

speak

for themselves. For each

question

I offer a major finding, sample responses,

and some elaboration.

Question

1: In what

ways

has

your

own education been a “Pentecostal education”?

Finding:

Pentecostal educators note a tremendous

Spirit- inspired dynamic

in their educational

experience

and

practice.

.

This

group

of Pentecostal educators is

impressive

both

academically Public school teachers – 3

‘ Private Sector Human Resources Trainer – I

Educational Consultant (focusing on Sunday Schools) – 1

. Professors at Pentecostal institutions of higher education (IHEs) in the U.S. – 13 3 Professors at Pentecostal IHEs outside the U.S. – 1

Professors at non-Pentecostal IHEs – 2

Administrators at Pentecostal IHEs in the U.S. – 3

Administrators at Pentecostal IHEs non-U.S. – 3

Administrators at non-Pentecostal IHEs – I

K-12 Christian school leaders – 2

I did not attempt to select a statistically representative sample of Pentecostal educators. Instead, I sought to interview Pentecostal educators who had a formal educational experience that would have exposed them to diverse philosophies of education, them to reflect on the rele- vance of their Pentecostal experience and theology for their educational causing

philosophy. Of my

seven are women, five live outside the United States, and three are citizens of nations other than the United States. They are of diverse ethnicities, with seven

sample,

either have

being non-Anglo.

completed or are completing doctoral degrees. Approximately 70 per cent attend Assemblies of God churches, with others scattered among other Pentecostal and Twenty-six

Charismatic churches.

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6

and from the

point

of view of Christian service.

Many

in this

group

have obtained

graduate degrees

from

prestigious

universities in the United States and abroad.

They

are also

impressive

in terms of their commitment to the spiritual growth

of their students and their desire to be instruments of the Holy Spirit

in their

teaching.

Almost

three-quarters (73 per cent)

of these Pentecostal educators had experience

as undergraduate or graduate students in Pentecostal institutions of higher education

(IHEs). Though

most had attended Pentecostal IHEs for at least

part of their undergraduate experience,

most cited nonformal dimen- sions of their Pentecostal education

(through

mentors or family members) as more influential in their lives than the formal curriculum.

Examples

of their comments:

I learned about the church and ministry from my grandfather and from

my father. They taught me, informally, the Christian ethics of

Pentecostalism. I also learned how to interpret the world and my reality

Pentecostally.

My Pentecostal education was enriched by the corporate model of the Ivoirian

[Cote d’ Ivoire] church, which experienced a sovereign, nation- wide move of God. I was intluenced by the model of African some

pastors,

well-educated, others not schooled.

Often when the formal education

experience

at a Pentecostal IHE was mentioned, the nonformal educational/spiritual

experiences

were

highlight- ed :

.

I attended an Assemblies of God school at the undergraduate level and in that sense I suppose you could say I had a Pentecostal education. It . was not so much what was taught, but the ethos that surrounded the com- ..

Belief that learning had to be enhanced by encounter with God. Belief that God

munity.

enriched the classroom that

fullest dimension to what we were always

by experiences gave

leaming. The belief that chapel was a central

experience, not because it was ‘more spiritual’ but because , there we actualized the relationship we had with God to include more than left brain activity. In that context there was the real expectation that God would regularly intrude into the humanly devised schedule that sur- rounds formal educational activity.

Several noted a

deepening

of their “Pentecostal education”

through influences not generally associated with classical Pentecostalism:

Exposure to Catholic and Anglican Charismatics has broadened and resensitized me to the Holy Spirit’s work both personally and corporate- ly.

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7

The great irony of my Pentecostal education is that I first

to learn about

seriously began

my tradition’s history and theology when I attended a non- Pentecostal institution: Fuller

Seminary!

Responses

to this

question suggest

that Pentecostal education has had a very strong mentoring orientation,

with

families, pastors,

and

faculty

mem- bers

personally engaging

with their

children/parishioners/students

and

pro- viding personal guidance

in their

spiritual growth.

Conversely, responses

to this

question suggest

that Pentecostal educa- tors have not been

thoroughly engaged

within their Pentecostal IHEs in reflection on the

implications

of their Pentecostal

experience

and

theology for their formal education,

per

se. That

is, none

mentioned that the formal curriculum in their Pentecostal IHEs had

engaged

them in asking the

ques- tion : “How does

my Pentecostal experience

and theology impact the

way

I understand

my discipline, my academic field, my professional

studies?”

Whether at the graduate or undergraduate level or at the K-12

level,

all those I interviewed, like most Pentecostal

educators,

have wrestled with their ideas about formal education in institutions

(whether

secular or affili- ated with other Christian

traditions)

whose

philosophies

of education were not informed

by

Pentecostal

experience

or

theology (and

which were, in some cases, hostile to Pentecostal

experience

and

theology).

Question

2: Describe a Pentecostal educator who had a particularly

sig- nificant influence on

your

life. If more than

one,

would

you pick

one and tell about their influence on you?

,

Finding:

Pentecostals have

experienced

Pentecostal education through

the

mentoring

of their

professors (as

well as

pastors, friends and

family members)

who modeled an

integration

of mind, spirit,

and life.

Responses

to this

question

tended to focus on the life

qualities

of influ- ential Pentecostal educators

(their relationship

with

God, integration of spir- it and

mind, personal integrity). Examples

of comments on the nature of their influence follow.

