Ascol, Thomas K. Truth and Grace Memory Book, 3 Volumes. Cape Coral: Founder’s Press, 2005. $15.00 (or $5.95 ea.). Buy From Amazon.com
Introduction and Background Information
Dr. Tom Ascol has been the Senior Pastor of Cape Coral Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida since 1986. He also serves as the director of Founder’s Ministries which, according to their website, says that part of the purpose of the ministry “is the recovery of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in the reformation of local churches.” He is editor of the books Reclaiming the Gospel and Reforming Churches and Dear Timothy as well as Truth and Grace Memory Book (3 books). His heart is for the local church and that shows through in these books that he has edited.
These three books are based upon the instructions of the Lord to fathers (and mothers) found in Ephesians 6:4: “bring them (children) up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” While these books can be used by Sunday School teachers and children and youth ministers, they are meant for use in the home during a time of family worship, dinner, or anytime throughout the day.
A Brief Overview of the Truth and Grace Memory Books
There are three books in the series simply because they are designed and formulated according to the age/grade of the child. Book one is designed for age 2 through the fourth grade, book two is from fifth grade to eighth grade, and book three is for high school students. However, it must be noted that Dr. Ascol makes it clear that these age ranges are merely guidelines. If your child has memorized everything in the 6th grade section and wants to move onto the 7th grade section, then by all means, do so! On the contrary, do not push so hard that this becomes a battle of wills. Some people simply memorize better than others.
Each age or grade range has at least three elements to the study of the things of God. Obviously, there is Scripture memorization. However, there are also a couple of hymns to memorize as well as three complete catechisms revised for Baptistic ecclesiology. Book 1 introduces the child to A Catechism for Boys and Girls and by fourth grade, the child will have memorized the books of the Bible (I know seminary students who do not know these!). Book 2 introduces The Shorter Catechism: A Baptist Version. In the sixth grade, the child will memorize the Apostle’s Creed and begin reading the Bible for himself. Finally, book 3 uses The Heidelberg Catechism: A Baptist Version and concentrates on Psalm 119 in the 11th and 12th grades.
If the child completes all three books, he will have memorized (among other passages) the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer, 1 Corinthians 13, and Psalm 119. Over twenty-four hymns of the church will have been learned. Most importantly, the child will have been taught the importance of reading God’s Word. He will have read the New Testament twice, the Gospels three times, the book of Proverbs five times and Psalms twice.
Critical Evaluation of Truth and Grace Memory Books
The only real criticism I have with the Truth and Grace Memory Books is that the emphasis is on the New Testament. Outside of Psalms and Proverbs and the Ten Commandments found in Exodus, Genesis 1:1 and some verses in Isaiah and Deuteronomy and one verse in Ecclesiastes are memorized. The only Old Testament book that is read other than Psalms and Proverbs is Genesis and that is not until the ninth grade.
It is to our detriment that we largely ignore the Old Testament. Perhaps memorizing Genesis 1 would be beneficial. After all, if God did not create the world, then Christ need not die for the world. Genesis could easily be read before the ninth grade and the loss of Exodus is noticeable. The older children could read about David and Daniel and Jonah; after all, they probably grew up with those stories. They might as well read the Biblical account.
Given the lack of biblical knowledge rampant in our churches today, this series of books is a must own for any family serious about the things of God. If you are involved in children’s or youth ministry, these books are excellent supplements to what you are teaching. Another benefit to the TAG books is the parental involvement. The parents will be memorizing along with their child. There are so many positives from the three little books that I am not sure where to begin. Some of those benefits include family worship, parent-child relationship centered on the things of God; namely, Christ, and the equipping of everyone involved to fight the spiritual battles that will ensue. I cannot recommend a book series any more highly than I can this series. I believe it is safe to say that they should be on a shelf in every Christian home. To not take advantage of what Dr. Ascol has organized is to yours and your child’s disadvantage.