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Using the Bible for Credit in the State of Florida

Suggested Listening:  Workshop 23 May 2009 at FPEA

Earn high school credit through the State of Florida for studying the Bible while using Balancing the Sword. The assistance that we provide for these courses in growing. Please send an email at with your specific question if additional clarity is needed.

Balancing the Sword was first developed in the highbrow environment of the University of South Florida's main campus of academe.  Although many individuals and families use Balancing the Sword for devotional reading, the academic strength of BTS should not be forgotten.  BTS is a serious set of books used by college students to earn 12 credit hours as a senior-level literature course.  High school students may also use the Bible combined with BTS to fulfill Florida's graduation requirements for credit in two major elective categories:  humanities and language arts.

Available Courses

Course Levels: 1 for Basic Remedial, 2 for General, 3 for Honors, and 4 for Accelerated.


Intro. to the Bible I is focused exclusively on the Old Testament. Intro. to the Bible II is focused exclusively on the New Testament. Each course is designed to survey the Sacred Text as a "introduction." Attention is given to learning major thematic concepts and events recorded in biblical history. Both courses consider the Bible's impact upon Western culture and upon the individual reader. These courses do not study systematic theology. Both courses will explore some of the literary aspects of the biblical books, as is done in language arts.

Language Arts:  Reading.

The various reading courses are focus on the literary aspects of the Scripture.  You will cover samples of all the biblical genres in each course.  You will consider issues of literary interpretation which will deepen your insights into each authors’ intent.  However, the reading courses are not direct studies of theological systems.  Likewise, we will deal with issues of historical context, but will not emphasis the origins of the biblical books nor their compilation as is addressed in Introduction to the Bible I and Introduction to the Bible II.

Reading I, Reading II, Reading III, and Advanced Reading follow the exact same format and assignments.  As such, Reading I will present the typical challenge of growing familiar with new vocabulary words and tasks.  Although assignments will remain constant between these courses, your focus in each course will be completely different due to the changes in reading assignments.  Reading I, Reading II, and Reading III earns 1.0 credit over one school-year or 36 weeks.  Advanced Reading earns 0.5 credit over one semester or 18 weeks.  Reading I and Reading II are Level 1 courses which means that the reading intensity is basic. Reading III is a Level 2 course; therefore, expect the material to be more difficult.  Finally, Advanced Reading is a Level 3 or honors course with the equivalent challenge of a basic college class. This is further explained under Reading - Book Selection.

Remedial Reading does not give credit.  Remedial Reading is intended to boost reading skills which are below average. Parents should develop an individual Progress Monitoring Plan (PMP) for students in need of remedial assistance. "The PMP describes the child’s specific reading difficulties. It also describes the intensive teaching practices that will be used to help the child catch up in reading. This intensive instruction will be provided during regular school hours, in addition to the regular reading instruction. District school boards may also require students who need intensive instruction to attend before or after regular school hours or during the summer if transportation is provided. Each student’s progress will be monitored frequently. This intensive help will be provided until the reading deficiency is corrected. If the child has a disability, the child’s individual educational plan (IEP) may serve as the PMP. Parents are always invited to be a part of the IEP team." This class is very similar to the other reading courses, but is slower and generally uses the easier books of the Bible as the basis.

Course Materials

  • Study Bible. You should own or purchase a reputable study Bible. I will not attempt to give personal endorsements, but will mention a few study Bibles:
    • the ESV Study Bible,
    • the Geneva Study Bible,
    • the John MacArthur Study Bible,
    • the Life Application Study Bible,
    • the Reformation Study Bible,
    • the Ryrie Study Bible,
    • the Scofield Study Bible, etc.
  • Balancing the Sword. Your use of the BTS books will include the cross references for research and the software to create your specific itinerary. You may begin reading and using Balancing the Sword immediately. 
  • Bible on DVD or CD. It is highly recommend that you own the Bible on DVD or CD in the translation that matches the translation that your son or daughter will be using.  That is, you should own the audio KJV if your child will be reading the printed KJV.  This will help your child with listening, phonics, pronunciation, and fluency by "practice with audio support."  The elements of listening, phonics, etc. are integral to all of the above listed language arts courses.
  • The Indestructible Book DVD. "The Indestructible Book" is a 4-hour historical review of the Bible which takes viewers from the Hebrew and Greek to the English translation brought to America on the Mayflower. This presentation takes you to many places throughout the world. This product is most suited for the humanities classes.
  • Strong's Concordance. (available freely on-line)

Getting Started

First, determine which courses you will take. You may take Intro. to the Bible I and Intro. to the Bible II simultaneously, however, I would suggest that you take the courses one after the other if possible. You may also take one of the reading courses with a humanities course, but you should not take more than one reading course at a time. What do you want to gain? There will be overlap between the approaches, but your goals will determine your emphasis. If the general information above does not offer enough clarity, please read over the course descriptions to gain better certainty.

Second, select a Bible translation that matches your reading fluency. I recommend the New King James for average readers. The State of Florida does not specify a specific translation. The translation should give you a mild challenge. That is, a children's Bible should not be used by a proficient 10th grader. In some cases, especially for Advanced Reading, it would be helpful to increase the challenge by using the King James Authorized Version (KJV), the Young's Literal Translation (YLT), or the Geneva Bible. (Warning:  The easiest translations are usually the least accurate.)  Balancing the Sword corresponds best to "word for word" translations.  For your convenience, I've compiled a ranking of English translations by difficulty level. Again, use the New King James Version (NKJV) if you are uncertain.

Third, follow the opening steps found at the top of the courses' descriptions. See the links above to each course.

Fourth, begin to sample the Balancing the Sword books to get a better feel for the books if you have not already.

Record Keeping.

Florida statue 1002.41 "Home education programs" says the following:

(b) The parent shall maintain a portfolio of records and materials.  The portfolio shall consist of the following: 
1. A log of educational activities that is made contemporaneously with the instruction and that designates by title any reading materials used. 
2. Samples of any writings, worksheets, workbooks, or creative materials used or developed by the student.  (Source:  Florida Statute § 1002.41).

For your records,

  1. simply print the course outlines,
  2. print your reading itinerary produced by the BTS Reading Planner,
  3. log your investment of time which will correspond to your Bible reading plan,
  4. retain Balancing the Sword which will act as the "[s]amples of ... workbooks ... used ... by the student,"
  5. retain completed pages of other assignments completed, and
  6. document the version of the Bible you've chosen combined with the biblical books that you use for your reading material (e.g., Romans in the NAS).

Buy Balancing the Sword!

Balancing the Sword is a structured study guide for every chapter of the Bible.