I could cite a number of very useful influences in my life, but I will sin-

out one: W. I. Evans. Evans was the academic dean at Central Bible Institute (now Central Bible College) when I was a student. His knowl- gle

edge

of the Scriptures, his obvious deep fellowship with the Lord, and

his leadership in the chapel services had a great effect on me. He embodied the best features of the Pentecostal revival, in my judg- particularly

224

8

ment.

Professor Daniel E. Albrecht, Professor at Bethany College, was one of the first models I had that one could be/remain Pentecostal and still sue the life of the mind.

pur-

,

Dick Foth, Assemblies of God minister and former President of Bethany Bible College, represented a combination of passionate faith, joyful serv- ice, and an affirmation of the intellect integrated with the previous two disciplines.

Dr. James M. Beaty and his wife gave me a great example of what to be a Christian is all about. In their life and practice they lived the values of the Kingdom. Their spiritual disciplines and their faith with vision and their sense of mission impacted my life.

I had Murray Dempster for only one course. It was my senior year, a very important

moment in my life… It was a turning point in my life. He was just fantastic, so passionate, so animated. He was inspiring a vision, inspiring a passion.

Pentecostal educators interviewed for this

study emphasized

the char- acter,

the

passion,

the embodiment of truth in the

professors

who

shaped their lives at Pentecostal IHEs. Their mentors

integrated

mind and

spirit

and led lives of

personal integrity

and

ministry.

Those who mentioned other Pentecostal mentors

emphasized

these same traits.

Question

3: As a Pentecostal

educator,

how does

your

Pentecostal

expe- rience and/or

theology shape

the

way your

teach?

Finding:

Pentecostal

experience

and

theology strongly

influ- ence the ideas of Pentecostal educators about

pedagogy,

orient- ing

instruction toward

inspiration, transformation,

and empowerment.

In

reflecting

on their own

teaching,

Pentecostal educators described what

they try to do in their pedagogy.

Some of the contrasts

they drew were as follows:

Transformation rather than just information

Practice rather than just cerebral

knowledge

Experience

rather than just theory

Inspiration

rather than just information.

In describing their ideals for

teaching,

the

following

words were fre-

225

9

quently

used:

Vibrant

Gift

Mentoring

Empowerment

Power

Mission

Sensitivity

Dynamic

Expectation

Growth

.

.

I have sought to pattern my teaching on I Thessalonians 1:4-10. In this passage,

Paul reviews the

object

of his

ministry among

the Thessalonians, but also the manner in which he ministered to them. I see in this the following: ( 1 ) “with words”-he was articulate in his com- munication ; (2) “with power”-not simply with ‘words,’ but also with the empowering of the Spirit; (3) “with the Holy would under- stand this to mean

exercising sensitivity

to the Spirit”-I

leading of the Spirit; (4) “with

deep conviction”-In this I see that the faculty person has an obli- share with the students

gation to [personal] convictions, although he must be careful not to insist that the students must

how we lived

agree with him; (5) “You know

among you”-I

see this as transparent model- ing

of a lifestyle, outside the classroom as well as inside.

The idea that when you’re equipped with God’s power, nothing is

in the classroom. I have seen so many pessimistic teachers who can make a list of everything they can’t do. I had the genuine belief, impossible

based on my Pentecostal that God could move mountains, that this vessel could be used experience, by God. Marie Brown and my mother [my mentors] also emphasized that the vessel needed to be equipped.

God will use your talents. God works in history. Wonderful

things can in that classroom. You have to hap- pen equip yourself.

I teach from my own experience. I believe that is part of integrity. One should not teach something that isn’t part of her/his experience,

in that that is

particu- larly related to spiritual principles and values.

Some of the educators I interviewed

expressed

concern that often these principles

are not in

practice

in Pentecostal IHEs due at least in

part

to reliance

upon pedagogical

and

philosophical

models that are more Evangelical (or fundamentalist)

than Pentecostal.

Most of my ‘Pentecostal’ education could be characterized as classical

Most of the teachers and pastors who had the influence on me were Pentecostal but had

Evangelicalism. greatest

largely embraced a philosophy

.

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10

and

lifestyle

that would

represent

more

Evangelicalism than Pentecostalism.

My ministry today has

been

shaped more ‘Charismatic’

theology and ecclesiology. This segment of

by has

Christianity

impacted me and allowed me to re-embrace the theology and tice of

prac-

early Pentecostalism, which is fundamentally different from the suburban, Bible College Pentecostalism of the 1980s and 1990s.

. ‘

Pentecostals have mostly adopted the methods and modes of the

larger Evangelical

church. And that

adaptation

does not

only concern reli- gious, biblical,

or

theological education. This conformity to has its

Evangelicalism strengths and weaknesses. On the plus side it has more recent Pentecostal

taught generations to think, and to think criti- It has also

cally. taught the Pentecostals some degree of humility about their own tradition

(they

are

learning

to

appreciate

those who are unlike them). It has caused them to be less myopic about Christianity and them- selves… On the

negative side, Pentecostals have forsaken some of their own

dynamics. In their desire to appear rational, they forsook their to the

openness mystery of Christianity. In their desire to develop their minds,

that is

they adapted an overly rational, overly linear mode of thinking

gutting them of the dynamics that birthed their movement. In their uncritical embracing of Fundamentalist American

abandoned what to me was a natural

Christianity, they

byproduct of their ethos: an aes- thetic

awareness, appreciation, and creativity.

Question

Four: As a Pentecostal

educator,

how would

you

characterize your philosophy

of education? In what

ways might

a Pentecostal

phi- losophy

of education be distinct or have

emphases

different from other Christian

philosophies

of education?

