Christian Education
: Exploring a New Perspective

  • Ruth Wills

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis explores a new perspective for Christian education. Written in the light of two contrasting paradigms within contemporary practice, the thesis philosophically critiques notions such as relation and learning, before proposing new ideas that pertain to learning asSpirit for an authentic and continued life of faith.

The Literature Review outlines the theological and philosophical inspirations for each paradigm. Critique highlights how scholars and practitioners posit paradigms against each other, resulting in dualism; the illusion of dualism is therefore considered, as is the inadequacy of any idea presented as ‘in-itself.’ Examples of how this dualism might be overcome are presented, before highlighting the need for a revised idea of relation.

In Chapter One, the role of the learner is considered. Heideggerian philosophy provides the framework for this consideration. Exploring Heidegger’s concept of Being, it is identified how in this position, the learner and learning are one. The implication of this for Christian education is critically noted and the need for a newperspective is highlighted. Chapter Two considers further the idea of relation, and in the light of Hegelian philosophy, a dialectical relation of self and other is investigated. This is continued in Chapter Three, which in the light of three texts by Kierkegaard, begins to consider relation not only as either/or but as a broken triune shape.

Drawing on the idea of the triune shape, identified as the relation of relations, Chapters Four and Five explore further how the relations of the teacher and learner, as well as learning and the learner, might be revisited for authentic learning and faith. The notion of learning as a movement is also considered and critiqued. Furthermore, using Kierkegaardian literature to underpin the argument, the discussion considers the moment of breakthrough that establishes the triune shape, and highlights its significance for education.The final two chapters explore two pedagogical movements: Bildung and Repetition. After exploring both these concepts, the thesis identifies how their relation might provide a new perspective for Christian education. Therefore, the concept ‘Bildung as repetition’ is proposed. In conclusion, the thesis identifies the Biblical Parable as an example of the breakthrough of the Absolute into the life of the learner, and suggests how ‘Bildung as repetition’ might contribute to authentic learning for a life of faith.
Date of Award5 May 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Winchester
SupervisorMarie Morgan (Supervisor) & Stephanie Spencer (Supervisor)


  • Education
  • Spirituality
  • Philosophy
  • Relation
  • Bildung
  • Repetition

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