1. ‘The Pedagogy of God’ in Contemporary CatholicCatechetical Documents
In this opening section, we examine what the Church, in her recent documents oncatechesis, understands by the notion of ‘the pedagogy of God’, and what therelationship of this pedagogy is to the discipline of catechesis. We argue that a closeexamination of the Congregation for the Clergy’s
General Directory for Catechesis
(1997) and of John Paul II’s
(1979), in particular, enables us tosee that this pedagogy provides a particularly helpful means of identifying andspecifying the distinctive subject discipline of catechesis through offering a set of universally-valid principles which provide necessary foundations for thecommunication of Revelation (i.e. for catechesis).
In the following two sections, we will then be identifying the central features of this pedagogy, tracing some aspects of the scriptural roots of the concept and its patristicdevelopment, and seeing how an understanding of the concept is enlightened byappreciating some features of ancient educational practice.
The General Directory for Catechesis
The notion of ‘the pedagogy of God’ lies at the centre of one of the most recentdocuments on catechesis published by the Congregation for the Clergy, the
General Directory for Catechesis
(1997). It is a concept also found in the earlier
, published in 1971, shortly after the Second Vatican Council;in John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation
(1979), and in the
Catechism of the Catholic Church
(1992 and 1997). While the term ‘the pedagogy of God’ has been emerging more and more strongly within the Church’s catecheticalliterature, it is not itself a termwhich has a strong, or obvious, history of use withinCatholic writings on education,
and it is therefore intriguing to examine this
The need for a lens to assist us in identifying, and focusing upon, catechesis as a specific discipline isillustrated by Kevane in his discussion of interpretations of, and commentaries on, Augustine’s
De Doctrina Christiana
. He notes that despite a substantial portion of Augustine’s text being devoted tothe topic of teaching and learning, the educational dimension of the text is often neglected, and it isseen either as a manual of scriptural hermeneutics or else a book on homiletics. ‘St Augustine’s contactwith the field of education can fall almost completely out of sight’. (E.Kevane,
Augustine the Educator: A Study in the Fundamentals of Christian Formation.
Westminster: The Newman Press1964, p.136, and see the discussion on pp.134-139).
Thomas Groome, for example, discussing the
’s new emphasis on the pedagogy of God,describes it as a ‘rather amazing proposal’ that the concept of the pedagogy of God should function asthe source and model of the pedagogy of faith (‘Total Catechesis/Religious Education: A Vision for Now and Always’, in T.Groome and H.D.Dorrell,
Hopes and Horizons,
p.26). The term as such doesnot appear in a number of the other magisterium writings on catechesis and education to have appearedsince the Second Vatican Council. It is not used in the Council’s document on education,
(1965), or in the
Rite of Christian Initiation
(1972), the republication of which re-established the concept of the adult catechumenate at the heart of developments in catechesis, or in theInternational Council for Catechesis’ document,
Adult Catechesis in the Christian Community