A Structure for Anglican Religious Instruction in a Grammar School

In grammar school – that is, the university track (maybe 10–15% of the population) rather than the trade school track, or German Gymnasium rather than Realschule or Hauptschule – religion classes in forms 1–6 (or grades 7–12) could be sequenced as follows:

Form 1, Alexander Nowell’s Middle Catechism (1572).

Form 2, First Book of Homilies (1547).

Form 3, Second Book of Homilies (1571).

Form 4, John Jewel’s Apology for the Church of England (1562), Richard Hooker’s ‘Learned Discourse of Justification’ (1585), and Christopher Wordsworth’s lectures On the Canon of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament (1848).

Form 5, John Pearson’s Exposition of the Creed (1659); or else James Gorle’s Analysis of Pearson on the Creed, an abridgement with basic examination questions), compared with parts of Zacharias Ursinus’s Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism (1584) for a broader view of the Reformed tradition.

Form 6, Edward Harold Browne’s Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles (1887), sometimes compared with expositions by William Beveridge (1669, incomplete, running only to Article 30) and William Griffith Thomas (1930), for a detailed understanding of the confession of the English Reformed tradition.

The Psalter would be said through once every month at daily Morning and Evening Prayer, with prizes for memorization of the whole Psalter. Other books of the Bible could well be studied whole or excerpted in literature and rhetoric classes, with Proverbs for example supplying maxims for progymnasmata composition exercises alongside (say) the maxims of La Rochefoucauld.

Upon graduation from high school, the top 2% of male students, confirmed and subscribing to the 39 Articles ex animo, could be trained for the diaconate from that age as inductive Bible study leaders, liturgical readers, acolytes, and keepers of accounts. Others can be deacons as well, of course, but I think the top 2% percent especially should be recruited if spiritually suitable, and of this number some who are able to teach may also be called to serve as presbyters. After all, why should the clerics on the whole be intellectually less capable than the doctors and lawyers? Let the ministry be filled with men who have the sound learning and intellectual ability to contend well for the gospel, through an educational system that trains those whom God has already endowed with suitable natural gifts. Then, because they already have some of the necessary education, their further training will not have to wait for undergraduate degrees, but can begin at once after high school.

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