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That’s the title of a provocative book published in 2009 by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer. Its thesis is that, contrary to what many had assumed, we’re not losing evangelical kids because their faith is challenged when they go off to college.

We’re losing them in middle school and high school.

Ham & Beemer uncovered this shocking fact by doing some meticulous research – asking a large sample of 20 year olds why they had stopped attending church. They have stopped attending church, you know. The phenomenon has been recognized for years now. Two thirds (2/3) of those who attended church regularly as children stop going to church in their 20s. The question is “Why?”

For years, the widely accepted answer was that they were secularized by the colleges they went to. The real answer is more troubling.

Ham & Beemer probed deeper in their questions about belief and church attendance and, in particular, asked when these 20-year-olds began to doubt that the Bible was true. Confidence in the truth of the Bible is closely correlated with church attendance among 20 year olds. Of those who no longer believe the Bible to be true, roughly 40%, first had doubts when they were in middle school. 44% first had doubts when they were in high school. Only 10.6% report they first began to doubt the Bible when they were in college.

In short, the church has not lost these children because they were secularized in college. They were already gone before they left for college.

Here are the more shocking results of Ham & Beemer’s research: There is a correlation between Sunday School attendance and skepticism about the Bible. Those who had attended Sunday School regularly were MORE likely to doubt that the Bible is true. Here’s the most stunning question: “Do you believe you have become more anti-church through the years?” 39.1% of those who attended Sunday School regularly said yes, they have become more anti-church. Only 26.9% of those who DIDN’T attend Sunday School said yes.

For the 20-year-olds surveyed by Ham & Beemer (a large national sample, demographically balanced), Sunday School had a negative effect on their attitude towards church.

The research is convincing and disturbing. The situation uncovered by Ham and Beemer is serious, with serious implications for the long-term health of the church.

What can be done?

First, let me emphasize that Ham & Beemer are NOT anti-Sunday School. They resist the temptation to bash the whole concept of Sunday School, or suggest that it be abandoned. And although they do point out that there is no specific biblical mandate for Sunday School, they hasten to add that there is no biblical case to be made that it’s a bad idea. In any event they don’t believe that the problem is the institution of Sunday School – it is the content and attitude of how Sunday School is being conducted which is at the root of the problem. The problem is systemic, subtle, and insidious. The systemic problem is the abdication of families in the religious instruction of children. Parents whose faith is unformed or uninformed and whose understanding of the Bible is shallow will not be able to convince their children that the Bible is true and authoritative. If parents have no conviction that the Bible is true, then their children are unlikely to ever believe it either. It won’t matter much whether Sunday School is abolished, or extremely well-taught with excellent materials if parents don’t live a life of faith at home where they are closely watched by their children.

Ham & Beemer’s first challenge is to parents: Defend the Word. Live the Word. Parents if you are unsure about the Bible, it’s time to invest in some adult Christian education for yourself. Our culture has been waging a full-bore attack on the truth and accuracy of the Bible for generations. If you’ve not thought about the issues, it’s quite likely that your own faith has been weakened or undermined by the 24/7 assaults of movies, tv, news & talk shows and popular culture. The secular world dismisses the Bible as a ridiculous collection of myths and fairy tales. What do you believe? Can you answer the world’s attacks? Your children will inevitably ask you. You need to be prepared with an answer. “Be ready always to give an answer of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).

Ham & Beemer’s second challenge is to all those involved in Sunday School and Christian Education: Defend the Word. Live the Word. Get trained. Find solid curriculum. If necessary, just sit down and teach the Bible (now there’s a radical concept). My favorite admonition: Teach Bible history, not Bible stories. Far too much Sunday School curriculum treats the Bible as if it were Aesop’s Fables. A cute story is told, followed by a moral principle found in the story. Children instantly understand that it is completely irrelevant whether the story is true or not. If the Bible is told as a fable with a moral, you’re actually communicating that it’s most likely NOT true. DON’T DO THIS. The Bible is not hard. It was designed to be read to children. Cf. Deuteronomy 6:7. The things God calls us to teach to our children are not the morals – he calls us to teach the scriptures.

