Some…thoughts from @ThomRainer on Sunday School @kregelacademic

You can also get this book from Kregel, here.

This is not a review, mind you, just some thoughts on Rainer’s interview with Steve R. Parr, author of the book. It is okay to take things away… You know, if you dislike one statement it doesn’t mean you have to throw away the book.

First, the statement I found to be a bit obnoxious.

“I have found that the less conservative-leaning denominations value Sunday school less because they value the Bible less.” (33)

Nevermind the fact Sunday School was started as a school for children in the factories (1780′s) and not to actually teach “the Bible.” Nevermind the fact that conservative is a subjective word. Nevermind the fact that for 1700 years, there was no Sunday School or that Communions and denominations “more conservative” that the SBC regularly devalue Sunday school. Nah, we just to take a swipe at those who do not value Sunday School… assuming that they somehow devalue “the Bible.” We can suggest, perhaps, Rainer and those who practice bibliolatry are really the liberals here seeing as their high view of “the Bible” is not part of Christian Tradition until recently.

But, if I were to take this statement and throw away the book, I’d miss some of the insight suggested by both Parr and Rainer on pages 30-31. Here, these speak about the “dismantl(ing) of the Sunday school in order to move small groups in the churches…” (Parr, 30). Rainer takes this line and issues some well qualified statements that to devalue one above the other is to hurt both. Sunday school works when it is respected for what it is. The same thing with small groups.

From the start, we have to recognize this book is written by a conservative Southern Baptist for other conservatives. Their value on “the Word of God” as well as Rainer’s swipe against “less conservative leaning denominations” may be off putting, but in reading further, I have found that the problems faced by each other in looking at the Sunday school movement.

We should ask ourselves first “why Sunday school?” There are some really good answers to that.

If you take every book whole you are going to choke. If you dismiss every book whole because you don’t like some of the statements found therein, you will starve.

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Post By Joel Watts (9,934 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, working on the use of Deuteronomy in the Fourth Gospel. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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4 thoughts on Some…thoughts from @ThomRainer on Sunday School @kregelacademic

  1. I would argue that, much like the present jury system, the current church model assumes illiteracy and/or ignorance among the common man and woman. After all, in both regimens, the lay person is expected to obediently sit in order to be informed by experts. Questioning is not permitted.
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    Truth be told, these sit-down-shut-up-listen-to-the-experts schemes have probably run their course because, not only are people beginning to question the status quo, they’re also rejecting it. Support for both God and country is in serious decline in a land where Washington pretends to be omnipotent and omnipresent.
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    Sunday School ran afoul of public opinion when, having abdicated it original purpose to state-sponsored education, it became little more than a propaganda arm of religious sects. Its fate was subsequently sealed as alternative forms of information became available.
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    The nail in the coffin of conservationism resides in its inability to adapt to change. As a result, the rest of the world leaves diehard adherents to the old ways behind as if they were deposed royal families living in that fantasy world more commonly known as Monaco. In today’s secular world, this is exactly what is happening to those grumpy old men that form the core of the dying Republican Party. Despite their collective illusion in the pretentious security of gated communities, it is no longer morning in America.
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    Much the same thing is happening in old-line denominational churches where blue hairs and erectile dysfunctionals congregate weekly as if Dwight Eisenhower were still President, Bill Graham was still God’s man with God’s plan in America, and Dinah Shore is still singing “See the USA in your Chevrolet” on black and white rabbit-ear televisions.

  2. I find one of the hardest ways to be mature while reading (scholarly or not) is to take the good with the bad when the bad is regarding an issue that’s important to me. Thanks for modeling that well :)

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