Fueling the Fire of the Future
by Patrick Hurd
 

Most of you remember the “generation gap.” We were the kids and our parents those older ones we winked at each other about – the ones that were out of touch, antiquated, and archaic. Our world posed problems never before encountered, or so we thought. Vietnam, cold war, political assassinations, racial unrest, hyperinflation, and a host of other issues that appeared to be too big and too complex for the aged post WW2 generation to contribute anything worth more than a roll of our eyes. Or so we thought.

Such thinking is just one of the fruits of a society where the seeds of discontinuity rather than continuity, disconnection rather than connection, discord rather than accord, covenant breaking rather than covenant making are sown from one generation to the next. The resulting fruit can be observed today in every facet of life and society. In education where history is changed, minimized or ignored as irrelevant and the other disciplines compartmentalized and isolated rather than integrated. In the arts where all lines defining artistic expression are at risk of vanishing. In economics with fractional banking. In law with judicial legislation. Religion and sectarianism. Government and pseudo-constitutionalism. Marriage and divorce. So on and so on, you get the idea.

The trends of discontinuity and disconnection are, however, finding some resistance within the home schooling community. This is, I believe, primarily because people choose home schooling for reasons related to concepts of continuity and connectivity. Maybe they home school to preserve the loyalty and unity of their children. Maybe they home school from the conviction that education necessarily must be Christian. Whatever the door you may have entered home schooling through, if it is a door of conviction, it will not be long before your path brings you to another door, then another, then another - each door representing another facet of life, another issue of society, and each one demanding from us to take some sort of stand.

Sparks of Reformation

The doors of decision that confront us represent the yet-to-be-answered question posed by Francis Schaeffer over 20 years ago, “How should we then live?” Most Christians would agree that our nation is steering a course toward disaster. However, few agree that it is appropriate to apply Biblical ethics comprehensively to society. For example, God’s law prohibits adultery. Suggesting legislation prohibiting adultery would be reason enough for death by stoning even among many of today’s evangelical community. Some conservatives may not approve adultery but it is the nationally accepted norm. Besides, one should never legislate morality (as if such a suggestion were possible). Likewise, God’s law prohibits murder. American law, on the other hand, consents to murder as long as the murderer is licensed and receives pay from either an individual or the government.

Modern culture complains that God doesn’t understand the complex issues that confront a modern society. We’re pluralistic now, accommodating many ideas as legitimate. We live in a free society according to the rule of the majority. And, frankly, science has passed God up. He’s just not hip.

In spite of God’s growing senility, there seems to be growing number of those within and without the Church who agree that our country is in need of a significant shift from the present trend of lawlessness, a shift that is not going to happen until people are willing to accept an objective standard of law that transcends society. But from where does this objective standard of law originate? What’s wrong with rule by majority? Even if such a standard exists, hasn’t it been so tinkered with by various men of various ages that the effect is not much different from modern legislative acts? Such is the haggling that goes on between rebellious and sinful men attempting to draw some sort of line in the sand for which they might be willing to submit and for a time they have predetermined.

For the Christian, however, no standard of law can be found apart from God’s word. Such a statement creates a dilemma for many modern evangelicals. For you see, any Christian informed in the basics of the Bible must agree that fallen man is incapable of infallible wisdom and knowledge. Yet, when it comes to governing the larger society, he seems unable to come to grips with any system of government outside of himself. Surely one would not be suggesting some system that God wrote, such as the Mosaic system of law and government, and if not, then what?

The dilemma occurs because we have been good students of our age, trained to think in terms of the consequences of the Enlightenment as it has flowed over into every facet of life and society, especially religious life. Thus, while we faintly remember that God is the author and creator of everything, that memory is overshadowed by the prevailing philosophy that pits law and grace against each other. Rather than rejecting the conflict as artificial and illegitimate, Christians have instead introverted the faith to one that is mostly spiritual in nature and wholly personal. The result is a faith that is so relativised that most Christians today maintain that the unregenerate is not only incapable of conforming to God’s law but that we should not even expect them to try to do so. Thus the impotency of the Christian faith in today’s American society.

Irrespective of our view of the appropriateness or application of God’s word in today’s society, one must agree that not much progress in correcting the course of our nation is likely to occur for a generation or two or three. Accordingly, any vision we might have in correcting the course of our nation must be passed on and caught by succeeding generations.