Finding:

With

regard

to educational

philosophy,

Pentecostal educators note Pentecostal influences and distinctives at a number of

levels,

but indicate that a need exists to further explore

this

topic.

Without

exception,

the Pentecostal educators I interviewed

thought

that a Pentecostal

philosophy

of education could be

distinguished,

at least in its emphases,

from other Christian

philosophies

of education and certainly from secular

philosophies

of education. What is less clear is the meaning of a phi- losophy

of education. Pentecostal educators located the distinctives of Pentecostal educational

philosophy

at various levels.

Some

suggested

Pentecostal distinctives at the

metaphysical (ultimate reality)

level.

Pentecostals should have a worldview that informs their philosophy of education. This worldview includes an openness and embracing of the

.

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11

mystery of God and life. God can and does surprise us. God is both frighteningly

transcendent and joyously immanent. We need to embrace a pre-Enlightenment scientific vista that sees God as present in the world.

Some

suggested

Pentecostal distinctives at the axiological

(value)

level.

The values of the Pentecostal experience are distinct and deeply rooted in our community: values of a devotion to God’s inerrant Word, to truth, to urgency, to the breadth of God’s people, to Christian

to Christian to the of

calling, to holi- ness, community, power the Holy Spirit. As we think back about these values, these ideals of Pentecostalism, we are bet- ter able to look forward.

.

Others see Pentecostal distinctives at the

epistemological (knowledge) level.

I take one of the hallmarks of Pentecostal theology to be its

which calls into

epistemolo- gy question any form of rationalism … think a distinct- Pentecostal

ly philosophy of education would be grounded in the non- rationalist, experiential epistemology, coupled with an emphasis on lib- erating practice.

.

Some

suggested

distinctives with

regard

to our view of the student.

It seems to me that Pentecostal education has to be holistic, all three of Bloom’s traditional taxonomies in the cultivation of mind and embracing spirit for the larger service of the Kingdom of God.

Others

emphasized

the difference in the role of the teacher.

A Pentecostal philosophy has to recognize the essential charismatic nature of the teaching gift, and cultivate that gift, realizing that the leads

Spirit

one, and energizes one, in the communication of truth and bonds the learner into a process of common discovery.

.

The role of the teacher is different from the role of expert pouring knowl- edge

into the uninformed. I want to learn about learning more than about teaching.

It’s a dynamic process, not a disengaged, content-driven

There is a

phi- losophy. dynamic between the content, the learner, and the educator. That’s where the role of the

Spirit comes in.

Others

emphasized

distinctives at the level of the curriculum.

Truly Christian discipleship (training for mission) must involve the of

acquisition spiritual skills: prayer, spiritual power, radical obedience to the

Spirit, etc.-all usually regarded as ‘extra-curricular’ or assumed

228

12

.

for the student rather than carefully taught as the core of the curriculum. The very method of teaching in Bible colleges and seminaries reflects a detached observation of the Christian phenomena ‘out there’

(a Western/Greek way of knowing) vs. the knowing-by-experience of nor- mative, New Testament Christianity.

Several

emphasized

distinctives in pedagogy, discussed above. Others emphasized

the nature and role of the school/educational

community.

.

Pentecostal education has to be holistic. It is tied to an inclusiveness that comes out of Acts. It is global and cross cultural, uniting bond and free, male and female. It has to remember the margins as well as the center. The field in a class is never level. How do I help those for whom this does not come playing

easily’? My philosophy of education focuses on stu- dent

learning for empowerment.

·

.

Many spoke

of the difference all this makes in practice.

My philosophy of education as a Pentecostal educator is impacted by a sense of

“present tenseness.” I am not so much wanting to characterize a

humanly devised system of to discern cognition. I am dealing with a process of learning implications of information. I am much more aware of a full orbed dimension of

education that includes both cognitive and affective and also a dimension of subsequent action.

.

.

Several mentioned the need for Pentecostals at this

stage

of our

history to give focused attention to the topic of educational

philosophy.

_

We have to learn from the rest of the church. They are centuries ahead

of us in terms of developing Christian character; thinking about church-

state issues; thinking about societal and ethical issues; thinking about the

human person… Too quickly, we are

embracing non-Christian

approaches to these disciplines and questions and this will lead to our , demise.

.

Very little of the earlier approaches to Pentecostal pedagogy or

of education remains. It

philoso- phy probably is time once again (as the educational founders of our institutions had to original

do) to raise the ‘What is an

question,

appropriate Pentecostal educational pedagogy for our insti- tutions

today?’

It is useful to review the thoughts and educational philosophies

and practices of our founding educators themselves.

Question

Five: What resources have been

helpful

to you in

your

devel- opment

as a Pentecostal educator?

.

Finding:

Most Pentecostal educators

agreed

that we are still in

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13

the early stages

of the work of bringing Pentecostal

experience and

theology

to bear on

explicitly

educational issues of philoso- phy

and

pedagogy.

Most of my respondents indicated that written resources on education- al

philosophy

and

pedagogy

authored

by

Pentecostals for Pentecostal edu- cators are lacking,

especially

for

higher

education. So what resources have been

helpful

to them in their

development

as Pentecostal educators?

Eight mentioned

colleagues

and mentors as their

primary

resources.

