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Bible Doctrine for Teens and Young Adults Review by Charlotte GochnauerJames W. Beeke
Reformation Heritage Books
2965 Leonard St. NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Reformed theology—what exactly does that mean? Well theology is simply the study of God and His relation to the world. The word reformed refers to the teachings of the Protestant Reformation of the sixteenth century. This can be a daunting subject to teach to our precious children, and this three volume set from Reformation Heritage Books gives parents the tools to pass on our faith to our charges.
Each hardback volume contains 10 lessons, for a total of 30 lessons with over 1500 pages in all. The content is laid out in a very systematic way. It begins with God’s character and attributes, and then continues through creation, God’s providence, the covenants, the fall of man, and the nature of Christ. And that is just the first book! The other volumes teach on the offices of Christ, justification, God’s law, prayer, the sacraments, and eschatology (end times) to name a few.
The lesson varies in size and can range from 30 to 80 pages in length. Scripture is at the forefront of these books with multiple quotes per page in the margin. Also in the margins are applicable questions from the Heidelberg Catechism and excerpts from the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dort. These three statements of doctrine are known as the Three Forms of Unity, and help us to understand the shared beliefs of our faith. There are multiple thought questions on each page that encourage further thinking and understanding. And harder words are bolded in the text, with the definition listed in the adjoining margin. This was very helpful for me and my family as we read through the lessons; words like manifestation, irrefutable, and recapitulation are conveniently defined. An excellent way to learn more about our faith is to memorize. The multiple scripture verses listed in each chapter can be memorized, as well as the numerous catechism questions and answers that are listed. Not only are there questions from the Heidelberg Catechism, but also from Rev. A Hellenbroek’s book, A Specimen of Divine Truths. These questions and answers are very simply written and break down the harder points of doctrine into manageable bites.
But what my children liked most of all as we read the book, were the sprinklings of relevant stories throughout. When reading the part that explained the relationship between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, one of the stories was about a servant who wanted to illustrate this difference to his master. He went into the field and planted oats where barley should have been planted. When he was asked why he had done that he replied that even though he had planted oats, he was still expecting barley to grow there. His master was shocked and then the servant described that in the same way, man cannot sow sin, neglect the Bible, and expect to reap heaven. Other stories came from missionaries, historical events, and other sources. These stories were very helpful in explaining the doctrinal concepts, not only for my children but also for me.
At the end of each lesson are questions. These are divided into sections and include Chapter Review, Deepening Your Insight, Biblical Application, Questions from Church Forefathers, Marginal Questions, and Project Ideas. The question section was eight to ten pages in length, with in-depth questions, scriptures to look up and study, and deep thought questions. Some of the suggested projects included researching archeological studies to prove the historical accuracy of scripture, drawing a chart that compares evolution and creation, or designing a poster with the names of God and their meanings.
The three volume set is available on the Reformation Heritage Books website for $80. You can also purchase each volume separately for $30.
Even though this book is meant for older students, I decided to read it aloud to all of my children, ages 8-16. We would sit each day, for 15 to 20 minutes, and I would read from the text. I would use the questions, vocabulary words, and quotes from the margins to engage them as we progressed. I encouraged them to ask questions as we read, so our pace varied, depending on the material we were studying. I chose scripture verses and catechism questions for each of my children to memorize; the older ones obviously had more to memorize than the younger ones. And then I only had my older two, ages 14 and 16, do the questions at the end of the lessons. These proved to be a great way for them to put into writing what we had been learning; I appreciated that the questions were not shallow ones, but written to encourage the student to own and grasp their faith. I learned so much from reading this book with my children! I was raised in a Christian home but realized as we read how little I do know about the basics of theology. So not only was this book a good foundation for my children, but it helped me to understand what I believe and why I believe it.
I am so excited to continue using this book. There are not many Christian reformed theology books for young people available; and this book, with it’s easy to understand format, is the perfect tool for any homeschooler, private school classroom, or church group. Theology is an integral component to your children’s daily schooling, and a subject that every believer needs to study.