Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Monday, December 18, 2006

2 Lousy Reasons Not to Homeschool by Tim Challies

I am writing this post as a former public school teacher. From my experiences and research in education, I have become firmly convinced that public school is grossly inferior to home school or Christian school in meeting the needs of children for moral and intellectual training.

Last week Tim Challies, The World's Most Famous Christian Blogger, attempted to defend his decision to send his children to public school. Now, I am a great admirer of Mr. Challies, who I briefly met at Band of Bloggers before the Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville earlier this year. (I met him as he was also meeting dozens of other people, so it is highly unlikely that he remembers me.) Challies is usually a great model of Christian discernment- he is even currently writing a much-needed book on the subject of discernment- and so I was very disappointed at the obvious weaknesses in his rationale for subjecting his children to public school education. The 2 main reasons Challies gives for sending his children to public school are the following: "For Missions" and "To Avoid Worldliness."

For Missions

Challies writes, "I want my children to learn how to witness to their friends and want them to do it."

In this section, Challies gives the argument that our children are to be missionaries into the public schools. And his statements on this subject are, at first, somewhat persuasive.

Challies writes, "Canada [where he lives] is a spiritual wasteland and my heart bleeds for the people in this neighborhood, in this community, and this nation... God has placed us in this culture, among these people, and He expects us to reach out to them and to let the gospel go forth."

Now, if I had a son or a daughter that was a Christian and he or she attained a level of spiritual maturity to express the burden to be a missionary into the public schools with terms similar to those Challies writes of, I could possibly see allowing him or her to attend school in such a secular environment. But the key here is that the child himself (or herself) must personally have the God-given drive to minister the Gospel in such a "spiritual wasteland." Christian parents must certainly provide a model for witness to their children, and they must surely provide opportunites for their Christian children to minister the Gospel to their friends, but placing them in an instructional environment in which they are constantly being educated according to a godless worldview for seven hours every day and where the brief conversations that occur between classes are much more conducive to triviality and worldliness rather than meaningful interaction with other students' spiritual condition- this course of action seems hardly in accordance with the biblical mandate to "train up a child in the way he should go" (Pr. 22:6).

Challies' idea of sending his children to public school in order for them to be missionaries is all the more dubious in light of his following statements:
"Trusting that my children will grow up to be believers..."
"Assuming my children are or will soon be young Christians..."
Apparently, Mr. Challies' children (presumably, due to their youth), have yet to present convincing signs of conversion. This seems to undermine the entire idea of sending children to public school as a mission field. For how can someone bring the Gospel to others when he or she has not personally been transformed by the Gospel? As the most pressing educational need for children (especially children who have not yet become Christians) is to learn the Gospel, wouldn't it be far better to place them in an environment where they could be taught how every aspect of their curriculum relates to the person and work of the God to whom they need to be reconciled?

To Avoid Worldliness

Now, whereas Challies' point about sending children as missionaries into their public schools seems to make some sense (at least it would if we were thinking of Christian children), Challies' next point is truly incredible. For Challies believes that public school actually assists in helping children to avoid worldliness. ("Worldliness" being defined by John MacArthur as "any preoccupation with or interest in the temporal system of life that places anything perishable before that which is eternal.")

In regard to how public school could actually help children to avoid worldliness, Challies makes the following statements:
"Sooner or later children will want to see what the world has to offer. It is far better to let them see it when their hearts are tender, their confidence is in their parents, and their abilities are limited."

Now, I fully agree with the first sentence above, but strongly object to the second. Why is it better to allow children to be exposed to "what the world has to offer" before they have had adequate training and demonstrated the ability to exercise biblical discernment? Challies argues that the confidence of young children "is in their parents," but the fact is that young children's confidence is in authority figures in general. If the authority figures they encounter for about seven hours every day are presenting information to them from a non-biblical and sometimes anti-biblical worldview, how can one expect that they will not be affected in favor of worldliness? Are the parents going to spend an equal amount of time (seven hours a day) specifically helping the children learn to relate their public school experiences to a proper biblical outlook?

And, aside from their confidence in authority figures, we know that children quickly come to be more influenced by their peers. Public school promotes worldliness in children as most children inevitably become close companions with their classmates, the vast majority of whom will not be Christians. And as Scripture warns, "the companion of fools will be destroyed" (Pr. 13:20).

