Tradition and Discovery: The Polanyi Society Periodical

Volume 23, Issue 2, 1996/1997

Aaron Milavec
Pages 15-36

Religious Pedagogy From Tender to Twilight Years
Parenting, Mentoring, and Pioneering Discoveries by Religious Masters as Viewed from within Polanyi’s Sociology and Epistemology of Science

Polanyi broke through the notion that science has a distinct methodology and epistemology which sets it apart from the other cultural disciplines (law, medicine, music). When it came time to address the issues of how Christianity functions, however, Polanyi unfortunately lapsed into romantic notions based upon his own ill-informed and marginal participation in the religious enterprise. By way of addressing this deficiency, my study puts forward seven theses designed to demonstrate that everything which Polanyi put forward regarding the transmission of a scientific heritage through a successive series of apprenticeships can be seen as functioning within the religious enterprise as well. Then, when it comes to the role of masters in pursuing lines of inquiry which sometimes lead to self-transforming acts of discovery, such feats can be understood as defining the function of creative theologians and pastors who both exhibit and transform the tradition in which they dwell. In conclusion, my inquiry will attempt to show that, when Polanyi’s own inadequate assessment of religion is set aside, one comes to a proper understanding as to how religious pedagogy actually functions within the Christian enterprise.