Christian Education Awareness Network (CEANet)
Presents a Book:
Faithful Parents Faithful Children
Why We Homeschool
by Donald W. Schanzenbach
River City Press, Inc.
About Don Schanzenbach
Don Schanzenbach is also the author of Advancing the Kingdom. Advancing the Kingdom is a worldview study focusing on sixteen areas of culture including: history, literature, mathematics, philosophy, the arts, and more. It will guide you through Scripture to a Biblical understanding of these topics.
My goal in this book is to bring Scripture to bear on the whole subject of education. Christian parents are increasingly aware of the educational and moral disasters stalking their children in the schools. These same parents are often being encouraged by friends to home educate. Yet the questions keep nagging:
Are we really able to teach our own children?
Aren't my children to be salt and light?
How will they be socialized?
This book teaches clear Biblical principle regarding these and many other issues. May God's word and wisdom transform your life as it has mine.
For Christian Civilization,
This book is designed for you to give to friends who ask, "Why do you homeschool?" It lays out the Biblical case for homeschooling, leaving no wiggle room for Christians who sincerely accept Gods Word as authoritative. It will also prove to be an encouragement to those who have already begun to obey God in how they educate their children.
California State Senator Teresa Hughes states: "We live in a society where children going to school have become comparable to soldiers going off to war." Faithful Parents Faithful Children will demonstrate some of the evidence for this perspective and show parents Biblical reasoning to combat the assumptions behind the present systems.
An abundance of words have been typed about the educational opportunities and disasters awaiting our children. However, after reviewing the available books discussing home education, I decided there was a need for a foundational study that would present the Biblical basis for education. There are other works describing the horrendous condition of the government schools but they typically do not demonstrate much about what the Scriptures teach. My primary goal in writing this book was to work out Biblical doctrine related to education and to present that doctrine in a single, easily readable manuscript. The book is designed for broad general reading but retains the careful logic and interpretation found in conservative theological treatise.
Also, I was unable to discover any book defending homeschooling that covered the highly important connections between home education, generational thinking and covenantal living. I believe that the church needs to recover its thinking and practices to reflect what God has told us concerning these things. It is impossible to plan for successive Christian generations while sending our children to school. The schools undermine all of the most important work of the family, especially as it relates to education.
Having homeschooled all three of our children through their high school years we want to share some of what we have learned along the way. The homeschool movement has advanced greatly since we began in the early 1980s. Yet there are ever more young parents just beginning to venture into this practice. For each family it is an experience that engenders both fear of failure and eager anticipation as to how God will bless the quavering step of obedience; and He will bless it. God desires good for His people and He is the rewarder of those who seek Him.
1. Clergy in the Classroom. Noebel, David; Baldwin, J. F.; Bywater, Kevin. Summit Press: Manitou Springs CO. 1995.
Table of Contents
God Commands Parents to Educate
Moses on Education
- The Importance of Diligence
- Culture and Education
- The Heart Condition
- Relevance of the Old Testament
- The Beauty of Wisdom
To Impart a Biblical Worldview
The Myth of Neutrality
- The Sovereignty of God
- God is Not Irrelevant
- The Teaching Context
- Encyclopedia Not Neutral
- Integration of Scripture Fails
- Anti-God Schools and Histories
- The Attack on Language
- Worldview in Art Textbooks
It is the Only Method God Allows
Where Authority Comes From
- What are the Options?
- What About Exceptions?
- The Argument from Silence
- Do Not Be Unequally Yoked
- Come Out from Among Them
- What About Christian Schools?
- Exceptions to the Rule
To Socialize Our Children Properly
- Public Ownership and Control
- Converting to Social Needs
- The Condition of the Heart
- Whom Do We Fear?
- Overcoming the World
Righteousness is the Goal
The Fear of the Lord
- Defining Righteousness
- Solomon on Righteousness
- Understanding Justice
To Advance Covenant Faithfulness
Messenger of the Covenant
- Covenant is Everlasting
- Blessing and Cursing
- A Generational View
- Results of Disobedience
- A Separate People
- The Tenor of the Words
Mass Produced Students
- Building Family Unity
- Salt and Light
- Why We Must Prepare Them for the Real World
- The Failure of Public Education
- What About College?
- The Future of Homeschooling
- A Few Words About Courage
How Do I Get Started?