Conclusion

In Challies' first post on this subject, he made sure to emphasize that sending his children to public school was a conscious choice he and his wife made for the reasons he revealed in his second post, quoted from above.

In the first post, Challies writes, "Public schools are not the only option available to us. We are capable of homeschooling our children--we are both well-educated and each have a university degree. There are homeschooling groups in our town that we could tap into and endless numbers of homeschooling resources available to us."

Yet even with his education and the resources he has available, Challies remains unconvinced that children receive a better education at home than at public school. But I would assert that home school is preferable for children both educationally and spiritually.

Educationally, children can receive better individualized instruction at home than at public school. It is simply impossible for a teacher in front of a classroom of 30 students to assess each child's abilities and cater instruction to each child's needs in as helpful a manner as can be done at home. No one is in a position to know a child and instruct a child better than his or her parents. Children can explore educational materials on the computer better at home, where there may be a computer for every child or every couple of children rather than 2 computers in a classroom of 30 children. These considerations, along with such opportunities for regular field trips and learning projects rather than the artificial, institutional environment of public schools, are what have brought me to the conclusion as an educator that my children will be home-schooled if at all possible.

In addition to the educational considerations mentioned above, I must re-emphasize the spiritual benefit of home-schooling, which is absent from public education. As Graeme Goldsworthy writes concerning biblical theology, "God made every fact of the universe, and he alone can interpret all things and events" [Graeme Goldsworthy, “But how can we know?” According to Plan: An Introductory Biblical Theology]. But is this what children are going to learn in public school? Are they going to learn of God as their Sovereign Creator and Sustainer- a truth that should certainly be explored in every subject area? No, public school either ignores or flatly denies the knowledge of God and enjoyment of Him as the goal to all education.

And so I encourage any parent or parent-to-be reading this to consider carefully the question of how your children should be educated, and to take heed to the words of our Lord, who said,

"But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6 NKJV)

UPDATE: Dr. Voddie Baucham Jr. has written an excellent article on this subject, "Education: The Lost Key to Discipleship," addressing many of the issues I have mentioned here. (HT:: spunky)

21 Comments:

Blogger GloryandGrace said...

I can understand your concerns in regard to Challies' reasoning for sending his children to public school, and I can also understand his explanations for wanting his children to receive such education. This is an issue I will be interested to see develop and broaden in upcoming years as numerous families will be sorting through questions regarding this very issue.

I'm at a crossroads when it comes to the issue of homeschooling, and this is coming from a single woman without my own family to speak of in the matter. I've seen homeschooling go different ways just as I've seen public schooling go different ways. I myself went to public school, as did all of my closest friends, and while I would never want to relive those days, I can see how they shaped and matured me. I can also see benefits to homeschooling, most of which I have thought at length about, for the very reasons you point out. However, one thing to keep in mind when conversing with parents who DO choose public school over homeschooling: we as believers are not called to isolate ourselves from the world. For some parents, this is going to mean not keeping their children at home. I know several wonderful, godly parents who have chosen to keep their children at home, but I have also seen homeschooling be detrimental to the children. In such cases it was due to the parents involvement or lack thereof. The effectiveness of homeschooling is going to have much to do with the parents, and you cannot always guarantee that parents are going to be effective teachers at home.

All this to say (and my apologies for such a lengthy comment), this will be an interesting discussion in the years to come. While there are concerns with both, there are also benefits to both. Parents are going to have to make a decision in regard to which is the best setting in which they prefer their children to be educated.

1:36 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

You made some really good points in this blog post. Where on most points I can readily agree with you, I'm afraid I'm going to have to agree with gloryandgrace that there are pros and cons to BOTH sides which must be considered. The Challies are doing what they feel God is calling them to do, and whether or not I or you would make the same decision for our childrens' lives, I do not think it fair that we judge their reasons as "lousy". For the purpose of making a decision in your life they would be lousy reasons maybe, but for them, the reasons are God-given.

I imagine as a public educator, you would have a lot of insight as to what goes on in the lives of students in the modern school scenario, especially on the things we believers would want to protect our children from.