Eight

men- tioned Pentecostal

writers, leaders,

and

theologians,

with each of the fol- lowing

named at least once:

Gordon Fee, Steven Land, Cheryl Bridges Johns, Myer Pearlman,

Billie

Ralph Riggs, Davis, Miroslav Volf, Opal Reddin, Robert Menzies, Walter Hollenweger, Roger Stronstad, Mel Robeck, Russell Spittler, Vinson Synan, Lyle Lovett, Murray Dempster, J. Robert Ashcroft, and Robert Cooley.

Seven mentioned writers and thinkers not

generally

associated with

pente- costalism,

such as:

Watchman Nee, Brother Lawrence, Thomas a Kempis, Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, C.S. Lewis, John Wesley, John Piper, Gustavo Gonzalez, Andrew Murray, Madame Guyon, Arthur Holmes, Harry Blamires, Thomas Groome, Parker Palmer, Jean Piaget, George Marsden, and James Burtchaell.

Two mentioned “Third Wave” Pentecostal/Charismatic

writers,

such as:

C. Peter Wagner, Cindy Jacobs, John Arnott, Charles Kraft, and Guy Chevreau.

.

Two mentioned Pentecostal

periodicals,

such as Enrichment. Several men- tioned the

Holy Spirit

and

Scripture.

One mentioned

worship

music.

Few of the Pentecostals mentioned have written

specifically

on educa- tion.

Commenting

on one of the

challenges

faced

by Pentecostal educators within Pentecostal IHEs, one of the respondents wrote: “We have had limit- ed opportunity to study our own

experience

as Pentecostals because

[of what might happen]

if

you

don’t come

up

with the

accepted perspective (approved by the denomination).”

I conclude this section with a quote that summarizes much of the above:

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14

.

The creation of Christian higher education institutions outside of min- istry training

will no doubt encourage the growth of a professional teach- Pentecostal in the new setting remains to be seen, as the

ing

class within pentecost. Whether that teaching class can remain

roots of Augustinian

tradition (Catholic, Lutheran, and

Calvinist)

are much more deep context of professional pentecostal educators…Beyond creating institu- powerful

and

widespread, providing both the training and the continuing tional space for the

of Pentecostal

training

and

continuing

education and

employment

teachers, there needs to develop a flourishing interdisci- plinary

concentration on the nature and function of Pentecostal

a

peda- gogy, fellowship between teachers and pastors, and appropriate resources such as journals, internet sites, conventions, etc. As well as an institutional approach to

linked to

pedagogy, it is essential that Pentecostal teach- ers remain

strong local congregations where their gifting is both

and relativized by its setting amongst other gifts. There is no room in Pentecostal pedagogy for elitism or showmanship…To some appreciated

degree,

we are having to invent pentecostal higher education as we go!

.

The same

may likely

be said of other forms of Pentecostal education as well.

What Framework

Might

Allow Us to Formulate and

Compare

Philosophies of Education?

A Proposed Framework

Pentecostal educators

rarely

describe their ideas about education in terms of classical

philosophies

or contemporary educational theories. Their descriptions

of the

impact

of their Pentecostal

experience

and

theology

on their educational ideas and

practices

more often refer to intuitive connec- tions than to systematically defined

relationships.

While this intuitive sense is both

powerful

and consistent with Pentecostal

experience,

it translates with

difficulty

into formal educational settings,

where

strategies

for curriculum and instruction must be formulated in a systematic

way. Consequently,

Pentecostal educators often find them- selves

lacking

a specifically Pentecostal framework for educational

philoso- phy,

with the result that Pentecostals then borrow

heavily

from other educa- tional

philosophies

that do not fully capture the dynamic of the implicit edu- cational ideas

undergirding

Pentecostalism.

Daniels has described this dilemma within the Church of God in Christ (COGIC),

a

historically

African-American Pentecostal denomination. A system

of Bible

colleges

was launched within COGIC in 1972 with the pur- pose

of

preparing

ministers and missionaries.

However,

while successful numerically,

the Bible

colleges

found

themselves,

in Daniels’ view,

overly reliant

upon

curriculum and

pedagogy

insensitive to educational ideas and

231

15

practices implicit

within the COGIC Pentecostal

community. 13 3

Likewise,

Pentecostal educators across formal education

systems

have been reliant

upon books,

curricular materials, and instructional methods rooted in other Christian and secular

philosophies

of education. 14

It would be of value, then, to have a framework within which to com- pare

various

philosophies

of

education,

which would then allow Pentecostals to

intentionally integrate

their

experience

and

theology

with their educational ideas and

practices.

Thus we could draw on the wealth of ideas available to us within our own

history

and communion, as well as on other Christian traditions and other educational and philosophical schools of thought.

I suggest that our search for such a framework

might fruitfully begin with the

questions

that educators ask. What are some core

questions per- taining

to the educational

process?

I would

suggest

that the following ten questions

are universal educational concerns. While this is not intended to be an exhaustive list of core questions, it does

provide

a common framework for our discussion of educational

philosophies.

1. What is real?

2. What is true and how do we know?

3. What is of value?

13 David D. Daniels, Ill,

“‘Live So Can Use Me Anytime, Lord, Anywhere’: Theological Education in the Church of God in Christ, 1970 to 1997,” Asian Journal of Pentecostal Theology 3:2 (July 2000), 303. Daniels writes: “The mission of the

of the

System of Bible Colleges is admirable, although the uncritical appropriation Evangelical curriculum is problematic.. . What is the best pedagogy to transmit the COGIC message and experience? Does an implic- it COGIC pedagogy exist that could be employed? The System of Bible Colleges promoted a pedagogy

that was alien to the COGIC context. The pedagogy of the System of Bible Colleges mitigates against

COGIC’s informal education processes of Bible discussion and mentoring.”

