Wednesday, August 26, 2009

new strategy: out breed, out educate, out last--survivor

 In a previous post, I discussed the relationship between the shrinking denomination and the shrinking christian family.  My thesis was that ubiquitous decline/plateau of the church had little to do with more of less evangelism efforts but was related to the size of the families we are having (hidden premise: our evangelism efforts are primarily "bringing in" direct kin).  Voddie Baucham's solution is to have more kids and to home school them.  Voddie is really making a splash over the "pull your kids out of public school" issue as in the video and SBC resolutions.  He is now trying to get parents not to send their kids to college-even Christians colleges!  It is a bit ironic {read: hypocritical} since many of his speaking engagements place him talking to Christian college students both from christian and public colleges {we will come and speak, take their money, but wants no part of it, mean while going to the home school/FIC crowd telling them to stay away and writing books and giving voice and credentials for their cause...}.  My point is not to go after Voddie--though I certainly disagree with him on a number of points--and I am doing my best to be respectful since it is the right thing to do, and I have a number of readers who are big fans of his (I used to be till he started sounding like what I left behind).

I want to note a few things about the video/movement, especially since we continue to see these misguided resolutions at the convention.

1. Even if a resolution passes, this is meaningless.  No one cares what the SBC resolves, not even most SBCers.  In fact, the broad majority of southern baptists are probably naively unaware that any such resolutions are even being discussed at the convention.  Many people forget that the convention has absolutely no control over its churches.  As such, resolutions instructing churches to do anything are absolutely meaningless.

2.  The video and resolutions present a false dichotomy.  They present the biblical choice for parent involvement through home schooling vs. the unbiblical choice to remain absent and send your kids to public school.  First there are absentee methods of home schooling.  Second, there are ways to be involved in a child's education even if they are at public school.  Check out Ray Bakke's book Urban Christian.  He provides some great tips for doing just that (it is a great book in all regards and should be read even if there is no interest in the school issues).

3.  It is based on fear resulting from trumped up evidence.  Their idea is that if you send your kid to PS then he will become a humanist and if you HS he will be a saint.  This simply is not the case.  Voddie cites the track record for HS but I am not sure where he is finding this figure.  From personal experience, I have know many HSers who turned out to be licentious atheists/agnostics and many PSers who have turned out godly.  From the HS circle I grew up in, for those who actually stayed the course, the majority have walked away from the faith or have a Christianity that is more folk religion than it is biblical.

4.  It is borderline humanism.  To teach that sending a Christian kid to a non-Christian school will make them walk away from the faith is the same as saying that it is the surrounding environment which corrupts (biblically, we are born with sin into a fallen world: there is no Village).  Environment is the source of corruption comes straight out of behaviorism and humanism.  While the protection mentality sounds biblical, it betrays incipient humanism.  Ironically, while trying to avoid the culture, they espouse some of the most dangerous ideology.

5.  It neglects regeneration and the Daniel factor.  Do we not trust the Holy Spirit?  Ironically, many of the folks in the FIC groups are reformed.  To them I ask: do you not trust God to keep your child?  I am not in favor of throwing children to the wolves.  However, when one is truly regenerated (and that is the problem with many HSers and regular church goers alike, they buy the Christian worldview without the relationship and regeneration) evil influence and even indoctrination are not an issue.  Look at Daniel.  He was taken as a mere boy and placed into occult classes.  Did that warp his "Christian" worldview?  On the contrary, his surroundings were not the source of his power--he was not a humanist.

6.  It feeds the idea that we can pull out of society, out breed and out educate, and that this will restore Christianity to our country.  A friend of mine addresses this trend in Europe.  This is a failed strategy.  As I referenced in my previous post, we are already seeing the failing effects here.  It is a broader problem than just the FIC and the HS crowd.  To be honest, most of our churches have a similar strategy which leaves them only evangelizing those who show up at church.  But the FIC and HS crowd has officially turned this into a strategy.  The not too distant history teaches us that this is failure in the making.

