Communicating Faith

Communicating Faith

EDITED BY JOHN SULLIVAN
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 405
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt285143
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  • Book Info
    Communicating Faith
    Book Description:

    This book enriches appreciation of the many ways that Christian faith is communicated. It casts light on the sensitivities, skills, and qualities necessary for the effective communication of faith, where justice is done both to the "seed" to be sown and to the "soil" being cultivated.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1922-6
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xxvi)
    John Sullivan

    As the Benedictus for January 26, the day that I write this, the morning prayer of the church offers the following words: “Proclaim the Gospel, insist on it in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, do all with patience and in a manner that will teach men.” In order to carry out this demanding instruction, Christians need knowledge and understanding of holy scripture and of their faith, as well as commitment, dedication, and perseverance to the twin (and integrally linked) tasks of living it out and communicating it to others. They also need to be constantly nourished...

  5. Part 1. The Grammar of Faith
    • [PART 1 Introduction]
      (pp. 1-2)

      These two chapters bring out the breadth of the task of communicating Christian faith. They imply that a multidimensional approach is required to do justice to the nature of human beings. They also provide typologies or templates against which other, more specific accounts of communicating faith in particular settings, described in later chapters in this book, might be considered, lest such approaches lean toward one-sidedness or incompleteness in emphasis. In each case, we find that communicating faith has cognitive, affective, and behavioral components, all of which require attention. In both of the chapters in Part 1, communicating faith is envisaged...

    • 1 From Formation to the Frontiers: The Dialectic of Christian Education
      (pp. 3-15)
      John Sullivan

      Christian education requires two major movements, if it is to develop healthily, if it is to remain Christian, and if it is to be really educational. The first of these movements is formation. The second is what I shall call “work at the frontiers.” There is an order of precedence, both logically and chronologically. Formation has priority, but work at the margins is also necessary. Furthermore, formation does not have to be completed before work at the margins begins; indeed, the first cannot be completed without attention being given to the second.

      My claim is that both movements are necessary....

    • 2 Forms of Faith and Forms of Communication
      (pp. 16-30)
      Jeff Astley

      A piece of advice to examinees that may still circulate in those places where people sit written, unseen examinations, is to begin by questioning the question. If this focuses the student’s mind on what it is that he or she is really being asked to do, the advice is obviously sound. But I have read scripts where it has been taken to its illogical—and imprudent—conclusion, resulting in a lengthy analysis of the range of possible meanings of the question, and the intentions of its author, that leaves the frustrated examiner shouting, “Get on with it.”

      I hope this...

  6. Part 2. Baselines
    • [PART 2 Introduction]
      (pp. 31-34)

      In the chapters of Part 2 there is scope for greater flexibility, intimacy, and attention to individuality in communicating faith than in some of the other settings explored later on in this book. In the home and in the parish the quality of the way of life shared and the tone of voice adopted will be much more important than the content of what is conveyed, although this is a matter of degree rather than a radical difference, because these things will also exert a great deal of influence in other settings, too.

      Watkins reminds us that parenthood and family...

    • 3 Communicating Faith in the Home: The Pedagogical Vocation of the Christian Household in Late Modern Society
      (pp. 35-49)
      Clare Watkins

      There is, for many a parent, something rather chilling about being reminded of the ways in which our post-Freudian culture recognizes the complex manner in which we are formed by childhood. The Catholic psychiatrist Jack Dominian has developed a whole scheme for understanding marriage and adult relationship, based on what we know of childhood development; we need, he suggests, to be ever mindful of those first intimacies of childhood, if we are to work well with relationships of the “second intimacy.”¹ Such wisdom makes me uneasily aware of how my own actions, inactions, and just plain temperament as a mother...

    • 4 Communicating Faith in the Parish: Maintaining a Presence, Care, and Mission
      (pp. 50-65)
      Atli Jónsson

      The parish is a privileged location for communicating faith. Busy with keeping long-standing activities alive, it needs to step back and reflect on the limits and opportunities it has for making the faith that sustains us known in this familiar setting.

      For the purpose of this chapter, four presuppositions are made about how the parish is perceived and about its nature. First, the experience most people have of the church is in their parish, and the two, church and parish, are virtually synonymous. As they refer to church they intend mostly what they themselves have experienced in the parish, the...

