What is the Christian Reformed Church’s position on the use of curricula from publishers such as Answers in Genesis (AiG) for church school? I find that much of AiG’s instruction contradicts Reformed theology, but our church is choosing to use AiG curriculum.
The CRC does not have an official position on curriculum. The responsibility for choosing curriculum belongs with congregations—with the expectation that they will choose materials that reflect Reformed theology. We believe theology is important whether you’re 3 years old or an adult. The CRC has supported congregations with excellent curriculum through Faith Alive Christian Resources. Kid Connection and DWELL are two examples.
At times congregations pick a curriculum based on the attractiveness of the materials, how easy it is to use, or even the quality of the paper it is printed on. When they do this, they may be missing something important: Reformed theology. It is a mistake to assume that just because a lesson is for young children it can be theologically neutral. Every time we tell a Bible story we’re interpreting Scripture. Many curricula reinforce the idea that the Bible is written to give instructions on how to live and that we have to be “good enough” to merit salvation. This difference can be subtle, but it changes our understanding of what the Bible is telling us, emphasizing how we can be better people instead of showing how God has been working throughout history. Any curriculum with a Reformed perspective should approach all Bible stories as part of God’s redemption plan for the world.
Good teachers can take bad curricula and adjust it to make good lessons. However, many churches don’t have the luxury of people with the theological or pedagogical training to make good lessons out of bad materials. So unless you have a staff person or a trained volunteer who is revising each lesson, using curriculum that agrees with your congregation’s theology is helpful.
The Answers in Genesis curriculum is written with a particular agenda: promoting a strictly literal reading of the early chapters of Genesis. This curriculum focuses on one side of a controversial topic on which CRC members differ. From our perspective, using this for your church school curriculum seems unwise.
About the Authors
Laura Keeley is a regional catalyzer for Faith Formation Ministries in the CRCNA and director of childrens ministries at 14th St. CRC in Holland, Mich.
Robert J. Keeley is Professor of Education Emeritus at Calvin University and a music leader at 14th St CRC in Holland, MI.