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Warren S. Benson

By James Riley Estep, Jr.


Dr. Warren S. Benson (August 23, 1929-February 15, 2002) was recognized as a professor, pastor, scholar, and author. He was a devoted member of the Evangelical Free Church in America, but his influence extended far beyond the parameters of his own tradition. His greatest legacy continues not in his publications, but in the lives of his many students.


Early Life and Education

Warren was born into the Christian home of Sten and Evely Benson on August 23, 1929. He was one of three children in the family, with a sister Lois (Gotaas) and a brother, Bruce. Warren was raised in an Evangelical Free Church home, and his loyalty to this tradition was unwavering throughout his life. His early interest in Christian education was undoubtedly sparked by his father's service as a deacon and Sunday school superintendent, and service on several boards including InterVarsity, Christian Businessmen, Gideons, and Youth For Christ.

Benson's academic background was extensive. Following his graduation from Taft High School in Chicago he entered Northwestern College in Roseville, Minnesota, intending to enroll for only one year. While attending Northwestern, he played on the basketball and baseball teams, until a sports injury prevented him from participating. However, after an athletic accident Warren had time to spend in reflection and prayer. He decided to return to Northwestern the next Fall, eventually earning his bachelors in 1952, majoring in psychology with a minor in Christian education. He also met his future wife, Lenore, at Northwestern, who graduated in 1951. His decision to pursue graduate level studies in Christian education was due to a sense of calling, and the influence of Dr. Frances Simpson, a faculty member at Northwestern.

His desire for graduate studies in Christian education eventually led him to earn two masters degrees: a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary (Dallas, Texas) in 1956 and a M.R.E. from Southwestern Baptist Seminary (Ft. Worth, Texas) in 1957. The program at Dallas Theological Seminary emphasized biblical and theological studies, leaving modest opportunity for coursework in Christian education, even though the distinguished professor Dr. Howard Hendricks was on faculty. Southwestern provided greater attention to the study of education within an evangelical theological context.

Benson completed his formal education in 1975, graduating with a Ph.D. from Loyola University (Chicago, Illinois). It was here that he became influenced by Dr. Gerald Gutek, a respected educational philosopher and historian of education. Benson's dissertation topic reflected his love for the study of educational history, "A History of the National Association of Christian Schools during the Period of 1947 to 1972." He also completed course work, but not a degree, at Pasadena College in California.

His preparation for a career in higher education was not merely academic. His endeavors in academic preparation were always coupled with service in the local church and para-church organizations. With twelve years of ministry experience in the area of education, he brought to the classroom both academic and practical insights to his students. He held ministries at Winnetka Bible Church (Illinois) for five years (1957-1962), First Covenant Church (Minnesota) for three years (1962-1965), and Lake Avenue Congregational Church (Pasadena, California) for four years (1965-1969). He also served two years as a camp director at El-Har, owned by the Scofield Memorial Church, while attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Just prior to starting his teaching career at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in 1970, Benson served as a representative for Gospel Light Publications, servicing seventeen states and beginning his Ph.D. studies at Loyola.

His teaching career led him throughout the United States. He began his teaching career at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (1970-1974) in Deerfield, Illinois. While at Trinity, Benson completed the requirements at Loyola for his Ph.D., studying under the distinguished professor of education history Dr. Gerald Gutek, which developed his interest in the history and philosophy of education. It was at Trinity that he developed a collegial relationship with Dr. Kenneth Gangel, with whom he authored perhaps his most recognized contribution to Christian education literature, Christian Education: Its Philosophy and History.

He then served four years as Associate Professor at Dallas Theological Seminary (1974-1978) prior to returning to Trinity in 1978, from which he "retired" in 1999. While at Trinity he held a variety of titles: Vice President of Professional Doctoral Programs, Director of Doctor of Ministry Program, and Professor of Christian Education. Undeniably, for many Trinity students, particularly those in the Doctor of Ministry or Christian education programs, Dr. Benson was TEDS.

