Bible in the Grammar Stage
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Bible in the Grammar Stage
The Authority of God's Word
What our children believe about the Bible is as important, or possibly
more so, than what they know of Biblical stories, or how much Scripture they have
memorized. What good will all their knowledge of Scripture do them if they believe that
Scripture is just a collection of ideas and myths, set down and considered true thousands
of years ago, but now that philosophy and science has progressed, human wisdom in certain
areas has eclipsed Gods wisdom? What good will their knowledge of Scripture do them
if they believe, as certain schools of thought teach, that the source of the Biblical text
was not necessarily the mouth of God, but the customs and literature of the pagan
Sumerians and Babylonians, which the Hebrews copied, or the philosophy of the Greeks,
which the New Testament writers incorporated into the text? The foundation for Biblical
studies in all the stages of the trivium must be that the Bible is the inspired Word of
God. The Bible states:
God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
God did not lie to us. Everything set down in Scripture is true. The Bible has a lot to say about itself in this regard:
As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. 2 Samuel 22:31
The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. You shall keep them, O LORD, you shall preserve them from this generation forever. Psalm 12:6-7
The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgements of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. Psalm 19:7-9
My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. Psalm 89:34
The works of His hands are verity and justice; all His precepts are sure. They stand fast forever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness. Psalm 111:7-8
Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven. Psalm 119:89
The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. Psalm 119:160
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isaiah 40:8
For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Matthew 5:18
Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. Luke 21:33
Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. John 17:17
Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever. 1 Peter 1:23
This understanding, that the Bible is the word of God, and that His every word is true and trustworthy, is foundational to not only Biblical studies, but every other study in every other subject our children undertake. This belief is the basis for the Biblical worldview, and will color our childrens thinking in every area.
There is a worldview opposite to the Biblical one, which is prevalent in our society, and which we have to constantly look for in the books we use--not just to teach Bible, but to teach every other subject--even in Christian books. It is the humanist, or naturalist, or materialist, or gradualist, or uniformist, or man-centered worldview. For example, the Bible teaches that we were created by God. The humanist worldview teaches that given enough time, we arose gradually by chance from lower forms. The Bible teaches that death is a consequence of sin. Humanism teaches that death has always been a part of life, and that the fossil record was laid down before Adams sin, if such a person existed. The Bible teaches that all men have one common ancestor, Adam. Humanism teaches that all men have one common ancestor, fish. The Bible teaches that civilizations arose soon after man was created, and soon after Noahs flood. Humanism teaches that over hundreds or thousands or millions of years, man gradually learned to speak, read, write, use tools, and become civilized. We need to constantly be on guard for statements that contradict the Bible. These examples common in science and history books show how the worldview of humanism is paraded in those books under the mantle of science and truth. It happens in all subjects.
And, we should examine our own beliefs as parents. We have been so indoctrinated into the humanist worldview in this society, that most of us have tainted beliefs--we bend the Bible to fit humanist propaganda, no matter how unconsciously. God was perfectly able to say what He meant. If ever there was a master of language, it is He. We do not have to put the Bible through contortions to make it say something it doesnt say upon plain reading.
The Bible as History
How many of us have heard this statement from Christian leaders, or read it in books: The Bible, while not a history book or a science book, is a religious book that can shed light on history and science. I completely disagree with that statement. The Bible is a history book and a science book. If Gods Word is true, then why isnt the Bible a history book or a science book? After all, God was there and we werent. We can trust what the Bible says about historical events. Otherwise, Gods word is not true, if what He says about history or science through it is not true.
The Bible teaches that history has been changed by a series of catastrophic events. This belief, called catastrophism, is consistent with a Biblical worldview. We need to teach our children these catastrophic events and how they changed history, because the basis of Christian theology, studied in the rhetoric stage, is irretrievably rooted in the history of God and man as outlined in the Bible. This is why Christian theology is true. Its basis is in real historical events that actually happened.*
One crucial catastrophic historic event, the Fall of Adam, will give an example of the complete intertwining of the historical events of the Bible with Christian theology. The world that God made was perfect, and everything was once very good. Then Adam rebelled against God, and as a result of that rebellion, things changed. Sin is another name for rebellion, and death is a consequence of sin. If death is not a consequence of sin, Jesus Christ died in vain, and the gospel of Jesus Christ is meaningless. Paul explains the connection in detail in the book of Romans. (We have to be on guard, because any ideas that accept a fossil record laid down before Adams sin deny the truth of the Word of God. Some Christian leaders who otherwise preach the inerrancy of Gods Word have been caught in that trap. Death is a consequence of Adams sin (Romans 5:12), therefore it could not have taken place prior to Adams sin.)
Another catastrophic historic event was the global Flood of Noah. The Christian doctrine of judgment is rooted in this historic event. God judges sin, but even so provides a safe haven from judgment, if one will go through the open Door, who is Jesus Christ. A day is coming when the door will shut, and judgment will come. We know this to be true because a day came in the past when the door was shut and judgment came, and every living thing that dwelt upon the earth died. If Noahs flood did not happen, then God does not judge sin, and what are we evangelizing people for? If there is no judgment, then why be saved? If Noahs flood was a localized event, then why did God bother saving anyone from it? People from other parts of the world would eventually repopulate the Middle East. God is not that illogical. So we can see that a correct understanding of the veracity of the Word of God in its historical statements is absolutely crucial to a childs later understanding and belief of the doctrines of Christianity.*
It is interesting that God built into the history of Israel the holidays they were to celebrate to remind them of these pivotal historical events and their theological implications, as is outlined in Leviticus 23. The Sabbath day of rest reminds us of Creation and that we owe service and worship to God because as Creator, He owns us. As a family you can study the rest of them out; it is a fascinating study.
