to the Revision of 1954
Christadelphian Instructor written by Brother
Robert Roberts in 1886, has played an important
part in the education of our young people in Scripture
knowledge, both in Sunday School and privately,
since that date, and continues to be in considerable
With the passage of time, marked changes have
taken place in the outlook in education generally,
and in the organization and methods of teaching
in our own Sunday Schools. Most of our Sunday
Schools are now well-established, with a considerable
tradition behind them, so that the suggestions
for the conduct of Sunday Schools included originally
in the Instructor no longer appear to be needed.
Many of our Schools base their lessons on a carefully
thought out syllabus extending over the whole
period of Sunday School life, which lays a foundation
in the history of God's dealings with man revealed
in Old and New Testaments, with special emphasis
on the life and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is followed by courses for senior Scholars
in the doctrinal aspects of the Truth with a view
to preparing them for baptism. Our teachers, too,
have the advantage of having available detailed
Notes of Lessons, based on the syllabus, which
give useful help in teaching methods, aids to
teaching, and sources of additional information
on their work.
In these circumstances it might be asked, "Does
the Instructor now serve a useful purpose in the
education of our children?" We certainly
believe it does, and that it has an important
place to fill. There is needed in our instruction
a method of focusing our scholars' attention on
the fundamental doctrines of our faith, showing
them in their proper relationship, and "proving"
them by "most certain warrant of Holy Scripture".
This the Instructor seeks to achieve. It gathers
from the wealth of Scripture history the basic
truths of God's developing purpose with the human
race, emphasizes their relationship, and brings
them to their predetermined focus in the life
and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Each of these
truths is shown to be founded on God's Word by
the texts quoted in support. A careful and intelligent
study of the Instructor by our scholars-especially
our senior scholars and members of our Youth Circles-under
the guidance of a sympathetic and experienced
teacher or leader is calculated to enlighten,
prepare and encourage them to render obedience
to the call of God through Jesus Christ.
We would emphasize the phrase "careful and
intelligent study of the Instructor". This
involves much more than the mere memorization
of "proofs" by the children as homework.
With some of the more difficult doctrines (such
as the nature and sacrifice of Christ) considerable
explanation and elucidation may be needed and
the teacher must be prepared to study the subject
and supply them. Scholars should be encouraged
to discuss these topics, to state their difficulties,
to consider objections which may be raised by
"orthodox" Christians to our beliefs,
and so obtain a full grasp of these doctrinal
aspects of the Faith.
Although sometimes condemned, there is much to
be said in favour of memorizing scriptural "proofs",
provided scholars remember they are learning divine
teaching on fundamental doctrines. It is not necessary
for every proof given in the Instructor to be
memorized usually several are given from
various parts of the Scriptures to show the consistent
teaching of the Wordthe most suitable should
be chosen for memorization. They should be learned
"by heart" (i.e. with the understanding)
not "by rote". Memorization should therefore
succeed discussion and explanation.
The capacity for, and interest in, memorization
by the youthful mind are widely recognized, and
we shall be conferring a lasting benefit on our
young people if we exercise them fully in understanding
and memorizing Scripture in their youth. We need
not confine them to "proofs"; there
are many passages in the psalms, prophets, gospels
and epistles, which by reason of their beauty
and appeal, will furnish them with a mental heritage
of inestimable value in later life.
Whilst retaining generally the form and sequence
of the original Instructor opportunity has been
taken in this revision to rearrange certain sections,
to modify some paragraphs and to expand others.
It has been decided to omit the supplementary
questions for children under eight years of age:
it is usual today for lessons with the youngest
children to take the form of stories from Bible
history, and time will probably be better spent
in seeing that these are thoroughly understood
than on learning the answers to the more abstract
questions formerly included.
We trust that with the blessing of God the Instructor
will continue its good work of assisting our young
people to understand God's Word, and to prepare
them to respond intelligently and lovingly to
His offer of grace in our Lord Jesus Christ.