Following his "retirement" Dr. Benson continued to actively serve as a professor and scholar. He taught from 1999-2002 at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Louisville, Kentucky), commuting by air from his home Libertyville, Illinois to Louisville once a week. He also served as Research Professor at Talbot School of Theology (La Mirada, California), where he worked on his last work with Dr. Michael Anthony, Exploring the historical and philosophical foundations of Christian Education (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publishers, 2003). Dr. Benson passed away prior to the books completion, but it was completed by Dr. Anthony and dedicated to Dr. Benson.

To limit the career and influence of Dr. Benson to his classroom activities would be a inaccuracy. His ministry and impact on the educational community extended far beyond the classroom. He was a prolific reader, writer, and lecturer, as is evident by the bibliography contained in this biographical sketch. His familiarity and love of books led him to serve as the book review editor for Christian Education Journal. He also served as president of both the North American Professor of Christian Education (NAPCE) in 1986-1988 and the National Association of Director's of Christian Education (NADCE), of which he was a lifelong member of both. Benson provided leadership as a trustee for his alma mater, Northwestern College, a board member of the American Tract Society, and a member of the Association of Professionals and Researchers of Religious Education (APRRE) and on the editorial board of the Religious Education Association (REA). He was also an active member of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) and the Association for Ministry Education (AME). Benson's influence and leadership in the Christian education community was officially recognized in 1994 when he received the Distinguished Educator Award in Christian Education from the North American Professors of Christian Education.

Dr. Benson suffered a severe stroke at his home on Friday, February 1, 2002. Despite the excellent care of physicians and specialists and early improvements to his condition, Dr. Warren Benson circum to the stroke on Friday, February 15. His last word spoken by Dr. Benson was a strong "Amen. Dr. Benson is survived by his wife, Lenore, and his two sons: Dr. Scott Benson of Mariners Church in Irvine, California and Dr. Bruce Benson of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. He is also survived by his two siblings and three grandchildren (Anne, Emile, and Scott).

Bibliographical Sources

  • Anthony, Michael. (2002) "Warren Benson's Home Going." Email. (February 15).
  • (2002) APRRE Newsletter [digital]. March..
  • Benson, Loraine. (2002). Unpublished letter to Dr. Michael Anthony.
  • Benson, Loraine. (2003). Phone conversion, May.
  • (2002). "Dr. Warren S. Benson." Memorial Service. February 21, 2002.
  • Foust, Michael. (2002). "Benson, called 'Model Scholar and Gentleman,' Dead after Stroke." Baptist Press News (February 20).
  • Kim, Hae-Won. (2002). Emails from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Academic Doctoral Office.
  • NAPCE Newsletter. (2002). "In Memorium: Warren Benson." (Winter/Spring)
  • (2001). "Warren S. Benson." Trinity Evangelical Divinity School Catalog.
  • Senter, Mark. (2002). "In Memory of Warren S. Benson." Eulogy. February 21, 2002.

Contributions to Christian Education

Dr. Dennis Williams of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, a longtime friend of Dr. Benson, commented, "Dr. Benson was one the most respected Christian educators in the United States. His contributions, both as a practitioner and scholar, were indeed significant" (Baptist Press News). Benson made his mark upon the Christian education community through a variety of means. His love of books led him to be one of the most prolific reviewers of published materials, particularly for Christian Education Journal. His assessment of educational publications through a theological lens that was distinctively evangelical was invaluable to the subscribers of CEJ and the other journals to which he frequently contributed reviews. (Unexpectedly, it appears that Dr. Benson never wrote an article for a refereed journal, only book reviews. Dozens of reviews and several other writing projects, but no articles.) He co-authored and co-edited several major works, which allowed him to contribute directly, through his own contributions, as well as indirectly, though his editorial work with other contributor's materials.