From the other end of the spectrum, I was successfully homeschooled, but my younger brother would have been much better off in public school, for reasons I won't go into though there are many. This just goes to prove that the decision for one child may be different from what is best for another (not to mention my friends from both sides of the educational system). Because there is no "black and white" line to be drawn in this situation, as with so many others, we must as individuals and couples following the Lord's guidance for ourselves and our families seek the Lord for His will for our specific needs and situations. No blanket statement of what is right or wrong for Christian families will do, and only God has the foreknowledge to make the judgment of what is right or wrong for any person/family. So we are drawn to a closer dependence on the Lord and a deeper faith as we trust that what He calls our family to is what is best for us. We also know that what is best for us may not also be best for another God-following family. May we support and encourage one another in these life-changing decisions.

I enjoyed reading your post.

2:34 PM  
Blogger G. F. McDowell said...

Children of what age? I believe the intent of the parents in homeschooling their children is virtually determinative of how they'll do. Parents whose prime motivation is to shield their innocent little angels from the cruel world will will wind up with children who are either rebels or wusses. Such a motivation can be rationalized into "what's best for the child" in 1000 different ways, but at the end of the day, if creating a safe bubble for their children is the underlying reason, I am dead set against homeschooling. If, on the other hand, the children are in a failing school where they are not learning the skills they need, and THAT is the motivation, then I say homeschool is a GREAT idea.

9:36 PM  
Blogger G. F. McDowell said...

As far as the question of age, I figure by high school, a child needs to have learned how to be in the world. I am afraid that the little christian bubble so many are growing up in will not survive the coming persecution. There is no safety in this world, except in the Lord's hands. I'm losing coherence.

10:42 PM  
Blogger ajlin said...

Great comments so far, people.

gloryandgrace:
re: "my apologies for such a lengthy comment"
lengthy comments can definitely be a bad thing (I've deleted comments before when people just wanted to go on an 18-page off-topic rant), but a comment like yours, which was substantive, on-topic, and contributed to the conversation, needs no apology

still...
My argument was never that homeschooling is always the only way to properly educate children. Challies, however, worked hard to present an 'all things being equal' situation and then to explore whether homeschool was preferable to public school. The specific reasons that he gave for choosing public school: "For missions" and "To avoid worldliness" and the way these were worked out in his posts seemed very weak to me.

6:38 AM  
Blogger GloryandGrace said...

Thank you for reading my comment and taking it into consideration.

While you did not say in your post that homeschooling is the only proper way to educate your children, your introductory comment started the entry off as something much more than merely pointing out weaknesses you saw in Challies' reasoning: "I have become firmly convinced that public school is grossly inferior to home school or Christian school in meeting the needs of children for moral and intellectual training."

Challies said himself in his post that he was simply talking out of conviction, not necessity. However, the way in which you responded would have communicated that he viewed the placement of children in public schools as a requirement for giving your children the best, most ideal education had I not read his post for myself. He also stated that he is open to future changes depending on how the Lord leads.

Given the evidence of myself and others who have commented, it may be wise for you to consider how you communicate such critiques in the future. There as a line of constructive criticism, that which is edifying, that seems to have been crossed.

Grace and peace~

11:05 AM  
Blogger Carla said...

In regards to the isolation aspect, and the Christian bubble & the lack of being exposed to the world, etc. so forth and so on, I'd like to share something that is actually quite common.

Just a couple of weeks ago, our 7 yr old HS daughter said to my husband (completely out of the blue)
"papa, what does p***** off mean?"

I turned and looked at him, and he did the same with me. She'd never heard this figure of speech before, so she didn't know it was considered ungodly speech.

My husband's initial reply was to ask her where she heard that. She responded "from my friend at church".

I say that this is common because unless you literally seal them off from any kind of outside contact (no friends, no church, no tv no nuttin'!) there is no way you're going to prevent their little ears from hearing things, and their little eyes from seeing things. And they will repeat it, and you will need to instruct them on it.

All that to say this:

Kids do not need to be immersed for 7-9 hours a day in the public education system to find out what "the world" is really like. All they have to do is spend time around other kids - in church, at sports practice, in the neighborhood, with cousins, or any other kind of youth activity they're involved in, where other kids (and adults) are present.

I've never met these isolated, socially inept homeschooled kids I've heard so much about, but I have no doubt they exist, somewhere. I also wonder if they'd be just as introverted and/or socially maladjusted (or worse?) if they were in the public school system? It's quite possible, since we all remember the shy kids in public schools, this is just their personality?

