When writing extended paragraphs our students should learn to write a variety of sentences: Simple, Compound and Complex sentences all have a place in mature writing. Students begin by writing the simple sentence – Subject + Verb and sometimes + Object – one complete thought. These provide a good beginning for students, but as students mature they need to expand to using Compound Sentences (Independent Clause + conjunction + Independent Clause). Later, Complex sentences (Independent Clause + one or more Dependent Clauses with coordinating conjunctions (in either order) enter the student’s writing. Extended paragraphs should have a variety of these types of sentences. Too many simple sentences make for an elementary, stilted paragraph. While, a good beginning, our end goal is for variety. Likewise, too many of the compound or complex sentences can lose the reader. *
Richard Hannula’s, Trial and Triumph – Stores From Church History provides a great source of writing prompts. These mini-biographies work well with learning to write. Paragraph samples for sentence variety come from the section on the reformation.
Martin Luther – Father of the Reformation – 1483-1546
In early, 1517 Tetzal, a representative of Pope Leo, arrived in Wittenberg, Germany to tell the people of a way to receive forgiveness of their sin and the sin of their loved ones who were in “purgatory.” By the authority of the Pope, he sold “indulgences” with the simple refrain: “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” Many believed and bought these “indulgences.” Martin Luther, a young priest, who preached at the great Castle Church, knew better. He preached from God’s Word, “The just shall live by faith,” not by works or “indulgences.” On October 31, 1517, Luther posted 95 arguments (theses) on the Castle Church door to open dialog among the church leaders and people of Wittenberg. Instead, all of Europe entered the discussion. Pope Leo responded with declarations of warnings for Luther. While many followed Luther, others continued to follow the Pope’s teaching. Finally, Charles the Emperor, set up a meeting in Worms (Diet of Worms) where Luther faced church leaders. They gave him the opportunity to renounce his writings. His response: “I cannot renounce these works unless I am shown from the Scripture where I am in error. If I am shown my error from Scripture, I will be the first one to throw my books into the fire.” Further, “Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of popes and councils alone, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise, so help me God.” He was condemned as a heretic and sentenced to death. His friends, however, kidnapped him and gave him refuge while he continued to write and translate the Bible into German. He died at the age of 62.
John Calvin – Theologian of the Reformation – 1509-1563
Having escaped from the King of France, young John Calvin entered Geneva, Switzerland. He intended to stay one night en route to a place where he could study and write. However, William Farel visited him and boldly told him that he must stay and help in the reformation work in Geneva. After much argument, Calvin agreed to stay believing that God had used Farel to change his course. While in Geneva, he preached daily, visited the sick, started a college and wrote. Today, Calvin’s The Institutes of the Christian Religion still holds an important place in the body of Christian literature. Calvin and Farel participated in a religious debate in Lausanne. They faced religious leaders who claimed that they were not following the teachings of the church. During the first three days, Farel did all of the speaking. Finally, on the last day when one of the religious leaders specifically stated that they were not following church fathers such as Augustine, Turtullian and others. Calvin rose, and without looking quoted verbatim long passages from these leaders who taught the same teachings as Calvin and Farel. One of the religious leaders, confessed that he had been wrong and left the church along with many others in the days that followed. Even when bedridden, Calvin worked. Finally, his frail body failed and he died. Dying, he said to Farel, “Christ is our reward in life and death.”
John Knox – Scottish Reformer – c 1514-1572
John Knox grew up in a church that followed the teachings of the Pope. Along with many others in Scotland, he read the works of Martin Luther and other reformers. More importantly, he read the Bible. Knox trusted Christ having read John 17, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you are the only true God, and Jesus Christ, who you have sent.” Scotland was divided and Knox was sentenced to the galleys of ships chained along with hardened criminals for only trying to reform the church. He suffered the harsh conditions in the galleys for nearly two years. English Protestants intervened on his behalf. Knox preached in England regularly to King Edward VI and his court. Upon the sudden death of King Edward VI, Mary Tudor or “Blood Mary” took over with the intent of returning England to Catholicism. After a twelve-year exile, Knox returned to Scotland. During his exile, he had been condemned as a heretic. Even at the threat of death many swarmed to hear this great reformer. In a confrontation with the queen, he spoke boldly: “I must obey God. His Word commands me to speak plainly and flatter no one on the face of the earth.” Weakened by his harsh treatment in the galleys, he suffered many ailments. Even so, he preached to the day of his death having been carried to the pulpit.
*What is the difference between simple, compound and complex sentences?