Another avenue of influence was his deep involvement in the Christian education community. As previously noted, he was a member of every major religious or Christian education association, and was active in their formation, direction, and decision-making. However, perhaps his greatest avenue of influence and leadership was through instruction, especially within the classrooms of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Dallas Theological Seminary, and most recently Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His instructional influence was not limited to the academic institutions in which he served. Dr. Benson shared his expertise and insights in countless congregations, para-church organizations, conventions, seminars, and workshops throughout North America. [Anecdotally, as a student of Dr. Benson's at Trinity between 1994-1999, class members often queried, "Where do you think Warren was this weekend?" discovering he had flown to Los Angeles for a convention, Dallas for a seminar, or Minnesota for a meeting.]

What is the enduring legacy of Warren Benson? What were his lasting contributions to the Christian education community? Without underestimating the significance his major contributions, they can be arranged into three clusters of influence: theological, practical, and personal. Dr. Benson was a theologian-educator, and he desired his students to be the same. His over-riding passion was the insights of biblical-theological perspective on the theory and practice of education in the church. He is perhaps most recognized as an educator who could articulate an evangelical perspective on education in the congregation and higher education institution. This passion was undeniably the result of his strong evangelical convictions merging with an interest in the history and philosophy of education, such as was in his mentor, Dr. Gerald Gutek of Loyola. This is evident in his oftentimes theologically laden critique of books, the content of the essays he contributed to books, and in his classroom presentations and course packets. His academic preparation included the extensive study of Biblical languages, exegesis, history, and theology; more so than the typical educator, uniquely equipping him to present an educational perspective that was distinctly evangelical. This is most evident in his

Christian Education: Its Philosophy and History, co-authored with Kenneth Gangel; however this passion is present in virtually all the works he produced. He was likewise responsible for teaching the foundational courses in history and philosophy of education at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School until his retirement. He frequently asked students to ask pastoral or educational questions of the biblical text, noting that the results may be an exegesis differing from that of the biblical scholar, but quipping that "We're asking a different set of questions." One of his enduring legacies will undeniably be through the volume of material he produced for publication and the classroom.

His next major contribution was to the practice of ministry in the church. Warren demonstrated a passion for ministry on the congregational level. His particular experience in the field of administration was a definite passion demonstrated in the classes he taught and the seminar's he led. His leadership in various educational associations likewise reflected his administrative capabilities, although his first passion was teaching. This interest was evident both inside and outside the classroom. Warren frequently asked a student privately, "How is your ministry?" and demonstrated a willingness to spend some personal time with them in prayer and consultation. He desired his students to be pastors, but professional in their approach to ministry.

His third major contribution was in the lives of his students. Warren Benson was known as a gentleman and friend to his students and colleagues. It would be impossible to number the live Dr. Benson impacted, not only on a personal level, but pastorally, professionally, and academically. At least two generations of Christian leaders in the education community recognize Benson for his contributions to the field and their own professional lives. The passion Dr. Benson had for the field of Christian education and his commitment to the integration of biblical/theological insights into educational theory and practice has been passed onto a new generation of Christian educator. This is his living legacy, the impact he made on his students, not only in the classroom, but in his office, the coffee house, golf course, or restaurant. The highest praise Dr. Benson could bestow on someone was one he deserved himself, "He is a godly man" (the word "godly" was usually emphasized by a brief pause prior to saying it, and then saying it in a slightly deeper voice). Above all else, this is what he wanted his students to be, godly. In a phone conversation with Lenore Benson on June 2, 2003, she commented about the volume of cards, letters, and sentiments sent to her after Dr. Benson' passing, noting that this was indeed his "living legacy," and that his work would continue through the students he had influenced through his career. [Anecdotally, as one of his former students, I teach a course on theology and education and the history and philosophy of education and cannot do so without Benson's words from class or text being brought to memory.]



