Sunday, August 02, 2009

Alfred the Great Academy

While living in England, at the request of parents I tutored some homeschool high school students in apologetics, church history and ethics. I have decided to offer these services again for a small fee through an online academy. Using
Alfred the Great as the patron saint of this online academy, I will be offering two courses, one in apologetics and one in Christian thinking. I am at the stage now where I need to get the word out about the academy, and you can help by becoming a fan of the Academy on facebook.

The Vision
When Alfred assumed the throne of Wessex at the age of 21, his kingdom lay in ruins about him. Pagan boatmen, led by the evil king Guthrum, had destroyed crops, leveled churches and burned entire towns to the ground. King Alfred immediately began rebuilding the kingdom and rescuing the culture that the pagans had all but destroyed. One of the ways he did this was by training the next generation of young people to stand firm in the Christian faith and to resist the influences of paganism.

Such is also the goal of Alfred the Great Academy. The Christian young people of today need to be given the tools to courageously engage with our increasingly pagan culture. Whatever vocation a young person chooses to pursue, he needs to know how to do it as a Biblically-minded Christian. He needs to be taught how to recognize and resist pagan thought. Above all, our young people need to have a firm and joyful confidence in the truth of God and His Word. Alfred the Great Academy aims to support parents in this vision. Through online resources, structured courses and personalized instruction, this academy hopes to equip a new generation of Alfreds with the weapons they need to stand against contemporary paganism.

Those who study with the Alfred the Great Academy have the opportunity to receive personalized instruction from the Academy Mentor (myself!) in apologetics, history, ethics, theology, music appreciation, philosophy, worldview studies and persuasive writing. By grounding students in these liberal arts, the academy hopes to train the next generation of young people to defend our culture against the influx of pagan ideas, even as Alfred trained his men to defend the kingdom against the invasion of pagan boatmen.

About the Apologetics Course
It has been estimated that between 50 - 80% of Christian high school students who enter college will lose their faith before graduating. The assaults facing college students should not be taken lightly, and yet many Christian high school students are never equipped to adequately face the challenges awaiting them in college and the work place. Like the Englishmen of the 9th century, they find themselves without the defenses necessary to keep from being overrun by pagan attack.

Those who take the Alfred the Great Apologetics course will be given the tools needed for dealing with these assaults. Using the Biblical worldview as the foundation, students will be equipped to identify, understand and answer the dominant competitors of the Christian faith.
Although the course is demanding, it is structured for those without any philosophical background and is aimed to assist all young adults to become confident champions of their faith. Students will be encouraged to reflect deeply on why the Christian faith makes sense and why other worldviews do not. As such it is not meant to appeal to a small intellectual enclave but to provide the ordinary person with a desperately needed preparation for life in the generation God has placed us.

It is important to note that this is not an apologetics course that simply offers a list of arguments for the Christian faith, or which teaches debating techniques to use against unbelievers. Rather, the purpose of this course is to give student a thorough grounding in the ideological commitments of the contemporary world, and in so doing to show the futility of a life without God.

The course is also invaluable for those who are not planning on attending university. All of us are bombarded with secular worldviews when we watch movies, read the newspaper or talk to unbelievers. The problem is that most of the time the worldviews we encounter are assumed rather than explicitly stated, making them all the more deceptive to the undiscerning mind. This course will enable students to immediately identify the assumptions of unbelieving thought and to “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

(Click HERE to enrol you or your child in this course.)

About the Christian Thinking Course

Being competent in the Biblical worldview involves more than merely being able to defend that God exists and has created the world. It involves being able to apply the categories of Christian thinking to every area of life. Without such practical application, having a Biblical worldview is like holding a sword that you haven’t been trained to wield.

The Christian Thinking course grounds students in the Biblical worldview and then trains them to skillfully apply that knowledge to the practical issues they will be facing in the world. To achieve that, the course is broken down into three sections: Biblical theology, ethics and aesthetics.In the unit on Biblical theology, students are shown how the various aspects of the scriptural story form part of an overarching plan. Many Christian young people have a knowledge of the Bible that is fragmented and disconnected. They may have a knowledge of various Bible stories, without knowing how those stories relate to the overarching narrative of redemption history. This course seeks to correct that by equipping students to understand the flow of Biblical history and, as a consequence, to appreciate our place and identity within that story. Ultimately the student will be given a confidence in God and His Word that will enable him to face the confusing issues of our time with courage and without fear. With such a foundation, the student is then ready to pursue the rest of the course.In the ethics component of the Christian Thinking course, students are taught to think Christianly about the sexual and political controversies of our age. When faced with these issues, it is not good enough to simply say, “this is what the Bible teaches” without being able to show how the Biblical answer exposes and undermines the futility of our era’s central idolatries.

A Christian philosophy of government is needed in order to recognize the proper place and role of the state. Students will be taught to see the political ‘big picture’ and their own part within that story. As such, students will be given the skills to interpret the issues of government within a larger understanding of God’s purposes and the sovereignties that He has established for this world. This is important whether we are intending to become involved in politics or not, since all of our lives are affected by what goes on in politics.The second part of the Ethics component focuses on issues of gender and sexual morality. Young people are given strong Biblical weapons with which to fight the Hydra headed beast of sexual ‘freedom’. In tracing the historical shifts that have shaped current thought and practice, students are helped to see the consequences that have come from rejecting the Biblical worldview. This not only provides the student with a clear connection between ideas and their consequences, but it also helps the student to see how the Biblical answer is the only one which is truly life-affirming.

The course finishes with a unit on Aesthetics. The student will be looking at the role that worldviews have played in Western music and art. Students will be shown again that ideas have consequences and will be equipped to challenge the aesthetic relativism that has taken root in our unbelieving society. In the process, students will be given an overview of tonal music, tracing the main changes that have occurred in the development of the Western musical canon.

By the end of this part of the course, Christian students will understand that beauty and excellence are crucial to every area of life. They will also be able to show how the story of music and art have reflected the story of Christian thought.
(Click HERE to enrol you or your child in this course.)
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