Future Projects

As GoodBirth begins its life of service, we are looking at several worthwhile projects that we hope God will bless with adequate funding. In addition to the continuing Revelation Commentary Project, for which the Patrick Henry Institute has helped raise funds, we are looking to three other important projects: (1) The Revealing Revelation Project. (2) The Strengthening the Foundations Project. (3) Greek Tool for Laymen Project.

The Revealing Revelation Project

Dr. Gentry's first priority at the present time is to finish his research and writing of his in-depth, technical commentary on Revelation. This work may be as long as 800+ pages. Once this is accomplished, he hopes to produce two smaller, less technical, lay-oriented studies on Revelation.

The first phase of the RRP project will be a Revelation commentary of around 200+ pages. This will present the conclusions derived from his technical research on Revelation in a briefer, less weighty form.

A second phase of this project will be to produce a study of Revelation designed for high schoolers. The target size for this special project will be around 100 pages and will be written in a more conversational format with a teen audience in mind.

We believe that this two-phased project will help promote a better understanding of Revelation among a broader audience.

The Strengthening the Foundations Project

Our plans for this project are well-developed, though the project has not yet been engaged. Please note our concerns and plans in the brief prospectus below.

LOGO: Strengthening The Foundations

Our Biblical Concern

The goal of the proposed Strengthening the Foundations program is to provide an in-depth, well-structured, fully-integrated course of study that will promote a substantial understanding of Scripture and theology for her members with a view to encouraging our greater confidence in, deeper devotion to, and a closer walk with our gracious God and Savior.

We believe that the Scriptures are important as the instrumental agent of our salvation, for we are "born again . . . through the living and abiding word of God" (1 Pet 2:23). The Bible is not only the God-ordained instrument of our birth into the family of God, but also for our growth in grace thereafter, for our Lord prayed to his heavenly Father: "Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth" (Jn 17:17).

In light of God's work in and through his Word, both the believer's inner-most desire and overarching responsibility is to "like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation" (1 Peter 2:2). As "noble-minded" believers we should receive "the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily" (Acts 17:11).

With such a goal in mind, Paul urges the devout child of God to "be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth" (2 Tim 2:15). Unfortunately, God's prophets lament that too often "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge" in that they "have forgotten the law of your God" (Hos 4:6). The anemic condition of contemporary Christianity amply illustrates this grave concern.

The proposed Strengthening the Foundations program is designed to secure a clearer, firmer, and fuller understanding of God's holy Word so that we might be better servants of Christ. The first phase (outlined below) is designed for the adult Sunday School program.

A Basic Overview

Biblical Studies

The obvious starting place for our Sunday School program's goal of increasing our sanctification through the Word is to have an adequate grasp of Scripture itself. Consequently, a key component of our Strengthening the Foundations program will be the basic introduction to and overview of the Scriptures themselves. This will be accomplished by surveying each of the basic divisions of the Bible. To this end we should offer the following courses of study:

New Testament
  • "Introduction to the Gospels and Acts" (the foundation to the New Testament message)
  • "Introduction to the Epistles" (the explication of the New Testament message)
  • "Introduction to Revelation" (the only New Testament prophetic book and one of the most difficult books in Scripture)
Old Testament
  • "Introduction to the Pentateuch" (the foundation to the whole biblical story)
  • "Introduction to the Historical Books (Joshua through Esther)" (which covers Israel's post-Mosaic history)
  • "Introduction to the Writings (Job-Song)" (the poetry and wisdom of Scripture)
  • "Introduction to the Major Prophets and Daniel" (the larger books presenting the testimony of God's lawyers sent to Israel regarding her breach of his Law)
  • "Introduction to the Minor Prophets" (the smaller books presenting the testimony of God's lawyers sent to Israel regarding her breach of his Law)

Though necessarily compacted due to time constraints, these courses will introduce the writings of Scripture in their historical settings and provide a summary overview of their contents and purpose. A common tendency of Christians is to look at discrete sections of Scripture or lone verses divorced from their actual literary and historical settings. In that the Scriptures are an historical, flowing, covenantal record of God's verbal revelation to man, this atomistic approach not only can lead one into a faulty understanding of Scriptural texts themselves, but mars its synthetic beauty as a harmonious whole. We will also offer more detailed studies of leading books of the Bible in our elective courses (see: "Elective Courses" below).

Theological Studies

The Bible contains the objective revelation of God and his will for man, including creation, fall, redemption, and consummation. Consequently, we need to recognize that biblical revelation provides for us key insights into God's plan, which we may formulate into basic doctrines. In order to secure ourselves from being "carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming" (Eph 4:14), we must be "constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of sound doctrine" (1 Tim 4:6).

