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Edge authored more than 80 published works. He is remembered for his passion for fostering an authentic faith and awakening the laity to their call to be the church. Findley B. Findley had one brother, Hoyt D. Edge, Sr. In his senior year, he was the recipient of the McIntosh Award at his school. The life of Findley Edge has been divided into three sections.
Temp Sparkman has written a paper on the life of Findley B. Edge, Findley B. Edge: Teacher, Theorist, Prophet Sparkman maintains that the career of Edge can be viewed through three distinct epochs. The first epoch covers the early influences of his seminary education in teaching and learning. The second epoch can be traced to the mid- to lates. It was here he produced a major work on authentic religion. The third epoch, according to Sparkman, began in the mids with his interest in the renewal movement.
The sabbatical leave was not magic in itself; rather it was an opportunity for Edge to pursue his passion or something that disturbed him. These epochs relate to his spiritual journey, the impact of the Word upon his heart, and his contact with a changing culture. Findley Edge would begin a relationship with Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, that would continue for more than 40 years.
Edge stated that it would be during this era of his life as a seminary student that he would form his philosophy of Christian education under the influence of Dr. Gaines S. Dobbins, professor of religious education at Southern Seminary.
It was during this seminal stage of his life that he began to raise the question concerning authenticity in religious life. In , Edge completed his doctoral dissertation entitled Religious Education and the Problem of Institutionalism.
Edge expressed a fear that Southern Baptists were showing evidence of growing institutionalism rather than growing authentic faith. This passion would be put to sleep during the first epoch, but would be awakened in the late 50s. Findley Edge was invited to join the faculty at Southern Seminary in He would eventually be named the Basil Manly, Jr. Gaines Dobbins would give Edge responsibility for teaching on the whole field of religious education.
Edge identified his primary concern during this phase as striving for quality teaching in providing some simple and practical help for untrained teachers.
It was during this first epoch of his career that Edge would write a significant paper on philosophical foundations of education entitled Studies in the Philosophy of Education , which is archived at Southern Seminary.
During epoch one, Edge would also write two books on teaching that continue to be used in seminaries today: Teaching For Results and Helping the Teacher Edge took his first sabbatical leave at Yale University and the Divinity School in He would earn a Master of Arts from Yale University. It was during this sabbatical leave at Yale that he would encounter Randolph Crump Miller.
Edge developed a friendship and appreciation for Miller. The introduction of this new thought into such a turbulent time as the s and s would lead to Dr. Edge declared in A Search for Authenticity that the racial crisis was beginning to cause serious social disruption.
It disturbed him that churches, Southern Baptist churches in particular, were either reactionary or uninvolved. Southern Seminary invited Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This event led Dr. Edge to understand better the family as primary teacher over the church.
It was during this same time that he lost his excitement to search for a quality approach to teaching. The problem of institutionalism was once again being raised in the heart and mind of Edge.
The heart of the theologian would surface during this turbulent phase of his life. The influence of writing his dissertation and his introduction to Randolph Crump Miller would cause him to renew his search for authentic faith.
His search would lead him to write A Quest for Vitality in Religion This document would be one of his greatest achievements during this second epoch. Edge expressed his desire in this document to emphasize a sound theological base, a relationship with God that was experiential and personal as distinguished from cognitive and mechanical , and a commitment to the Christian way that was authentic as distinguished from superficial.
The church was not influencing culture; rather culture was impacting the church. Edge felt the real call of God to man was to be on mission for God. Edge spent much time in his writings explaining that salvation is an event, but also results in a different walk. It seemed evident to Edge that the reaction of the local church to the challenges of the culture demonstrated failure in developing devoted followers of Christ. He would note that Cosby was doing what he was writing about.
Edge would say about Gordon Cosby, that in terms of life and work of the church, he influenced his thinking more than any other person Edge, With the help of a grant from the Association of Theological Schools, he would visit Evangelical Academies. These academies were said to exist to bridge the gap between the church and society. Edge would seek to answer questions as to how the people of God, the laity, could be the key to bridge the gap between the church and the world.
Findley Edge would return from Europe continuing to look for answers. It was his opinion that some of the issues that existed there were not issues in the United States. The European churches were funded by the state, while the churches in the United States were not.
The Academies were seldom in contact with the local congregations, but instead worked with businesses. Edge felt this difference was quite significant and opened to him a door of opportunity. Findley Edge would return from Europe energized to build that bridge in the United States. Edge returned home from Europe to find that his book, A Quest for Vitality , had been a big success.
Both vocational ministers and laypersons were expressing frustration with the life of the church. This ministry would expand for the next several years, making it difficult to continue housing it on the campus of Southern Seminary.
Edge would receive a grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. Edge reported that things were going beautifully for The Vineyard Center until the energy crunch of the s hit, and people stopped driving. Conferences were expensive and had to be cancelled because of great operating costs and low reserves. This led to the downfall of The Vineyard Center. Edge authored another book during this same phase of his career, which he hoped would challenge the church-as-usual syndrome plaguing evangelicals.
The Greening of the Church was published in In an effort to help people come alive at a deeper level in their spiritual experience, Edge offered five suggestions on what he would do if he were pastor of a church. These five suggestions are preaching, personal conversations, reading books, retreats and conferences, and lay witness weekends.
He felt this was essential if the local church was to come alive and impact its culture. When talking with those who were students during the Edge years, it is common to hear how difficult it was to get in one of his classes.
His classes would fill quickly because of his manner of engaging the students in and out of the classroom. The seminary established one under the leadership of Gaines S. Dobbins in There would be only two professors, Dobbins and Edge. Southern Baptist Seminary honors the memory of Edge each year with the presentation of the Findley B. Edge and Louvenia Edge Faculty Award.
This award is given to a professor for outstanding teaching. Edge and his wife, Louvenia, moved to Orlando, Florida, where he lived out his latter days. Edge contributed to the speaking and writing circuit his passion for the church utilizing its greatest resource, its people. Edge died in Orlando, Florida, on October 28, , at the age of Edge is survived by his wife, Louvenia, and sons Hoyt and Larry. Eddie Hammett, leadership consultant with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, would write of Edge: "His works will follow him through many, many students he has touched and whose life he has transformed because he dared to go to a land he knew not of.
I will miss him, but I will visit with him through his writings and through all the life-transforming memories" , page not given.
Contributions to Christian Education Findley B. Edge was offered an opportunity and a challenge. When he took his place on the faculty of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, it was in the shadow of one of the giants, Gaines S. It is not uncommon to hear of the negative impact such an experience has had on someone, such as the case of Isaac in the shadow of his father, Abraham. We read of no such struggle between Dobbins and Edge.
This speaks volumes about the character of both men. Edge was enabled to pursue his passion while being mentored by Dobbins. The essential relationship between mentor and the one being mentored is critical to the future of Christian education, and it is one of the missing links today.
The relationship between Dobbins and Edge should encourage all Christian educators to be investing themselves in a colleague.
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