Just a little thinking outloud & clearing the air.

I'm a HS mom of 7 beautiful kids, that indeed have social issues. They wont stop talking to everyone they meet, of any age, religion, color or creed.

:o)

SDG,
Carla Rolfe

12:27 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

I've found my way to this website - and for some reason feel the need to join this conversation. I don't have kids - yet - but someday this will definitely be a viable issue i'll need to think through more seriously. I'm a youth pastor, and have worked with youth of all ages for many years now. I can instantly tell when I meet a new student that enters into my youth group (or when I meet them anywhere for that matter) whether or not the child goes to public school or is homeschooled. Socially - and usually (but not always) physically - public school kids are far more advanced. Homeschool kids often end up isolated and frozen in fear to enter conversations and to play games with their peers. I've seen that confused/scared look so many times on the faces of home school kids - it's like they haven't been prepared for so many situations they find themselves in. Another thing I can see in the homeschool kids - is this 'us' and 'them' complex. Like, part of the reason they socially distance themselves is because they on some level think that they aren't supposed to be associating with the 'them'. And I know this can go both ways - but I've definitely seen a more welcoming and compassionate spirit coming in general from the public school child than the home school. And - an obvious observation - home school children may get in some degree a more specific education, they often don't have access to sports and clubs that public school kids do. And this definitely hinders social and physical development. And one last observation (I'm sorry, I've had many over the years just watching kids) - 100 percent of the time when a child has been home schooled until senior high age and is then given the option to stay home schooled or go public - they always have chosen to go to a public school (again, in my experience). And it's always been great for them - i've seen them truly come alive. Granted it's been tough for them to first enter in and adjust, but once they do you can really see the difference in their lives. In a good way. So - all that to say - this is in no way a scientific study on child development - it's just an observation from my point of view. But if I ever do make the decision to home school any of my children - it would have to be done in a much different way than i've seen done over the past 10 years. This is also not to say that the public school system is perfect - i think we can all agree it isn't. But like someone on here commented - public school has a way of shaping and maturing a person faster and stronger than the home school system can. I apologize for rambling.

1:53 PM  
Blogger begat said...

I find these discussions interesting. So often there are people (Christians) who look so intently at the "practical" aspects of the decision to homeschool or not to homeschool. The reasoning is based on whether homeschool children "fit-in" with the culture; or they respond socially to their peers; or they excel (or not) to the academic levels dictated by society; or that mom and/or dad are "lead by the Lord" to homeschool or send their kids to public school.

Rarely do I find discussions that center around what God has to say about the issue. Rarely is scripture used to confirm a "leading by God". Andrew on the other hand has used some scripture to refute the "lousy reasons" presented by Tim Challies. I agree with GloryandGrace that this topic will be interesting to see develop within the Christian community. So often the people who claim homeschool is "not for everyone" do so on a basis of human logic and reason rather than biblical convictions. As the topic is developed and discussed, removing biblical standards from the discussion will only continue to increase the riff that exists between those who view homeschooling AS THE OUTCOME of biblical discernment and obedience, verses those who want to claim liberty on the part of parents to following the "leading of God" apart from scripture.

What does God say? I did not get a sense of biblical discernment or reasoning from Tim Challies claims or from Dan Edelen here. I instead heard a lot of human reasoning based on intellectual/educated decisions.

The moment someone says that homeschooling is the result of obedience and submission to God's standards, they are branded as insensitive or judgmental of those who choose to send their kids to public school. I have yet to see a biblical reasons for Christians to send their children to public school. I have seen all kinds of secular reasons to send children to public school, including G.F. McDowell's and Eric's comments above (in addition to Tim Challies and Dan Edelen). Unfortunately, these are not the standards that those who claim the name of Jesus Christ are to be living by.

4:07 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

I would like to add just one more thought to the conversation, in light of Eric's response to the post, from my personal homeschooling experience. I homeschooled through junior high and high school alone, so I wasn't quite as "innocent" and sheltered as a child who homeschooled throughout the entire schooling period, but this is my experience.