Homeschooling Organizations Nationwide
- Information Organizations
- Curriculum Resources
- Extra-Curricular Activities & Tutoring Assistance for Homeschooling Students
- Special Needs Homeschoolers
- Useful Subscription Publications
God Commands Parents to Educate
And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto All the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of the law.
-- Deuteronomy 32:46
God, in His Word, has clearly commanded parents to teach their children. It is to the church that God has given His written Word. From the beginning His people have been blessed with immutable truth. This greatest of books is rightly understood as Gods revelation concerning all things necessary for life. The prophet Jeremiah worshipped saying, "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart; for I am called by thy name, O Lord God of hosts" (Jeremiah 15:16).
To eat Gods Word, to be filled, feasting, chewing, and digesting the meat is our blessed calling, even as it was for Jeremiah. The Biblically minded man rejoices. His heart is leaping, dancing in joy at the arrival of his Fathers food. Nothing could surpass it. Why? Because he is called by the name of the Lord of hosts. He is Christian. Christ lives in him, the Master with the servant. With every savory bite the honor of being called by His name is delivered fresh to his mind. His love for his Lord overwhelms his senses and he pledges his very life in memory of the Earnest (Eph. 1:14) first given to him.
What have we said? How have we lived? Do our actions demonstrate a heart wholly devoted to the Lord whose name we carry? When we pronounce in our faith statements that Gods Word is our sole rule for faith and practice do we believe this, or are they just words, pious gush? Walk with me through some Scriptures and we will pick from the Word a few selections and lift them out for closer inspection. What has God commanded concerning education?
Moses on Education
One of the key Scriptures delineating Gods mind is found in Deuteronomy 6:6-9:
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thine gates.
There are thirty-four chapters in the book of Deuteronomy. The first five act as an introduction to the book. The sixth gives instructions and warnings concerning its use. Chapters seven through twenty-seven reveal the heart of Gods law, making up the core. After this come the promised blessings and cursings, for obedience or disobedience, for Gods people, in chapters twenty-eight and twenty-nine. The balance of the chapters serve to give additional warnings and to close out the Pentateuch.
This giving of the law carries high importance in Gods order. The law is given twice; once in Leviticus and again, with additional details, in Deuteronomy. The law is not only the heart of Deuteronomy and the Pentateuch but provides the foundation for all of Biblical culture in both testaments. Consequently the New Testament writers refer to it often to build doctrine, settle disputes, and explain the mind of God.
The Importance of Diligence
This unassailable position of the law, sets for us a framework for understanding the importance of the command mentioned above. It is the parents that are to do this work. Parents are responsible to teach these truths "when thou sittest down, and when thou risest up" which pretty much means all the time it would seem. God made it impossible for His people to misunderstand His will. There is nothing obtuse here. The Creators intention is that the children are to be on a continuing program of learning from their parents during their waking hours. This is not taken care of by spending a few minutes in after dinner devotions or sending the children off to Sunday school class for one hour a week. The spirit of the passage communicates this is an all day, every day, way of life. It is not to be done in a haphazard or lazy manner. This teaching work is to be performed diligently morning through evening.
Why the concern for diligence? Why are such specific commands given that encompass the daily routine? The entire concept of teaching as a way of life is foreign to us. It speaks of a different age and a lost culture that revolved around the family and the home. We often hear that we cannot turn back the clock, meaning that to wed family, tradition, work, and daily routine is impossible now. It is an era to which we cannot return. Yet the command of God stands ". . . when thou walkest by the way. . .when thou liest down . . .when thou risest up. . ."
Culture and Education
We have been told that this command is cultural. My reply is, "Of course it is cultural." The very purpose of Gods commands is to show His people how to build God-pleasing culture. A highly important part of Christian culture is the rearing and training of Christian seed. This can only be accomplished under obedience to Gods commands for the family. In this case, concerning the education of the children, we are told to be about this business of education as a full time affair. We are instructed to be diligent because the sin nature of mankind is trying to prevail in every child. The natural man (child) does not seek God nor know Him. Careful instruction is required.
When we first started educating our children at home we thought of it as school at home. Thus we tried to imitate the teaching style found in the schools. We slowly discovered that the entire teaching enterprise needs to be understood in light of Biblical ideals. We do not need to imitate either the style or the exact content taught in the schools. Teaching may be done in ways that are more integral to good family life. The schedule and rhythm of the family along with the work and duties of the family have to be maintained. Education is a part of all of this. It is done is concert with family life not in opposition to it. Teaching children becomes a natural part of what the family does. It is a part of Christian culture.
