There was a time, up to about 10 years ago, that IF you confessed to home schooling the typical response was "Can you do that?" or "Is that legal?" Today, the typical response is, "My sister homeschools their children" or "We know someone in our church [or neighborhood] who homeschools." The hard work and sacrifice of many parents prior to the 1970's and 1980's coupled with the fruit of their labors has served to establish homeschooling as an accepted (or at least tolerated) alternative of education in every state of our union.
Full status and recognition as an educational alternative will, for sure, continue to be a struggle for each succeeding generation. While there has been many advances made on this front it is by no means the only battle or the end of the war. In fact, if homeschooling is the end unto itself, then the war has been waged in vain. For the war is much bigger than the rights of parents to direct the education of their children. The war is for the future of our nation and the spoils of the struggle are the hearts and minds of our children.
Because of the leadership of previous generations and God's blessing, the Christian community is poised to make tremendous advances on other fronts of the war for our nation. For the second generation of homeschooling, as it was for the first, it is a matter of identifying the issues that threaten to undermine our basic freedoms, applying the Biblical solution(s), and making the personal sacrifices now for the benefit of our children tomorrow. The first generation of homeschoolers battled the front of parental authority. The second generation can expand to other issues. In fact, each succeeding generation of homeschoolers should have a tremendous advantage over the previous generation in at least three areas when parents are faithful to their God ordained duty.
Making and Gaining Fidelity
There is so much intellectual trash around us that the idea of insulating one's children from excess exposure seems absurd and impossible. However, I propose to you that the goal is not to isolate them (for that is impossible) or even to insulate them (as if there is a real difference). Rather, the goal is to equip our children with the tools to properly interpret and respond to all that goes on in this world righteously and Biblically. Think of it as a filter rather than an insulator, but what it is in reality is a worldview.
Correctly interpreting the events and circumstances of life is essential to formulating a correct response first in thought and then in action. If the truth is to set men free then certainly the lies that gather in the minds and heart of men because of unGodly worldviews will certainly cause defilement resulting in bondage. Therefore, mental loyalty is much more than a matter of "see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil." It is a matter of turning away evil with the strength of a worldview that 1) knows that every thought is subject to being taken captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ and 2) has been trained to disarm and take captive.
Consider the alternative for the average government trained young person. If you accept the fact that the heart lives out its nature through the will and that the gate to the heart is the mind, then it should not be too hard to predict the actions of a mass of people indoctrinated for 12+ years in an atheistic, purposeless, and ethically relativistic worldview: mutual abuse (school and work place murders) and self-abuse (piercing, tattooing, drugs, alcohol). Then, as if sitting in the classroom 30 hours a week studying such a worldview isn't enough, the student practices his worldview through television, music, movies, games, magazines, and various group activities until he is proficient enough in thought and action to enter the adult world. What a joyful thought, eh?
The beginning of the popular homeschool movement witnessed a zeal for fidelity among both the parents and the homeschooling children. Unfortunately, there seems to be a growing difficulty distinguishing between the Christian and pagan young people today. One might cite many reasons that contribute to professing Christian young people looking and acting like professing pagan young people. I propose to you that one of the top-of-the-list reasons this trend is invading the currently maturing 1st generation of homeschoolers was our failure as parents and teachers to place at the center of home and school, at an early age, a Biblical system of practice that is systematic, comprehensive, and historic.
Making and Gaining Historical Connections
Effectiveness of application comes from continuity with previous generations through practice which, in turn, lends to credibility, receptiveness, and reliance by the current generation. One reason people react negatively to the application of Biblical law to our culture is because no one really knows how to do it or can predict the outcome. There is no true confidence. Thus, we have lost our way through neglect. The solution to the error is not abandonment nor a sudden 180 degree shift overnight but, rather, a gradual reclaiming of a lost and forgotten heritage.
History is a good place to begin reclaiming our heritage. Some believe that our biggest problem with history is ignorance, as if I could quote, say, the founding fathers and someone would gain a new perspective of what life in the United States should be like. Historical ignorance is a problem, but it is only symptomatic of a deeper problem. The root problem with today's perspective of history is the prevailing belief that the previous generation has nothing to offer to the present circumstances. The quotes of the founding fathers are nice but what has that to do with me today? Thus, the Constitution of the United States was a great document in its day but, as a "living document," is in need of revision (lately, the move is to completely replace it) to meet the demands of a modern society, or so we've been taught to believe.