Ham & Beemer have similar exhortations for youth pastors and pastors. Be sure in your own mind about the truth and authority of the Bible. Then teach it confidently.

Because the message of Ham & Beemer can be easily misunderstood and misapplied, I want to stress that it is not a structural problem that is causing young people to leave the church. There is no magic structure, or magic program, or magic formula that will change the demographics of young people leaving the church. Abolishing Sunday School or simply re-organizing Sunday School will not solve the problem. The problem is not the structure. The problem is and has been the content of what is taught in the home and in Sunday School.

There does not need to be another lost generation. Jesus loves these kids. They need him desperately (as do we all). Our culture needs Jesus. Our best hope to reach the culture is by equipping our kids. The Holy Spirit uses the preaching and teaching of the Word to bring young and old into a relationship with Jesus. When we ignore the Word, or devalue the Word, we undermine and block the very tool by which the Holy Spirit works. The Word is Truth. Jesus is revealed in the Word. We have no higher calling than to preach Jesus and Him crucified. And how shall any know of Him, except through the Word?

There is a crisis in the church. There is a crisis with young people. They are leaving the church because they have no reason to stay. They have only vague notions about Jesus. Sunday School Jesus, sadly, is often little more than Aesop with a pious story. The Word gives us a much richer picture of Jesus than that. We need to teach the Word, defend the Word – that our children may come to know Jesus.

I commend Ham & Beemer’s book to all of those involved in the education of young people. I hope it scares you and makes you think.

(originally published in Family Magazine)

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marriage under fireI am a short term pessimist about the future of western civilization in general, and the United States in particular.

The culture war was lost in the 1960s & 1970s. Everything since has been a rear-guard, fighting retreat.

The Obergefell decision was not the Rubicon. We crossed the Rubicon 50 years ago.

The normalisation of sexual amorality and promiscuity began in the 1960s. Marriage was the primary target, and sustained shock after shock.

Promiscuity, unfaithfulness, abandonment, abuse, all contributed to the destruction of marriage. Sneering at it, demonizing it, jeering at it, and refusing to take it seriously all came long before the beginning of the new millenium.

Abolishing marriage legally came only after a substantial portion of the population had been persuaded to abandon it.

And this should not have been surprising. Marriage was and is the first institution. It is the institution upon which all other institutions, and indeed civilization itself is built.

Marriage precedes the state, in time, in the created order, and in importance. God did not say, on the 6th day, “Behold, I have created government, and it shall look after you and provide for all of your needs.”

To add the capstone of God’s gift of marriage, Hosea in the OT, and Paul in the NT, tell us that marriage is a picture of God’s relationship with his people and Jesus’ relationship with his church.

God, of course, knew what he was doing. Marriage is a great gift. It is for our good. It blesses us, it blesses our children, it blesses our community.

Those committed to the biblical view of marriage are an increasingly embattled minority. And that is why I am pessimistic about the short term future of civilization. The attacks on marriage, its abandonment and eventual abolition have left us in a dire situation.

men and marriageThe most imporant book you should read about the current collapse of civilization in the west (and in the USA in particular) is George Gilder’s Men and Marriage (original title: Sexual Suicide).

Gilder makes a compelling case that marriage is the tool that women use to civilize men. Take away marriage and young men remain uncivilized barbarians. Take away marriage, and older, rich men will commit serial polygamy – abandoning the wives of their youth and the mothers of their children for younger playthings – whom they will eventually abandon as well (after thoroughly exploiting them). Hint to women: The Sexual Revolution is not your friend.

In our current circumstances, marriage will not and cannot be restored by a political victory.

Christians are going to have to learn how to live as an oppressed and despised minority. We have once again been tagged as “haters of mankind.”

What to do?

I suggest reading the history of the persecuted church – across time and across geography.

