Brokenness, Sin and Grace in Human Formation

Education, Formation and the Church II 
An academic conference organized by researchers from the Theological University Apeldoorn and the Theological University Kampen.

Within Christian education we are used to expressions such as ‘growth’, ‘talents’ and ‘human flourishing’. Observing current pedagogical and psychological approaches it may seem that human perfection is the norm. The emphasis on the positive side of faith in human formation can entail the risk of the reality of sin and brokenness being dismissed from the educational vocabulary. At the same time, there is an intrinsic pedagogical motive for adopting stimulating perspectives. The question can, therefore, be raised whether Christian education has become infected by a narrow and reductionist conversation about human flourishing, understood in the meaning of growth, perfection and success.

The EFC conference, held on August 25-27, 2021,  explored questions connected to the place of brokenness and grace in the pedagogical theory and practice. How are we to understand good and evil in human nature? How do good and sin manifest themselves in education and formation? Do positive and negative views on pupils, teachers and pedagogy contribute to human formation or to human frustration? How are we to evaluate the current instrumental strive for perfection? How do we cope with the effects of sin and brokenness; the effects of evil in classrooms, learning processes and human formation? This is an opportunity for pedagogues and theologians to inform and inspire one another by understanding and rethinking brokenness and grace in the process of human formation.

The conference was held online.

The keynote lectures and Friday afternoon panel discussion can be viewed back.


  • Lecture 1: Petronelle Baarda en Tirza van Laar (NL) – From bad to better? Introduction Lecture about Evil and Flourishing in educational context (41 minutes)
  • Lecture 2: Petruschka Schaafsma (NL) – Evil. A theological exploration (24 minutes)
  • Lecture 3: Jan Habl (CZ) – Neither angels nor deamons – J. A. Comenius’ anthropological implications to his pedagogy (19 minutes)
  • Lecture 4: Wolter Huttinga (NL) – The givenness of things. Grace as a quality of life (18 minutes)
  • Panel:  David Smith (USA), Ronelle Sonnenberg (NL) and Ros Stuart-Buttle (UK) – (66 minutes)

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