  • Anthony, M. J., Warren Benson, Daryl Eldridge, and Julie Gorman, eds. (2001). Evangelical dictionary of Christian education. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.
  • Benson, W. S., and Mark S. Senter III, eds. (1987). The complete book of youth ministry. Chicago: Moody Press.
  • Gangel, K. O., and Warren S. Benson. (1983). Christian education: Its history and philosophy. Chicago: Moody Press.
  • Zuck, R. B., and Warren S. Benson, eds. (1978). Youth education in the church. Chicago: Moody Press.
  • Benson, W. S. (1975). , "A History of the National Association of Christian Schools during the Period of 1947 to 1972." Ph.D. Dissertation, Loyola University (Chicago, Illinois)


  • Benson, Warren S. (1991). Christ the master teacher. In Robert E. Clark, Lin Johnson, and Allyn K. Sloat, Christian education: Foundations for the future. (pp. 87-104). Chicago: Moody Press.
  • (1988). Seeking Biblical base: An evangelical protestant perspective. In Marlene Mayr, Does the church really want religious education. (195-220). Birmingham: Religious Education Press.
  • ______. (1987). A theology of youth ministry. In Warren S. Benson and Mark S. Senter III (Eds.), The complete book of youth ministry. (pp. 15-35) Chicago: Moody Press.
  • ______. (1984). Evangelical philosophies of religious education. In Myron Taylor, Changing patterns of religious education. (pp. 53-73). Nashville: Abingdon Press.
  • ______ (1979). Adolescents in an age of acceleration and crisis. In Youth Education in the Church. (pp. 9-26). Chicago: Moody Press.
  • ______. (1979). "Discipling youth." In Roy B. Zuck and Warren S. Benson (Eds.). Youth education in the church. (pp. 198-220). Chicago: Moody

