Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In God's School

Publisher's Description: In God's School (A L' Ecole de Dieu) is foundational Christian instruction. It follows the outline of John Calvin's Geneva Catechism along with the Heidelberg Catechism. According to the ancient practice of the church, In God's School instructs in doctrine, expounding the Apostles' Creed. It enriches common evangelical treatments of these subjects by including fine sections on the church and the ministry of Word and sacraments as means of grace. It lays out basic Christian ethics by expounding the Ten Commandments. It teaches Christian worship by explaining the Lord's Prayer.

This book may be used over the course of a school year. Students read a chapter each week. It also familiarizes students with the fine catechetical materials of the Protestant Reformation. Each chapter is divided into daily readings that include Scripture, so the student receives doctrinal teaching along with daily Bible study.

Perhaps the greatest strength of In God's School is the presentation of the Commandments and Prayer. John Calvin's stress on the grace of God shines through ethical exhortation. Maturity in Christ comes from a growing knowledge of God through the gospel of his Son, a clearer understanding of the life he calls us to walk before him, and the Spirit's love and strength. With spiritual wisdom and rigor, Pierre Marcel leads us in knowing God.

In God's School is an outstanding resource for grounding and training Christians in the foundations of the Christian life. None of us ever out grow our need for further instruction. Marcel's book is a great place to turn.

I have always been a huge fan of Luther and especially of his pastoral advice, especially the comment he made to the effect that no Christian should ever think they have so mastered the ABCs of the faith that they have no need of reading simple things like catechisms. And it is remarkable that, as age and the cares of the world close in on Christians, so often it is the basic elements and building blocks of the faith that come to the fore.

In this vein, I am delighted to be able to recommend Pierre Marcel's In God's School, translated by Howard Griffith of RTS. It is a fine read, loosely based around the Heidelberg Catechism and ideal for personal devotions or small group/Sunday School study. Each lesson contains catechetical questions and answers, suggested Bible readings, and short theological glosses. It is particularly fine on the importance of the Lord's Supper. Those familiar with Marcel's works on preaching and on baptism will not be disappointed.
- Carl Trueman

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