The church converted the urban population of the Roman Empire, from 33AD to 300AD. It took several centuries. Constantine, the first Christian emperor, was not the cause of the conversion of so many Roman citizens. He was the result.

The church converted the barbarian tribes from 400AD to 600AD.

The church converted the Vikings, from 750AD-900AD.

That’s why I’m a long term optimist.

Committing to a biblical marriage may well be the most revolutionary thing you can do.

How do we then live? I would call you, my brothers and sisters, to commit to marriage. Honor it as an institution. For those who enter in to it, take the vows and the promises seriously. Committing to a biblical marriage may well be the most revolutionary thing you can do. Model for your children what love and commitment look like. Deny yourself for your spouse, and for your children. Be the living model of Christ’s love for his bride, the church.

Unless and until we do these things, we will have little impact on the culture.

We should not cease to have an answer for the hope that is in us.

We should not cease to proclaim the good news of the kingdom of Jesus, the Christ.

But we must show by our lives, as well as proclaiming with our lips, the good news of the kingdom.

 

 

 

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A short and very nice summary of the role of Scripture and the Church.

Human beings can err.

Scientists sometimes get it wrong. Even when the all agree. The test is always to return to the natural world and observe closely.

Popes can err.

General Councils of the Church can err.

The test is to return to scripture and read it carefully.

“Accurate interpretation does not mean forbidding “private interpretation” any more than good science forbids backyard telescopes.”

H/T to: Stand Firm -> Sola Scriptura and Interpreting the Bible Badly.

Short, but very much worth reading.

For the past several years, Cyndy has been preparing the Sunday School lessons for our church. There are about two dozen children, ages 6 to 12, all in one class. Needless to say, this has been a challenge. Cyndy has been committed to preparing lessons that teach children the stories from scripture, systematically, both Old and New Testament. I think she’s done a marvelous, creative, inventive job. And  of course, I’m completely unbiased!

Today’s lesson was from the book of Genesis. During the next 8 week segment, the kids will be going over both the Tower of Babel and the Flood sections, but today was the introductory material. You might not think there would be much for kids in the passages from Genesis 4 & 5 that cover the genealogy of the Patriarchs – but there is! There are ten figures named starting with Adam and ending with Noah. For each one the text gives their age when their son was born and how long they lived. From these figures, it is possible to construct a timeline showing how much time elapsed from Adam to Noah and the Flood.

If we take the year of Adam’s birth as 0 and then add the ages of each Patriarch to the age of their father in the year of their birth we come up with a total of 1,656 years from Adam’s birth to the Flood. But there’s more to think about here than just how much time passed. It’s also intriguing to look at how much the lives of the Patriarch’s overlapped each other. There’s also the fascinating story of Enoch, who did not die, but was taken by God directly into heaven.

To help kids see these relationships, Cyndy planned and laid out a “living timeline” for the kids on the floor of our fellowship hall.

At the start of the lesson, ten children sat in ten chairs and picked up the name of a randomly assigned Patriarch. The teacher called the first name, “Adam.” The student started walking the taped timeline at Adam’s birth, paused when Seth was born, and then continued to walk the rest of the years of their life. Then Seth was called, and so on.

There were two lines drawn across the lifelines of the Patriarchs. A blue ribbon marked the year of Adam’s death. At the conclusion of the class the students were asked, “How many of the other nine Patriarchs could have talked to Adam?” The answer is eight. The tenth Patriarch, Noah, is the first one born after Adam’s death.

When we got to Enoch, by the way, rather than walking to the end of their lifeline, we had one of the teachers wheel the student out in a chair to show that the end of Enoch’s life was different.

The second line drawn across the lifelines was red crepe paper marking the year of the flood. A very concrete illustration of the meaning of Methuselah’s name which is “after me it comes.”

The kids had a good time and the visuals really drove the point home. I was in the sanctuary doing communion at the end of our morning worship service, so I challenged the adults to go find a child from Sunday School and find out how many of the Patriarchs could have talked to Adam.