I was very active in our church's youth group, usually being the first person to walk up to a newby and introduce myself. I was involved in every program, from serving the elderly a Valentine's dinner and singing for their dinner entertainment to retreats and summer camps. I ended up joining the praise band as a vocalist in high school. The majority of the rest of the group, being public schooled, weren't always as involved or interested in activities or welcoming strangers and such as us handful of people were. Sure, there was the couple of people who never talked to anyone, one of them a homeschooler that was also a computer nerd and socially inept because by nature geeky (but would public school have any affect on that?), the others being from public school.

My parents kept myself and my brother involved in basketball, tae kwon do, soft ball, piano lessons, and all the field trips and get-togethers involved with the homeschool association we belonged to, which included field trips to science museums, trips to the blueberry farm, skating rink events once a month, etc. Among all these activities along with church programs, I didn't feel like my social life was neglected in any way, nor did I obviously grow up scared of new situations.

My parents are responsible for taking me to all those activities my brother and I were involved in; they understood the importance of learning social skills and how to stand on our feet among our peers. Many parents who homeschool their children do not keep the kids so involved; thus resulting in the scared individuals that Eric has been exposed to. And some children homeschool only as a last resort because they've been kicked out of public and private schools. These children and their parents go into homeschooling facing major pre-existing problems and may not have the best experience from it. But not all cases produce socially in-ept and unlearned children who do not know how to stand on their own two feet. The parents play a vital role in this part of education, a role that must be considered as parents decide what is best for their childrens' education.

4:29 PM  
Blogger GloryandGrace said...

Begat,

If you did not sense biblical discernment on the part of Challies' then we may have been reading two completely different posts. As I've read back through his post, both Parts 1 and 2, I'm trying my best to find where you see his decision as one based on intellectual/educational reasons. Since when does secular society, intellect, etc. convict us to share the Gospel? Since when is the leading of the Lord to do this or that devoid of Scripture? While Challies did not cite specific references (aside from his brief mention of Romans 14), there were biblical principles throughout, illustrating to us the foundational reasons for the decision he and his wife made:

~"Every Christian is called to missions, for the Great Commission has not been rescinded and will not be until the Lord returns. We are all expected to fulfill this Commission to the best of our abilities. And this is a world in desperate need of the gospel."
~"Now some may argue that young children are unready to be evangelists and that it is unfair to expect them of this. Once again, both experience and Scripture prove this a false assumption. If our children are believers, they are filled with the same Holy Spirit as you and I. They are equipped to reach out to the most tender-hearted segment of the population."
~"Those who love the world, and who put what is perishable before what is eternal, are those who do not know the love of the Father. But we do not avoid worldliness by secluding ourselves from the world. The key to escaping worldliness is not to avoid the world, but to avoid acting like the world and thinking like the world."
~"Worldliness is not something that is forced upon people or that is extrinsic to them. Worldliness is intrinsic and arises from a person's sinful nature."

Please tell me where such statements, such reasons for putting his children in public school, are devoid of biblical discernment and foundation. Challies said himself that such was based on conviction, not necessity, and he gives biblical support for making such a decision. While I may not agree with everything he says, particularly in regard to wanting him to expound on certain points a little further, one cannot read this and see his perspective as devoid of Scriptural conviction and discernment. Challies has taken biblical standards as husband, father, leader, and how that looks practically for he and his wife in this area is for his children to be placed in public school.

I am largely a supporter of children being placed in public schools, but I also know others who have been homeschooled when that has been the better decision for their family. I am not defending Challies position on the basis of personal opinion, on what I think is right or wrong for families, for parents who are fervently seeking the Lord in every facet of life. What I am doing is questioning how one can read such a post and see his statements as devoid of biblical discernment, not to mention what you stated in regard to others who have commented: "I have seen all kinds of secular reasons to send children to public school, including G.F. McDowell's and Eric's comments above (in addition to Tim Challies and Dan Edelen). Unfortunately, these are not the standards that those who claim the name of Jesus Christ are to be living by." If Challies has weighed the Scriptural calling of parents (verses in Proverbs and Ephesians particularly pertaining to the calling of parents), and through study, prayer, and petition, what else is he supposed to do other than what the Lord has impressed upon his heart? Regardless of the practical, everyday setting, parents are no more or less responsible for the training of their children. There comes a day when the biblical principles taught in seminary, church, etc. must be manifested in practical, everyday life and decisions; otherwise, word is devoid of deed.