    • 5 Sacramental Preparation: Uneasy Partnership
      (pp. 66-80)
      Peter McGrail

      Most education goes on quietly and out of the general gaze; while its contours may be fiercely disputed among practitioners, for the main part it occupies a relatively low profile in public discourse at the local level. However, within the Roman Catholic (henceforth, “Catholic”) community, there is one dimension of specifically religious education that of its nature annually breaks onto the highly public liturgical stage and has been and continues to be a source of concern, debate, and, at the local level, even of conflict. This dimension is the preparation of children for the sacraments—specifically first confession, First Communion,...

    • 6 Burning Hearts: Scripture and Adult Faith Formation
      (pp. 81-96)
      Stephen J. McKinney

      This chapter will examine how faith is communicated through adult education within the Catholic tradition and, specifically, using a case study, in a scripture study group held in St. Dominic’s parish in the Archdiocese of Glasgow, Scotland. This chapter will begin with a brief overview of the approaches to adult faith formation within the Catholic Church in Scotland and, in particular, in the Archdiocese of Glasgow. The origins and history of St. Dominic’s scripture study group will be explored in some detail, and there will be a concise personal profile of each of the members of this group. The next...

  7. Part 3. The School Context
    • [PART 3 Introduction]
      (pp. 97-100)

      In many countries the churches have made a major investment in schools as a key institution for witnessing to and communicating their faith. In the UK context, Anglican and Catholic church-state relations differ significantly. This influences how Catholic schools perceive their roles and how these schools are perceived by others outside that church. Sullivan articulates how a Catholic worldview has implications for educational practice. Traditionally, Catholic schools have given high priority to conveying Catholic tradition to the next generation. This is a process that requires attention be given to the universal and enduring features of that tradition. These are outlined...

    • 7 Text and Context: Mediating the Mission in Catholic Schools
      (pp. 101-116)
      John Sullivan

      The tasks of teachers in Catholic schools are many. They have to attract the interest of their pupils in what they think is important. Then they invite pupils to go beyond attention and to be ready to participate. By witnessing to and modeling how the various aspects of the curriculum can make a difference in our lives, teachers should challenge pupils to grow, learn new skills, deploy new concepts, become informed by new knowledge, adopt new attitudes, take on new stances, and act motivated by new values. By listening to, sharing with, and supporting pupils, teachers encourage them to adopt,...

    • 8 The Challenges of Postmodernity
      (pp. 117-131)
      Ralph Gower

      “I’m postmodern; I live in a postmodern age.” So speaks many a person who is familiar with the term, normally meaning very modern, up-to-date, or simply “With it.” What the term actually means depends on the context. It can mean “very modern” when applied to science, because in this context, to be very modern means holding the very modern belief that science has let us down. Such a view claims that instead of the simple explanations and basic principles we were promised, scientists are finding that the world is complex. Discoveries that were made for good (such as nuclear fission...

    • 9 Communicating Faith through Religious Education
      (pp. 132-148)
      Stephen J. McKinney

      This chapter aims to look at how faith can be communicated through religious education within the specific context of Catholic schools in Scotland. This will be achieved by a critical review and reflection of the history of religious education within the post-Vatican II era and through the application of insights gained from a series of extended expert interviews with Bill Horton, recently retired advisor of religious education for secondary schools in the Archdiocese of Glasgow. The interviews provided a wealth of background information and fascinating insights into the development of religious education in the Scottish Catholic secondary schools. Bill’s personal...

    • 10 Leadership and Transmission: Empowering Witnesses—An Ignatian Perspective
      (pp. 149-164)
      Michael Edwards

      A few years ago I was asked to speak to a group of committed Catholics about young people, the faith, and Catholic secondary schools. The premise of their conversation was as follows: the primary purpose of Catholic education is faith formation; fewer and fewer young people attend Mass on Sundays; therefore, Catholic education is a failure!

      I was at pains to point out that, from my experience, the longing for a sense of the spiritual and faith identity among our young people is strong. Our schools are doing some excellent work in spiritual and faith formation for young people, and,...

    • 11 Questioning for Faith Commitment
      (pp. 165-180)
      Raymond Topley

      The goal of Christian religious education is Christian discipleship. The basis for this claim is to be found toward the close of St. Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus directs his followers to go and make disciples, teaching them to observe all that he has commanded them (Mt 28:19). The church has no option than to do likewise. This raises the question as to the nature of Christian discipleship. A scanning of the tradition from the time of Christ to the present leaves one in no doubt that there are two distinct, yet related, elements that contribute to discipleship. One is hearing...

  8. Part 4. Higher Education
    • [PART 4 Introduction]
      (pp. 181-184)

      The following three chapters focus on the university as a setting for communicating faith (and for communicating about faith). Two concentrate on pedagogical considerations, while one advocates a particular line on the complex and contested relations between theology and religious studies.