The notion that culture should be separated from the disciplines or corrections of Scripture is ludicrous. Where do we find any Biblical teaching that culture may be formed outside of the Biblical model? Technologies improve, and this is a good thing. But the underlying norms of behavior, family duties, morals, church duties, etc. are always to be patterned after Gods revealed will. We are not allowed to discount Biblical example or instruction due to the present culture being at odds with them. In fact the real need in our time is to recover Biblical culture, not to continue to live in opposition to it. Do we esteem Biblically-based culture so lightly that we sincerely believe the present immoral and disobedient culture is superior?
My wife and I spent the early years of our marriage in membership at a local Bible church with an attendance of around one hundred seventy-five. We were the first couple in the church to educate our children at home. A second and third family soon joined us in that behavior. Now the years have passed. Our children and theirs, twelve between the three families, are mostly grown and are all solid Christians. Out of the entire balance of that church we are able to identify less than ten other children that serve Christ today. Almost all of the children from that church are either marginal Christians or outright humanist/pagans. Yet all the way along our home education journey we ran up against excuses, resistance, and being told we would harm our progeny if we did not rear them like other parents were doing. The idea of resisting the culture we unthinkable to most of the families around us.
Christians that are unwilling to challenge the culture in this area of education often lose their kids. The humble believer in Gods Word and works can rear Godly children best by extricating his family from the present educational systems. The ways of the God of the Bible are sufficient for our day. Biblical culture is good and right because it is rooted in good and right precepts from the Creator Himself. For us to discount Biblical culture is to discount the God of that culture. It is a supremely arrogant attitude and deeply mistaken.
As Christians we are in a sense at a disadvantage to the world. The unregenerate masses may not act according to their nature. By acting and teaching in a manner natural to their desires, and to the culture, they produce children after their own kind; children that are utterly lost. They naturally resist God at every point. It begins at birth and is as ordinary as breathing. But the Christian religion requires its adherents to actively teach all of the attributes of Biblical civilization. It is and education that must address every aspect of thinking and living. It has to bring truth to all things and instruct the heart and will of the child in every thing. The Christian life is not communicated to the next generation merely by telling a few stories or holding a doctrine class. It is brought to them in daily life. We are to be making Scriptural observations and instructions as we "walk by the way" with them. Doctrine must be taught formally in the home, but it is also caught while hearing stories and receiving instruction at the table and the bedside. Christian teaching must be a life style not an event. Diligence is paramount if any success is to be expected.
As we advanced in our home education enterprise we became aware of many opportunities to teach our children important lessons about life as they appeared around us. I spent all of my parenting years working as a self-employed carpenter. I often took my children with me as I looked at projects, presented bids, and performed the work. Consequently, I was able to explain to them the correct manners and Christian attitudes to display under various circumstances. If a bid was rejected I could try to teach them a Biblical attitude toward rejection and loss. If a project went well I could discuss with them attitudes of thankfulness or humility toward God. None of this could be possible if the children had never met the customers or seen the projects. Having walked, by the way with me, they were able to see our beliefs worked out in real life.
This importance of diligent teaching is strengthened near the end of Deuteronomy in chapter thirty-two verses forty-six and forty-seven. The text reads:
And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of the law. For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land. . . [Emphasis mine].
It was no mean thing for Moses to instruct that obedience to the details of Gods law was their life. This diligent pursuit of His will was what guaranteed His covenant people a prolonged stay in the land. Every word, each idea must be as familiar as the lines on their hands or the silhouette of the hills in the evening light. To have only a passing familiarity with His commands would not suffice. Gods Word was to be their life. The oracles of God were not to be in their lives, they were to be life itself. All of life was to have a holy direction. The people were to be consumed in their passion for Godly righteousness. Anything less dishonors the God who spoke from a burning bush. The entire landscape of our lives is to be holy ground.
The Heart Condition
Moses urges the people "set your hearts unto all the words I testify among you. . ." What would it mean to set our hearts unto all these words? Is the condition of our hearts such that we will dedicate all of our lives to the study and application of them? Setting the heart is much more intense, more given to the task than just studying or memorizing or knowing. Knowledge of Gods words is just the beginning. Setting the heart includes meditation, commitment, daily pursuit in obedience, and a continuing application. My wife and I are members of a church where the people so value Gods word that they are ever in discussion about its meaning and application. In church, at home, in gatherings during the week, that have made the Scriptures, and Gods will, the center of what they discuss and do. There is no wall between real life and Christian behavior. It is all one. This is what it means to set the heart on the words of God.