Grace and peace~

10:59 AM  
Blogger Spunky said...

I came to Challies discussion too late to comment, but I hope that all who are intersted in a serious look at educational choices consider what Voddie Bauchan wrote on his blog. Here's the link,

It's from his upcoming book, Family driven Faith

http://www.voddiebaucham.org/Blog/4778995B-00A2-47D4-A5B5-BD3C720DC96D.html

And if you're interested this post generated quite an interesting on my blog. You can read that here.

http://spunkyhomeschool.blogspot.com/2006/11/lost-key-to-discipleship.html

3:44 PM  
Blogger begat said...

Gloryandgrace,

I will answer this in several posts because they are so long.

PART I

First of all, I completely agree with Spunky that Voddie Bauchman covers the issue of Education very well and it is worth the read.

Second, Tim Challies does not quote a single reference to scripture, but instead gives his understanding of biblical principles. Is this in itself "wrong"? No, but it does present a position based on opinion rather than scripture itself.

Third, it appears by the way that Mr. Challies presented his discussion that he made his decision to send his kids to public school FIRST and then is "justifying" this decision with the reasons he has stated. The other way to do this is to look at scripture FIRST to see what God has to say about education and then make a decision based on scripture (as Dr. Bauchman has done).

Now let's take a look at his sweeping generalizations of biblical principles:

"Every Christian is called to missions..." I cannot find a scripture reference that states this as the calling, activity, single focus, highest priority and requirement for every Christian. If we look for the priorities that Jesus himself stated, He said in Mar 12:30 "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment." I won't deny that Jesus also said "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."

Is this Tim Challies' basis for his statement? I don't know and he doesn't state that it is. If it is his basis, then I would argue that he is misinterpreting the statement by Jesus as a commandment exclusive of all other commands. He has inappropriately placed what he calls "missions" as a higher and greater priority than loving God. He continues his argument with the understanding that everything else pales to what he calls "missions" and later implies that missions is the vocalization of the story of Jesus Christ to an unbeliever.

Mr. Challies is then stretching his understanding of "missions" to include placing his children in public schools. Again, without scripture reference I have no idea what Mr. Challies is using as his basis for his statements. But, if we look at Mat 28:19,20, the action words or application of this verse are "teach" and "baptize". How does Mr. Challies intend for his children to "teach" and to "baptize" unbelievers while attending public school if this is his definition of "missions"?

There are many other scriptures that actually tell us to avoid the action proposed by Mr. Challies (Col 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Pro 13:20 He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed. 1 Tim. 6:20; 21 O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”— which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith.). BUT, he uses his understanding of "missions" to trump all other scripture and to be a significant reason why he will send his children to public school.

9:08 PM  
Blogger begat said...

PART II

"The key to escaping worldliness is not to avoid the world, but to avoid acting like the world and thinking like the world." and "Worldliness is intrinsic and arises from a person's sinful nature." I would, in general, agree with Mr. Challies on these points, however, his conclusion and action as a result of these statements (to place his children in public school) is contrary to HOW the Bible calls us to avoid worldliness. There are many passages that speak to this, but one example is:

My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: For length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee. Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. Prov 3:1-7

Proverbs overwhelmingly talks about fleeing evil; Paul talks of fleeing evil and on and on. I am not suggesting "sheltering, isolating or secluding" ourselves from the world. But instead I am talking about having wisdom in our decisions regarding the evil and the world that we expose ourselves to (and our children). We should be discerning enough to NOT sit our kids down in front of a porno film and tell them to learn as much as they can about the world so they will know how to avoid it in the future and have some sort of twisted hope that they can be a light to those involved in the industry.

Mr. Challies is presenting the argument that they need to somehow experience and be exposed to world in order to be a light to the world. Again, what is the scriptural basis for this claim? Jesus says, "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." Jhn 13:35 Will the world know that we are believers by the way we can relate, understand and articulate the ways of the world? In public education, the little Christians that Mr. Challies is sending to be educated by the world will be learning, experiencing and being saturated with the ways of the world. I see no basis for this type of activity in scripture nor did Mr. Challies present any.

