I recently overheard a religious leader state that a good Christian education will emphasize teaching children good behavior. Children should learn early how to act in Christian ways: being kind and polite, telling the truth, being honest, etc.
Those are all good things, of course. Who will argue that children should be capable of good behavior? But a Christian education which focuses only on good behavior (orthopraxis) may be as detrimental to the spiritual formation for children as one that focuses primarily on right belief (orthodoxy). Behavior is an outward action which can be totally unrelated to inner values or beliefs. Acting kind is not necessarily an indicator that someone has moved from a state of egocentricity and is capable of being considerate of othersâ€”it may be reciprocally motivatedâ€” â€œI scratch your back, you scratch mine.â€ Acting honest may only be a fear of getting caught and an aversion to being punished (pain-avoidance). And, acting polite may only be a thinly masked skill in manipulation.