Press Reviews

  • (1999). Review of The Dying of the Light: The Disengagement of Colleges and Universities From the Christian Churches, James T. Burtchaell. Christian Education Journal 3 : 142-144.
  • ______. (1999). Review of Revolution in Leadership: Training the Apostles for Tomorrow's Church, Reggie McNeal. Christian Education Journal 3 : 141-142.
  • ______. (1998). Review of Color Outside the Lines, Howard G. Hendricks. Christian Education Journal 2 : 136.
  • (1996). Review of Models of Religious Education, Harold Burgess. Christian Education Journal 16 : 122-127.
  • (1996). Review of Religious Education, 1960-1993: An Annotated Bibliography. Christian Education Journal 16 : 127-128.
  • (1995). Review of Religious Education, 1960-1993: An Annotated Bibliography. Princeton Seminary Bulletin 16 : 348-349.
  • (1995). Review of Rethinking Christian Education: Explorations in Theory and Practice. Christian Education Journal 15 : 111-114.
  • (1995). Review of The Christian Educator's Handbook on Adult Education, Kenneth O. Gangel. Christian Education Journal 15 : 110-111.
  • (1995). Review of Education Christians: The Intersection of Meaning, Learning, and Vocation, Jack L. Seymour. Christian Education Journal 15 : 116-117.
  • (1995). Review of The Effective Minister of Education: A Comprehensive Handbook, Jerry M. Stubblefield. Christian Education Journal 15 : 115.
  • (1995). Review of Faith and Knowledge: Mainline Protestantism and American Higher Education, Douglas Sloan. Christian Education Journal 16 : 115-120.
  • (1994). Review of Church Marketing: Breaking Ground for the Harvest, George Barna. Christian Education Journal 14 : 132-140.
  • (1995). Review of The Issachar Factor, Gary McIntosh. Christian Education Journal 16 : 124-126.
  • (1995). Review of John Dewey: Religious Faith and Democratic Humanism, Steven C. Rockefeller. Christian Education Journal 16 : 126-129.
  • (1995). Review of Teaching for Results, Findley B. Edge. Christian Education Journal 16 : 124-126.
  • (1995). Review of Teaching for Spiritual Growth: An Introduction to Christian Education, Perry G. Downs. Christian Education Journal 15 : 105-110.
  • (1994). Review of Communication and Conflict Management in Churches and Christian Organizations, Samuel L. Canine. Christian Education Journal 14 : 128-130.
  • (1994). Review of The Complete Guide to Religious Education Volunteers, Blake J. Neff. Christian Education Journal 14 : 122-124.
  • (1994). Review of A Reader in Christian Education: Foundations and Basic Perspectives. Christian Education Journal 14 : 124-125.
  • (1994). Review of Introduction to Youth Ministry, John M. Dettoni. Christian Education Journal 14 : 130-132.
  • (1994). Review of Marketing for Congregations: Choosing to Serve People More Effectively, Norman Shawchuck. Christian Education Journal 14 : 132-140.
  • (1994). Review of Directing Christian Education: The Changing Role of Christian Education, Michael S. Lawson. Christian Education Journal 14 : 125-128.
  • (1994). Review of Selling Jesus: What's Wrong With Marketing the Church, Douglas D. Webster. Christian Education Journal 14 : 132-140.
  • (1993). Review of Create Your Own Future, Lyle E. Schaller. Christian Education Journal 13 : 126-129.
  • (1993). Review of Cultural Foundations of Education: A Biographical Introduction, Gerald L. Gutek. Christian Education Journal 14 : 123-129.
  • (1993). Review of Prepare Your Church for the Future: Introducing the Meta-Church, Carl F. George. Christian Education Journal 13 : 126-129.
  • (1993). Review of Christian Education: Foundations for the Future. Christian Education Journal 13 : 121-126.
  • (1993). Review of Teaching for Reconciliation: Foundations and Practice of Christian Educational Ministry, Ronald T. Habermas Christian Education Journal 14 : 120-123.
  • (1993). Review of The Christian Educator's Handbook on Adult Education, Kenneth O. Gangel. Trinity Journal 14 : 106-107.
  • (1993). Review of Foundations of Ministry: An Introduction to Christian Education for the New Generation. Christian Education Journal 13 : 121-126.
  • (1993). Review of Managing with Power: Politics and Influence in Organizations, Jeffrey Pfeffer. Christian Education Journal 14 : 116-120.
  • ______. (1993). Review Essay of Incarnational Ministry: The Presence of Christ in the Church, Society,and Family, Christian D. Kettler and Todd H. Speidel eds. Religious Education 88 : 324-326.
  • (1992). Review of Where Do We Go From Here: A Guidebook for the Cell Group Church, Lorna Jenkins. Christian Education Journal 12 : 218-224.
  • (1992). Review of God's Man in the Marketplace: The Story of Herbert J. Taylor, Paul H. Heidebrecht. Christian Education Journal 12 : 224-226.
  • (1992). Review of Effective Church Leadership: Building on the 12 Keys, Kennon C. Callahan. Christian Education Journal 12 : 125-130.
  • (1991). Review of In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership, Henri J. M. Nouwen. Christian Education Journal 11 : 126-129.
  • (1991). Review of Feeding and Leading: A Practical Handbook on Administration in Churches and Christian Organizations, Kenneth O. Gangel. Christian Education Journal 11 : 102-104.
  • (1991). Review of Power to Follow, Grace to Lead: Strategy for the Future of Christian Leadership, David L. McKenna. Christian Education Journal 11 : 99-102.
  • (1991). Review of A Teachable Spirit: Recovering the Teaching Office in the Church, Richard Robert Osmer. Christian Education Journal 12 : 133-139.
  • (1991). Review of The Unity Factor: Getting Your Leaders to Work Together, Larry W. Osborne. Christian Education Journal 11 : 123-126.
  • (1991). Review of Why Leaders Can't Lead, Warren Bennis. Christian Education Journal 11 : 97-99.
  • (1990). Review of The Making of a Leader, J. Robert Clinton. Christian Education Journal 10 : 125-127.
  • (1990). Review of The Disciple - Making Pastor, Bill Hull. Christian Education Journal 10 : 122-126.
  • (1990). Review of Reflections of a Contrarian: Second Thoughts on the Parish Ministry, Lyle E. Schaller. Christian Education Journal 11 : 127-130.
  • (1989). Review of American Education: The Metropolitan Experience, Lawrence A. Cremin. Christian Education Journal 10 : 127-130.
  • (1989). Review of The Dynamics of Taking Charge, John J. Gabarro. Christian Education Journal 9 : 126-129.
  • (1988). Review of Reforming Fundamentalism: Fuller Seminary and the New Evangelicalism, George M. Marsden. Christian Education Journal 9 : 125-127.
  • (1988). Review of The Other Side of Leadership, Eugene B. Habecker. Christian Education Journal 9 : 129-130.
  • (1986). Review of Parents and Teenagers. Christian Education Journal 7 : 89-90.
  • (1985). Review of A Place Called School: Prospects for the Future, John I. Goodlad. Christian Education Journal 6 : 75-77.
  • (1985). Review of Changing Patterns of Religious Education. Christian Education Journal 6 : 78-80.
  • (1985). Review of The Art of Recruiting Volunteers, Mark Senter III. Christian Education Journal 6 : 77-78.
  • (1985). Review of Ministers as Leaders, Robert D. Gale. Christian Education Journal 6 : 77.
  • (1985). Review of Transitions through Adult Life: Evangelical Perspective on Adulthood, Charles M. Sell. Christian Education Journal 6 : 77-79.Reviews of

