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Christ-Centered Math and Its Roots in Scripture

In contrast to using a math program that tacks on a Bible verse here and there to otherwise basically secular materials, isn't it far better to use a curriculum that derives its content from mathematical truths rooted in Scripture? What do we mean by that? The best way we know to answer that question is by providing a biblical birds-eye view of math as related to concepts taught in Christ-Centered Math's Levels A-C. As you better understand math from God's point of view, we hope you will become as excited as we are about these precious insights!

For starters, since our Christ-Centered Math Level A begins with character development plus the theme of creation, consider this interesting fact: Did you know that all four mathematical operations are recorded in the Genesis 1-2 creation account? For example, God made a day and he divided it into evening and morning. He made one day; then He added something to it. He commanded animals to multiply upon the earth, adding numbers of "like things" to His creation. He subtracted a rib from Adam; then He added another human, Eve.

Mathematically, addition is the basis of all other operations. So we start there. The first thing God did was to add something to the nothing that existed—the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1). His first act was one of addition. Addition is generally used in connection with added blessings, usually a result of obedience. However, sometimes the term “add” has an undesirable connotation such as when God adds a curse as a result of disobedience. Addition and subtraction are operational inverses. Inverse means "reverse order." In other words, it is a doing/undoing relationship.

Addition is related to multiplication in that multiplication is simply a quick way to do addition. For example, when we say "3x5," all we're saying is "3 added together 5 times" or "5 added together 3 times." Multiplication is based upon addition. Therefore, scripturally speaking, it too is viewed in terms of blessings. An example of this is God's command to "be fruitful and multiply" to fill the earth. God multiplied His creation in the initial six-day period. Now we are commanded to imitate what He has done, in obedience to His law of replenishing His kingdom and exercising dominion over it.

Division is related to multiplication in the same way subtraction is to addition. In division, you unmultiply. In other words, you split up what has been multiplied. Division implies a result. For example, God's division of mankind at the tower of Babel was a result of disobedience to His law. (For a treat, use a concordance to look up all the instances of God's exercising His mathematical laws in the basic operations.)

Mathematics, then, demonstrates that God has given us His law with blessings and curses. Addition and multiplication are generally related to blessings as a result of obedience; subtraction and division are often related to curses as a result of disobedience. Isn't it wonderful how our great God uses things we understand as lessons to describe His nature?

We can also see God in the mathematical notion of place. Just as God designed a dwelling place for Himself—the Tabernacle—so He designed a dwelling place for numbers. The mathematical notion of place is the understanding that numbers make sense only in their notational context. In other words, just as a string of words in language means nothing without grammar and syntax, so place value determines the meaning of numbers in notation. This is the "decently and in order" principle (1 Cor. 14:40) which is the key to the placement of numbers in their meaningful context. Furthermore, in place value, you have the recognition of the cyclical nature of numbers in the cycle of the moon, year, and seasons—all God-ordained according to His law. From the position of convenience, as well as reflecting order in the universe, we need to realize that numbers do occur in patterns and cycles.

God's nature is also revealed through the patterns and cycles of fractions, time, and money. Fractions are essentially division problems. Fractions take a whole and divide it into parts, whether it's one pie divided into eight pieces or one apple divided into halves. This simply reflects that wholes are made up of parts. This is reflective of God's unity and His plurality—three Persons in one God. From the tiniest created thing to the grandest, we find so many parts to the whole that man can't enumerate them all!

That aspect of God's creation which we call time, we also enumerate. We divide it into parts of the whole. Time is created by God with a beginning and an ending. However, God does not reside in time, which is the passage of one moment to the next, measuring the duration of actions. Time deals with God's plan for the universe. He works all things after the counsel of His own will (Eph. 1:11). Measurement and passage of time are constant reminders that man is not autonomous. God appoints the time of our birth and time of our death (Heb. 9:27). We cannot escape time. God expects us to look at its patterns and use it His way and for His glory! Like the psalmist, we should exclaim, "What is man that thou art mindful of him? . . . As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes" (Ps. 8:4; 103:15).

Money is another part of God's creation which we enumerate. Money is simply an application of quantity and quality to the things God has made. It is related to weights and measures which are numerical qualities of physical objects. In the Scriptures, money is derived from the weight of a valuable substance. Silver, gold, and copper are the metals valued highly enough to be used as coinage. The whole point of a coin is that it is the value of that weight of that particular precious metal. Money is necessary to the functioning of a commercial economy (viz., the accepted value of different animals as sacrifices in Levitical law). Gold and silver are seen as being created by God for use as money. Our modern notion of money being backed by the state is not found in Scripture. Correct use of money is one aspect of exercising dominion for Christ.

Everything in God's creation has numerical quality, its little mathematical tab. Applying mathematical principles and operations practically in God's universe helps to fulfill His commandments to use all things lawfully. Solving word problems by taking the tools of math and applying them to practical situations is a major way of accomplishing that objective. Such an understanding is required for the exercise of wise stewardship over the resources God has given. If children have nothing but math facts in their heads and don't learn to apply these in a godly way for godly purposes, their knowledge is useless.