When we are told that we cannot turn back the clock there is an assumption that changes in society are inexorable and final. This idea is demonstrably false. After all, if the status of society cannot be changed, why are we not still living in that more primitive state? The fact is that change toward a better model is quite possible. A return to a more family based life style is both possible and desirable if we are to gain a foothold against the avalanche of humanism rumbling across the landscape. In this regard we must turn the clock back if we want to make any progress at all. To those who say it is impossible, we say with Moses, "it is not a vain thing" to obey God and it will prolong our days in the land. It is Gods promise. We may begin with our own families. More than a few have done so.
Relevance of the Old Testament
Having begun this chapter using the law of Moses, I am certain to receive complaints saying, "but that is the Old Testament, those commands were intended for Israel not for the church." Be patient, we will arrive at the New Testament text soon enough, and it will confirm what the book of Deuteronomy teaches. However, lets remember what Paul told Timothy in his second letter saying, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Timothy 3:16-17). When Paul wrote this admonition it necessarily referred to the Old Testament since the New was still in the process of being written. It had not been finalized.
It is significant to note that the first use for which the church was to apply the Old Testament Scripture was doctrine. Without realizing it many evangelicals have discounted the Old Testament as a source for doctrine. We use its stories for moral instruction and we find the history interesting, but we would never use Old Testament Scripture to build doctrine. It is thought that doctrine should only be derived from the New Testament. Yet Pauls first use of the Old Testament was for doctrine. Verse seventeen in Second Timothy three shows the expected benefit of applying that doctrine. "That the man of God may be perfect, furnished unto every good work."
The application is straightforward. By building good doctrine from the above cited passages in Deuteronomy the modern man of God will advance toward perfection in his walk and be "furnished unto every good work." In this case the good work is the proper instruction of his children. It is the preparation of his seed to live righteously in the land. He will establish his family as a bulwark against the rising generation of humanistic-oriented radicals. Nothing could be more needed in the church and society than such righteous offspring. God has given us the method for educating them. We are to speak of Gods words "when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up . . ." This is Gods will for us.
Some Christians will argue that commands in Deuteronomy are only applicable for religious instruction, and are not intended to cover regular school subjects such as history, math, geography, biology, etc. These parents see a sharp division between the supposed secular and sacred avenues of inquiry. This false dichotomy erects a barrier between the things about which God is concerned and those He supposedly is not. There is an assumption that good morals and prayer are all God cares about, and that He has little concern for more worldly pursuits or education. Yet if we look into the book of Deuteronomy itself we find God addressing law (almost the entire book), foreign policy (Deut. 7:20-24), economics (Deut. 8:13-18), land ownership (Deut. 10:14), sociological concerns (Deut. 14:29-29), warfare (Deut. 20), and other academic subjects, each as an integral part of His Word. All of the created order is the Lords. All of it is designed to be sacred. There is nothing rightly categorized as secular. God rules over the totality of His creation. Therefore all things must be taught from a Godly perspective if we are to please Him. There are no secular subjects. The book of Deuteronomy and the Scriptures in general may not be confined to a circle of knowledge separate from so-called schools subjects.
Unity of Knowledge
If we go now to Psalm eighty-six we can see how the appeal of David reflects the need of unity in all we teach. David wrote this Psalm while under persecution from his enemies. He writes in verse fourteen, "O God, the proud are risen against me, and the assemblies of violent men have sought after my soul; and have not set thee before them." We are not given details as to what the exact conflict was but we can read that "the proud are risen" against him, those who "have not set thee before them." We also live in such a time. The proud proposers of the religion of Humanism mock our faith in their classrooms daily. They teach every subject as if God is irrelevant or in many instances rail against His teaching. They will not allow our God to be set before them. Thus when we send our children to be educated in a non-Christian environment we bring disunity to our childrens minds and hearts. The cause would not have been exactly the same, but it is this type of disunity that David prays against in verse eleven. He writes, "teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name."
It is this unity of heart that we seek for our children. Notice that David links teaching, walking in the truth, and uniting his heart in a single statement. These concepts are indissolubly linked. We are to teach all things from a Biblical perspective. This will give motivation to walk in the truth (understand life Biblically and obey God in all things), and will unite our childrens minds around Godly thoughts. This is part of the cure for the double-minded man against which the New Testament preaches. The Old Testament doctrine cures the New Testament disease. Biblically based teaching has this purpose. It is the duty of parents to impart this unity of knowledge and faith to their children.