As far as the "leading of the Lord" being used as a basis for this decision. The Lord will not lead contrary to His word. As has been discussed above, embracing an education and discipleship by the world is contrary to much of scripture. If a Christian claims to be lead by the Lord contrary to this understanding, then which is correct, the Christian as lead by the Lord, or the scripture? IF there is scripture that clearly states and demonstrates that all Christian parents are to disciple their children in the ways of the world, then I would agree that the method in which we educate our children could be up to discretion by the parents (homeschool, private school, public) since the ways of the world can be instilled in the home or at school. But since scripture is pretty clear that we are to train up our children in the ways of the Lord, a wise decision would suggest that we accomplish this the best way we can. I cannot see practical or scriptural principles that discipleship in the ways of the Lord can be done in the public education system.

I can go on with other scriptures and topics, but I think I am getting a little long in these posts. I have no intention of condemning anyone for their decision to place their children in public school. However, when asked and when given the opportunity, I will ask that they seek scripture and give the basis for their decision. Homeschooling is NOT the solution, it is only the result of a submissive obedient heart and the outcome of the desire to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.

I hope this helps you understand this issue a little better and I pray that no matter what I say, you and all believers will continue to seek the will of the Lord through His Word and by His Spirit.

9:14 PM  
Blogger begat said...

Part III

Another aspect that I failed to communicate, and one that has been discussed extensively on other blogs (e.g. Spunky's), is the nature of the public education system today. The system itself violates many biblical principles and it has grown to such significance that it is usurping the will of the people. Theoretically, if no one participated in the public education system, there would be no need for such a system. Obviously, that is not a reality that exists today, and because of this reality, people (both those who participate and those who do not) feel trapped within and by the system.

But when considering the fact that the system is now driven by compulsory attendance laws and funded by forced benevolence, the citizens are no longer afforded the liberties and freedom of choice that were foundational to the birth of our nation. Not only are these impositions of the system contrary to the principals of freedom, but they are also unbiblical. Attendance, both compulsory and voluntary, fuels and supports the system. Reducing attendance would, in a way, reduce the influence and power of the system.

When considering the funding of the system, it is funded through socialistic forced benevolence (take from one person in order to provide a benefit to another). Not only is this contrary to biblical benevolence (cheerful and without compulsion) but it is theft. Most people who have been educated by the system think nothing of requiring their neighbor to contribute to the education of their child(ren). However, they would call you a thief if you walked into their garage and took a bike for your child to ride.

Mr. Challies did not present biblical insight as to how he intends to instruct his child in these understandings. But rather it would appear that his child would grow to understand that it is normal and customary to steal from others through the power of the state in order to educate their children. Restricted freedom and forced benevolence would be considered acceptable to Mr. Challies children and their children's children purely by the act of participation and identification with the public education system.

12:46 AM  
Blogger ajlin said...

To everyone commenting:

My parents are in town visiting for the holidays, so I haven't had much time to respond, though I appreciate and have been considering your comments. I especially appreciate the mention of Voddie Baucham's blog: If I had previously seen his article, I probably would've just written a short introduction and linked to it, rather than taking the time to write one myself.

In Christ,
-Andrew

6:35 AM  
Blogger GloryandGrace said...

Begat,

"~"Every Christian is called to missions..." I cannot find a scripture reference that states this as the calling, activity, single focus, highest priority and requirement for every Christian.....Is this Tim Challies' basis for his statement? I don't know and he doesn't state that it is.
~Proverbs overwhelmingly talks about fleeing evil; Paul talks of fleeing evil and on and on. I am not suggesting "sheltering, isolating or secluding" ourselves from the world. But instead I am talking about having wisdom in our decisions regarding the evil and the world that we expose ourselves to (and our children).
~The Lord will not lead contrary to His word....But since scripture is pretty clear that we are to train up our children in the ways of the Lord, a wise decision would suggest that we accomplish this the best way we can.
~However, when asked and when given the opportunity, I will ask that they seek scripture and give the basis for their decision. Homeschooling is NOT the solution, it is only the result...."