14 See, e.g., Cheryl Bridges Johns, Pentecostal Formation: A Pedagogy Among the Oppressed (Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 7. Johns writes: “The area of Christian edu- cation reflects some of the best and most sincere attempts to fit in with more established churches. For many Pentecostals, the

schooling paradigm,

with its

closely graded classes, cog- nitive and deductive approach to faith formation, four-color curriculum materials and stream- lined organization, is the wished-for ideal. We point to our untrained teachers, poor facilities and lack of good pedagogy as sure signs of our sectarian backwardness, all the while over-

formational

processes

which have historically been part of our discipleship.” An example of this from

looking powerful

my own experience concerned the core textbook in the Basic Christianity

class at Evangel University, an Assemblies of God institution in Springfield, Missouri, when I attended there in the late 1970s and early 80s. An

book on edu- cational philosophy is entitled The Idea

of a

Christian

College, by

Arthur outstanding Holmes, a professor of philosophy

at Wheaton

College. Writing

from a Reformed

perspective,

Holmes

provided my classmates and me with a coherent and powerful evangelical philosophy of education, but we

to relate it to our Pentecostal experience and theology, and no

comparable philosophy of education from a Pentecostal Christian perspective was available.

struggled

232

16

4. What are

my goals

as an educator?

5. How does

my

contextual

setting

frame and constrain

my

educational

goals?

6. What is the nature of the student?

7. What is the role of a teacher?

8. What should be learned?

9. How should it be taught?

10. How do my ideas

shape my educational practice (and

vice versa)?

Put

simply, then,

an educational

philosophy

involves an educator’s

responses to, ideas about,

and assumptions

regarding

these ten essential and

mutually informing questions (and others).

Within each of these

questions

there are

sub-questions.

For

example,

within the

question

“What is real?” one will find

questions concerning

the

nature of the universe, the nature of God, the nature of human

beings.

These

are all

“metaphysical” questions, and,

when one asks about distinctives for

a Pentecostal

philosophy

of

education,

one

might

reflect on whether

Pentecostals would answer these

questions differently,

or with different emphases,

than others.

Insofar as one is an educator, I would

suggest,

one has ideas about each of these matters. These ideas

may

be richly or

slightly

considered.

They

may be honed by consistent practice

or relatively untried.

They may

be con-

sciously

related to a philosophical school of thought, a wisdom

tradition,

or .

an educational

theory,

or not related. One may be said to have a formal edu- cational

philosophy

if these ideas are made

explicit.

If these ideas remain implicit,

one

may

be said to have an informal

philosophy

of education. But educational

practice

is rooted in these

questions and,

in this sense,

every educator has an educational

philosophy. Often,

the

degree

of formality in a statement of educational

philosophy

is a function of the

formality

of the educational

setting,

with formal

systems demanding

more

explicit

articula- tion of an educational

philosophy

and nonformal

setting demanding

less explicit

articulation. 15 As for institutions, an institutional

philosophy

of edu-

15 Though we may not be explicitly aware of the labels and terminology of educational

we are in

phi

many ways the products of one or some combination of these educational ideas and their working out in practice. For example, few have read the writings of John losophy,

Dewey,

the foremost American philosopher of education and author of books like and

Democracy

Education, but virtually all of us are products, at least in part, of

reforms in American schools.

Deweyian progressive

Many Christian educators

Alan Bloomri The Closing

of the American Mind in the early 1980s, but just what enjoyed reading was the educational

Bloom’s

philosophy underlying thesis, and was it an educational philosophy that Pentecostal educators

233

17

cation

may

likewise be said to consist of the institution’s

responses

to these ten

questions,

with personal pronouns modified.

Toward the end of this discussion, I will suggest a model that draws on depictions

of a philosophy of education like the one below.

Knight’s model, while

lacking

a reciprocal dynamic, does have the virtue of depicting the various

components

of a philosophy of education.

Fig.

1.

Components

of a Philosophy of Education from

Theory

to Practicel6

The first three elements of Knight’s model are the classical

questions of philosophy,

organized

around

metaphysics (What

is ultimately

real?),

axi- ology (What

is of

value?),

and

epistemology (How

can we

know?). Educational

goals

follow from our worldview, and these

goals

are

shaped and reshaped

by contextual

factors, such

as political dynamics, social

forces, economic conditions, and the expectations of immediate

family

or commu- nity.

Our

goals

then find

expression

in the framework of

specifically

edu- cational issues, such as the nature of the student, the role of the teacher, appropriate

curricular

emphases

and

teaching methodologies,

and our ideas about the social functions of educational institutions. These ideas in turn underlie and

shape

our educational

practices.

Joldersma

depicts

that central

place

of Christian

perspective

for Christian educators below.

could fully resonate with? Likewise, Paulo Freire’s 1986 book The

Pedagogy

of the Oppressed touched a responsive chord with many Christians in its appeal for justice, but how cognizant are Pentecostal educators of the underlying educational philosophy? Thanks to

to

Cheryl Bridges Johns and others, Pentecostals are beginning engage Freirian thought in just this kind of dia- logue,

but overall we are in the early stages of this kind of reflection.

16 Knight, Issues and Alternatives, 34. –

234

18

Fig.

2: Influence Domains 17

of Christian

Perspective

on Various Educational

– –

Do Pentecostals have

anything

to add to Joldersma’s model? We will continue to explore this question below.

