Commitment to Godly Christian Education: One of the most important aspects of Biblical reformation in the church and in the Christian family that I am actively involved in every day for the past 25 years has to do with reforming the principles, the pattern, and the curriculum of Christian schooling and education. As a Reformed pastor and a home-school father, I hold to a view of Christian education and discipleship that is as comprehensive as it is thoroughly Biblical and Reformed.  And I believe that most modern forms of Christian education are destructive to the church and to Christian families.

Too often today Home school and Christian school education are divorced from the preaching and teaching of the Word of God on the Lord’s Day and the discipleship ministry of the Church. It is a sad fact that most Christian families today have a very superficial regard for the vital place of the ministry as the foundation of discipleship and Christian education. For this reason, they suffer greatly as most schools and their curriculum are governed largely by subversive secular and non-Christian methods and practices. This is true even when their children go to Christian schools or when their children are home-schooled. Sadly many Christian parents today have a greater regard for worldly and profane things in the world that are hurtful to the family than for Scripture and sound doctrine. Instead of seeking first the kingdom of God, they seek for their children a place in the world that is detached from a life of following Christ, a life of worshiping God, and a life of service to the church and family. And so they often show a greater respect to and support of unbelieving teachers than for pastors and teachers of the Word of God. It is truly scandalous! Christian schools even today often spend far too much time with secular and even profane and ungodly activities of entertainment; such as drama, art, pagan literature, sports on Sunday, and promote feminist views of education and leadership, as well as other things that lead their children to a life of disobedience to God, if not wholesale apostasy from the truth. This is why so many children raised in Christian families today end up living in patterns of sin and idolatry that are destructive to a godly Christian life, or tragically even fall away from the Christian Faith. There must be a complete and wholesale reformation of Christian education. And the schools and academies must once again be governed by faithful and educated pastors and theologians who know Scripture, sound doctrine, who have a godly and Biblical educational philosophy. and who know how to raise their children for Christ.

The Biblical Foundations: For this reason, I have found over the years the importance of speaking the truth in love by helping Christian families as well as schools to reform their methods, their curriculum, and their practices. To this end, Christian education should focus on discipleship first, and in instructing children and Christian youth in the knowledge of Scripture, sound doctrine, and church history that focuses on God’s saving purposes in Christ and activities that build godly Christian character.

1. Scripture: Foundational to this Biblical and Reformed pattern of education and discipleship in our academy is the study of Old Testament and New Testament Survey every successive year, using books and materials that are consistent with a student’s age and intellectual level. The Bible is the infallible Word of God, and so the Bible, therefore, should be central to Christian education, and not peripheral. Every aspect of education should moreover be grounded upon Scripture and sound doctrine, not broad Evangelicalism. What does this mean? The school year beginning in the Fall of 2017-Summer of 2018 is devoted to the study of the Old Testament (The Law, the Historical Books, the Wisdom Books, and the Prophets). And the school year beginning in the Fall of 2018- Summer of 2019 school year is devoted to the study of the New Testament (The Gospels, the Acts, the Epistles, and the Revelation). The Bible is read in family worship and in-class curriculum, morning and evening, Monday thru Saturday. So that every year, parents and their children are reading the Bible together; the OT thru at least once in the academic year, and the NT at least 3 times thru the next academic year. For Christian education should be built upon the family, and with the father as head, and also the mother at home  to be setting the example for their children. I have a full set of curriculum for these classes, as well as suggested books to use. Some of the books we use for our Bible Survey classes include:

  • Jonathan Edwards – History of the Work of Redemption
  • AM. Hodgkin – Christ in all the Scriptures
  • Wilkinson and Boa – Bible Handbook
  • Matthew Henry – Six Volume Commentary on the Bible
  • John Calvin – Commentaries on Holy Scripture
  • Gareth Crossley – The Old Testament Explained and Applied
  • Brett Woody – Bible Study Lectures on the Old Testament
  • Brett Woody – Bible Study Lectures on the New Testament
  • Norman Geisler – Popular Survey of the Old Testament
  • Norman Geisler – Popular Survey of the New Testament
  • Ed Hindson – The Essence of the Old Testament
  • Ed Hindson – The Essence of the New Testament
  • Miles van Pelt – A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament
  • Michael Kruger – A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament
  • Andreas Kostenberger – The Lion and the Lamb: New Testament Essentials
  • Andreas Kostenberger – The Cradle, The Cross, and the Crown
  • D. Edmond Hiebert – An Introduction to the New Testament
  • Edward Taylor – Upon the Types and Shadows of the Old Testament
  • Geerhardus Vos  – Biblical Theology
  • Leon Morris – New Testament Theology

Along with this pattern of studying Scripture, the study of the Old Testament, every four years, includes a comprehensive theological and polemical study of Ancient History (with an overview of the history and civilizations of Sumeria, Egypt, the Hittites, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome); along with the Bible’s rebuke and condemnation of these ancient civilization’s paganism and idolatry. This is vital to understanding Scripture in its historical context as well as God’s solemn rebuke and condemnation of ancient paganism, with its literature and abominable practices. Modern culture and the demonic agenda of the liberal establishment in politics and universities is largely based on the same pattern of Ancient pagan idolatry. I have several sermons and lectures on this subject showing how a great deal of modern literature and drama is a form of ancient paganism.

2. Sound Doctrine: Also essential to a godly and Biblical Christian education is the study and memorization of the Reformed Confessions and Catechisms. Sound doctrine is the framework of a godly life. And one of the main reasons why children and youth today are given over to such terrible patters of sin and idolatry is because they are not taught or trained to love God and to be devoted to sound doctrine. Jesus said, “If you know the truth, the truth will set you free.” It is essential for schools, teachers, and parents, therefore, to teach the Reformed Catechisms to their children and students.  Martin Luther rightly said, “No one is too old or too smart to learn and study the catechism.” For this reason, it is important for parents and teachers to have a place and schedule for the kids to learn Christian doctrine at their respective age and comprehension level. The Children’s Catechism of 52 Questions called Milk for Babes is a great start for all ages, for children and for adults who may be new believers. We also have a Family Catechism of 200 Questions called Spiritual Food for Faithful Families. It is designed for more advanced students and parents. This Catechism is much easier to read and understand than the Westminster Shorter Catechism, though it is longer. The Shorter Catechism is the catechism to use for junior high and high school level youth, and is certainly the greatest and most useful tool of instruction in Christian doctrine ever written. This should be used for young students as soon as they are able. We recommend that folks should also use the Heidelberg Catechism, after the Westminster Shorter Catechism is thoroughly digested. We have just recently made a revised and expanded edition of the Heidelberg Catechism for this purpose. Also very useful to use at the Junior high and the beginning of high school level is John Calvin’s small but very edifying book called, Instruction in Faith. By the junior and senior year of high school, Christian youth should then be able to read and study the Reformed Confessions, the Westminster Larger Catechism, and parts of John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, along with many of the great devotional writings of the Puritans. All of these documents are provided on the website in the section on Systematic Theology. Some of the books we use for this include:

  • Milk for Babes: A Children’s Catechism
  • Food for Families: A Family Catechism
  • The Westminster Shorter Catechism
  • The Westminster Larger Catechism
  • The Heidelberg Catechism (revised)
  • The Reformed Confessions
  • John Calvin – Truth for All Time
  • John Calvin  – The Institutes of the Christian Religion
  • William Ames – Marrow of Sacred Divinity
  • Louis Berkhof – Systematic Theology
  • Thomas Watson – A Body of Divinity
  • Francis Turretin – Institutes of Elenctic Theology

3. World and Church History: Also foundational to the pattern of education and discipleship in our academy is the systematic study of world and church history from a strongly Biblical and Reformed perspective emphasizing God’s sovereignty, His saving purposes in history, the place and importance of godly leadership in the church and the state (preachers, theologians, evangelists, and Christian magistrates), as well as the refutation of idolatry and false religion. The study of history is essential for believers to understand and discern God’s providence in the present, to be discerning of world events, politics, issues in the church, and the many evils of modern culture. This coursework covers a 4 year period several times over at all age levels: (1. Elementary 1-4; 2. Intermediate 5-8; 3. High school 9-12, and also for advance students in 5. College – 4 years; and in 7. Seminary – 4 years. In my academy, the study of history and especially Church history has a vital place. Students read and study the Early Church fathers, various medieval theologians who faithfully preached the Gospel, the Reformers, the Puritans, and even modern reformed pastors and theologians who are edifying and profitable.