Solomon understood these principles of teaching and the unity of knowledge. He addresses his book of Proverbs to his son saying "My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: for they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck." (Proverbs 1:8-9). This great king believed that teaching was to be given by the father and the mother. The duty was no ones but theirs. A man who by all accounts could have assigned the work to hirelings of some kind, deigned to do the work himself, thus his saying, "My son, hear the instructions of thy father." The teaching was to include two major parts: instruction which was more general and the law which was very specific. Every Jewish boy had to understand the law of God. The law gave the basis for understanding the mind of God. At the beginning of Proverbs, chapter four, Solomon gives more detail saying, "Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding. For I give you good doctrine, forsake ye not my law." Thus the father and the mother placed Gods law at the heart of the teaching. It was their duty to impart these critical words to their son. Solomon understood these ideas about education but failed to live an obedient life as an example for his children. We are not likely to be wiser than Solomon but we can be more obedient, thus giving our children both teaching and example by which to pattern their lives.
The Beauty of Wisdom
Proverbs chapter one, verse nine, tells us that the teaching of the parents will be "an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck." Our teaching is to so grace our childrens lives that they are beautifully dressed with wisdom and knowledge as they go out into life. We are not to send them away shamefully unprepared to begin lives away from home. We must rear children who are confident and wise in Gods counsel. They should be thoroughly prepared in the home for life outside our homes. The beauty of that training, like a gold chain, will be evident to the world into which they enter.
Solomons cry, "Hear, ye children. . .," at the start of chapter four becomes a general call for children everywhere to "hear the instruction of a father." How then may they obey if the fathers are not teaching? How is it that we fathers excuse ourselves from these most critical duties? The fact is that most of us fathers and mothers are not teaching our children. This work is often surrendered to others. Typically, what education is provided is such that God is treated as irrelevant or non-existent. We fathers have not accepted the mantle or responsibility to be teachers of our children. In many cases we have not given any serious thought to the implications of this concept. Often we have not even made a simple list of exactly what we want our children to know when they leave our homes. Those that have carefully planned their childrens education, and then implemented that plan at home, are as rare as bullfrogs with beards.
Fathers! We have to take the command to teach our children as being for us and for this time. The God we serve, the church, and our families are waiting for us to lead. We are the ones called to teach our children. Our wives are also called to the work but fathers are to lead. It is imperative that we take our children back from the educational institutions and begin doing the work at home. This is one of those ancient paths in which we are called to walk (Jeremiah 6:16).
The commands of Gods people to teach their children were given early enough and in sufficient detail that there should be no argument concerning this issue from any of His redeemed today. The foundations for proper education were constructed under the covenantal dispensation of the Old Testament. However, it is useful to note how the New Testament holds to the same ideals concerning education as the Old Testament.
And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
-- Ephesians 6:4
We understand from the Old Testament passages at which we have looked, that bringing up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord requires much more than just a little Sunday school. Some quick devotions on occasion will not suffice to fulfill the commands God has given us. This Scripture from Pauls letter to the Ephesians is expansive concerning the parents educational duties. The primary responsibility lies with the father first, just as in the Old Testament; "Fathers . . .bring them up . . ." It includes all areas of life and knowledge. A Biblical view has to be brought into all teaching. This is the only method that produces children that think Biblically. Bringing up children in the Lord is a work that requires attention in every detail. We are not allowed to rear partly Christian, partly pagan children. They are to be thoroughly Christian.
Bringing them up in the nurture ad admonition of the Lord is to be our foremost goal in training the children God gives us. The term "nurture and admonition of the Lord" is not intended to communicate religious instruction while leaving the balance of knowledge to be taught by others. In fact the word nurture indicates personal care, teaching by example, and involvement in the life of one being taught. Admonition speaks of dealing with attitudes and behavior. Both receive attention from the teacher to conform the details of the lives of their children to the ways of Christ.
As Christian parents we have to be working to instruct the whole person not just the knowledge base of the child. We cannot underestimate the importance of doing this work Gods way. His Word is clear. Therefore we must choose to resist the culture and teach our children according to Biblical principal. This is the way of life for our children and families.
© 2006 Donald W. Schanzenbach. All rights reserved. Posted on CEANet with permission.
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