The

length

limitations of this

essay

do not allow for a discussion of each of the historic and

contemporary philosophies, ideologies,

and educa- tional theories that have

shaped

our educational

experiences.

For summaries of the

philosophies

and their educational

implications,

I would recommend Knight

and Gutek.lg In the next section, I provide a brief overview of the components

of several

contemporary

educational

philosophies

and discuss ways

in which

they

have been

adopted

and

adapted by

Pentecostal educa- tors.

How Do Pentecostal Educators

Adopt

and

Adapt

Various Educational

Philosophies?

Pentecostals do not hold a

single philosophy

of education. Some Pentecostal educators would

identify

with a form of Pentecostal

particular- ism. Others would tend to

agree

with essentialist

approaches.

Others are

17 Julia K. Stronks and Gloria Goris Stronks, Christian Teachers in Public Schools (Grand Rapids,

MI: Baker, 1999), 45.

1 See

Knight, Issues and Alternatives, and Gerald L. Gutek, Philosophical and Ideological on

Perspectives Education, 2d ed. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1997).

235

19

inclined to speak of their educational ideas in terms that resonate with

peren- nialism. Some would consider themselves

progressive

educators. Still oth- ers are enthusiastic about educational

goals

and practices that correspond to reconstructionism. There are also Pentecostal educators who would identi- fy

with critical

pedagogy. They

would

typically

not use this

terminology, but I hope to show that the diverse ideas of Pentecostals about education res- onate with these

widely divergent

educational theories.

Drawing primarily upon

the history of Assemblies of God education in the United States, I suggest eight approaches to educational

philosophy

that have

emerged

in roughly chronological

order,

but that now coexist

among (and within)

diverse Pentecostal educators. All

eight may

be seen as adap- tations of philosophies of education that exist in the

larger culture,

and we will

explore

how

existing philosophies

of education have been

adopted

and adapted by

Pentecostal educators over time. The

eight approaches

to edu- cational

philosophy

to be explored in this section are:

1.

particularism

2. essentialism

3.

perennialism

,

4.

progressivism

5. reconstructionism

6. critical

pedagogy

.

7.

pragmatism

8. eclecticism.

The earliest educational

approaches among

American Pentecostals

may be described as “particularistic.” Particularism in education

is characterized by a withdrawal

from dominant and mainstream education

systems,

often a forced withdrawal made by minority groups whose values are

not

accepted in the dominant culture. Pentecostal

particularism

is related to forms of fun- damentalist and

minority

ethnic

(such

as Afrocentric) educational

philoso- phy,

in which

marginalized groups

embrace their

separateness

and distance themselves from the educational systems of mainstream (and oppressive) society.

This Pentecostal

separatism

was also expressed in a pacifist stance toward war, which was the official

position

of the U.S. Assemblies of God, for

example,

until 1967, and in a code of

personal piety

that avoided involvement in many social activities of mainstream culture

(e.g.,

movies, social

dancing,

involvement in party

politics).

Some of the characteristics of Pentecostal

particularism

are:

emphasis

on Bible

study

and ministry preparation

emphasis

on eschatological expectation that Jesus’ Second

Coming

236

20

may

occur at any time

flowing

from this

eschatological expectation,

an emphasis on short- term, intense,

and

practical training

for

ministry

likewise,

a suspicion of longer-term academic

pursuits

that seem the oretical and insensitive to the shortness of time

use of fundamentalist curricula and theological models, even when such models seem inconsistent with Pentecostal

experience

and the –

ology (e.g., dispensational theology

and the Scofield Reference

Bible) pragmatic emphasis

on

practical

skills for evangelistic and mission ary endeavors;

academic

subjects

are valued insofar as they give pragmatic

assistance for Pentecostal mission

(e.g., literacy

for preach –

ing, writing,

and Bible

study;

math for financial and logistical

efforts) formal

degrees

from academic institutions are considered

unimportant and even undesirable.

Pentecostal- education in its particularist form is often accused of being anti-intellectual,

and in some senses this is true.

Many young

Pentecostals have been

discouraged

from

“thinking

too much.” Pentecostals have some- times seen the mind as an enemy of the

spirit

and the

Spirit.

However,

as Jesse Miranda, Director of the Urban Studies and Ethnic

Leadership

Center at Vanguard

University,

stated in an interview,

“They

were

reacting against pseudo-education

and the lack of balance between the rational and the rela- tional.

They

wanted to go beyond the rational.”

The

hostility

of

early Pentecostals,

and some

contemporary Pentecostals,

was not toward intellect or formal education

per se,

but rather toward the intellectual status

systems

of formal education from which Pentecostals, largely

from lower social

strata,

had been excluded. Pentecostal anti-intellectualism, then, while sometimes an unbalanced

rejec- tion of the

mind,

more often

rejected

the rationalism of the late nineteenth and

early

twentieth centuries that

sought

to build

great

structures of truth upon

human reason alone. In this

sense,

Pentecostal

particularism

antici- pated

some of the postmodern critiques of both traditionalist and modernist education.

Pentecostal

particularism, then,

was the educational

approach

most characteristic of Pentecostal education in the United States in the first few decades of the twentieth

century, through

the

founding

of the

many

Bible institutes and Bible schools.

Beginning

in the late

1930s,

with the establishment of the first Assemblies of God

four-year degree-granting institution,

Southern California Bible

College,

and continuing into the

1940s, with the Pentecostal

.