Granted, speaking in terms of changing the course of a nation is fairly grand talk. After all, the last time I looked, lets see, there is you and your family and out there is 275 million people in the nation. The odds are small indeed. Yet in quiet and reflective moments (few as they may be) we can only conclude that the God we serve is big enough to overcome all odds and that surely the choices for which He has called us is far more than just the pleasure and benefit of my children.

But vision void of the practical means of implementation only leads to despair and cynicism, a condition which has crippled the church in America for over 100 years. So as we dream dreams of the impossible with our children, there is much preparatory work to be done in the heart and mind of our children. More importantly, though, there is recovery work to be done with us soon-to-be-aged ones if the necessary foundation of reformation is to be present when our children are grown.

Stoking the Fire,

The most difficult step for today’s parent/educator is coming to terms with the debilitating effects of the education received from school and church. Not that we don’t feel the burden of responsibility and sense the limits of our own abilities. On the contrary, home schooling usually forces one or both parents to re-educate themselves to some degree or another. One of the great benefits of home schooling is that it drives us to stay at least one step ahead of our students. But the crux of the matter is not so much with what we have forgotten or didn’t learn as it is how we were taught (or trained) to think.

What I mean is that most of us were trained to interpret the world around us, the facts and figures and so forth, as if knowledge and reality could be understood apart from a Christian worldview. In other words, most of us spent 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 12+ years in training to view and understand the world like an atheist. Our church training didn’t help matters very much. Choosing to deal mainly in terms of personal piety, the Church does little to nothing in training God’s people to define the world in which we live according to God’s terms. Even so-called Christian education goes barely farther than tacking bible stories, catechisms, and memorization onto the academics while doing little to integrate them or bring a Christian worldview to bear on the philosophical and social issues of our day. Thus we find it difficult to draw the relationship between 2+2=4 and “For God so loved the world” or to even know if we should.

Difficult yes, but not impossible. The retooling of our minds by the grace and spirit of God is an exciting process that our children cannot help but catch. Social, economic, religious, and political issues abound. They arrogantly confront us in the newspaper, from the radio, at the grocery store check out line, and the church youth group meeting (to name just a few) mocking us as Goliath mocked the children of Israel. These issues are ready targets for warriors skilled in the tools of righteousness. But who is going to train the warriors of today and tomorrow? The state? The church? Your neighbor? The field is narrowing – could it be you?

Fueling the Fire

As we learn to bring God’s word to bear on the issues of our day, taking advantage of the myriad of opportunities in the presence of our children, they will grow in confidence first in the Godly wisdom of their parents and, second, in confidence that God’s word is adequate to turn the wisdom of man into foolishness. Our children’s confidence in our abilities and wisdom are important if we are to partner with them as they become adults and assist them in their calling. Our assistance might be as simple as being available to baby sit or being willing to spend the time at the library doing the necessary research on an issue.

Additionally, as we talk with our children and address the issues of the day with them other benefits will accrue to our children. For one, their world will be broadened while still under our defining influence. This is vastly important in the life of our children as you may be assured that they will define their world according to one influence or another. The question is why should it be anyone else other than the parent? Second, our children will have contrasted for them the rational objective standard of God’s word versus the irrational subjective non-standard of man’s foolishness. By doing so our children will gain the confidence that God’s word is indeed sufficient to take every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

Analogies are great tools for conveying abstract concepts using pictures or events of real life experience. Jesus spoke in terms of a city on the hill and a light in the darkness when speaking of the influence of the Church. Paul used the runner in a race to illustrate the Christian life. We speak of passing convictions to succeeding generations in terms of passing the torch or running a relay race.

The latter analogy works well in home schooling because it conveys the idea of one runner passing a significant item to the next runner who then is able to go farther in the race than the previous runner but only (in a providential sense) because of the work of the previous runner. The success of all the runners (i.e., was the race won?) is contingent on the starters as well as the finishers AND the item passed along between them. For the players play in vain lest they preserve and protect the torch and the flame during their journey and then successfully pass it to the next player.

Fortifying
The
Family

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Patrick L. Hurd
Weatherford, Texas
PHurdWford@AOL.com

EST. 01/01/01