Bible Stories and Memorizing Scripture
In the first three years of the grammar stage especially, children need to learn the Bible stories in their historical context and as part of the plan of God as mentioned. The best way for children to become thoroughly familiar with them is by hearing them over and over again. If they are exposed to them enough, they will learn them because of that exposure naturally. It helps to read through the Bible in chronological order. It drives home the historicity of the Word of God, and Gods perfect plan. A few references are available to help with this; we like the Reese Chronological Bible.
Children can also begin memorizing Scripture from toddlerhood right through high school. One effective way of memorizing for small children is suggested in The Book of Life. Lets say you want your child to memorize 1 John 4:19, We love God because He first loved us. Begin by memorizing the key element of the verse: We love God. Even little children can memorize that quickly. Then add on why we love God: We love God because He first loved us. -1 John 4:19.
Almost any verse can be memorized easily in stages like this. First, God so loved the world, then, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, then, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16. As children get older they can memorize longer passages: short Psalms, the Lords Prayer, the Beatitudes, parables, the prayers of Paul in the epistles. And finally, they can memorize long passages and whole chapters. My church college-group leader practiced memorizing whole books of the Bible. I once heard him recite the entire book of First Peter without a single mistake! The point is, it can be done, by the mind so trained. Just think of what wealth it will be for our children to have large portions of the Word of God hid in their hearts like this.
Creeds and Catechism
Around third or fourth grade, children can begin learning the creeds of the church and whatever catechism your church uses. This is important because the entire Bible is a very large document, but the creeds and catechisms are very brief and compact (in comparison) summations of the doctrines of the faith which have proven, through history, to identify the teaching of the apostles and answer the insidious twisting of Scripture of heresies. The reason we wait for third or fourth grade to do this, is that we have to establish first the primacy of Scripture. Creeds and catechisms are drawn from Scripture as a foundation, so as parents we also lay a foundation with our children of familiarity with Scripture first. While the creeds and catechisms are being learned or studied, the regular reading and memorizing of Scripture continues, which was begun in early childhood.
We have taken the creeds that are important to us as a family, and gone through every line and doctrinal statement as a family, finding the Scriptures that verify the truth of that statement. This makes another profitable family Bible study. The children are rightly very impressed with the amount of agreement in Scripture upon its major doctrines, both from the Old and New Testaments. Writing these Scriptures out in writing class, along with the creed, firmly embeds them in the mind.
This intimate association from Scripture is very important, as it helps them identify falsehood later in life, even in their own churches and among their own church leadership. It trains them to be Bereans, to search the Scriptures themselves and verify whether these things be so. Paul commended such Christians (Acts 17:10-11). He was not at all threatened by the Bereans, because he understood that truth holds up well under examination. It proves its nature under examination. If some doctrine by chance does not hold up under examination, then we want to know that its false, and we want our children to know that its false. If false teachers will arise in the last days, to lead away even the elect if possible, in which group do we want our children to be found? The group that believes everything they hear just because someone famous is saying it, and so possibly might be led astray; or the group that stands firmly on the Word of God, verifying what they hear, and not being led astray? If we want them in the latter group, then we have to teach them to be Bereans.
The Habit of Consistent Bible Reading
Another area to work on in the grammar stage is developing the habit of consistent Bible reading in our children. If we as parents also have that habit, then it will not be that hard. If we dont, then our children will zero in, when theyre older, on the inconsistencies in our lives. If its important for them to do, its important for us to do. Bible reading does not have to take forever. Five minutes of Scripture a day is better than none at all. A person can read through the entire Bible in a little under three years by reading just one chapter a day, plus a Psalm or a chapter of Proverbs. This takes five or ten minutes in the morning, and five or ten minutes in the evening. If we live to be 75, and have the entire Bible either read to us or read it ourselves every three years since birth, then we will have heard or read the entire true Word of God twenty-five times in our lifetime! If Christians were as familiar with the Bible as that, it would make a difference in our churches, and in our world. Remember Proverbs 22:6: Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
To sum up: the focus of Bible studies in the grammar stage is to help our children, who know nothing of the Word of God when they are born, learn what the Bible says, what is recorded in the whole Word of God, both Old and New Testaments. And not only learn what the Bible says, but to become very familiar with what the Bible says, memorizing as much Scripture as can be managed. It is also important for children to begin to develop the personal habit of daily Bible reading, and finally, to learn and memorize the creeds of the Church, or the catechisms of the Church, and to see that the doctrines included in the creeds of the Church, the summary of the teaching of the apostles, is supported by Scripture, and that both the Old and New Testaments agree on the teaching of the apostles, the major doctrines of the Bible. If children do this, then they will be well prepared to examine the truth of Scripture in the dialectic stage.
*As a family, we are indebted
to Answers in Genesis for
helping us to see the connection between the historicity of the Bible and our Christian
doctrines. Creation Evangelism for the New Millenium by Ken Ham of Answers in
Genesis delves into further detail regarding the historicity of the Bible and that
historicitys importance as a foundation for every doctrine that Christianity stands
upon. We recommend it highly. If the book is unavailable at Barnes and Noble for whatever reason, then it can be found at the Answers in