This duty is especially incumbent upon us in a day when men "will not endure sound doctrine" because they are "wanting to have their ears tickled" in order to "accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires" (2 Tim 4:3). But we want members of Reformed churches to be "holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict" (Titus 1:9).

To this end we will provide a basic program of theological education which will build upon our biblical foundations. The following theology courses will be offered in our Strengthening the Foundations program:

  • "God and Christ" (including God's attributes, the Trinity, Christ's two natures, etc.)

  • God's glorious creation
  • "Creation, Covenant, and Scripture" (including the six day creation process, the idea and development of the covenant, and the inspiration and authority of Scripture)
  • "Man and Sin" (including his creation in God's image, his fall into sin, the nature and spread of sin)
  • "Salvation and Hell" (including regeneration, justification, and the eternality of hell)
  • "The Church and Worship" (including the revealed nature of the presbyterian structure of government, the regulative principle, and the sacraments)
  • "The Last Things" (including the establishment of Christ's redemptive kingdom, the victorious progress of the gospel in history, Christ's second advent, the resurrection, the final judgment and the eternal state)

These courses cover the foundational doctrines of the biblical faith.

Historical and Ethical Studies

God created man as a material being (Gen 1:27; 2:7) and set him in the space-time universe (Gen 1:14-15; Acts 17:24-26). He calls man to develop the material world to God's glory (Gen 1:26-31) beginning in the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:15). Thus, we are not to denigrate history, for it is the realm of the outworking of the plan of God who "declares the end from the beginning" (Isa 46:10). The Christian must understand that history is, indeed, "His story." We should especially be aware of our own history as the people of God, which is either overlooked or distorted in secular educational courses.

Consequently, our Strengthening the Foundations program will include four courses on history:

  • "The History of Israel from Abraham to the First Century A.D." (covering the old covenant phase of the Lord's Church)
  • "An Overview of Church History" (a survey of the high points of the progress of Christianity in the world)
  • "The Early Church Fathers and the Creeds" (highlighting the leading figures in the early church and the most important ecumenical creeds)
  • "The Reformation and Presbyterianism" (surveying the arising and progress of Presbyterianism)

In that man is created in God's image (Gen 1:26; 9:6) and in that Christians are particularly obligated to follow God's will (Deut 28; Mark 3:35; John 8:31), we must establish on our biblical worldview foundations a pattern of ethical living (Rom 12:1-2; 1 Cor 10:31; Col 3:17; 2 Tim 3:16-17). To this end we will be offering two courses on ethics and one on how to defend the biblical worldview from which Christian theistic ethic arises.

  • "The Foundation of Ethics" (demonstrating the role of God's Law in ethics)
  • "Ethical Issues in Modern Society" (surveying some contemporary issues such as homosexuality and capital punishment)
  • "Apologetics" (demonstrating the unassailable strength of Christian truth claims)

Elective Courses

We understand that learning is a life-long process (Eccl 3:11) and that the Bible and theology presents an enormous amount of material, for it is asked in Job: "Can you discover the depths of God? / Can you discover the limits of the Almighty?" (Job 11:7). Obviously we cannot teach everything in our limited time-frame. We will, therefore, supplement the overview courses with some additional studies of several key issues. In our six year program this leaves three slots for elective courses. Some of these will expand upon elements of the foundation courses; others will add new material.

Biblical Electives
  • "The Book of Genesis" (the foundation to all of the Bible, and a much assaulted book)
  • "The Book of Deuteronomy" (an important source of biblical law, which is little understood by Christians and derided by secularists as embodying a faulty ethic and primitive legal code)
  • "The Gospel of Matthew" (source of much material on the life and work of Christ)
  • "The Acts of the Apostles" (virtually a God-inspired history of the Apostolic Church)
  • "The Epistle of Romans" (effectively the church's first systematic theology)
  • "The Epistle to James" (much practical material on living the Christian life)

Other of these electives will provide courses of study which develop important matters of contemporary Christian concern:

Theological Electives
  • "The Doctrines of Grace" (explains and defends the Five Points of Calvinism, so that our members will better understand and more strongly affirm our distinctives, with a view to effectively promoting and defending them)
  • "The Charismatic Gifts" (shows their role in Scripture and why they do not continue in the post-Apostolic Church, despite one of the world's largest Christian movements affirming and promoting them)
  • "Contemporary Theological Debates" (alerts the Christian to several popular theological aberrations we face and how to respond to them, such as hyper-preterism, paedocommunion, and annihilationism)
Additional Electives
  • "Principles of Interpretation" (provides basic principles for properly understanding Scripture)
  • "The Christian Worldview" (outlines the basic structure of the biblical frame of reference and shows its significance for organizing our thought life and behavior, while emphasizing the theoretical impossibility of the unbelieving worldview)
  • "The Major Cults" (gives insight into Mormonism and the Jehovah's Witnesses who often come to our homes)
  • "Christian Writing" (provides instruction in how to communicate the faith through written expression, with a view to enhancing the Christian's influence in society)

Our Program Approach

Course Audience

I will research, organize, and produce each of the courses with the intelligent layman in mind. I will insure that the material is not heavy, but that it be interesting and challenging.

Course Perspective

I will write the lessons from the perspective not only of conservative, evangelical, and Reformed thought, but also from within the context of the following theological distinctives:

  • A commitment to classic, confessional Presbyterianism
  • A high view of the Church and biblically regulated worship
  • A submission to the full inerrancy and trustworthiness of Scripture
  • A deep respect for God's Law and a holy walk
  • A long-term, optimistic historical outlook for the gospel
Course Integration

The courses will be fully integrated with each other. By that I mean that they will intentionally and overtly re-enforce each other by applying the larger theological themes (God's sovereignty and law, optimism, and so forth) as the other issues and themes are developed. The major theological themes will not simply be taught and then left behind, but will be brought forward and applied in all the courses.

Course Materials

For each course I will provide both a Student Syllabus and a Teacher's Manual, both of which will:

  • Be clearly written, carefully outlined, and professionally laid out
  • Include appropriate graphics and pull-quotes to enhance their look
  • Utilize appropriate headers, footers, and pagination to enhance their utility
  • Employ the same layout throughout the curriculum to enhance their familiarity
  • Be photocopied from a master copy in order to contain costs and limit production over-runs
  • Be three-hole punched and inserted into an inexpensive, clear cover report folder

The Teacher's Manual will include the course outline and instructional material in full and completed form. It will be given to the teacher well before the new class begins. This will allow him plenty of time to read through, study, and prepare for the whole course. It will provide additional information to supplement the lessons and to provide a resource for answering questions that may arise.

The Student Syllabus will be handed out one lesson at a time in order to reduce costs arising from waste. That is, if the student leaves his syllabus at home one Sunday, we would provide him with that Sunday's lesson and would not have to give him another entire syllabus (nor would he have to miss out on note-taking in his syllabus). Or if someone visits once or twice but does not return, he will only have used a lesson or two, instead of a whole syllabus.

This incremental distribution of the Syllabus also serves a strategic purpose: to encourage the recipient to return for the next study, rather than his receiving all the materials at one time. Each Sunday the student would insert the new lesson material into his report folder, thereby building his syllabus to completion.

    The completed Student Syllabus will include the following elements:
  • Title page with copyright notice
  • Introduction page containing a few opening sentences introducing the course
  • Full outline for each lesson, including spacing allowing for taking class notes
  • Occasional summary statements in the outline providing either expansion of the material discussed or additional helpful tangential information
  • An "Applying the Lesson" section, which would suggest practical application of the material, thereby encouraging both intellectual growth and experiential living
  • A "Glossary" of any special terms that may be used, thereby introducing the student to the appropriate biblical and theological vocabulary (but without overwhelming them with too much technical nomenclature)
  • A brief "For Further Study" bibliography to encourage additional study of the issues and to guide the student to books he may want to secure for his home library
  • A "Key Verses" section that would highlight verses suitable for memory work
  • A "Gearing Up" section providing recommended Bible readings and some seed thoughts to prepare for the next lesson

Each completed syllabus could be kept in the student's home library, to be used for future reference and study. At the end of the six year program the student would effectively have a full course in the Bible and theology on his shelf at home.

Course Division

God's place for instruction

Each course will be divided into twelve discrete lessons, designed for a thirty minute presentation and allowing for an additional ten minutes of discussion.

Each Sunday's lesson would be self-contained so that it will make sense as a free-standing study, even while encouraging continued attendance in the following weeks. This would not leave the occasional visitor "out in the cold" by his receiving a study so abstracted from its fuller context that it would be confusing.

Conclusion

If we can raise the money to fund this project, we believe we will be in a position to greatly impact the Reformed educational ministry in the church today. With God's blessing and your financial assistance, this should be a worthwhile project with great long term benefits.