237

21

rapprochement

with moderate

Evangelicals

in the various

agencies

related to the National Association of

Evangelicals (NAE),

Pentecostal educators began

to explore other

approaches

to formal education.

The

figure

below shows

key elements of five other educational theories mentioned above. Other educational

philosophers

would use

slightly

differ- ent terminology and even different

categorical labels,

but for the point I wish to make here about

diversity

of educational

opinion

within Pentecostalism, I draw

upon

the educational

theory taxonomy suggested by

Gutek.

(See Figure 3)

While most Pentecostals would not describe their educational ideas in terms of the labels above, one often hears the elements of these various the- ories in Pentecostal

descriptions

of educational ideas. The

following descriptions

are compilations of comments from

Pentecostals, past

and pres- ent,

that seem to resonate with core elements of these five educational theo- ries.

E.ssentialist orientation

In order to accomplish that Great

Commission,

we need to be prac-

tical and we need to be skilled. To that end, we need to teach our

young people

to read and write and to calculate, to be able to have

the academic skills

necessary

to

spread

the

gospel through

litera-

ture,

and

through

Bible

study, teaching,

and

preaching. People

without

literacy

skills cannot

really study

the Bible and are

prone

to error and

immaturity. Furthermore,

math skills are essential if

we are to use modem methods of construction,

technology,

and

other tools that allow us to take the

message

to all the world. In

addition to their Bible education, our

people

need these basic aca-

demic tools and we must make sure that they acquire these. These

skills are also

necessary

for good citizenship.

,

Perennialist orientation

God is the

giver

of gifts, and God’s

gifts

are of many

kinds; super- natural

gifts, leadership gifts,

service

gifts.

The

Body

of Christ is very

diverse and so must be the

preparation

of our

youth

for their unique callings.

In addition to our Great

Commission,

which impels

us to bring the

gospel

to all people, we have received a cul- tural mandate, which

compels

us to bring our Christian worldview to bear on all the activities of our lives. We must

integrate

our faith with our

learning

and with our lives. All truth is God’s truth. The Bible is wholly true, but it is not an encyclopedia of human knowl-

238

22

edge.

We must seek out and understand the truth wherever it is found. To this end, our young

people

need to study the great works of literature, must understand that science is not

opposed

to our faith but is compatible with it. The

Spirit

of God is to lead us into all truth and so our educational endeavors are a sacred

activity.

.

Progressive

orientation

Traditional education has been much too focused on abstract ideas of truth and too little focused on the child or the learner and her unique

needs. As Pentecostals, we prize the soul and spirit as much as the mind. The

outpouring

of the

Holy Spirit

touches

every aspect

of a person’s life. Jesus models that

compassionate

concern for the whole

person.

His teaching is not full of abstractions, but is rooted in people’s real life experiences. We need to recover his gra- cious concern for the whole

person. Moreover,

the Biblical model associates the work of the Holy

Spirit

with the formation of a com- munity.

The church in the book of Acts is a community of concern and love, which values each member,

recognizes

its

diversity

and treasures it, and seeks the full formation of each

person

within the context of the

body

of Christ. Our education should reflect this concern for

body, mind,

and spirit, so that we

may

reflect the love of Christ to the world. All our abstract ideas and

great pronounce- ments tend to alienate

people

from Christ rather than attract them to him.

Reconstructionist orientation

The

outpouring

of the

Holy Spirit

comes with

liberating power. When

Mary

learned from the

angel

of Jesus’

coming birth,

she exclaimed that God has sided with the

poor

and

brought

down the proud oppressors.

Jesus’ life modeled this identification with the outcast and his

judgment upon

their rich

oppressors.

When the Spirit

of God came at

Pentecost,

the

Spirit

came

upon

men and women,

slaves and

free,

Jew and

Gentile,

and most

notably upon those outside the structures of

political,

social, and economic power.

This

baptism

in the

Holy Spirit

lifted

up oppressed people and brought them into a community

empowered by

the

Holy Spirit to

speak prophetically against

their

oppressive

circumstances and for a

community

of

equality

before God. Our education should likewise

empower

the

oppressed

to receive God’s

power

and to

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23

build a new

society

based on inclusion,

gender equality,

and peace- making.

We should be involved in

transforming society,

not just seeking spiritual experiences

for our own satisfaction.

Critical

12edagogy orientation

Both traditional and modem forms of education have asserted an ability

to know and convey absolute truths about the world.

They have constructed rationalistic

systems

and

complex

theories to explain

the

world,

and then have

attempted

to force these

systems of thought on generations of students. In fact, we should be suspi- cious of all these claims. The Apostle Paul said that we see through a glass,

darkly.

In other words, our knowledge is very limited. We should be humble about our assertions. What concerns God more than our

epistemology

and our rationalistic

metaphysical systems are our

relationships,

our

authenticity,

our

advocacy

on behalf of the voiceless and the

marginalized.

We need to teach our children to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk

humbly

with our God. The Holy Spirit

comes with a power not rooted in rationalistic

systems, but with authentic,

personal,

intimate,

and

liberating power.

Each of these

expressions

of Pentecostal educational ideas

represents

a synthesis

of Pentecostal

experience

and

theology

with educational

philoso- phies

rooted in other intellectual traditions. That elements of these educa- tional theories should be attractive to Pentecostal educators should come as no

surprise,

since all of these theories are informed

by

elements

of

the Judeo-Christian tradition.

Many

of the

proponents

of these theories have been and are believers in God and in Jesus Christ, while many

other

propo- nents within the same

general philosophy

are not

(See Fig. 3).

