Fall 2023 · Vol. 52 No. 2 · pp. 96–98 

From the Guest Editor: Thoughts on Christian Education

Sarah Tham

As the sun sets on another calendar year, we embark on an illuminating journey through the ever-relevant and transformative theme of Christian education. This issue features the reflections and studies of teachers and mentors within our institutions who play such an important role in shaping the next generation. These articles will provide readers with deeper insight into the dedication, creativity, and passion that fuel our Christian educators.

We invite you to participate in a dialogue about the challenges and opportunities that arise between faith and education. How do we ensure our educational pursuits align with our Mennonite Brethren values? How can our commitment to community and service find expression in learning?

Doug Miller’s piece discusses Jonah’s faith pedagogy, highlighting the three dimensions of faith: knowledge, actions, and feelings. It explores how the story of Jonah in the Old Testament reflects these dimensions. Jonah’s knowledge of God is contrasted with his actions, and the essay delves into the affective dimension of faith, emphasizing virtues, values, and vocation. The essay also underscores the importance of integrating these three dimensions in education, emphasizing the need for a holistic approach to faith education that addresses head, hand, and heart.

“A Theology of Leadership from the Psalms” by Jules Glanzer explores the theological underpinnings of leadership principles derived from the Psalms. The text emphasizes that leadership is founded on three core theological truths: God leads, humans are engaged in a holy partnership with God, and our role in this partnership involves listening, seeing, learning, doing, and loving. The Psalms provide a framework for understanding leadership, emphasizing the importance of humility, compassion, and the ultimate partnership between individuals and God in the pursuit of shared goals.

In “Biblical Theological Awareness and Canonical Consciousness in the Book of Psalms,” Jian Jeffrey Wu writes about the theological motifs and canonical consciousness present in the Book of Psalms, highlighting the awareness of its writers regarding other Hebrew scriptures. It emphasizes the importance of understanding the theological themes within the Psalms and their connections with other biblical texts. The paper also discusses the implications of this canonical approach for teaching and preaching, focusing on Psalm 122 as an example. It showcases how awareness of related themes across the Psalms and other biblical books can enhance interpretation and application in teaching and preaching. {97}

Kurt McDonald’s article “Online and Hybrid Pedagogy Practices” highlights significant changes within education triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some educational institutions were better prepared for this transition, with advanced online practices like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) improving the virtual learning experience. In Christian higher education, the focus on servant teaching remains crucial, and McDonald ably demonstrates that new online technologies can help foster community, encourage engagement, and facilitate outreach to distant, often disadvantaged students.

In “Emulating Jesus in the Classroom,” Sarah Tham discusses what Christian educators can learn from the teachings and actions of Jesus. The core message is that Christian education goes beyond a profession; it is a calling that involves integrating faith, hope, and love into teaching. The article emphasizes emulating Jesus’s compassion, his authoritative voice, integrity in living what he preached, encouragement of critical thinking, attentiveness to students, and prayer life. These principles guide Christian educators in their mission to provide a transformative educational experience while upholding Christian values and character.

Dealing less directly with Christian education, Jon Olson’s “Can Christians Who Disagree about Homosexuality Still Get Along?” addresses an issue many churches, including Mennonite Brethren, will soon be facing (if they are not already)—how to keep Christians who take opposite sides on the gay marriage question from tearing a church apart. Can those with opposing viewpoints still work together to achieve other important goals? Olson thinks so. He finds support in the inclusivist approach of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, a prominent Jewish leader who faced the problem of Jewish disunity in England. Olson demonstrates that the renewing of our minds (which Christian education aims at) can be supported by unexpected sources outside the borders of the Christian church.

Lastly, Ryan Lee’s Ministry Compass piece examines two short parables in Matthew 13—the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price—and invites us to consider whether the lessons most commonly drawn from them are the only valid ones. Lee demonstrates that Scripture is sometimes creatively ambiguous, which opens the possibility of finding new truths that feed our desire for deeper knowledge of God.

I extend my heartfelt thanks to the contributors who have shared their insights, experiences, and wisdom, contributing to the tapestry of thought within these pages. As you read these reflections, may you be reminded that pursuing knowledge is not an end but a means to serve better and love one another. And may your commitment to education reflect a commitment to living out the teachings of Christ, which extends {98} beyond textbooks to shape character, nurture compassion, and foster a lifelong love for learning.

Wishing you a season of reflection, joy, and renewed commitment,

Sarah Tham
Assistant Professor of Education
Tabor College, Hillsboro, KS

From the General Editor

Paul Doerksen took on the role of Direction’s book review editor in 2009. Now, fourteen years later, he has elected to resign. During his tenure he procured over 140 book reviews for us, reviews of books on all manner of topics but mostly on subjects related to Scripture, theology, and church history. Appearances to the contrary, being a book review editor is not a light duty. For every successful invitation to a potential writer, there are two or three unsuccessful ones. A promise to write a review is no guarantee of a completed review. A completed review is not necessarily a well-written review. There is almost always editing to do, reminders of lapsed due dates to be issued; begging and pleading have been known to be necessary. And I am so grateful that Paul has been up to the task. Aside from making my job easier, his service has significantly enhanced the journal and benefitted everyone who looked at a Direction book review in the last fourteen years. Thank you, Paul, for your devoted service! You’ve earned some rest. God bless you as you look for edifying ways to spend the abundance of free time you will now have at your disposal.

Vic Froese