America's Christian History

The Principle Approach

Teaching and learning from a Biblical perspective

Examine the Principles upon which our nation was founded - as taught in the Holy Scriptures

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Implementing The Four Rís


The Principle Approach


Some time ago I made a promise that we would investigate the Biblical Method of Teaching and Learning.  The fact is, you may already use this method!  Thatís what I tell all my students.  We intimated that this starts with the "Four Rís: Research, Reasoning, Relating and Recording" and discussed I Corinthians 2: 9-15.  (You may want to take a look at that article, "A Biblical Method of Teaching.")


When you study Scripture you do these four things.  But what do you learn?  Principles!  Dr. Archie P. Jones says this about principles:  "The word Ďprincipleí signifiesí" a general truth; a law comprehending many subordinate truths.í" (Jones, Archie P., America's First Covenant Christian Principles in the Articles of Confederation, Plymouth Rock Foundation, Marlborough, New Hampshire, 1991, p. 1)


These truths and rules or laws are what determine what a thing is.  Wm. Blackstone said in regard to this: "...when the Supreme Being formed the universe, and created matter out of nothing, He impressed certain principles upon that matter, from which it can never depart, and without which it would cease to be.  (Blackstone, Wm., Commentaries, 1765, Jones edition, 1915, quoted in Americaís Christian History of the Constitution (CHOC), Foundation for American Christian Education (FACE), 1960 ed.)


Example: A clock must tell with its hands the hours and minutes at least.  If it ceases to do this, it is no longer a clock but a piece of junk!  You would throw it away.


So now we want to know how to find the principles that make a thing what it is!  Again we hear from Dr. Jones: "To speak of Christian principles is to speak of principles in, or easily (logically) derived from, Christian doctrine-that is, from the teachings of the Bible."


How do we start?  First, it is important to know the vocabulary controlling whatever subject one wishes to research.  Noah Websterís extensive research for his 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language led him to write articles that still have value today. 


Because we have his dictionary we, too, can accumulate a sufficient aggregation of words applicable to a chosen subject that give us information about it.  For instance, I recently wished to learn more about music.  I was amazed at how much more understanding of that subject I had after collecting a very short list of words about it.  Do you see where Iím leading?  Go to your dictionary, write out a list of all the words that pertain to your subject, look up synonyms and antonyms, and follow any trails you uncover.  Make a big list.  Then begin to look up those words in your Bible.  You wonít find all of them but you will be surprised how many there are.  And you will discover to your astonishment that the Bible has rules controlling that subject.  Some subjects have few rules; others have many.  Some rules have to do with the spiritual aspect of your subject; others with the use of it.  We call these "internal" and "external" rules.


Notice as you are doing the above that you are implementing the principle approach: researching, using your ability to reason, noting how various Scriptures relate one to another and to you as you meditate on them, and, of course, you are writing all this down!  (Donít you do this when you study your Bible? - looking up certain subjects that you are concerned about: obedience to civil authorities, marriage, the woman/manís place in the family, entertainment/feasting, eating, dieting, - the list is inexhaustible.  If not, try it.  You will be surprised at how the Word comes alive.)


A good example of how to use the principle approach in the study of a subject is the manual Teaching Grammar using the Principle Approach which illustrates this.  Here are some of the chapter headings: The Biblical Source of Grammar (look, for example, at Colossians 1:16); The Biblical Purpose for Grammar, The Biblical Principles of Grammar and Grammar on the Chain of History.  When you have studied these and other chapters, you will discover how wonderful grammar is and have a great deal more respect for it.  Indeed, looking at the research I have done will be so inspiring that grammar will never be the same again.  Itís easy to teach a subject when you're enthusiastic about it.


One subject mentioned above is civil authorities. Do you know the Biblical principles woven into our Constitution?  They are there-because of our Founding Fathersí understanding of Scripture.  I will close for now with a quote once again from Dr. Jones: 


"It is not to say that all professing Christians, or Christian denominations, or professedly or quasi-Christian sects, at all times and in all places have recognized or practiced these principles.  But it is to affirm that such truths or laws are Biblical and have been acknowledged through the centuries by orthodox Christianity to be fundamental to the ethical outworking of the Christian faith.  Similarly, to speak of Christian political and legal principles is to discuss political and legal principles which are clearly derived from the Bible-the fully, infallibly inspired Word of God.


Stay with us and we will discuss the subject of The Principle Approach again.

Question: From the time the colonies first settled here they were accused of "seeking independence" from England.  What is the truth?  Were the colonists rebels?


Answer: From Frothinghamís Rise of the Republic we read that Edward Winslow, representing the Plymouth colony in 1646, said in print, "This is a notorious slander," Samuel Adams, often accused of fomenting rebellion, "in an emphatic disclaimer, (in a private letter to a friend in 1765), appealed to the affection entertained by the Americans for the mother country."  What made the colonists change their minds?  Keep checking with the Rebuilders for the answer!.

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