Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Revival of Homeschooling

“Home educators, almost by definition, have turned their heart to their children [Mal. 4.6]… So, there’s been a revival that’s taking place in the heart of these homeschool families...And this revival works itself out to the local church…" (Doug Phillips, 2006)

Wow.
What am I to think of this breathtaking assertion? Homeschooling is a revival?
Maybe I'm missing something?
Maybe this is an isolated instance?

Have a Look Around

Consider this excerpt from a popular book, The Heart of Homeschooling:

"Homeschooling is back. More and more parents are beginning to teach their children at home. God is beginning to “restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers” (Malachi 4:6)....the Holy Spirit has moved on hundreds of thousands of families in the United States and around the world to understand the need for training their children in His ways." (online, 2006)

The glaring oddity is how blithely the author equates "training their children in His ways" with homeschooling. What about those 55%+ children attending school in 1840? Don't these men and others always point back to the glory days of education in early America? Also consider the misuse of Malachi 4:6. The author hopes this will cinch it for most readers. Yet Luke 1:16ff. clearly interprets the prophecy in a spiritual sense.

Further, if homeschooling is a movement of God woe to him that resists it! One should not lightly throw weighty claims around.

But there is more:

"Homeschooling is a spiritual revival, a revival that brings many blessings but demands great sacrifice. The greatest rewards are in heaven..."

What was implicit is now explicit: homeschooling is a revival. But what of these rewards in heaven? Are they different from what others receive who do not homeschool? Sometimes people get too caught up in a movement.

But wait! There's more!

One rising star labeled an entire chapter, "The Coming Revival: Is the Church Ready for Family Driven Faith?"

Ready? Besides wondering what a "family driven faith" entails and even if one wants a "family driven faith" (instead of a Christ-driven faith or a Gospel-driven faith), the book encourages leading, teaching, disciplining, nurturing...doing. Change the method (from lazy fathers to energized leaders) and revival comes to pass? If the fathers do but retain a false worldview, so what?

One article, "The Exciting Future of Home Education in America," mentions twice the revivalistic powers of homeschooling. After painting a dismal picture of America's corruption, the writer rejoiced that homeschooling was "beyond any doubt, a veritable reformation of life...unmatched by anything we have seen in the last century or two in Europe or America." This over-zealous leader wishes to instill this commitment to homeschooling because "it will make a profound difference in the heart of a child, not to mention the future of a civilization and a faith."

Is it "beyond any doubt" that homeschooling is a reformation of life? Has rhetoric triumphed substance? It is true that homescholing can make a profound difference, but to what end? Rhetoric using triumphalisitc claims is usually suspect. It seems the claims of the power of homeschooling are only getting wilder and the leaders more desperate.

Eyes Wide Shut?

Mislabeling something a 'revival' is very serious: it misleads people into a false hope. Read the latest book, UnChristian, and you will discover, dear reader, what Barna has known for years: 94-97% of Christians have an unbiblical worldview. No Gospel there. 57% of Evangelicals polled by the Pew Foundation deny Christ alone for salvation. No Gospel here. And homeschoolers are not exempt: Barna notes that half of them depend upon their own works for salvation. No Gospel there either.

Historically, the Reformation and the first two Great Awakenings in America were not centered on educational methods. Instead, preaching repentance from dead works and faith in the Living Savior was central. Calvin, Luther, Knox, the Puritans and the Pilgrims all promoted schooling for education and the church for revival. Today too many leaders are confusing the two agencies.

The greatest event two hundred years ago was the Second Great Awakening. The Presbyterians reported revivals among their people. And even the children were revived, even in Sunday school classes. Did the leaders immediately create a “Sunday-school Integrated Church” society, promoting Sunday school as the best thing for America in one-hundred years? No, they rejoiced in the Lord and kept on preaching Law & Gospel.

Biblically, there is no effort to defend these amazing assertions of revival other than flippantly quoting Malachi 4:6. That verse is dealt with extensively later. One question though: does this text mention an educational method as a catalyst for revival?

These leaders ought to know their history and especially their bible. They ought to know about the dismal state of modern Evangelicalism. But if one is blinded by success, hardened to criticism or motivated to do something right now, it is easy to see America falling apart without understanding the root cause: there is little Gospel at the center of our churches. And a church with a little Gospel will have little impact upon society.

Judgment begins in the house of the Lord (1 Pet. 4:17).
Revival begins in the house of the Lord (2 Chron . 34).

SDG

2 comments:

Kathy said...

I just wanted to say how encouraged I am (as a believer in homeschooling, btw) to read your blog. This post in particular expresses so well what I have been thinking when I read and listen to the "homeschool-religion" hype, only you put it into words much better than I could have! I know God in His sovereignty is working in His time to bring His church where He wants us to be, and glory will be given to Him through Christ and His matchless grace, not through anything we will do. Keep on getting the word out--Jesus, not Jesus plus homeschooling (or anything else), saves.

polymathis said...

Thank you. It encourages me that I am helping out in a small way.

By God's Spirit I will keep writing and spreading the truth about revivals and nurturing and casting down false imaginations.

Soli Deo Gloria!