Christian Education

Christian education has been a recognised discipline in the USA for many years. These articles date from the time I was familiarising himself with this field, prior to developing the approach he pioneered in his thesis. The latest article, dealing with James Fowler’s theory of faith development, was written much later, and brings together extensive work over several years.

Faith development theory: a case for paradigm change

James Fowler’s theory became extremely influential following the publication of Stage of Faith in 1981. But the outstanding theoretical and empirical problems with the theory have never been convincingly dealt with, and the advent of postmodernity places further question-marks against it. Widely referenced, this article outlines the problems and suggests possible alternatives.

Author posting: This is the author’s version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Taylor and Francis for personal use and not redistribution. The definitive version was published in the Journal of Beliefs and Values, vol 29, issue 3, 2008.

Theology or Social Science

With the increasing popularity of practical theology, it is becoming more and more common for theologians to draw on the insights of the disciplines of the social sciences. But how do theology and social science cohere? In this article I address this question in the context of the controversy in Christian education over the proper theoretical framework for the discipline. Originally written in 1984, it has been slightly edited and updated. The original version was included in The Contours of Christian Education, edited by Jeff Astley and David Day, Gracewing, 1992.

John Westerhoff and the faith community model of Christian education

John H. Westerhoff III was one of the most influential writers on Christian education in the United States in the twentieth century. This article from the British Journal of Religious Education for 1988 reviews his key ideas and offers a critique.