Here’s what Cyndy wrote the teachers in the teachers’ guide to the lesson:

What we want the kids to take away from all this:

An appreciation for the historicity of Scripture.

Understanding that ALL Scripture, even the “begats” are profitable.

That the genealogies show us that there an eyewitness to Eden was alive for 900 years.  This means that Noah could not have talked to Adam about what it was like before the fall, but Noah’s father could have.

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It will be some time before we are able to get these printed, but in the meantime we wanted to make them available to anyone who is interested. You can browse online here or download a .pdf to your own computer. You can even print your own copy if you’d like.

Our history study packages are typically designed for use in one semester, so now’s the time to order for the new year. Break out of the textbook box. Give your children real stories about real people. Reclaim history for them and for yourself.
Greenleaf Press 2010 Retail Catalog

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David Rohl is a modern-day, British Indiana Jones! He’s been shaking up the stodgy world of Egyptian archeology since the early 1990s, when he published a ground-breaking book arguing for a radical revision to the traditional chronology of Ancient Egypt – Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest.

A few years ago, Rohl wrote a one-volume reconstruction of the history of the Old Testament. His imaginative account marshals all of the most recent archeological evidence to illuminate and make meaningful the historical narrative of the Bible. That book, From Eden to Exile, has now been published in the United States by Greenleaf Press.

It is most refreshing to read an account of the history of Israel by a noted academic / archeologist which treats the biblical text respectfully! Not only that, but David Rohl cites an extensive collection of archaeological finds and artifacts which confirm the historical accuracy of the biblical account and attest to the historical reality of the Patriarchs. Rohl is the pioneer among a growing number of modern scholars who have challenged many of the traditional assumptions and chronologies of the ancient world. They are challenging the 19th and early 20th century theories and reconstructions of the history of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. Those theories were formulated against a background of widespread skepticism (at times downright hostility) towards the biblical accounts. Rohl approaches the biblical texts with a quite different attitude. He begins by affording them the benefit of the doubt and taking them seriously. The result is a startling confirmation of the biblical record and a revision of the chronology of the ancient world.

Orthodox and conservative Christians will disagree with David Rohl’s retelling/reconstruction of the lives of Adam, Enoch, and Noah, but his version does have the admirable quality of treating all of them as historical figures. This stands in stark contrast to the past 150 years of liberal and skeptical scholarship which treats the biblical text as little more than a pious fraud. Because of the antiquity of these figures, and the scarcity of archeological finds and textual references, Rohl’s narrative here is little more than speculative conjecture – imaginative, but not really historical.

Rohl is on firmer ground, and has more to work with, when he describes the dispersion of the Mesopotamian culture and contacts (perhaps even a conquest?) with the Nile Valley. The unification of the Nile under the earliest pharaohs is murky territory, but Rohl’s speculative account ties more of the threads together than any other proposed narrative.

With Joseph, Rohl reaches territory where he is expert – Egypt. From here on the narrative is on surer footing, and the archeological evidence expands many-fold. The chapters on Joseph, Moses, and the Exodus are arguably the best in the book. Rohl paints a detailed picture of Egyptian culture and Pharaoh’s court. His account of the oppression of the Hebrew slaves draws on archeological finds made at the delta settlement of Avaris, first found and excavated in 1966. Rohl follows Josephus in crediting Moses as not just a “prince of Egypt,” but the successful commander of the Egyptian army which defeated and conquered Kush. Although Rohl opts for natural phenomena to account for the plagues of the Exodus, he produces compelling evidence from Egyptian sources that document and confirm the series of disasters which devastated Egypt.

The chapter on Joshua and the Conquest is a tour-de-force for Rohl. It provides him with an opportunity to review the history of archeology at Jericho and spell out in detail just where traditional scholars went wrong. Rohl shows how the New Chronology fits the facts much better and integrates the surviving documentary sources (including the Bible) with the archeological evidence.

