The Early Church: The Bible to the Nicene Creed

Term: Yearlong 2021–22, September 7–May 27
Target Grade Levels: Grades 6th–8th graders welcome (see placement details below)
Schedule: 2x / week, 60–75 min.
Price: $595.00

Course Sections
Section 1:
T/Th 9:30 a.m. ET with Christopher Marchand

Enrollment and Placement

Placement Process

To help ensure that students enroll in the correct course levels, Scholé Academy requires many students to complete placement evaluations. Placement evaluations are only provided to students after the corresponding course registration has been completed. A placement assessment will be required in the following situations:
  • if the student falls outside of the stated age/grade range for the class.
  • if the student needs to demonstrate a certain level of skill and proficiency for the course.
  • if the student has completed prerequisite requirements somewhere other than Scholé Academy (e.g., at home or with another school). In this case, our instructors will need to verify that the student has adequately fulfilled the prerequisite requirements.
  • if a placement assessment has been recommended by a Scholé Academy instructor.
First, read the available course descriptions, noting prerequisites, target grades, and course objectives. If you think your student is prepared for the course, go ahead and register. After registration, a placement assessment may be provided to students, depending on the course and the student’s previous enrollment with Scholé Academy. Parents are encouraged to connect with the Scholé Academy Principal and/or with the course instructor to make the best enrollment decision for their student.
Registration is not finalized until the student’s placement assessment has been returned by the course instructor with placement confirmation.
There is a $75 deposit built into the cost of each course.
  • If a placement evaluation has not been administered, withdrawals requested before May 1 are granted a full refund, including the full $75 deposit.
  • If a placement evaluation has been administered, withdrawals requested before May 1 are granted part of their $75 refund: $35 will be paid to the instructor for the placement evaluation, and the remaining $40 of the original deposit will be refunded.
After May 1, withdrawals are granted a full course refund, less the $75 deposit. Students may withdraw from a course through the second week of classes. After the second week of classes, no refund is given.



The Early Church: The Bible to the Nicene Creed

While Canterbury House is a program of studies dedicated to rediscovering and renewing a lively Anglican heritage of theology, scripture reading, and prayer, this course in Early Church History is the study of a time when the church was undivided in the sense of modern “denominations” but when there was still a diversity of opinions about the theological and doctrinal meaning of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. It is a course that would appeal to anyone interested in a survey of the Bible and the development of the beliefs, rites, and practices of the Early Church. We will be looking at biblical interpretation in a way that is as true to the Patristic (Early Church) understanding as possible.

The course starts with reading significant portions of the Old and New Testaments to trace the story of creation, fall, and redemption. Students will discover the biblical message about God’s goodness, human sin, and the need for a Savior. Students will learn key terms (covenant, exodus, law, sacrifice, prophet, apostle, passion, great commission, etc.), key figures (Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, David, Ruth, Mary, Zachariah, Elisabeth, John the Baptist, etc.), and important theological ideas (creation, fall, sin, atonement, incarnation, resurrection, grace, charity, etc.). They will learn about the fourfold sense of scriptural interpretation and the importance of each: the literal, allegorical, topological (moral), and eschatological.

The second part of the course looks at the history of the Church from the time of the apostles through to the ecumenical councils of the 4th and 5th centuries: the teaching of the Apostles; the conversion of the gentiles; the practices of the early church such as baptism and the Lord’s Supper; persecution and martyrdom; the successors to the apostles (known as the Church Fathers); the Apostles’ Creed; the establishment of the canon of scriptures; the controversies over the nature of Christ; and the doctrine of the Trinity, to the final form of the Nicene Creed. Marcellino D’Ambrosio’s book, When the Church Was Young, will provide our entry into this time. Occasional supplemental material will be provided, such as the writings of the Church Fathers (all of which are available online or in book form, if desired).

The Goals

  • Become comfortable reading the Bible, and spend time pondering the meaning of the text in multiple senses
  • Understand and be able to narrate or summarize the biblical narrative of creation, fall, and redemption
  • Recognize key terms and figures from the Bible and early Church history
  • Begin to appreciate the importance of doctrine in the Christian religion, and have a basic understanding of what is meant by the Incarnation and Trinity

The Method

Students will be given a reading assignment for each class, accompanied by a few questions intended to direct the student to what is most important in the reading for the purposes of this course. Students will also be directed, at times, to make note in their text of key names and terms. Students should expect to spend almost as much time preparing for the class as they will spend in class.

