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Foreword to the Revision of 1954

THE 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 demand.

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 Word—the 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.