A Lutheran Philosophy of Education and Sunday School

Rarely will you find a document like this on a Lutheran School or church site due to the raging—behind the scenes controversy that permeates Lutheran Education. No one wants to put in writing what they believe, teach, and confess lest they offend, alienate, or lose members and students.

The members of this church on the other hand are bold enough to put this to writing so that there is no question regarding the direction of the teaching found at this church. There will as a consequence, be a unity of belief and practice that you will rarely find anywhere else.

Quite simply, this church uses the biblical model of the family as its guiding principal for teaching as foundation for teaching. God said it quite well in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it”. Martin Luther wrote about this as compiled in the book, “Luther on Education” by Franklin Verzelius Newton Painter.

So the parents of the church teach and train. No one questions the ability of parents to teach their children the most difficult of things—speaking the English language, so we encourage the parents of our children to continue to be intimately involved in their continuing Christian education over their lifetime. Ultimately, this is a 4th commandment issue of honoring fathers and mothers.

Some education styles that match up quite nicely with this approach are that of the home schooling and Classical Education (trivium) models. So in the early years our goal is to simply fill their heads with the facts and knowledge of the world around them. This would include memorizing verses of the Bible and Luther’s Small Catechism even many years before they begin to read.

As time goes on and their human minds have developed higher functions, we teach them how to build upon the base grammar knowledge of the Christian faith. This is called the logic or dialectic stage of Christian education. The question and answer section that makes up the bulk of Luther’s Small Catechism with explanation is designed specifically for this purpose.

After learning the basics of the Christian faith and how to properly question the knowledge that they have accumulated, we move on to the rhetoric stage of education where our members are taught to instruct and persuade others using the Word of God as the foundation of their faith. For as Saint Paul said, “So then faithcomes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

As members of the one true and invisible Christian church here on earth we continue to grow in the faith throughout our lifetime. Our goal as a congregation is to guide all Christians to be lifelong learners as they continue to build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, the Living Word of God.

-Rev. James R Shaw

March, 2011