Books by Warren S. Benson

  • Anonymous. (1983). Review of Benson, Warren S. Christian Education. Journal of Christian Education. 78:51-53.Clark, R. E. (1983). Review of Christian Education. Moody Monthly 84 (November): 52-53.
  • DeWitt, C.. (1988). Review of The Complete Book of Youth Ministry. Alliance Life. December. 123:16.
  • Hendricks, Howard. (1984). Review of Benson, Warren S. Christian Education. Bibliotheca sacra. 141:359-360.
  • Hoglund, G.. (1979). Review of Youth Education in the Church. Eternity. April. 30:55.
  • Hllinger, G.. (1979). Review of Youth Education in the Church. Christianity Today. October. 23:50.
  • Smallbones, Jackie. (2001). Review of Evangelical Dictionary of Christian Education. Christian Education Journal 5 (Fall): 125-127.
  • Thayer, Jane. (2001). Review of Evangelical Dictionary of Christian Education. Journal of Research on Christian Education. 10 (Fall) 464-469.
  • Van Der Weele, S. J. (2001). Review of Evangelical Dictionary of Christian Education. Christian Educators Journal. 41 (December): 31.
  • Watkins, James. (1989). Review of The Complete Book of Youth Ministry. Leadership. 10:116-117.
  • Wilkerson, B. (1984). Review of Christian Education. Alliance Witness 119 (September 12): 22.
  • Wingeier, D. E. (1984). Review of Benson, Warren S. Christian Education. Religious Education. 79: 294-297.

Excerpts from Publications

Kenneth O. Gangel and Warren S. Benson. (1983) Christian education: Its history and philosophy (Chicago: Moody Press),13-14.

A history of Christian education must not be confused with a record of the achievements of the Sunday school. The discipline has advanced will beyond the stage, and today's sophisticated students fully understand that no proper concept of the history and philosophy of Christian education can be gained without seeing all the ramifications, implications, and influences that have affected it from pre-Christian times to the present.

It is unfortunate that both history and philosophy have often been thought dull and ponderous subjects by many students. Apart from theology, they are the very foundational disciplines upon which all other thought is based. Clichés abound and many of them are true, such as the one suggesting that he who ignores the errors of the past is bound to repeat them. Furthermore, Christians should be lovers of wisdom, the very meaning of the word philosophy. At times the concepts of philosophical writers are difficult to understand, but it is the pattern, the flow of thought, that is essential.

Warren S. Benson, (1988). Seeking Biblical base: An evangelical protestant perspective. In Marlene Mayr, Does the church really want religious education. (195-220). Birmingham: Religious Education Press, 214.

Evangelicals will have to truck with the educational philosophy that gives theology second rung on its philosophical ladder. Theology is of primary importance. Instruction in theological matters for all Christians is of great consequence. However, it is quintessential that theological truth be taught in a manner that weds theory with life. This, then, gives direction to the way the Christian educator teaches. Theology answers some of the most elementary and yet profound questions regarding educational theories and ministries. But it does have distinct limitations in constructing an educational philosophy. For example, how we understand theology proper (the person and nature of God) and human nature are theological constructs which give shape and definition and texture to all of Christian education.