      In “Plasticity, Piety, and Polemics,” Sullivan suggests three desirable qualities or features of teaching that seek, respectively, to highlight and hold together three different priorities. First, there is the task of reaching out to students and inviting them into active engagement with the material of study. Second, there is the responsibility that teachers have of adequately representing the religious...

    • 12 Plasticity, Piety, and Polemics: Communicating a Faith Tradition in Higher Education
      (pp. 185-198)
      John Sullivan

      In this chapter I bring out the tensions that underlie three tasks that are too often treated in isolation from one another, but which I believe should be held together as regulating parts of the teacher’s intentions. These tasks should be considered as intimately connected and mutually qualifying aspects of effective religious teaching in an academic setting. The first task is that of adapting to the needs of students, here called “plasticity.” The second task is that of displaying the virtues required, epistemologically as well as morally, by the religious tradition, here called “piety.” The third task, described here as...

    • 13 Thick and Thin: Personal and Communal Dimensions of Communicating Faith
      (pp. 199-213)
      Frederick D. Aquino

      As Maximus the Confessor once said, “We who plague people with words are many nowadays, while those who teach or are taught by actions are few.”¹ This observation captures a profound disconnect between words and actions in our contemporary learning environments. However, the problem runs deeper, stemming from a persistent concern over how to handle intellectual challenges, conceptual differences, varied kinds of cognitive dissonance, and wide-ranging forms of epistemic anxiety. By now, most of us have tried different epistemic proposals to heal the intellectual wounds of our past. Yet we continue to participate in and feel the impact of a...

    • 14 Windows into Faith: Theology and Religious Studies at the University
      (pp. 214-228)
      Gavin D’Costa

      In examining course offerings in theology and religious studies at the university, we need to focus on the terms, assumptions, and historical contexts in which our questions are raised. In writing as a Roman Catholic I define theology as an ecclesial activity. By this I mean that theology is faith seeking understanding, and faith takes place in a communitarian context that is accountable to the Bible, tradition(s), the magisterium, the theological community, and the people of God.¹ This leads to a tension between the teaching of theology in a secular university and the self-definition of many secular universities, which hold...

  9. Part 5. International Perspectives
    • [PART 5 Introduction]
      (pp. 229-232)

      In the missionary nature of the church, witness remains central. As a vicar general of a religious congregation, Frances Orchard was asked to focus on religious congregations as major agencies deeply engaged in communicating faith. Such religious carry out their work across many countries and in deeply contrasting situations. This means that the triple task of understanding, living out, and sharing their charism will require modification and adjustment in order to take account of these diverse contexts. Constancy and flexibility, continuity and change, fidelity and adaptation are always at play as efforts are made to relate charism and context in...

    • 15 Charism and Context
      (pp. 233-247)
      Frances Orchard

      Communicating faith, as stated in the 1990 encyclical letter Redemptoris Missio, requires a diversity of activities arising from the variety of circumstances in which that mission is carried out. First, there is the mission Ad Gentes, where “missionary activity addresses peoples, groups and socio-cultural contexts in which Christ and the Gospel is not known.”¹ Secondly there are established Christian communities, fervent in their faith, where the church is active in pastoral care. Thirdly, there are societies with ancient Christian roots that have lost a sense of living the faith and where a “new evangelization” is needed. Communicating faith is therefore...

    • 16 Communicating Faith in Africa: Yesterday and Today
      (pp. 248-260)
      Victorine Mansanga

      This is how Jesus passed on to his disciples the mission he has received from his Father: he asked them to carry forth the mission to the end of the world. From these verses it is clear that Jesus entrusts his disciples with a mission and that this mission is fourfold: to go all over the world, to make disciples, to baptize them, and to teach them the good news. Guided by the Holy Spirit, the apostles accomplished faithfully their mission.¹ They organized the church, and “by their oral preaching, by example, and by ordinances”² they entrusted to the bishops...

    • 17 Communicating Faith in Ireland: From Commitment through Questioning to New Beginnings
      (pp. 261-276)
      Gareth Byrne

      Faith in Jesus Christ is never easy. Modern Western culture in particular seems to encounter faith in Jesus Christ as especially difficult. . . . Faith in Jesus Christ is not just a matter of the formulae of doctrine, but of a community which encounters Jesus Christ as a real person, a real person who reveals to us in his life and mission that God is love.

      Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, “Second Sunday

      of Easter 2007: Dedication of New Altar, St. Gabriel’s Church

      Dollymount,” Dublin, April 15, 2007

      Communicating Christian faith, within the particular context that is Ireland today,...

    • 18 Communicating the Catholic Faith in the United States
      (pp. 277-292)
      Merylann J. Schuttloffel

      When I read John Sullivan’s summary of his personal and professional faith experiences (see Chapter 22), I find that they mirror my own as an educator of faith, in the home (as a parent), in schools (as a teacher and principal), at the university (as a professor), in the church community (as a parishioner in various religious education roles), and through my work as presenter or facilitator of in-service training and formation for Catholic educational leaders. These life experiences influence my views on the practice of communication as it relates to religious education. In this text, religious education is considered...

    • 19 Communicating Faith in Contemporary Europe: Dealing with Language Problems In and Outside the Church
      (pp. 293-308)
      Lieven Boeve

      Communicating the faith seems to have become more difficult than ever in Europe. From an age-old overall Christian continent, Europe recently seems to have entered a post-Christian era. Discussion about the Christian roots and character of Europe at least reveals that the role of Christianity on the old continent is no longer taken for granted. This has even led the present supreme pontiff, Benedict XVI, profiling himself as a pope-for-Europe, to strongly advocate for the intrinsic link between Christianity and Europe, against what he describes as the reigning secularist and relativist Enlightenment culture.¹ The ideological discussions on the Christian heritage...

  10. Part 6. Aspects of Communication
    • [PART 6 Introduction]
      (pp. 309-312)

      Part5 ended with Boeve showing the challenges posed to faith communicators by features of contemporary culture. Part 6, while not forgetting these challenges, looks favorably on the promising opportunities opened up by close engagement with aspects of culture, with particular reference to art, literature, and film and the rapidly developing scene of online learning. However, despite the need for positive engagement with culture, in the final two essays Sullivan emphasizes the inescapable and principal medium of communication of faith, whether ad extra, in the public domain, or ad intra, within the church—that is, the person of the communicator of...

    • 20 “The Attempt Was All”: The Endeavor of Aesthetics in the Communication of Faith
      (pp. 313-327)
      David Torevell

      In this chapter I outline how the novel Atonement, by Ian McEwan, and its film adaptation offer important ideas about the expression and communication of faith through aesthetic means.¹ I take “faith” here to mean the ongoing desire and disposition to live according to Christian values, especially those expressed through the life and ministry of Christ. The word “atonement,” chosen here as the single word title of the book and film, can be traced back to 1526, when the biblical scholar William Tyndale sought to translate the Latin term reconciliatio into English. Originally the noun “atonement,” or at one-ment, implied...

    • 21 Communicating Faith and Online Learning
      (pp. 328-343)
      Ros Stuart-Buttle

      This chapter focuses on communicating faith through online learning. It reflects my experience as both a practitioner and researcher of online adult religious education across varied programs, including undergraduate theology and religious studies, adult faith formation in the community, and initial and ongoing formation for lay, diaconal, and priestly ministries. My experience lies mainly within the Roman Catholic sector, but it is hoped that the wider Christian educative community will also find something of interest and value.

      The chapter hopes to add voice to an emerging discussion about online learning technologies and lifelong education in Christian faith. It is not...

    • 22 Education and Religious Faith as a Dance
      (pp. 344-358)
      John Sullivan

      How are we to understand the relationship between religious faith and education? What are the dynamics at work in the process of educating people in matters of faith? What are the key factors that ensure that this process is educational? In addressing these three questions I make certain assumptions.

      First, I assume there is a multiplicity of legitimate ways that one might understand the relationship between religious faith and education. My contribution here can offer, at best, merely a modest proposal of one potentially fruitful way to envisage this relationship: namely, the metaphor of dance. I do not claim that...

    • 23 Communicating Faith and Relating in Love
      (pp. 359-368)
      John Sullivan

      Through communication people express emotions and needs, establish identity, build community, exchange goods, construct a range of social structures, embark on projects, and transmit values. Through communication they also seek meaning, interpret behavior, celebrate key moments, and reach out to others. These all entail some form of sharing and connection. Communication is not so much about information; more importantly it is about meaning and the exercise of our human capacities. Meaning requires an addressee—someone the meaning is intended for —as well as the one (or the community) who addresses, the source or “from-which” of meaning. We should see communication...

  11. Works Cited
    (pp. 369-392)
  12. Contributors
    (pp. 393-394)
  13. Index
    (pp. 395-405)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 406-406)