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I begin with four qualifying comments:
- The great fact for so-called "mainline" Protestantism in the United States is the deprivileging of the church as a result of pluralism and secularism. This deprivileging constitutes a threat to business as usual, but also provides an opportunity for fresh articulation of the peculiar missional identity of the church.
- I will line out my argument in terms of the Old Testament; it will, however, require very little imagination to transpose my argument into the more familiar categories of New Testament faith.
- The context of church education in the United States is in the midst of the scripting of technological, consumer militarism, a script that is powerfully seductive but that is, I suggest, manifestly a failure in its capacity to deliver either happiness or security or both.
- Baptismal identity as a genuine alternative to that failed scripting is the task of church education, an identity that is rooted in deep gospel claims and manifested and exhibited in an alternative life in the world.
Thesis: The Bible, the tradition, and the long history of church practice constitute a peculiar, distinctive, clear but flexible script according to which life in the world may be lived out differently. This scripting of life as a counterscripting is the primal task of education; that work does not guarantee but it makes possible an alternative performance of human life in the world, a performance that requires precisely the kind of imagination, courage, energy, and freedom for which this script vouches in peculiar ways.
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