Firm Foundations

Trevor McIlwain was a missionary for many years with New Tribes Mission, and during his tenure realized too many people who had supposedly converted to Christianity didn’t really know the essential truths of their new faith. He wrote Firm Foundations: Creation to Christ as a response to this need. The author’s goal was to provide a foundational understanding of the history of redemption as outlined in the Old Testament for non-Christians and for those in the Church without strong knowledge of the narrative of Scripture.

How Does This Work?

Firm Foundations is a complete Bible study covering Genesis through the Gospel in fifty lessons. The book is essentially a teacher’s guide/leader’s manual providing detailed and complete outlines for each lesson. Each begins with a list of lesson goals and a special introduction for the teacher; at the end is a series of questions for further discussion.

A number of visual aids are available from the publisher to assist instruction, and these are cross-referenced in each lesson where they apply. There is also a student workbook containing brief outlines of each lesson, Scripture references, and room for them to record their own notes—the same workbook is used for all 50 lessons.

While this program is generally intended for adults in a Bible study or Sunday school situation, you could easily implement it in place of a more traditional Bible curriculum for your high school students. There is also a version available for younger students (grades K-8) consisting of five slim teacher volumes and a single student workbook; the same approach is used as in the adult version, though the material is better suited to children.

McIlwain’s approach, while familiar to some, is original and novel for many. Instead of starting with the Gospel he begins where the Bible does, and progresses historically through each stage of God’s people, from Adam to Israel to Christ. He identifies the patterns and themes of Scripture, the literary aspects of the narrative, etc.

Our Honest Opinion:

Unfortunately, McIlwain denigrates the idea of ‘Lordship’ salvation, opting for a grace-alone approach that, while he does suggest true saints will persevere in good works, is fairly antinomian. At the same time, the narrative approach to Bible study is refreshing and offers a much more stable foundation for understanding the Christian faith than courses with a more exclusively doctrine-oriented approach.

Overall the doctrinal position is Evangelical and nondenominational, though a strong Baptistic undercurrent makes itself known. If you’re looking for a Bible course with a little less doctrinal emphasis, we suggest you investigate the Explorer’s Bible Study or Balancing the Sword.

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.

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