In the chapter on Saul, Rohl presents startling evidence that the first king of Israel was a contemporary of the heretic Pharaoh Akhenaton. He quotes from the El Amarna letters to show that the Philistine cities of the coastal plain were sending frantic appeals to Pharaoh Akhenaton for help in putting down a rebellion by the nomadic herdsmen of the highlands under the leadership of their chief, Labaya, who Rohl identifies as Saul of the tribe of Benjamin. Even more intriguing, Rohl identifies a worshipper of the Hebrew God “El” at the court of Pharaoh Akhenaton. In the archives of Armarna, Rohl finds not only letters about Labaya, but also an actual letter from Labaya. The details of Labaya’s life and subsequent death in battle against a Philistine coalition on the slopes of Mt. Gilboa closely match the details of Saul’s life from the book of Samuel. They are a powerful confirmation of Rohl’s New Chronology.

Rohl continues to mine the Amarna letters for confirmation of the details of the reign of David. The letters record the actions of the two “sons of Labaya,” Mutbaal (Ishbaal) and Elhannan (David) as well as their generals Ayab (Joab)and Abner. Rohl cites the weakened Egyptian government and army under Akhenaton and Tutankhamun as the setting for David’s conquest of Jerusalem and expansion of the nation of Israel. David was expanding to fill the vacuum left by Egypt’s weakness during the later rulers of the 18th dynasty.

Solomon’s marriage to an Egyptian princess, in Rohl’s reconstruction, thus cements an alliance with General Haremheb who had succeeded Tut and his uncle, Ay, as Pharaoh. Even more startling is Rohl’s assertion that in the 33rd year of Solomon’s reign, it was troops from Israel who turned the tide at the battle of Kadesh, where the nineteen-year-old Ramesses II defeated Muwatali in 939 BC.

The division of Israel after Solomon’s death is aided by the intervention of the Pharaoh Shishak who marched on Jerusalem in the fifth year of the reign of Rehoboam.

The rest of Rohl’s narrative is straight-forward, as we enter the period of history when the biblical kings of Israel and Judah are mentioned in the text of neighboring nations and we have firm synchronicities established with Assyria and Nebuchadnezzar.

Rohl’s epilogue to this ambitious project is perhaps his best prose. In a brief, nine-page essay he states the problem posed by the dating of Solomon’s kingdom to the Iron Age and the inflation of the chronologies of the Egyptian Pharaohs caused by the assumptions of 19th century historians. Current traditional archeological research can find no confirmation of the Jews’ sojourn in Egypt, or the Exodus, or the Conquest, or even of the flourishing of the nation of Israel under David and Solomon. And so the archeologists dismiss the Bible as historically untrustworthy. Rohl, with a thorough re-examination of the dating sequences of the ancient world revises the chronologies. He goes back and looks at the same places, but at different times and finds countless confirmations of the details of the biblical account. His history of both Egypt and Israel is “satisfyingly supported by the stratigraphic record and colourfully enhanced by the contemporary texts of Israel’s powerful neighbours. It provides a solid and ultimately believable historical foundation for the religious messages of the biblical text.”

The book is beautifully laid out and illustrated with maps derived from satellite photography as well as stunning photographs of ancient artifacts – kudos to David Rohl for the photography and Ditas Rohl for the design & layout. It is also brilliantly written. Rohl has a knack for taking the details of archeology and explaining sophisticated concepts and analyses in ways that a layman can easily understand. This is no small accomplishment.

Christians will not agree with Rohl’s speculations about the details behind the book of Genesis. Indeed, it seems to me that Rohl has weakened his case by inventing a narrative for the earliest time period where he has the least amount of evidence. But when he reaches Joseph and Egypt, all those who respect and appreciate the biblical text must acknowledge that Rohl has done great service in re-evaluating the evidence and synthesizing it in a new and more accurate structure that better explains the ancient world – and in the process confirms the historical accuracy of the Old Testament.

