Each month at Regents Academy students memorize passages from the Bible and then recite them before their classmates. Why are we using valuable time and effort to memorize Scripture? Here are some thoughts (and these are things that I have shared in the past – but I thought that they are worth putting before us again).
First, we memorize Scripture because we are a Christian school. A school can, of course, be a Christian school without a Bible memorization program, but on the other hand, would you expect a school that is not Christian to memorize God’s Word? Psalm 1 teaches us that God blesses the man who does not “walk in the counsel of the ungodly” but instead delights in His law and “in His law he meditates day and night.” The psalmist said, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Ps 119:11). St. Paul reminded Timothy that he had known the Holy Scriptures since his childhood, and he had grown wise in salvation as a result (2 Tim 3:15). In the early centuries of the church, prospective church leaders were often required to memorize all 150 psalms. There are tremendous spiritual benefits to hiding God’s Word in our minds and hearts. We are better able to listen to God and trust in Him while meditating on His promises and commands that have been hidden away in our minds and hearts.
Memorizing Scripture accords well with the methodology of classical education. In the grammar phase of the Trivium students memorize large volumes of information: spelling rules, history facts, multiplication tables, as well as lots of names, dates, and places. Young children, of course, don’t understand the significance of all that they are memorizing, but we teach it to them over and over again until it is rote, and then later that knowledge will be developed as their ability to understand grows. Likewise, children may not understand all that they are called upon to memorize when they learn Bible passages. But as we place God’s words in their hearts and minds, it affects them nonetheless and is tucked away safely for later days when it will be understood better. Older students in the logic and rhetoric schools, with their greater capacity for understanding, receive great benefit from memorizing the Bible as they consider what it means and how it connects to their lives.
The Bible is a basic text required for cultural fluency. In fact, we might say that it is THE text for cultural fluency. Not only is it impossible to read and understand Shakespeare or Milton or Austen or Eliot without knowing the Bible. It is also impossible to understand our times without knowing the Bible. Students are given instant access to the language, ideas, and doctrines of the Bible when they memorize it – and that is invaluable for students to make a difference in our culture for Christ.
Bible memorization also helps develop recitation skills. Students at Regents Academy recite a lot: Latin conjugations, poems, prayers, memorized pieces, history facts. As students grow up through the Trivium, they are trained to recite and speak to audiences with confidence and poise, with a strong voice, and with rhetorical skill. Memorized Bible passages, then, are another training tool in preparing students to be persuasive, winsome public speakers. Francis Bacon famously asserted that “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.” We might add that recitation maketh an eloquent man.
Finally, I can say from my own experience that a school-sponsored Scripture memorization program provides accountability. Busyness, distractions, and laziness keep me from making Bible memorization a priority. But with the Bible being consistently placed in my mind at school, I can call on that knowledge and be better equipped to trust Christ.
I encourage us all to see the value of memorizing the Bible, to memorize the Bible along with our children, and to thank the Lord for yet another gift He has given us through classical Christian education at Regents Academy.