Re: [asa] Teaching religion in state schools

From: Travis Marler <>
Date: Mon Mar 05 2007 - 12:51:23 EST

Bob, you're an inspiration to me. :) What you are doing is exactly the
direction I am moving. Thank you!

Can I ask what university you are teaching at?

I'm working on my Master's in Religious Studies at Missouri State right
now...but I'm looking for a doctoral program in the realm of
Christian/Church history. I was wondering if you might know of any good
programs that would meet my need? I would prefer a state institution, but
would go to a seminary if the program and circumstances were right...(I've
already done the Christian college thing...I would like to be free from that
if possible).

Thanks for the help!


>From: "Robert Schneider" <>
>To: "Randy Isaac" <>, <>
>Subject: Re: [asa] Teaching religion in state schools
>Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2007 11:08:21 -0500
>As someone who teaches NT literature at a state university, in a department
>of philosophy and religion, I can testify to the low religious literacy and
>lack of knowledge of the Bible. And the great majority of my students are
>evangelical Christians, the majority of them Southern Baptists! They tell
>me so at the end of the semester in an essay in which they describe how
>their understanding and appreciation of the NT has changed as a result of
>their learning in the course. Time after time students say something like
>this: "I've been to church all my life, and Sunday school and Bible study,
>and I thought I knew a lot about the Bible, but I found out that I knew
>very little." Their faith, they say, has been enhanced by what they learn
>in the course. Some bring this knowledge and understanding to Bible study
>and inform the other participants in turn. Those of you who know me would
>not be surprised to hear me say that I do not proselytize. I teach, and in
>simply taking them through a close reading of the texts, I open their eyes
>to its riches.
>While most of them display considerable ignorance of the Bible (I quote
>from memory OT passages and they give me blank stares), all of them have
>empty minds when it comes to any theological concept beyond "Jesus died for
>my sins." I have to teach them the doctrine of the Incarnation, because
>what so many of them learn amounts to a Gnostic view of Jesus, or they hold
>the heresy of Apollinarius of Laodicea. I have so many "teachable moments"
>in the course that I can't begin to count them.
>I am very concerned that we have reach a point in our culture where basic
>knowledge of the Bible and Christian doctrine is slipping away even among
>Christians. I think we already have passed that threshold, and that is sad
>for me. That is why I see my work as so important. But despite the
>discouraging moments, I agree entirely with Mark Noll that if those of us
>who teach at secular universities and colleges give the students the Bible
>and show them how to read it intelligently, it can have a profound, life
>changing, effect.
>Bob Schneider
>----- Original Message -----
> From: Randy Isaac
> To:
> Sent: Sunday, March 04, 2007 8:40 PM
> Subject: [asa] Teaching religion in state schools
> Today's Boston Globe ran a story about a book by BU prof Stephen
>Prothero called "Religious Illiteracy"
> He shows how little Americans know about the Bible and Christian faith
>and argues that the school system should teach religion, in a
>non-devotional sense. The article ends with this paragraph:
> "And it's not only church-state watchdogs and atheists who are skeptical
>about whether teachers can pull off the non-devotional tightrope walk. "My
>own sense," says Mark Noll, an acclaimed historian at Notre Dame who is an
>evangelical Christian, "is that the Bible is a pretty explosive book. If
>students read it carefully, they'd be changed in a way that public schools
>couldn't handle -- and appropriately so."
> We seem to have both low scientific literacy and low religious literacy
>in this country, if his statistics are right. No wonder we're having
>trouble communication the integration of the two.
> In the same issue (it's rare enough for the Globe to have one good
>article, but two in one day??) Jeff Jacoby argues for the separation of
>school and state.
>Now that would put science education in an very different situation! No
>more court cases. But the battles wouldn't cease, I'm sure.
> And completing an even more rare hat trick, the Globe ran this piece on
>the new book "The Human Touch" by Michael Frayn.
>You may recall his play "Copenhagen." One paragraph in this article is:
> "All this said, there are moments when the artist breaks free. We get a
>lovely claim for fiction rather than fact as our paradigm. Would Darwin's
>evolution have produced its revolution in our sense of the world, without
>Genesis to precede it? And, this amiably shrewd unbeliever writes: "We have
>to know that God made man before we can understand that man made God.""
> Randy

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Received on Mon Mar 5 12:52:01 2007

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