Thus, while there are many things in From Eden to Exile that I would take issue with, there is also much that I appreciate. And because I appreciate what I can only judge to be an honest, forthright, original work of scholarship, I am proud to make From Eden to Exile
available to the reading public (and the academic world) once again so that David Rohl’s contribution to the New Chronology will continue to find its audience. It will surely provoke, agitate, and force those who read it to re-think their ideas about the ancient world. It is my hope that it will also play a part in raising up a new generation of ancient historians who will continue to investigate the evidence, continue to search for archeological clues, and continue the ongoing discussion of the historical events recorded in the Old Testament.

From Eden to Exile is a paperback, 528 pages and is available directly from Greenleaf Press for $24.95. It is also available through Amazon.com.

Bookstores and other retailers may order copies directly from Greenleaf Press or through Ingram Book Group.

Rob Shearer, Publisher
Greenleaf Press

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We sometimes forget that, in pre-Revolutionary America, the religious landscape was dominated by churches that rested on legal establishment: the Congregationalists in New England, and the Episcopalians in New York, Virginia, Maryland, North and South Carolina, and Georgia. What exactly did legal establishment mean? It is so far removed from our own experience that we may not realize what an intensive role the government playing in administering the churches.  the state collected tithes (which all citizens were legally required to pay, whether they attended the established church or no). The state also laid out new parish boundaries, subsidized new church construction, maintained parish properties, paid clergymen’s salaries, hired and fired them, and even took measures to suppress dissenters. Baptist preachers, for example, were sometimes jailed and beaten. Yes, here in America! Finally, in many states, government positions were limited to church members – there were religious tests for office.

[. . .]

[a] key to success on the frontier is that you have to be there. You have to be willing to sacrifice the comforts of the settled cities in order to minister among rough people living rough lives. As a rule, the established clergy were not willing to do that. In the state-supported churches (and in wealthier churches generally), the training for pastors was a long, expensive process that led to a chronic shortage of clergy, thus giving them considerable bargaining power over salary and location. Many simply refused to go to the unsettled frontier areas.

By contrast, the Methodist circuit preachers became a legend on the frontier. They traveled constantly, virtually living in the saddle.

– Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth , pp 263-264

She has some fascinating statistics that show that the rate of religious affiliation in the US has increased since the revolution, while at the same time, the “market share” of the older mainline churches has been decreasing since the First & Second Great Awakenings. The 19th century was the Age of Methodism. The 20th century has been the Age of the Baptists (with pentecostal/charismatics coming on strong towards the end of the century). During this entire time, while the number and percentage of Americans who indicate that they are affiliated with a church has increased, the numbers of Congregationalists, Episcopalians, & Presbyterians has been declining.

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I admit it. I am a sucker for pop-up books. I find the engineering fascinating, and take great delight in watching how a 3-dimensional scene pops-up when  you unfold the pages. The genre began in the late 19th century (when children’s books first began to develop as a separate category) and there were for a time several London publishers (Dean & Son and Raphael Tuck & Sons) who competed with each other in producing elaborate “movable books.”

I was delighted when Julie Salmon called my attention to this stunning pop-up book in an email last week. In the Beginning – The Art of Genesis
contains some of the most elaborate and stunning examples of paper engineering that I have ever seen. The book is a collaboration between author and designer, Chuck Fischer and “paper engineer” Bruce Foster. Fischer is a muralist, trompe l’oeil master, product designer and published author working out of his studio in New York city. Foster studied art at the University of Tennessee and has designed more than 40 pop-up books.

There are seven 2-page spreads in this book, each with an elaborate pop-up, three-dimensional design. The opening pop-up is a framed image from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. The 2nd spread is an overview of the Seven Days of creation which reads from bottom to top. Each day is represented by a separate disk. Each disk has a small pull-out circle in it which gives the biblical reference describing what was done on that day.