{addendum:  I am not against homeschooling.  We are currently homeschooling our little girl.  I just think that the reasons that many state are based in misinformation, fallacies, and even "vain philosophies" not rooted in Christ.  On the other side, I do believe that there are many missional reasons to utilize and engage the PS system.  If on wants to HS they must take precaution not to adopt and pass on a village mindset-the parents have to model this through missional living}


Anna said...

As someone who knows the Baucham family personally, I think that you’re giving a one-sided view of what Pastor Voddie believes. Now, I don’t speak for him, and what I give below—-while reasons—-aren’t necessarily his primary ones for homeschooling.

First of all, he does not believe that homeschooling will automatically produce a godly person, nor that a godly person cannot come out of the public school system—-he came out of it himself!

Secondly, he does not homeschool because he believes that a good environment will produce good behavior; rather he homeschools because he wants to be there to deal with the bad behavior that will come as a result of the child’s sin nature.

Thirdly, he does not believe in “pull[ing] out of society.” He is homeschooling in order to equip his children to effectively engage the world, rather than throwing them in before they have the maturity and solid foundation to withstand the onslaught.

Regarding your appeal to the example of Daniel: Does the fact that God uses a particular circumstance and preserves someone’s faith in the midst of it mean that that circumstance is ideal or should be sought out? If a person is truly regenerated, then, yes, God will preserve his faith, but that doesn’t mean that the person can’t adopt unbiblical ways of living or thinking due to outside influences. Yes, we have to trust God for the lives and faith of our children, since nothing, homeschooling or anything else, gives a guarantee, but God still commands us to take action in raising our children in the fear of the Lord.

On last thought: please be careful about lumping everyone in the FIC movement together. Our family is actively participating in both the FIC and homeschool movements, yet we have observed and agree with some of the problems you’ve been pointing out. Far too many FICers see FIC as an end in and of itself, rather than the way they do church and carry out the Great Commission. Such churches become very inwardly focused, lacking outreach or biblical ministry, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Used properly, FIC becomes a powerful means of equipping families to work side-by-side to impact their communities-- not to mention that it is a much more natural model to take to other parts of the world. It would be wrong to step into a family-oriented culture and try to implement an age-segregated program.

Rastis said...

Just to be clear, I am only talking specifically about Voddie in the first paragraph. I also do not hold him responsible for every belief his followers hold. In that paragraph, I am only commenting on things he has said publicly. {as such, I am not going to talk about points one and two. I am sure what you say is true about VB, but it is not true about many HSers}. I do stick to my points concerning him specifically: 1. He is publicly vocal that all believer should pull out of PS, and 2. he has a foot in both worlds-He makes money from one while promoting Christianity in more general ways (ever loving truth for example) and then goes to the HS crowd and gives them fodder. I personally have a very forward stance on culture. Do you think it would be hypocritical of me to go talk to some crowds about cultural integration and then others about the dangers of the world?

The latter half of the post is not directly to the FIC crowd (ironically, i am actually FIC in many respects though I dont attend an FIC church). I realize you are connected with a specific FIC church and probably read every reference personally. I have been to quite a few FIC churches in several parts of the country and have spent time talking with lots of FICers. [I actually have heard some positive things about VB's church in terms of outreach which I haven't seen at other churches]

The longer I live the more I realize there are no silver bullets. The sin nature is from within, and is ever present. I know HSers and PSers who have grown up to be heathens and saints. The common denominator is, obviously, not education.

Concerning Daniel: yes, he is a great example for us to emulate. Check out Jesus' prayer in John 17. He wants us to be in and among the world and yet not of it (especially v14-19). I dont think HS is necessarily a violation of this, btw. I am actually a big fan of family evangelism.

I apologize if you found the tone of my post offensive. My goal is to encourage all models of church to become more missional. Achieving this goal requires some degree of critique and analysis. I do stick by the thesis of the post [that reliance in a system over Christ is sin, and christian education is not the "fix-all"] and this was my goal, rather than going after individuals [though I wish they would drop the SBC resolutions bit because it is meaningless and just makes us look unnecessarily odd].