Class time will be spent drawing out the essential meaning of the readings through Socratic discussion. Students will be directed to take additional notes as necessary and will be given time at the end of the class to write a few sentences summarizing the main points of the reading and discussion in a commonplace journal. This journal will become a helpful tool for the student to write short essays on assigned topics. Journal entries should be scanned and sent to Fr. Marchand by noon the next day for comment and approval.

At strategic points, students will be asked to write short compositions on selected topics in order to cement and clarify their understanding and develop their writing skills. They will be given clear instruction about what is expected and will receive feedback both on the content of the composition and on their spelling, grammar, writing style, and clarity.


There are no formal prerequisites for this course. When considering whether this course is a good fit for your student, please consider that students should be developmentally prepared to think allegorically and metaphorically and to engage in a 7th- to 9th-grade corporate learning environment.

How is faith integrated with this course?
Canterbury House of Studies is grounded in classical Anglicanism as expressed in the Common Prayer tradition and the Anglican formularies. This course is a study of the Early Church before divisions existed between East and West or Catholic and Protestant, and seeks to be as objective as possible in its treatment of that time period. All are welcome in Canterbury classes; all Christian traditions are respected.

See also Scholé Academy’s statement on Faith and Culture.



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For each skill instructors have determined whether it is a prerequisite skill or a skill to be developed throughout the course. For lower school, instructors indicate where parent support is expected.

  • With Parent Support: Skills that most lower school students will need help with.
  • Developing: Skills that the instructor will help develop and emphasize throughout the year.
  • Mastered: Prerequisite skills that the instructor is expecting students to possess.


  • Developing
    • Be responsible for reviewing teacher feedback, suggestions and comments about student work and employing that feedback as necessary.
    • Be able to manage Schoology assignments and submissions (view assignments, check for teacher messages, submit homework as pdf file, submit revisions if necessary, set Schoology notifications for the class, view class notifications when posted, etc.).
    • Be able to review notifications ongoing throughout the year; notifications which include: class announcements, homework assignments, due dates, instructor comments made on assignments, instructor comments made on individual student submissions, instructor comments made on graded items, etc.
    • Be able to respectfully and wisely engage with other students and the instructor on Schoology discussion boards.
    • Be able to respectfully, wisely and formally engage with instructor through private Schoology messaging.
    • Be able to set notifications settings to alert the student of class announcements, homework assignments, due dates, instructor comments made on assignments, instructor comments made on individual student submissions, instructor comments made on graded items, etc.


  • Developing
    • Be able to build and use alphanumeric outlines as part of the writing process.
    • Be able to self-edit written submissions for grammar and spelling mistakes.
    • Be able to employ the feedback of the instructor into future edits and submissions of the assignment.
    • Be able to build well organized paragraphs which employ (among other skills) topic sentences, transition sentences, clear linear thinking throughout the essay.
    • Be able to build a logical, well-reasoned argument through a written essay providing sound reasoning (i.e. true premises, valid arguments, sound conclusions).
    • Be able to request a family or peer to edit submissions, but understands these requests should be for the purposes of raising important questions for the student to consider and suggesting minor edits. The student understands that family or peer editors should not be reworking of sentences, redefining terms, building new concepts, building arguments or writing passages for the student.
  • Mastered
    • Be able to hand-write answers in complete sentences.
    • Be able to write sentences with basic sentence syntax (i.e. capitalization of first word in a sentence, punctuation at the end of each sentence, space between sentences, capitalization of proper nouns, each sentence having a subject and predicate, etc.).
    • Be able to spell at grade level and employ course vocabulary cumulatively throughout the course.


  • Developing
    • Be able to read material independently and identify questions which require clarification or further explanation from the instructor.
    • Be able to mark, underline or highlight important words, definitions or concepts within a text being read both while reading independently and reading corporately as a class.
    • Be able to identify key terms in a passage, and follow the author’s argument.
    • Be able to listen to the author’s argument and understand it even if the student disagrees with the conclusion reached or reasons given.
    • Be able to read material independently and identify the information which might be relevant to course discussions and objectives (even if the student doesn’t fully understand all of what’s being read).


