Visiting professor brings world view to his Christian Education classes


Lindsey Odom | Student Submission

Students at Presbyterian College received the chance to learn from Dr. Peter Müller and his wife, Dr. Anita Müller-Friese, who came this semester from the southwest part of Germany located near France. Müller is teaching two Religion classes this semester titled, Early Christianity and Bible in Christian Education.

Dr. Anita Müller-Friese is a teacher of Religion/ Christian Education in public schools in Germany as well as an expert in Godly Play. Students enrolled in the Bible in Christian Education course actually received the opportunity to experience and engage in Godly Play with Dr. Anita Müller-Friese with hopes that they might use this method of telling a story in their own ministry.

Students also received the chance to hear from Dr. Peter Müller and his wife, Dr. Anita Müller-Friese at the April monthly workshop and dinner for Celtic Cross, where they led a fishbowl-type discussion. Lastly, the Müller family conducted a pair of lectures in recognition and celebration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation that students were invited to attend.

Unlike in America, religion is taught in public schools in Germany. Müller believes that religion should be taught in American public schools. He shared the benefits of teaching religion in schools. Students are separated and specialized in classes that match their religious affiliation. Students in Germany are also taught by religious authorities of different faith denominations, which leads to the broadening of horizons as students and teachers learn about those different from them.

Müller stresses the importance of religious education because he believes that it is so vital and necessary to have some understanding of religion and the concept of God, even for people who don’t know God. “It is important to have a little knowledge about faith and the impact that it can have in your life,” Mueller said.

He proceeded to explain that the task of religious education is not that the student becomes a faithful follower of Jesus Christ, but that they can articulate their own standpoint of where they come from when it comes to faith and knowing who God is.

Mueller defines faith as “being able to rely on someone who is bigger than yourself, and knowing that you are not the center of the world, but rather there is someone else that is.”

Müller, has also published a book that is written in German, however, when translated to English, the title is Keys to the Bible. Within this book, Müller first discusses the eye opening statistics of people who read the bible. Even in Germany, where religious education is taught in schools, many people have never opened the bible or do not read it very often, which is like most people in the U.S. The reasoning that Müller explained for why these statistics on the state of the Bible released by the American Biblical society during 2016-2017 is very low is that people get frustrated with Bible reading because they don’t have enough time to spend reading it or the language is very difficult to relate to. For some people who read the Bible, they have a very fragmented knowledge of the bible that they can explain stories, but they cannot explain the full idea or content behind it.

The title to his book, Keys to the Bible is very important as it explains that readers essentially need “keys” to open the Bible in a figurative sense. These “keys” can be things such as pop songs, movies, artwork, familiar objects etc. that connect people to the bible through relating to their everyday lives. Therefore, Müller states that “these keys must fit into the hands of the students.”

Furthermore, this influences Dr. Müller’s philosophy of teaching, in which he emphasizes that, “Before you teach the bible, you must think about your own relationship, attitude, passion, and beliefs towards it.”

Something interesting that Müller has discussed in his class, as well at the April Monthly workshop and dinner for Celtic Cross was, teaching styles.

Mueller believes there is a wrong way to teach, which is when students memorize information verbatim and repeat it exactly word for word. Instead, he hopes to help students develop their own understanding. “Teaching is more than just delivering information,” Mueller said. “Teaching and learning are a mutual enterprise.” He admits that by teaching his students, they bring questions, thoughts, and comments to the table that he has maybe never even considered.