The 3rd spread is a mosaic style triptych which depicts the creation of eve, the temptation, and the expulsion from the garden.

The 4th spread tells the story of Noah’s Ark, choosing the moment at which the ark has come to rest on Mt. Ararat and the animals are emerging, with a rainbow arched overhead. There is a detail of Noah and his family offering a sacrifice of thanksgiving at an altar in the foreground.

The 5th spread is the most elaborate I have ever seen in a pop-up. It features a Tower of Babel which jumps to a full eighteen inches high. Quite a feat for a book which is itself, only eleven inches by nine inches!

The top of the tower encircled by clouds and thunderbolts and there is an impressive level of detail as we see the workers and materials being prepared at the base to push the top of the tower still higher.

Perhaps the most visually interesting is the 6th spread, which depicts Jacob’s ladder and the dream-vision of the patriarch as he saw angels going up and down a ladder to heaven. Most of the artwork of this scene is reproduced on acetate layers which gives it an overall “stained glass window” effect.

The final scene is set in the Egyptian court of Pharaoh and depicts Joseph interpreting Pharaoh’s dream. To either side of Pharaoh there are rotating disks which transform from the image of the seven fat cows to the seven lean ones, and the seven full ears of grain and the seven withered ones. There are fold-out panels with the text of the full story of Joseph from the last twelve chapters of Genesis.

This is NOT a book for small children to handle on their own. It IS a book that they will take great delight in looking at WITH an adult. And if you’re like me, you’ll have quite a good time opening and closing each spread, reading the text, and admiring and exploring the details.

This is a book that really cries out for a video of its own, and thankfully, the publisher has created one. Click on the play button below to see most of the spreads in this remarkable book as they unfold.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OuDrvHmCQA

In The Beginning – The Art of Genesis is a hardback, with seven pop-up scenes and 15 bound-in mini-books of text. It is in-stock and available directly from Greenleaf Press for $35.00

Fischer and Foster have collaborated on two earlier pop-up books, also quite impressive. The first, published in 2006 was Christmas in New York, A Pop-Up Book. Christmas in New York has six pop-up spreads, depicting Radio City Music Hall, The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Angel Tree, Rockefeller Center, The Nutcracker, Fifth Avenue and New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Here’s a video that shows the remarkable scenes “popping up”:

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PoZsBHEOk4

Christmas in New York is $35.00, and also available directly from Greenleaf Press.

In 2007, they released Christmas Around the World, A Pop-Up Book, with fourteen pages of stunning pop-ups, pullouts, and booklets about celebrations in France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Latin America, Russia, Scandinavia, and the United States. Here’s a video showing off Christmas Around the World.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGjc7U0oJkw

Christmas Around the World is $30.00 and also available directly from Greenleaf Press.

Any or all three of these would make great Christmas presents!

– Rob Shearer, publisher
Greenleaf Press

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With the imminent publication of Famous Men of the 16th & 17th Century, I decided to review, revise, & update the Greenleaf scope and sequence for the study of history.

After 20 years of teaching history, talking to homeschooling parents, and continuing to read and write on historical topics, I am more convinced than ever that the keys to teaching history to children are Chronology and Biography.

And I am also equally convinced that we need to be teaching the Bible to our children as a historical document. The Bible is not a collection of morality tales like Aesop’s Fables. The Bible is a historical account of God acting in history from the call of the Patriarchs through the Exodus, the Conquest, the Exile and the Restoration. I believe strongly that our kids should know the history of Israel as their first “model” for how to approach history. And the Bible’s pattern is to tell the story in chronological order and to focus on one key person at a time. The historical books of the Bible tell the story of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, etc… down to Daniel, Esther, Ezra, & Nehemiah.

With the new Famous Men book (and with a few excellent books from other publishers), Greenleaf is able to offer a complete history program for grades 1-8, and a plan for a second study of western civilization in the high school years.

You can download our 3-page Scope and Sequence here. Feel free to copy, forward, and/or print out as many copies as you’d like.

