Logic and Rhetoric Scope and Sequence
Philosophy of English
In the beginning God spoke the world into existence through words. Jesus Christ Himself is called the Word who was in the beginning with the Father. God also has chosen to reveal Himself to man through words: He spoke to Abraham, He gave Moses the Ten Words, and His prophets have always proclaimed “The word of the Lord.” This means that language is one of God’s attributes; He used language to create the glory of this universe and to guide His people. His Word is full of story, poetry, and prose.
In the world which God made for us through His Word, words are exceedingly powerful. Words of righteousness are refreshing, and they strengthen those who hear them (Proverbs 16:24, 18:4). Words of wickedness spread falsehood, start quarrels, seduce people to evil, and bring destruction (Psalm 52:2-4, Proverbs 2:16, 12:6, 12:19, 18:8, James 3:1-9). As God’s children, we want to imitate Him in His creative, aesthetic, powerful, and upright use of words. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11).
Language serves two purposes: to communicate with God and to communicate with man. In order to speak fit words students need to know the rules of grammar and to have a wide knowledge of vocabulary. While younger grades can be content with basic grammar skills and vocabulary drills, mastering language for older grades means studying how to be persuasive with words the art of Rhetoric.
Rhetoric entails being able to state the truth in a beautiful way. This means using poetry, this means using clear writing, this means being able to defend the ultimate truth of God’s word to the unbelieving world. We seek to accomplish all these things in the secondary English program to God’s glory in order to equip Christian students with speech served with grace and seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6).
Philosophy of Omnibus
Reading widely is one of the most important things a Christian student can do (I Timothy 4:13). Geneva Academy seeks to use the great books of Western civilization to open the eyes of students to the rich heritage of events and ideas which our culture has inherited in history, theology, and literature. This includes (most importantly) the Word of God, as well as instructing students about our deep classical background, about the influence of Medieval and Reformation Christianity, and about the impact which modern writers and thinkers have had upon our society.
The Omnibus courses at Geneva Academy provide a survey of Christian and secular thought by having students engage the books which have lasted through the ages and have affected those downstream. This process will train students to reason and weigh ideas and beliefs with biblical discernment, and it will give them a great deal of knowledge which has been lost in our modern day and age. Discernment and knowledge together are some of the most precious gifts an education can give (Proverbs 2:1-6).
In teaching Omnibus, we assume that any subject matter which Scripture contains is fair game for a Christian education. We seek to avoid sentimentalism, which resents evil and tries to ignore its existence. Such an approach would require us to completely eliminate many important books (including books of the Bible) because of sexual or violent content. Instead, we believe that a godly response to evil is to conquer it. Since Scripture never glosses over the deeds of evil men (Genesis, Judges, I&II Kings, etc.), neither shall we. Instead of ignoring evil, we seek to expose children to evil in the context of God’s holiness and truth, so that they will utterly abhor and conquer evil. Students taught this way will have a much better ability to deal with the immorality rampant in secular colleges and society (fornication, drugs, drunkenness, etc.) than those who have been overly sheltered from these things from childhood. They will have heard of these things before, and with God’s help, they will already hate the darkness and walk in the light.
Philosophy of Science
One of the most powerful ways to learn about God is through His creation. “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge” (Psalms 19:1-2).
A classical, Christian education would be woefully incomplete if it did not include a thorough induction in the sciences. Science is the body of knowledge gained through man’s observation of the physical world. Since the entire world is owned, governed, and sustained by God (Psalm 50:10, 65:5-13, 103:19), studying the physical world is a way of learning how God works. It shows us God’s perfect wisdom and His love of intricacy, flawless design, and efficiency. Science also shows us a very crucial aspect of God’s character: beauty. God did not need this world or anything in it, but chose of His own good pleasure to make heaven and earth and fill both with all sorts of beautiful things, things which don’t need to be lovely or graceful, yet which are undeniably beautiful. The universe is not merely a world of function, but of immense, rich, and deeply aesthetic though pragmatically useless detail. Science teaches students that God relishes beauty, and that our lives should show beauty and ornament, not merely function.
At Geneva Academy we seek to teach science in the light of Scripture, and not the other way around. Scripture does not touch on many aspects of the physical world, and in these areas we eagerly give credence to the findings of modern science. We believe that true science will be in harmony with those passages where God’s Word makes clear statements about the physical world. Scientific facts can inform our interpretation of God’s word in reminding us to carefully consider what the Word actually means but in any area where modern science appears to contradict the plain meaning of Scripture, we believe that modern science will ultimately be proven faulty in that area.
Geneva Academy further believes that the process of macro-evolution from species to species is not and has never been supported by empirical examination of the physical world. Though micro-evolution does occur among species (producing wolf hounds, Chihuahuas, and terries), we teach that God ordained the species (including man) and gave them the ability to multiply after their kind. We also hold that death did not enter the world until after Adam’s sin (Genesis 1-3, Romans 5).
While Scripture does contain different genres of writing, Genesis is clearly a book of history, not poetry or apocalyptic prophecy. This means that while we will teach students the arguments on both sides of the creation/evolution debate, we will present one side as right and the other as wrong. We teach that some 6,000 years ago, God created the world in the space of a week accomplishing His work in six 24-hour days and resting for one 24-hour day just as we do today. We further teach that a thorough study of the physical world will confirm this position.
Studying the sciences will equip our students to think analytically, to recognize patterns and connections and to store up knowledge. It will equip students to rightly judge the claims of secular scientists today. Most importantly, science will teach students to give God glory for His wisdom and beauty.
Philosophy of Logic
Logic is the art and science of reasoning. While man’s reason is not the ultimate source of truth, skillful reasoning is a tool which every Christian student should learn in order to be able to give a good defense of the faith (I Peter 3:15). The Apostle Paul regularly reasoned in the synagogues and before rulers in order to persuade them of the truth of the Way of Christ (Acts 17:2, 17:17, 18:4, 18:19, 19:8, 24:25). He told his judge Festus, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason.” God Himself uses reason in the salvation of His people: ” ‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ Says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.’ ” (Isaiah 1:18)
If God Himself uses reason, and if His apostles use reason, then reason is a God-given gift. As Christians seeking to fulfill the dominion mandate, we wish to thoroughly equip students to use their minds to God’s glory. Formal logic teaches students how to do this. Students learn to identify, analyze through the art of debate. It is an essential part of the trivium, and the fruits of studying it extend into every field of thought and knowledge. For these reasons, we seek to teach it effectively and powerfully.
A brief note on behavior in debate; since students in the Logic stage naturally want to debate and challenge, we seek to instill in students a sense of respect for the person they are opposing. “A gentle tongue breaks a bone” (Proverbs 25:15). One way to show respect for someone is in courteous speech. Another way is to seriously consider the arguments the other person is making, and to give a well-reasoned response. We seek to train students to do both of these things in debate to God’s glory.