Each of these statements you made in your comments are ones in which I overwhelmingly resound with. I am completely on the same page with you in regard to such statements, and your Part III along with Voddie Bauchum's article are some of the very reasons I am at a crossroads when it comes to this issue. While I lean more towards the probability of my children (Lord-willing) being in the public school system, the issue is still completely up in the air until I am actually faced with that decision in the future. There are so many factors to take into consideration, and as you pointed, each factor MUST be held up in light of what Scripture does tell us in regard to parenting, education, and guarding our hearts and minds. I was also glad that you made the statement regarding homeschooling as a result rather than a solution to such concerns with what the world infiltrates our daily lives with. Each of the Scriptural references you stated are CRUCIAL for a biblical foundation in making decisions on such matters, and as you said in your comments, they must be the result. You made a good and important point when you mentioned Challies seemingly making the decision and THEN backing it up with biblical principles, rather than vice versa. This is a perspective we should have continually in such issues that can have differing outcomes from family to family. While your response was lengthy, it was well worth the time you spent. I appreciate and am spurred on by your desire to build up a fellow sister, as well as any other brothers and sisters who may be reading our dialogue. I hope I did not communicate my concerns in an ill manner; you answered in a way that I was sincerely seeking with my questions.

Wisdom and discernment are necessary for such decisions, and true wisdom can only be imparted by the counsel of His Word and Holy Spirit. I am in full agreeance with "leading of the Lord" requiring a foundation in Scripture. As you stated, the Spirit will never contradict the Word, therefore, the foundation of the Word must be present.

Grace and peace to you, my brother, and to any who may be reading our dialogue.

12:30 PM  
Blogger GloryandGrace said...

Sidenote: I have copied the link for this conversation to my personal blog if any of you would like to make further comments there.

Grace and peace~

12:46 PM  
Blogger begat said...

gloryandgrace,

Thank you for your kind words.

I pray that the Lord will lead you and bless you as you consider His ways.

5:01 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Carla,

Excellent point! My first encounter with pornography was at church with the deacons kids. My first encounter with drugs was on a RA trip from church. We are in the world people. Let's realize that. We all go to the grocery store and are pounded with such sensual stimulation in the line while we are trying to check out that its embarrassing. All that to say, we should train our kids to be discerning, not unthinking. You are doing well by homeschooling.

Andrew,

Great post. That whole notion of missions is quite comical to me. Would Mr. Challies be willing to send his children to a foreign land now in order to "witness" to them? Probably not. And why? Because they're not ready. Honestly, has anyone read in the Scriptures where that is normal? I haven't. Children are to be taught, not necessarily be teachers, though some of that does come with age. Furthermore, I am a bit more radical than others. Training and teaching children is not the states responsibility and even more so, it is not the church's. It is Mom and Dad's responsibility. Deut. 6 is so clear that we can't miss it and I'll point out that it is not Mom and Dad's choice as to "how their children are educated (ie. in what arena, such as public, private, church school). They are simply responsible to teach. God gave them to us, not the state and not specifically the church.

Children are not unsocialable who are homeschooled either. They are very sociable. Just ask any of my seven children. They practically live in a community of their own! LOL. they encounter strangers and believe me the unbelievers in the Clover, S. C. area know more about our family than anyone in the public school system and they know the reason that the way we are is because of the God of grace who has saved us and called us to a holy calling. You don't have to go to public school to witness. Whenever my children are anywhere, including home, their conduct is to reflect honor for Mom and Dad and honor for God. In this, it opens doors, as Peter said, that whenever someone asks of the hope that is within you, give them a response with gentleness and reverance. To be honest, the responses I use to hear in public school became shouting matches with Bible verses, not godly conduct alongside godly speech.

Many thanks for your post Andrew.

7:52 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

The book by David and Kelly Prichard, Going Public, is an excellent and refreshing look at how our children can thrive in public schools as believers or as "believers-to-be". I find it to be a great perspective for everyone, no matter what the Lord leads you to do with your own children! I attended Public School and taught in the public school system for four years (one was inner-city) so I have seen firsthand how good and bad it can get. I know all too well the fears that are prevalent in sending my children to public schools. However, I cannot deny that attending a public school will no doubt present countless opportunities to apply the gospel and the Bible's many truths to challenging situations. To teach my children through these challenging situations and dig deeper into scripture to respond as Christ would is an invaluable "training up a child in the way he should go" in my opinion (and a witness to the world of how Christ's followers should act). There is no doubt in my mind that a child can get the best academic education from homeschooling. That is not the point. When it comes to spiritual education? That depends on how you define solid spiritual training.

10:43 PM  

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