Now that we've covered some examples of mathematical roots in Scripture, how does that apply to teaching our Christ-Centered Math Program? In simplified form, those same principles are woven into all of our math materials. In addition, through our Math Flashcards 1-10 Set (Tab 1 of Christ-Centered Math Master Guide -- item 500) and related Math Lessons A, B:1, and C (items 502, 530, 540), students study godly character traits related to ten animal number families (1+0; 2+0, 1+1; 3+0, 2+1, 1+2; etc.). These are the character qualities: Generosity (One Penguin), Flexibility (Two Deer), Loyalty (Three Bear), Orderliness (Four Beaver), Courage (Five Skunk), Decisiveness (Six Badger), Joyfulness (Seven Chickadee), Responsibility (Eight Crow), Endurance (Nine Squirrel), and Determination (Ten Moth).The character quality stories on the backs of the 1-10 flashcards are narrated on the Christ Centered Math Flashcards Animal Stories CD (item 501) which includes songs from The Children's Hymn Book.

Academically, after completing Christ-Centered Math Levels A--C, students will have the following skills: a strong foundation in number concepts; count by 1's, 2's, 3's, 4's, 5's, and 10's; identify missing numbers in sequence; comprehend simple fractions; tell time (hour, half-hour, quarter-hour, five-minute increments); appreciate the need for biblical stewardship of money (pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half-dollars, dollars); read and write numbers 0-20 (numeration); understand place value (1's, 10's, 100's places); recognize numbers to 999; know greater than/less than to 999; do 2- and 3-digit addition/subtraction; solve simple word problems by applying equation theory; and proficiently know the 1-18 addition/subtraction families---and all from a biblical perspective.

If you have any concern about teaching young children that amount of math, consider this viewpoint: When it comes to spiritual truths, God expects us as Christian parents to begin teaching His precepts from a very early age---when a child's value base is first beginning to develop. In fact, He says that such teaching should be done over and over: "precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little, there a little" (Isa. 28:10). Why? Because children don't "get it" the first time, and even if they do, they easily forget. If they do happen to remember, their sin nature will quickly tempt them to choose to forget. So then, if a child is prone to forget, should we stop teaching godly values because we feel "It's too hard" or "They'll never get this . . ."? For example, if some little children are consistently mean to one another, in spite of frequent godly admonitions, are we to simply quit teaching Ephesians 4:32 for awhile, and let them beat each other up in the meantime? The answer is obvious: "No way!"

This same principle applies academically too. If we stop exposing our children to concepts beyond what their performance can currently measure, we run the risk of stifling their development. You see, God has built "little computers" into our children's minds that will be with them all their lives. Therefore, we should stretch those "computers" because they have a far greater capacity than what they are using. In other words, we should keep entering the information; it is processing. Some day, when the right button is pressed, the Lord will cause those "data entries" to pour forth.

Never be afraid of touching on the infinite. Although little children are not as conceptually mature as adults, and need lots of concrete examples, they have more of a capacity to learn than adults do. For example, God has given them the ability to acquire an unknown language with a speed that would make adults envious. They are masters at compiling information and drawing conclusions. Long before they can talk, they can already discern relationships between objects, people, sounds, actions, stimulus, and responses.

The relationships just mentioned are based on the experiences children have. Some relationships are understood quickly, but others come more slowly, and only after repeated exposure. When teaching any mathematical operation, we should therefore expect students to catch on to the "how to's" long before understanding the "whys" and "wherefores." That is very normal. This is a problem that will follow math students all their lives. We should faithfully keep on teaching because we're trusting God, the Teacher of All Knowledge (Ps. 94:10), to cause understanding to "click" according to each child's perfect timetable.

It's a sad fact that our world has trained us for mediocrity. But we have an opportunity to train children to strive for excellence because this is what God expects, for it is He who has given each child the capacity to reach and to learn. For us to simply let them "get by" with what their peers are doing is probably looked upon by God with as much disdain as the one who buried his one talent. Because God has given young children minds that are capable of tremendous accomplishments, if we fail to help them develop such gifts, He could end up recalling them. (This is the "use it or lose it" principle.)

In summary, math is truth, because God made it that way. It is something you can always rely on. So we hope you will enjoy the concreteness of math---and pass that joy on to your children! For God's creation is so reflective of His grandeur that it ought to bring us all to our knees shouting: "You, LORD, have made me glad through Your work; I will triumph in the works of Your hands. O LORD, how great are Your works! Your thoughts are very deep" (Ps. 92:4-5).

If this birds-eye view of God's number system has excited you as much as it does us, then Christ-Centered Math is the RIGHT CHOICE for you and your family!

1. NOTE: The examples of mathematical roots in Scripture are excerpts from Doreen Claggett's Never Too Early, Chapter Five, pp. 113-118. Click here.