Previous | Next

January 1972 · Vol. 1 No. 1 · pp. 38–39 

Book Review

Creative Bible Teaching

Lawrence O. Richards. Chicago, IL: Moody, 1970. 288 pages.

Reviewed by George G. Konrad

A basic concern faced by every Christian educator and pastor is raised in Creative Bible Teaching: “Why doesn’t the Bible, taught as the words of God communicating truth from God, have greater effect in our churches? Why do we have that contradiction, sinning saint? Why aren’t believers more dynamic? Why do young people rebel against the truth? Why doesn’t the Bible, taught as the truth it is, consistently transform?”

Lawrence O. Richards is well qualified by experience and training to write in the area of Christian education. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Michigan and Th.M. in Christian Education from Dallas Theological Seminary and is currently working on his Ph.D. at Garret Seminary, Northwestern University. (His series of “Youth Asks” include Are You For Real?, How Far Can I Go?, Is God Necessary?, and What’s In It For Me? His new book, A New Face For the Church raises and answers many questions concerning church renewal.)

In seeking to determine an answer to the question of ineffective Bible teaching, Mr. Richards begins at the right place—the nature of the Bible. Contemporary Christian educators have found the reason for the ineffectiveness of Christian education in the literalistic approach to the Bible of conservative, evangelical churches. In the first section of the book the author succinctly and clearly outlines the contemporary view of the Scripture and its implications for Christian education. He follows this with an explication of a conservative view of the Bible. His conclusion, as would be expected, is that the Bible must be interpreted literally and the fault of the “failure of the information to transform must lie somewhere other than a literal interpretation.” (p. 50)

The answer lies in poor teaching. God presents true information about Himself in the Bible. In addition, “God Himself confronts us in His truth” (p. 56). Each confrontation with God demands a response. When teachers understand the sequence of {39} truth–confrontation–response as they ought, teaching will again become effective.

How “creative Bible teaching” can be implemented is the subject of the second section. Creative teaching is defined as “consciously and effectively focusing on activities that raise the student’s learning level.” This definition does not do justice to the specificity and practicality of creative Bible teaching as outlined in the book. The four main features identified in the teaching process are: 1) hook—a technique to break your students into the Word of Life; 2) book—helping the students to understand the Biblical information; 3) look—moving to implication and application; 4) took—calling forth the required response.

In part three, “Guidelines to Creative Teaching,” the author systematically sets out to apply the principles of creative Bible teaching to children, youth, and adults. In two major sections he outlines in detail methods and procedures to accomplish creativity in the classroom.

There is little doubt that this book by Mr. Richards will be used widely as a text in educational methodology. Its strength lies in the fact that it carefully seeks to establish a theological base upon which to construct a methodology. This he does by reaffirming the conservative view of Scriptures. The extremely practically guidelines will find valuable assistance in preparing lessons for their students. No age group has been omitted.

In true conservative fashion Mr. Richards has oversimplified some of the issues. Others have been ignored altogether. It is surprising that with the careful analysis of the contemporary approach to Christian education and the major rejection of a symbolic interpretation of the Biblical materials, that the whole question of language as symbol was not raised. This makes many of the deductions suspect from a broader perspective. Perhaps the weakest part of the book is in the attempt to apply the developed principles of hermeneutics to the pre-school classroom situation. The author is educationally still on rather tenuous grounds when he insists on the conceptualizing ability of pre-school children.

The freshness of Mr. Richard’s approach, the interesting writing style, and the consistent attempt to move from theory to practice will make this book an effective tool in the hands of teachers in the area of Christian education. It comes highly recommended from this desk.

George G. Konrad
Assoc. Professor, Christian Education
M.B. Seminary, Fresno

Previous | Next