  • Developing
    • Be able to employ basic MLA formatting skills (i.e. 1-inch margins, double spacing, heading on paper).
    • Be able to employ MLA citations for (for quoted material and referenced material) through the use of footnotes or endnotes, bibliography, work-cited page. Student should have a concept of what plagiarism is and know how to avoid it.
  • Mastered
    • Be able to type short answers in complete sentences.
    • Be able to type paragraph essays (short essays, and 5 or more page essays).


  • Developing
    • Follow class discussions and seminar conversations to record notes without the instructor identifying specifics.
    • Be prepared to generate thoughtful questions to enhance the class discussion, to identify areas needing clarification, and to make valuable connections with other course content.
  • Mastered
    • Follow along with instructor-led note-taking and record notes during class.
    • Follow along with instructor-led workbook completion and record answers during class.
    • Be prepared to thoughtfully answer questions when called on in a group setting, during class.
    • Be prepared to volunteer thoughtful comments, answers and ideas in a group setting, during class.


  • With Parent Support
    • Be able to schedule time outside of class to complete independent review of materials.
    • Be able to determine the best places and ways to study at home (i.e. quiet, undistracted, utilizing various methods of review (auditory, written, visual, practice tests, flashcards, etc.).
  • Mastered
    • Be responsible to study at home for quizzes, tests and other assessments.
    • Understand the difference between assignments given by an instructor and the necessary and independently initiated need for private study of material.
    • Be able to schedule and manage multiple projects from multiple instructors and courses.

Math Skills

  • Developing
    • Be able to deductively apply content and previously learned mathematics skills and processes to the understanding of newly introduced content.
    • Understand that arriving at the correct answer is not the goal of mathematics review and practice, but rather understand that consistent application of the correct processes are the goals of review and practice.
    • After the instructor has provided instructions – the student should be able to use Wacom tablet (or other like iPad) to actively solve math problems during class, viewable to the instructor on Ziteboard.

Required Texts:

  • Bible, English Standard Version (ESV): Students are permitted, even encouraged, to use other translations of the Bible to help their understanding of the assigned readings, but we will be reading and quoting from the ESV in class, so students are required to read from the ESV and have a physical version to bring to class.
  • When the Church Was Young, Marcellino D’Ambrosio (ISBN: 9781616367770)
  • Handouts such as Didache, Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, Quicumque vult (also called the Creed of St. Athanasius)

Christopher Marchand is a music pastor and priest at Epiphany Church in Peoria, Illinois, serving in the Anglican Church of North America. He holds a Master of Theological Studies and a Master of Arts in Music Ministry from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. A former headmaster and teacher at Aletheia Classical Christian School, he has taught humanities, history, science, and government courses. He is married to Elisa, and they have four children: three boys and a girl. The author of Celebrating the 12 Days of Christmas: a Guide for Churches and Families and producer of the blog/podcast PostConsumer Reports, Christopher loves discussing anything related literature, film, music, art, or tennis. cmarch34@gmail.com


Red checkmarkComputer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with a processor with a speed of 1 GHz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with Mac OS 10.7 or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do not recommend using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.

Red checkmarkHigh-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with a download/upload speed of 5/1 Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.

Red checkmarkWebcam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer. Webcam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)

Red checkmarkHeadset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class. Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm

Red checkmarkZoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use. unnamed-e1455142229376 To download Zoom:

  1. Visit zoom.us/download.
  2. Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
  3. Open and run the installer on your computer.
  4. In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.

Red checkmarkScanner: In this class, students frequently submit homework assignments by scanning pages from their workbooks. Students and/or their parents should have easy access to a scanner and the ability to use it.


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First, read the available course descriptions, noting prerequisites, target grades, and course objectives. If you think your student is prepared for the course, go ahead and register. After registration, a placement assessment may be provided to students, depending on the course and the student’s previous enrollment with Scholé Academy. Registration is finalized when the student’s placement assessment has been returned by the course instructor with placement confirmation.


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