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April 1974 · Vol. 3 No. 1 · pp. 186–87 

Book Review

Reshaping Evangelical Higher Education

Marvin K. Mayers. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1972. 215 pages.

Reviewed by Elias Wiebe

This volume is the joint work of three Wheaton College professors. {187} The reader may well be somewhat surprised at its contents, since Richards, then Assistant Professor of Christian Education at Wheaton, admits: “I didn’t know what to expect when the three of us first discussed writing this book.”

Beginning with a study of the historical background of higher education, the authors reflect on contemporary perspectives to present a new approach to higher education—an approach in diversity which leads to “emerging opportunities to shape the future.”

Describing the secularization of the reformational world and the escapist attitude of today’s conservative church, Webber asserts, “Evangelicals must discover a biblical world view and identity which will permit us to live joyfully and with a full affirmation of life in the world.”

This world-viewist approach is in contrast to the “separatist” and the “settled.” Anabaptists of the past may have been the “separatists,” but Webber does not indicate knowledge of today’s Mennonites and their advances in collegiate and seminary higher education.

Richard presents some helpful paradigms (e.g., p. 76) and describes a structure for a new approach in which education deals with the whole person, in a setting which expresses the affective along with the cognitive, and in which interdependence between the teacher and the learner is fostered. He calls for a goal-oriented education which will make a difference in people’s lives.

Mayers expands on the differences between traditional educational systems and the needs of Christian higher education which he concludes must be relevant to today’s needs and be based upon an experiential learning setting.

Webber, in a very short chapter, applies Richard’s paradigms and concludes that the rationalistic approach to Scripture and doctrine in the seminary must be replaced by a “positive dimension of reshaping evangelical theological education. . .” (p. 106).

The authors have suggested a variety of characteristics of the educational process which will work toward “operationalized” goals in an attempt to work with learners or whole persons. However, their attempts to make application to evangelical theological education, to theological education in a liberal arts setting, to church education, and by means of a cross-cultural case study (the Philippines), seems inadequate to meet the promise of the title: Reshaping Evangelical Higher Education.

Mennonite Brethren educators will get some help from this book in improving their methods of teaching, but they will need to look to continued aid from experts in the reshaping process, such as those at the Center for Research and Development in Higher Education, University of California, Berkeley, or those associated with the Curriculum Project of the Council for the Advancement of the Small College.

Elias Wiebe,
Pacific College, Fresno

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