The Studying God's Word series was designed to provide elementary age kids with a solid foundation of Bible knowledge and basic doctrine. Written from a Reformed/Presbyterian perspective, the books seldom dwell on denominational distinctives. Reviews among users are mixed, but the general consensus is that while the books provide good information and content they are visually somewhat drab and unengaging.
UPDATE: Christian Liberty is in the process of replacing this series with new Bible curriculum. So far, they have replaced Books A-C with the Bible Treasures series: Volume 1: Genesis to Ruth; Volume 2: 1 Samuel to Malachi, and Volume 3: New Testament. They have also written new texts for 7th-9th grade called Journey Through the Bible 1-3.
How Do These Work?
Book A (for kindergarten) is a series of key Bible stories followed by a brief Q and A. Its purpose is to make children generally familiar with Scripture. The stories are paraphrased versions of the Bible stories and are meant to be read aloud to children by their parents. Lessons vary in length, but again are designed to be read aloud by parents; this is the most teacher-dependent book in the series.
Book B (first grade) is different from the other books in the series in that it deals with doctrines rather than a Scriptural survey. Each of the 36 units contain five daily lessons all relating to the theme or doctrine of the whole unit. The first lesson is a catechism drill, the second is a Scripture reading, the third is a Bible story, the fourth is a written exercise, and the fifth is an activity (anything from object lessons to coloring pictures to crossword puzzles). While all major doctrines are covered, a natural progression seems to be lacking; not following a particular catechism or confession the organization suffers. Lessons are short (less than a page each) but require memorization and study.
Books C and D identify important ideas and events from the Old Testament and the life of Christ. Lessons are longer than in previous books (four pages each) and require more direct Scripture reading. Again, these volumes are designed to help students develop a strong foundation of biblical knowledge. At this point, students can complete lessons entirely on their own; all that is required of parents is to discuss the lesson with their children and grade/check their work.
Books E-H (grades 4-7) cover the Bible chronologically from Genesis to Acts. Lessons are still four pages long and follow the same basic format of books C and D. Completion of the lesson is dependent on reading of the Bible passage which is to be done by the student. The publishers encourage parents to take an active role in the continuing biblical education of their children, but as to the lessons in these books, students can effectually complete them on their own.
Our Honest Opinion:
There are a few drawbacks: first, the writing is choppy and stilted at times. Second, the absence of any direct instruction concerning how to use commentaries, concordances or outside materials makes it difficult for the child to do outside research, though this can be addressed in later grades. Finally, the books don't focus on application, and content is limited strictly to what the Bible says; commentary is limited.
There are also distinct advantages, which easily balance the drawbacks. Lessons are easy to read and understand, and Scripture reading is assigned every day. They provide a variety of activities, from cutting and pasting, crossword and logic puzzles, to simple Greek translation. (Note that CLP uses the KJV, and some of its exercises will require using the same.) CLP has endeavored to keep their prices very low, so the books have a simple design and are in black and white. The teacher's guides are also inexpensive, offering brief introductions to each lesson and answer keys. (Books A and B do not have teacher's guides.) For those who want their kids to be largely self-sufficient in their studies, Studying God's Word is a good series.
CLP doesn't really offer a cohesive course of study for high school students, recommending a variety of options, such as Bible courses from CSI (OT: Kingdom of God & NT: Ministry of Christ) or books they have published or reprinted on the Bible & doctrine (Stalker's Life of Christ, Berkhof's Manual of Christian Doctrine, or Talbot's and Crampton's Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism, and Arminianism. You are free to use any of these if you desire. We'd also recommend the Hays & Duvall text Grasping God's Word.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
Did you find this review helpful?