The same type of thinking has spilled over into the Church. It is no wonder that secularists laugh at us when we accuse them of being relativistically arbitrary and autonomous in their law making decisions when we ourselves not only throw out portions of our law book as irrelevant but can't even agree among ourselves which portions are irrelevant and which should be applied! The Bible will always come under the scrutiny of the unregenerate who view its contents as subjective, manipulative, and suspicious. The bigger problem, though, is from within the Christian community where discrepancies in application arise from the use of differing interpretations and interpretative methods. For example, "Thou shalt not kill" seems pretty straightforward until differing hermeneutics are applied to define killing or, worse still, to throw out the whole passage as irrelevant. Such discrepancies within the Christian community only serves to arm the unbeliever to rightly ask, "What makes your arbitrariness better than my arbitrariness?"
However, there should be no reason for our children to appear arbitrary in their application of the Christian faith to the issues of life and society. God's word is clear enough and when coupled with the great heritage of the Church historic, who has spoken on the vast majority of the issues our society faces, the only voices left complaining will be those whose heart refuse to bow the knee (for the present time) to the King of the Church.
Making and Gaining Application
Thus it should be clear that future generations will have no solid foundation from which to apply their Christian faith to the issues of their world or with any hope of being taken seriously apart from a Christian doctrine that is systematic, objective, and comprehensive. Our challenge is to train our children in that system of faith at a level that we ourselves were not trained to operate within: the application of scripture to every aspect and phase of life. To do so means a philosophical understanding and application of scripture involving the use of reason and logic.
Thus continuity not only means connecting with and building upon our rich heritage but also connecting our thoughts and convictions together within our whole being - heart, soul, mind, and body. When our children are grown and asked to give the reason for the hope within them, they should be equipped with a system of faith that knows the non-negotiable truths of God's Word and has logically and tightly extended those truths to applications in their personal life as well as the larger corporate world. It is well known that the Bible teaches us not to steal. But what does the Bible have to say to a nation about honesty, property rights, and taxation and how is it to be applied? The one whose answer is, "I prayed about it" or "God told me but I don't know about you" will have no one's attention.
A presidential election year, where questions and answers about public and foreign policy directed to and from hopeful candidates abound, is the prime time for training ourselves and our children in the Biblical position of today's issues. Does the Bible have anything to say to NAFTA, The United Nations, or most favored nation status of China? Does the Bible have anything to say to welfare reform, Social Security, or national health care? For the 2nd generation of homeschoolers to advance on the other fronts of attack against the family, church, and nation, they must have the answers to these questions, they must have them based on the objective truth of God's Word, and they must be able to articulate them convincingly.
To fail to equip our children to give a rational and comprehensive answer to the questions is to dress our children for war and send them out with no bullets. Their best hope is to be captured and allowed to live as prisoners of war. By no means will the complaining and accusations of the unregenerate be put to rest short of the final judgement, but that fact does not relieve the Christian of his duty to be ready with a reasoned response and, therefore, be faithful to equip each succeeding generation of covenant children to do the same.
All else said, the birthrate is still on our side. Sooner or later, we may just flat outnumber them. But outnumbering them won't accomplish much. Ever wonder why the pagan kids don't rush the stores so they can dress like the Christian kids and listen to the Christian kid's music? Actually, I don't care except that I can't figure out why it HAS to be the other way around. No, simply outnumbering them won't do.
Rather, it will take a concerted effort on the part of this maturing generation of homeschoolers to protect and train the upcoming generation for the battles they are to face. It will require wisdom, discernment, fortitude of conviction, the willingness to stand alone, and perseverance of a lifetime, to recognize and withstand the subtle attacks by the enemy. It will take a special kind of people to actually attempt advances into the enemy territory to claim victory in the name of their Lord. It will take people who are armed with the truth of God's word and trained to apply it with authority and confidence.
There is still much work to be done to produce such people. That means someone is going to have to make the necessary sacrifices. I think there are some people like that out there right now. Perhaps more will come from the 2nd generation of homeschoolers, hopefully the numbers will increase as homeschooling matures. Let us today determine to do our part today and tomorrow.
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Patrick and Carrie Hurd homeschool their remaining eight of eleven children in Weatherford, TX where Mr. Hurd serves as pastor of Heritage Covenant Church. Mr. Hurd's articles on family and homeschooling have appeared in Home School Digest, Chalcedon Report, Tabletalk, and Texas Homeschool Coalition's Review among others. He may be contacted at PhurdWford@AOL.com or by phone at 817-596-8725
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