Two other varieties of Pentecostal

philosophies

of education that merit comment here are Pentecostal

pragmatism

and Pentecostal eclecticism.

Pentecostal

pragmatism

would assert that the nature of the education system really

is not all that

important

because the

Spirit-filled

believer can function within

any of them, bearing

witness to Christ in a dynamic and suc- cessful

way, adjusting

to the circumstances as need be,

just

as he or she would

adapt

and function within

any

culture. This

pragmatism

is especially compelling

in cultures like the United States, in which the ultimate

justifi- cation for most actions is whether it “works.” ” In secular

society,

the criteri- on to measure whether

something

works is usually whether it allows one to attain one’s desired outcome,

usually

defined in materialistic terms. This emphasis

on ends can blur the worldview and ethical issues

pertaining

to the

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24

Fig.

3. Elements of Five

Major

Educational Theories

means

by

which those ends are to be

achieved, leaving people

in a frenetic competition

for wealth,

status,

and personal gratification. The same

danger exists for Pentecostal

pragmatists,

whether the desired end be a

growing

241

25

church,

a successful

ministry,

or personal spiritual fulfillment.

Pentecostal eclecticism

may be the most common philosophy

of educa- tion

among

Pentecostals. The

general

American

public

tends to pick and choose elements of educational

philosophies

in an eclectic

way,

often with little

opportunity

to reflect on the

larger

issues of worldview. “Reflective” eclecticism makes

good

sense in that

good

ideas about education and worth- while

practices

come from a variety of sources and perspectives.

However, one must be cautious about what

George

Posner calls

“garbage-can

eclecti- cism,

in which

practices

based on

contradictory

or invalid

assumptions

are collected into a ‘bag of tricks.”‘ 19

9

Indeed, each of the educational

philosophies

discussed above has its merits. I believe, however, that Pentecostals are still in

relatively early stages

of reaching beyond these conventional or popular educational ideas to examine the educational

possibilities

inherent within Pentecostal

experi- ence and theology. The current

syntheses

have often been

forged

in a prag- matic

way

and need to be reexamined. Menzies’s

summary

of the state of Assemblies of God education in 1970 continues to hold true ‘

thirty years later:

The changes seem to have been occasioned largely by economic and social pressures, not matched by an overarching philosophy of educa- tion. The result of unassimilated changes has produced a degree of uncertainty

and competition on the undergraduate level.20

A Possible Framework

for Exploring

the

Impact of Pentecostal Experience

and

Theology upon

Educational

Philosophy

and Practice

It is a crucial time for Pentecostals to re-examine our educational philosophies

in the

light

of our Pentecostal

experience

and

theology.

It is conceivable,

of

course,

that Pentecostals

may

have little that is

special

to contribute to the discussion of philosophies of education. Some would

argue that Pentecostalism

merely

reasserts orthodox Christian belief with a focus on practice and experience of those truths and not mere intellectual assent to them.

The results of this survey and literature review, however, would seem to suggest

otherwise.

Perhaps

Pentecostals do have

something

to contribute to retlection on educational

philosophy, beginning

with metaphysics, axiology,

19 George J. Posner, Analyzing the Curriculum, 2d ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc., 1995), 3.

20 Menzies, Anointed, 373.

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26

and

epistemology

and

extending

to the nature of the

student,

the role of the teacher,

pedagogy,

curricular

emphases,

and the

relationship

of

practice

to ideas.

Based on

my interviews,

comments

by

Pentecostal

writers,

as well as other Christian and secular writers and the biblical

text,

I offer the following draft framework for

envisioning

a Pentecostal

philosophy

of education in order to suggest

potential

areas of reflection and

study

for Pentecostal edu- cators in various domains of a comprehensive philosophy of education. I look forward to dialoguing with and learning from

my fellow educators

and fellow Pentecostals in this exploratory

process.

Fig.

4. Draft Framework for

Envisioning

a Pentecostal

Philosophy

of Education

In this

model,

God’s

empowering presence

becomes the framework for the entire educational

process.

The

Holy Spirit

informs our reflection and

prac- tice. The

relationships among

worldview

formulation,

educational

goals, issues,

applications,

and educational

practice

are

dynamic

and

reciprocal. The Pentecostal

theologian

Gordon Fee

writes,

,

We are not left on our own as far as our relationship with God is con- cerned; neither are we left on our own to “slug it out in the trenches,” as it were, with regard to the Christian life. Life in the present is ered

empow-

by the God who dwells among us and in us. As the personal pres-

243

27

ence of God, the Spirit is not merely some “force” or “influence.” The living

God is a God of power; and by the Spirit the power of the

1

living God is present with us and for us.21

Like other Christians, Pentecostal educators draw on Scripture and the- ology

for their

perspectives,

and become

proficient

in contextualizing their educational

goals

and activities. In doing

so, Pentecostal educators

see God through

the Holy Spirit as One whose

presence

infuses one’s formulation of ideas, goals, strategies,

and who not only guides the process and

empowers the plan, but who might break into the process at any time to accomplish the unexpected.

The teacher and

learner, then,

find themselves

together

in the presence

of God, whatever the educational context. From this vantage point, one could

suggest

fresh

ways

in which Pentecostals

might

think and are thinking

about their educational

philosophy

and various

ways

in which

they may

continue to engage in powerful educational

practice.

21 Gordon Fee, God’s Empowering Presence (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1994), 8.

244

28

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