It is important to understand here that the coursework in these History classes covers at the same time the various aspects of World Literature and Christian literature, with a heavy emphasis on Scripture, Christian classics, sermons, treatises, confessions, historical documents, theological works, short biographies, poetry, hymns, and other godly literature that is important to God’s saving purpose in history, and that is at the same time sanctifying to the believer. To be clear, we strongly believe that reading and studying the Bible and godly Christian books like Augustine’s Confessions, Thomas Kempis’ Imitation of Christ, Martin Luther’s Sermons, John Calvin’s Institutes, the Reformed Confessions and Catechisms, John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Jonathan Edwards History of the Work of Redemption and Religious Affections, the great Hymns of the Faith, etc… are of significantly greater importance for education than pagan or secular literature, be it Homer’s Iliad or Charles Dickens Tale of Two Cities. In fact, we believe it is utterly profane and destructive for Christian schools to do otherwise, except for individuals with special interest in apologetics or in doing advanced work in history and literature. Secular works of literature that have had a significant influence on history and society can be easily studied in brevity by most students through textbooks, Wikipedia articles, or other means that do not hinder godly learning. The excessive reading of pagan literature, as well as the ungodly promotion of pagan drama in Christian schools and home school groups, is one of the leading causes of sin, idolatry, and apostasy in the church among youth; and we strongly counsel against such practices. And we affirm that teacher’s, who promote such pagan drama and the theater to the neglect of Scripture, sound doctrine, hard work, service to parents and family, and the cultivation of godly character, are destructive to the Church and to Christian families no matter how popular they may be.

And so we cover in great detail over every four years: 1. Early Church History (From Christ to 600AD). 2. Medieval Church History (From 600 to 1500AD) 3. Reformation History (the 16th-17th century). 4. And Modern World and Church History (1750-Present).

For College and Seminary level work, we divide Reformation History into two parts: 1. Reformation history (the 16th century Protestant Reformation) where we go thoroughly over the life and theology of the Reformers Luther, Melanchthon, Zwingli, Bucer, Calvin, Farel, Bullinger, Tyndale, Knox, Perkins, the Elizabethan Puritans, as well as the Reformed Confessions. 2. The Puritan Revolution through Jonathan Edwards and the Great Awakening. This class includes the 17th century English Puritans, the Colonial Puritans, Oliver Cromwell and the English Civil War, the Westminster Assembly and Standards, the Dutch Second Reformation, Reformed Orthodoxy, Francis Turretin, and then also the Great Awakening, George Whitefield, concluding with the life and theology of Jonathan Edwards.

For our classes and curriculum there are way too many books to list here at this time; but a schedule and list for specific grade levels can be obtained for those who inquire. Some of the books we use include:

  • Bob Jones – World History
  • Ferguson and Bruun – European Civilization
  • Philip Schaff – History of the Christian Church
  • Wikipedia articles on subjects of History
  • The Reformed Confessions and Catechisms
  • Leigh Churchill – Blood of Martyrs
  • Leigh Churchill – The Birth of Europe
  • Leigh Churchill – The Age of Knights and Friars
  • Steven Lawson – Pillars of Grace
  • Earle Cairns – Christianity through the Centuries
  • Everett Ferguson – Church History Volume 1
  • Charles Woodbridge – Church History Volume 2
  • Justo Gonzalez – The Story of Christianity
  • W.H.C. Frend – The Rise of Christianity
  • John Foxe – Foxes Book of Martyrs
  • The Apostolic Fathers
  • Irenaeus – Proof of the Apostolic Preaching
  • Justin Martyr – Apologies
  • Eusebius – The History of the Early Church
  • AM.H. Jones – Constantine and the Conversion of Europe
  • Augustine – Confessions
  • Augustine – City of God
  • Anselm – Major Works
  • Benard of Clairvaux – On the Love of God
  • Thomas Kempis – Imitation of Christ
  • T.M. Lindsay – The Reformation
  • Lewis Spitz – The Protestant Reformation
  • Martin Luther – Three Treatises
  • Huldreich Zwingli – On the Christian Faith
  • John Calvin – Institutes and many of his works
  • J.C. Ryle – Five English Reformers
  • The Theology of the English Reformers
  • John Brown – The English Puritans
  • James Heron Short History of English Puritans
  • Joel Beeke – Living for God’s Glory
  • Joel Beeke – Meet the Puritans
  • The Works of Jonathan Edwards
  • The Works of John Owen
  • The Works of Thomas Watson
  • Hundreds of Puritan Paperbacks
  • Heinrich Heppe – Reformed Dogmatics
  • Francis Turretin – Institutes of Theology
  • Richard Hannula – Trial and Triumph
  • Richard Hannula – Heralds of the Reformation
  • Richard Hannula – For Christ’s Crown (Sketches of Puritans and Covenanters)
  • Gary Demar – Founding of American (3 Books)
  • Everett Emerson – Puritanism in America
  • Joseph Tracy – The Great Awakening
  • Richard Bushman – The Great Awakening: Original Documents
  • Hundreds of Original Documents, Sermons, Treatises, Biographies, Creeds, and Confessions

4. Devotion: Another important aspect of Christian education and discipleship is cultivating in children and students a love for God, a devotion to Jesus Christ, and a life of prayer and spiritual discipline. To this end we train and encourage students to listen to sermons, to read sermons and devotional literature, as well as to memorize Scripture, along with psalms and hymns. We believe that Christian families are being destroyed by the evil influence of secular programs, pagan literature, and patterns of sin and idolatry in the culture, and ungodly forms of music and entertainment that are destructive to children and to Christian youth. Children and youth need rebuke and correction as well as godly direction and discipline in their life so that they learn to follow Christ instead of the crowd. Deut.6; Psalm 1; 119; Eph.4-5; Col.3. Some of the books that we use (other than Scripture) to encourage a life of godly devotion to Christ among youth include:

  • John Bunyan – Pilgrim’s Progress
  • John Bunyan – The Holy War
  • John Calvin – The Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life
  • Matthew Henry – The Secret of Communion with God
  • Matthew Henry – A Method for Prayer
  • John Owen – Communion with God
  • John Owen – Rules for Walking in Fellowship
  • John Preston – The Only Love
  • Gerard Groote – Following of Christ
  • Thomas Kempis – The Imitation of Christ
  • Richard Rogers – Holy Helps to a Godly Life
  • Thomas Watson – The Bible and the Closet
  • Horatius Bonar – Follow the Lamb
  • William Greenhill – Stop Loving the World
  • J.W. Alexander – Remember Him
  • John Flavel – Keeping the Heart
  • A.W. Pink – Profiting from the Scriptures
  • John MacArthur – Keys to Spiritual Growth

Also, we do not take the summer months off from classes in Bible survey, but we downsize the workload in church history for the sake of families who take vacations. So we have 2 classes going on during the summer to counter the prevailing lack of discipline that is common in families and students during the summer. Taking summer completely off from discipleship and education is nothing less than a form of modern paganism that is destructive to the Christian life and to families.

*To help you better understand how this works, the curriculum, the schedule, the books used, and a thorough explanation of the coursework can be found on the ACADEMY tab of the website. Or you can inquire with me for a free consultation, as I have helped many schools and families nationwide, and in other countries, over the last 20 years, with putting together a plan for their educational and curriculum needs.

Brett Woody, Pastor-Teacher