Kenneth O. Gangel and Warren S. Benson. (1983). Christian education: Its history and philosophy (Chicago: Moody Press), 369.

The only constants in our world are God and Scripture. Immediate needs of our society are constantly in flux. Educationalists jump from one trend to another. The drive to be contemporary is unending. A biblically informed philosophy of education will provide stability in the midst of change. A commitment to the biblical view of reality and the role of the church in history will give direction for the future. The Lord of the church is the Lord of history. An it is God who stands in the center of the universe. Not ourselves.

S. Benson (1983). Evangelical Philosophies of Christian Education of Religious Education. In Marvin J. Taylor (Ed.), Changing patterns of religious education. (Nashville: Abingdon Press), 53

As there is no one Protestant philosophy or one liberal philosophy, so there is no one evangelical philosophy of Christian education. Yet all of these philosophies have certain commonalities which enable the theories within each to be subsumed under a generic rubric. As such there is an evangelical philosophy of Christian education. The commonalities or foundation stones of an evangelical philosophy are theological. The deity of Jesus Christ and the authority of Scripture are the touchstones of evangelical theology. To the evangelical, an authoritative Bible answers with certitude the two questions upon which a philosophy of education should be constructed: What is humankind? What is his or her purpose?

Education within evangelicalism is an interesting blend. Throughout this century evangelicals have been extremely eclectic. They have been reactive and action oriented rather than polemical and theoretical. Their concern for numerical growth and the vigor of an individual's Christian experience often has superseded a reflectively developed philosophy of education. This was not a studied intentionality. Rather it progressed quite naturally from the historical context in which evangelicalism found itself.


Benson, Warren S. (1991). "Christ the master teacher." In Christian Education: Foundations for the future. Edited by Robert E. Clark, Lin Johnson, and Allyn K. Sloat Chicago: Moody Press.

Whereas many treatments of Jesus as teacher focus on his methodologies or approaches to dealing with people, Bensons begins with the understanding the Jesus was the Christ. Hence, he begins his treatment with a theological treatment of the significance of Jesus as God's Son and Messiah in the educational process and the influence this fact has on the theory and practice of teaching.

Benson, Warren S. (1988). Seeking Biblical base: An evangelical protestant perspective. In Marlene Mayr, Does the church really want religious education. (195-220). Birmingham: Religious Education Press.

Benson argues for the place of theology in the formation of educational theory, noting the primary role of theology, even in place of philosophical tenets. It presents a model of Christian education consisting of evangelism, nurture and catechesis; noting several considerable challenges to this model in the modern church.

Benson, Warren S., and Mark S. Senter III, eds. (1987). The complete book of youth ministry. Chicago: Moody Press.

A multi-authored book, Benson (and Senter) provided editorial work for the text. His contribution, as one should expect, was a theological review of contemporary youth ministry. In it, he poses the dichotomy of youth ministry based on fad-methodologies as opposed to theologically centered youth ministry that can endure.

Benson, Warren S. (1984). "Evangelical philosophies of Religious Education." In changing patterns of religious education. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

In this essay Benson identifies the unity and diversity of evangelical approaches to Christian education, comparing them to the approaches theologically-informed approaches to education in the church, e.g. liberal, neo-orthodox. In it he identifies the core concerns of an evangelical approach to Christian education.

Gangel, Kenneth O., and Warren S. Benson. (1983). Christian Education: Its history and philosophy. Chicago: Moody Press.

Currently considered his magnum opus, this text recounts the history of western education from ancient times, beginning with the Biblical portrait of the Hebrews, to the beginning of the twentieth-century's last quarter. In tracing the history of Christian education, Gangel and Benson analyze it and provide critique from an evangelical perspective.

Author Information

James Riley Estep, Jr.

James Riley Estep, Jr. is the Professor of Christian Education at Lincoln Christian Seminary, as well as an Associate Dean at Lincoln Christian College. He also serves as Director of Academic Assessment and Faculty Development for the campus. He was a student of Warren Benson's from 1994-1999 at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, IL).