We’re part of a homeschool co-op with a few other families. History is one of the subjects that we do as a co-op. Last year, we studied ancient history with the children reading Homer, Herodotus, Plutarch, Plato, Socrates, and others.
This year, they are studying medieval history, beginning with Constantine and working their way to the Renaissance and the Reformation. They’ll read Beowulf, The Rule of St. Benedict, Confessions, The Song of Roland, The Canterbury Tales, Macbeth, and other books, stories, and plays written during that time period.
They started by reading The Church History by Eusebius. Eusebius (as with all authors) has an agenda for writing his history which he states at the beginning of his book. His primary goal is to prove succession from the apostles to the bishops of his day.
However, he has another goal: listing many of the people who died because they professed Christ.
Interestingly, many of these martyrs did not die because they believed that Jesus Christ was divine or that he was raised from the dead. Instead, some were charged with crimes against the state and humanity.
What kinds of crimes? Well, crimes like cannibalism, incest, and atheism. Now, obviously, those early Christians were not cannibals. But, the people around them thought they were cannibals. Similarly, they were not practicing incest nor were they atheists. But, their neighbors thought they were. Why?
This week, my children have to pick one of the three crimes listed above and indicate how they would defend themselves against the charge.
I think this is an excellent exercise. First, it forces them to think about what they believe. Then, it forces them to think about how to explain what they believe to other people in a manner that they will understand.
What about you? Could you defend yourself from a charge of cannibalism, incest, or atheism in a manner that your friends, neighbors, and co-workers would understand? Wanna try it?