by James Riley Estep, Jr. and Jonathan H. Kim
Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” (1949) poses the dilemma of a traveler confronted with two paths—one frequently traveled and the other less but more “longing for wear.” He pens, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood: And sorry I could not travel both: And be one traveler, long I stood.” The only resolution Frost provides is: “I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” Christian educators, as well as many others in the practical ministries field, face the same dilemma.
The Christian educator is caught between two roads: the theological and the theoretical. The theology road is traveled frequently by theologians and by all those professing Christian faith, while the theory road is congested with those participating in the scientific community—in this instance, those who engage in the social sciences. But must we choose? Is there not a new path—a third way—to travel through the woods?
Christian Formation: Integrating Theology and Human Development deals with the interrelationship of theology and psychology by making available an integrated framework of spiritual formation to be used in both academic and church contexts. It explores how the interpretation of development theories intersects with the theology of anthropology and sanctification.
The purpose of the book is threefold:
1. to survey pertinent biblical data and theological perspectives of the Christian doctrine of humanity as they relate to Christian formation;
2. to explore the major theories of human development and learning from a biblical perspective; and
3. to offer a comprehensive overview of Christian spiritual formation and development.
Like the authors of Scripture, we too ask the question, “What is man?” and we respond as did the psalmist:
I praise You,
because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful,
and I know [this] very well.
My bones were not hidden from You
when I was made in secret,
when I was formed in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me when I was formless;
all [my] days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began.
Christian formation is the central tenet of Christian education. As Paul wrote to the church in Colossae, “We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. I labor for this, striving with His strength that works powerfully works in me” (Colossians 1:28-29). Facilitating the process of Christian formation within the believer is the ultimate aim to which Christian educators likewise commit themselves. The Christian educator must travel both roads simultaneously. The integration of theology of the church with the findings of the social sciences into a distinctively Christian perspective on human development theories—as it relates to Christian formation—is the task of this book.