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The Old Testament has been in existence for thousands of years, but Charles R. Kniker, the president of Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, would like to use the latest technology to talk about it.

CHARLES R. KNIKER: THE PRESIDENT OF EDEN

The Old Testament has been in existence for thousands of years, but Charles R. Kniker, the president of Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, would like to use the latest technology to talk about it.

"It would be wonderful if a professor of Old Testament could stand in front of a television camera and broadcast lectures to the widest possible audience," Dr. Kniker said. "The Religious Right has learned to use the technology, but the churches of mainstream Christianity need to catch up."

Dr. Kniker, who earned his Ed.D. in religion and education at Teachers College (TC) in 1969, is now in his third year as president of Eden, which was founded in 1850 and is affiliated with the United Church of Christ (although Dr. Kniker points out that the 250 students at the Seminary represent 15 different denominations).

Even though he is interested in the latest technology, Dr. Kniker continues to rely on paper and printing to produce the journal, Religion and Education, which he has been editing since 1982. The journal was known until recently as Religion and Public Education, but Dr. Kniker and the other editors changed the name because they wanted to expand the conversation within its pages to include higher education, both public and private.

The articles in Religion and Education focus on the correct ways in which teachers can discuss religion in the classroom. "There is much more acceptance of teaching about religion today than there was when the journal began," he said, "and there are now some very good teaching materials dealing with religion."

Dr. Kniker, who was a substitute history teacher in New York City high schools during his years at TC, believes the religious experience must be discussed in certain classes.

"In a history class, I do not know how you could teach about the Puritan experience or the abolitionist movement or the civil rights movement without talking about religion," he said. "Religion is a fact of life."

But a teacher has to be careful, Dr. Kniker said. "You pass on information; you do not indoctrinate."

Dr. Kniker grew up in a mainstream denominational church in a small town in Texas. He then attended Elmhurst College near Chicago. After earning his bachelor's degree, he attended Eden. He was ordained as a minister in 1962.

During his time as a seminary student, he served as an intern for a year in Honduras and that experience lead Kniker to "answer the calling of religious education."

After serving two years as a pastor in St. Louis, he entered a graduate program in religious education at San Francisco Theological Seminary. Following his completion of that master's degree program, he enrolled at TC.

He earned his Ed.D. in the combined TC-Union Theological Seminary program in religion and education. Then he took a faculty position at Iowa State University in Ames, where he taught from 1963 to 1993.

Dr. Kniker remembers his experience at Teachers College as "truly the best years of my education. I came expecting a lot and I found so much more than I ever expected."

Published Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2001

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Technology and Religion

CHARLES R. KNIKER: THE PRESIDENT OF EDEN

The Old Testament has been in existence for thousands of years, but Charles R. Kniker, the president of Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, would like to use the latest technology to talk about it.

"It would be wonderful if a professor of Old Testament could stand in front of a television camera and broadcast lectures to the widest possible audience," Dr. Kniker said. "The Religious Right has learned to use the technology, but the churches of mainstream Christianity need to catch up."

Dr. Kniker, who earned his Ed.D. in religion and education at Teachers College (TC) in 1969, is now in his third year as president of Eden, which was founded in 1850 and is affiliated with the United Church of Christ (although Dr. Kniker points out that the 250 students at the Seminary represent 15 different denominations).

Even though he is interested in the latest technology, Dr. Kniker continues to rely on paper and printing to produce the journal, Religion and Education, which he has been editing since 1982. The journal was known until recently as Religion and Public Education, but Dr. Kniker and the other editors changed the name because they wanted to expand the conversation within its pages to include higher education, both public and private.

The articles in Religion and Education focus on the correct ways in which teachers can discuss religion in the classroom. "There is much more acceptance of teaching about religion today than there was when the journal began," he said, "and there are now some very good teaching materials dealing with religion."

Dr. Kniker, who was a substitute history teacher in New York City high schools during his years at TC, believes the religious experience must be discussed in certain classes.

"In a history class, I do not know how you could teach about the Puritan experience or the abolitionist movement or the civil rights movement without talking about religion," he said. "Religion is a fact of life."

But a teacher has to be careful, Dr. Kniker said. "You pass on information; you do not indoctrinate."

Dr. Kniker grew up in a mainstream denominational church in a small town in Texas. He then attended Elmhurst College near Chicago. After earning his bachelor's degree, he attended Eden. He was ordained as a minister in 1962.

During his time as a seminary student, he served as an intern for a year in Honduras and that experience lead Kniker to "answer the calling of religious education."

After serving two years as a pastor in St. Louis, he entered a graduate program in religious education at San Francisco Theological Seminary. Following his completion of that master's degree program, he enrolled at TC.

He earned his Ed.D. in the combined TC-Union Theological Seminary program in religion and education. Then he took a faculty position at Iowa State University in Ames, where he taught from 1963 to 1993.

Dr. Kniker remembers his experience at Teachers College as "truly the best years of my education. I came expecting a lot and I found so much more than I ever expected."

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