Logos Bible Software has given me a free copy of Abraham: Following God's Purpose: Church Curriculum in exchange for an online review. I am grateful for Logos’ generosity! I would like to review this curriculum under four headings (1) my “lens” (2) positives (3) negatives and (4) conclusion.
My “Lens” A home-school mother creating devotions for her children will appraise this curriculum differently than a seminary professor. Each will assess the value of this curriculum with an eye to the kind of student they anticipate they will teach. I am evaluating this curriculum as a pastor. That means that I attempt to evaluate this curriculum through the subjective (and perhaps limited) rubric of benefit this curriculum might have for use at Grace Bible Church.
Potential Positives There are many positives to this curriculum. Theologically, I love the idea of positing Abraham’s life as an example for us to follow. The authors (curriculum developers?) pick up on the NT trend to correlate Abraham’s faith with ours. The faith God required of him is the faith he requires of us (Rom 4; Heb 11:8-10). The authors consistently demonstrate a mature handling of biblical theology when they move forward into New Testament themes. I appreciated that the material was more exegetically driven (i.e., drawing out the message of the text rather than imposing one on it to suit modern felt needs).
On the practical side, the maps and other graphcis were helpful. Most print Bibles have maps in the back (if at all) or at best black and white maps crammed into an already over-crowded text. I love the colorful interactive maps Logos uses for this curriculum. While each of these positives warrants mention, pride of place goes to the annotated bibliography (AB) at the end of each section. Golden. The AB gives motivated students an outlet to explore the subject/narrative deeper. The icing on the cake is that these books are available for purchase as Logos resources. A few clicks and you own them! Any rhyme or reason to the specific books chosen, I wonder?
The Leader’s Guide was sweet and concise, but gave sufficient info for a small group leader to adequetly prepare. If Logos gave permission, I would probably hand out the leader’s guide for folks to have an overview of the section. Potential Negatives Actually, I’m going to start with a few positives that I probably mistakenly construe as negatives: price and accessibility. According to Logos, the price for a participant to own this study is $19.95. That is reasonable. However, will they need Logos to run the software and if so will they be able to download the software engine for free? Also, the curriculum is only accessible to those with portable electronic devices. That means that elderly people (70+) in a given small group probably won’t be able to participate in this study. Would Logos provide print copies of the curriculum? Better yet, would Logos grant a church copyright privileges to print off copies for non-computer folks (using the print/export function)? If this were an option, it might broaden the marketability of the curriculum for small groups.
The only real negative (in my humble opinion) was the word-lengthy study questions. In addition to long sentences, the questions were also infused with a great deal of Christianize (e.g., “accept grace”; “trials” are words flung around churches, but not imminently meaningful to young believers or interested non-believers in my church). In my opinion, the questions would probably spark at best a weak, superficial discussion. Better questions would engage participants at a deeper heart/affections/desires level where real-life faith either flounders or thrives in community with others.
Sometimes the “Beyond the Bible” section was of historical interest, but didn’t seem imperative to the current study. Non-Christian rabbis patently exercise creative conjecture far more than textual exegesis. I would suggest limiting these sections to vital info that serves to make the original intent clear.
Conclusion Overall, I think this is a helpful, well-packaged curriculum. I hope it--and the wonderful tool Logos is—bears fruit in the life of Christian communities.