Educational Theory 54 (4):345-364 (2004)

Educational theorists should engage more deeply with normative religious traditions because people often consult their traditions for guidance about education. Projects that work within such traditions, however, often seem irrelevant or irrational to those on the outside. In contrast, I argue that there are at least three intellectually respectable approaches to religious engagement in mainstream educational theory. I focus on what I call the “educational religious criticism” approach, and, as an example, I offer an analysis of Joseph Smith, Jr., the Mormon prophet. I discuss the controversial question of whether Joseph Smith brings forward any resources for living in a pluralistic society. I draw a parallel between Mormonism and American pragmatism and show that Joseph's thought is, in many ways, radically pluralistic, that he attempts to find unity in this plurality in mediating “deliberative councils,” and that education should be aimed at developing the ethos of council. After developing this example, I offer some reflections on the function of “religious criticism” in educational theory
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DOI 10.1111/j.0013-2004.2004.00024.x
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