Our Christian Forebears: Principles of Seventeenth-century Puritan Discipleship
American Heritage School is pleased to announce a directed readings seminar taught by Mr. Nick Gentile this Fall at American Heritage School, Tuesdays, 3:30–4:30, September 3–December 17. Details follow:
Course Introduction: What principles from Puritan discipleship would most bless your quest to be like Jesus? What elements of Christian character in seventeenth-century New England could you incorporate to make yourself a better family member, church member, friend, neighbor, scholar, servant-leader, missionary, or defender of liberty? This course is an opportunity to learn about some of America’s most influential—and devout—Christian forebears: the Puritan Separatists of Plymouth Colony and the Puritan Nonseparatists of Massachusetts Bay Colony. It is a response to Elder Dallin H. Oaks’s recent call for Americans to “give greater attention to the education of the rising generation.” As he explained, “If the foundation of religious liberty is weakening, it must be because the role of religion and the contribution of religious organizations and religiously motivated people in our nation is not sufficiently understood. The rising generation is not being taught these things.” Therefore, in an effort to understand the role of Reformation Christianity in, and the contribution of the Puritans to, the foundation of American liberty, this course seeks to help students reason and relate the Christian principles that motivated disciples like John Winthrop to create a “city upon a hill,” be in the world but not of the world, reconcile imperfect people with perfect principles, and make Christ the foundation for every decision. If you want to deepen your own discipleship and learn more about our nation’s inspiring Christian heritage, then this course is for you!
Course Description: Our Christian Forebears: Principles of Seventeenth-century Puritan Discipleship is a directed readings seminar that serves as a half-credit History elective at American Heritage School. It introduces students to university-style work at a high-school pace by inviting them to explore the doctrinal, intellectual, political, cultural, and social dimensions of Puritan discipleship in seventeenth-century New England. To explore the Christian worldview of these inspired and inspiring American founders, students will read approximately 20 pages per week from two short and exciting monographs: Visible Saints: The History of a Puritan Idea and The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop. These classics in Puritan historiography were written by Edmund S. Morgan, one of the preeminent historians of the twentieth century. Morgan, a Sterling Professor Emeritus at Yale University, is the author of over twenty highly acclaimed books on Colonial and Revolutionary America and a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize, the Bancroft Prize, the Douglass Adair Memorial Award, the American Historical Association’s Distinguished Scholar Award, and the National Humanities Medal. During one on-campus class of one hour each week, students will engage in a lively 4R (research, reason, relate, and record) discussion about what they have discovered in Morgan’s inspiring narratives. They will also summarize their 4R-ing by writing a weekly four-sentence rhetorical précis, which, along with providing a priceless record of their learning, is a helpful form of analytical writing that will prepare them for university work.
Books for the Course: Edmund S. Morgan, Visible Saints: The History of a Puritan Idea (New York: Cornell University Press, 1965; ISBN-13: 978-0801490415) and Edmund S. Morgan, The Puritan Dilemma: The Story of John Winthrop, 2nd ed. (New York: Longman, 1999; ISBN-13: 978-0321043696). Used paperback copies of Visible Saints are available on amazon.com for less than $1. Used paperback copies of The Puritan Dilemma are also available on amazon.com for less than $1. Please pay close attention to the books’ ISBN-13 numbers, so the pages in your books will match the pages assigned each week.
Instructor Bio: Nicholas W. Gentile is currently a full-time instructor for Seminaries and Institutes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and, in Fall 2013, will be teaching an after-school directed readings seminar—“Our Christian Forebears: Principles of Seventeenth-century Puritan Discipleship”—for American Heritage School. He has absolutely loved helping students to reason and relate principles in his on-campus and Home and Distance Education American History and World History courses at American Heritage School, where he has received the Rosalie J. Slater Award for instructional excellence. Prior to teaching at American Heritage School and The Fenn School in Concord, Massachusetts, Mr. Gentile earned a 4.00 GPA and a Master of Arts (MA) degree in American History at Brandeis University, where he was a Crown Fellow in the PhD program and mentored by the Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian David Hackett Fischer. He earned a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in History from Brigham Young University, where he graduated summa cum laude as the valedictorian of the History Department, the recipient of the Outstanding Undergraduate in History award, and an Edwin S. Hinckley Scholar. He has published several articles in scholarly journals, including one about Thomas Jefferson’s philosophical sympathy for Native Americans in the May 2010 issue of We Proceeded On. He is also the author of “Would He Calm My Storms?”—an article about the Lord’s hand in his efforts to stand for truths about marriage and family—which was published in the September 2012 Ensign. He and his eternal sweetheart, Christina, are passionate about teaching their one son and three daughters to see gospel principles in the world around them and believe that, regardless of where children learn, education should be—first, last, and always—a stewardship of heart and home.
Course Syllabus: The course syllabus and calendar can be viewed here.
Course Registration Page: https://www.american-heritage.org/CourseCatalog/Product?id=420