Monday, May 3, 2010

Book Review: From the Lips of Little Ones

In 1840, Joseph Patterson Engles (1793-1861), a Presbyterian Ruling Elder and educator, published the Catechism for Young Children: Being an Introduction to the Shorter Catechism. It is still in use today (available online here or for purchase here), often employed before training children, such as my own, on the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Engles wrote in his Preface:

Brevity and consciseness have been studied in the composition of it so far as the nature of the subjects treated of would allow. But much of the benefit to be derived from this work will depend on the judgment and care exercised in the use of it....Be admonished then to enter on this "work of faith and labor of love" with diligence, preparation, and prayer. Endeavor to impress the minds of the dear children with the importance of understanding what they learn. Be not satisfied with the verbal accuracy of their answers. Encourage them to ask and be ready to answer questions while you gently check a spirit of idle curiosity. Endeavor to make what most children consider an irksome task a pleasing and profitable study.

Over a century and a half later, in 2008, the Rev. Jeff Kingswood of Grace ARP, in Woodstock, Ontario, published his study guide to this catechism, called From the Lips of Little Ones: A Study in the Catechism (for very little people) (2008, Crown & Covenant Publications). I commend this study guide to parents highly. It is a useful and reinforcing tool for those who employ Engles' Catechism. Over a 73-week period, each question (1-3 per week), is addressed and accompanied by Scripture texts and questions for study Monday through Friday. Rev. Kingswood has certainly produced a guide consistent with Elder Engles' stated aim. The guide is aimed at encouraging children to memorize scriptural truths and verses which teach them, in bite-sized pieces, and to think about what they are learning, not just from Sabbath to Sabbath, but all during the week, and likewise encouraging parents with a plan of "pleasing and profitable study" and discussion with the children that covers the entire catechism in just over a year.

Kingswood writes:

The material follows a simple pattern, having one or two questions from the children's catechism as the theme of a study every week, and for the children to memorize. In order to biblically reinforce these questions and their answers, the Bible texts and discussion guides are suggested for use at family devotions, bedtime, or some other regular time that is suitable for your family. If these questions, answers and verses are repeated daily, children should have no trouble learning them by heart in a week. The meditations for each day are very simple, using illustrations that children should recognize and be able to learn from; they repeat the gospel often. Do not feel bound to the letter of the thoughts for each day; use them as a guideline for your discussions of biblical truth.

If you are seeking a catechism based on, but simpler than, the Westminster Shorter Catechism, consider Elder Engles' Catechism for Young Children; and if you are seeking a study guide to accompany it, I recommend From the Lips of Little Ones by Rev. Kingswood. His study guide will enrich your family's catechism time and help you make the most of this particular catechism. May the Lord bless those families who take up the valuable and spiritual enriching tool of catechism, and the use of this particular study guide towards that end.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free from the publisher in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

No comments:

Post a Comment