Page One is the plan for the elementary grades.

Page two is the plan for high school students:

And page three are alternate plans to do Western Civilization in four, five, six, or seven years of elementary school:

I’ll have more information about the imminent publication of Famous Men of the 16th & 17th Century over the next few weeks.

– Rob Shearer, Publisher

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When Cyndy started homeschooling our children in 1985, we talked (a lot) about what we wanted to teach them, and how. For the first few years, the basics of Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic were fairly obvious and straightforward – Cyndy had taken several education methods courses and already understood the phonics vs. whole-word controversies.

It took us a while to settle on an overall scope and a method for teaching history.

After several disappointing experiences with textbooks, Cyndy discovered that our children loved biographies (surprise!), and that textbooks were useful only as references to be consulted briefly for overview.

As we talked and thought about that, we were strongly persuaded that teaching history chronologically was the simplest, most direct, most effective way to cover history for our children. I had spent two years in college in a chronological humanities program, based almost entirely on original source readings (at Davidson College). My grad school experience was a delight when I discovered that Stanford offered a joint degree in History and Humanities. I joined a two-year seminar with graduate students from a variety of departments as we went through a two-year chronological humanities program, based almost entirely on original source readings.

As we started to speak to other homeschool support groups and at convention seminars, one of the most frequent first questions was, “Where do I start?”

Our answer was always the same: with the Bible and the history of Israel.

About a third of the books of the Old Testament are grouped together as “Historical” books (12 out of 39). In addition, over half the Pentateuch is devoted to the history of the Patriarchs and the origins of Israel. And all of the prophetic books contain some historical narrative, with over half of Jeremiah, Lamentations, and Daniel being devoted to history.

It is an understatement to proclaim that History is an important part of the Old Testament.

It is important that our children know the history of Israel. The best way to teach them the history of Israel is to read the Bible to them.

The Old Testament is neither too hard, nor is it too difficult for children to understand. Just because they don’t understand every detail (or the implications of every event) does not mean that there is not immense value in reading the stories of the Old Testament to them.

We have always begun our study of history with our children by reading the Bible to them and studying the history of Israel.

Parents often ask us, what reference books or resource material do you use to teach the Bible to children. We have always answered, “The best resource for teaching the Bible to children, is the Bible.” All of the books ABOUT the Bible are less important than the Bible itself.

It is the Bible that Moses is describing when he tells parents in Deuteronomy 6:6 & 7:

6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.

7 You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

For years, we encouraged parents to read the Bible to their children, and for years parents kept asking us for a study guide that would help them teach the Bible to children. Finally, in 1994, AFTER we had written study guides for Egypt, Greece, Rome & the Middle Ages we wrote The Greenleaf Guide to Old Testament History.

I’ll repeat the assertion from the title of this post. This is a book you don’t need to buy. The important book is one you already have, your Bible. But, if you have decided to teach the history of Israel to your children AND to use the Bible as your text, you may find that The Greenleaf Guide to Old Testament History will be helpful to you.

It is NOT a workbook for students. It is a guide for parents and teachers. It organizes the historical books of the Old Testament into 180 daily readings (the length of one school year). The readings average one, sometimes two chapters a day. The basic pattern is to read the chapter from the Bible to your children. Then ask them to tell you the story in their own words. Then, we include some discussion questions that will help you to profitably discuss the chapter. If this sounds a bit like the Charlotte Mason principles of narration – that’s what we were aiming for!

I’ve uploaded the Table of Contents and the first four lessons in a sample .pdf.

And I’ll repeat, one more time, the title of this post: This is a book you don’t need to buy. The most important book you can teach to your children is the Bible.

If The Greenleaf Guide to Old Testament History has helped and encouraged families over the years to teach the Bible to their children, then it’s probably the most important book that Cyndy and I have done.

You can order it (if you must!) directly from Greenleaf Press for $12.95.

– Rob Shearer, Publisher
Greenleaf Press

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