Why aren’t more Christian parents educating their children at home when the public school system continues to undermine the family, sexualize the students, and deceive them about the very reason for their existence? The reasons are legion.
For some, it is a fear of the state. They dread the potential knock at the door by a social worker or police officer coming to take their children away. Others buy into the lie that their children will become socially inept and developmentally challenged if they don’t rub elbows with children who aren’t taught to love God and keep His commandments. Others convince themselves that if they don’t send their children as evangelists into the great harvest field of the public school system, they are denying the Christian faith and the Great Commission. This Arminian tendency results in the crowd changing the Christian child rather than the Christian child changing the crowd. Still others have a more basic fear—one that I encounter all too often in my labors as a homeschooling consultant.
“I Don’t Think I’m Qualified to Homeschool”
“The public school system is staffed with thousands of credentialed teachers and administrators. How can I as a mother teach my children properly without a degree in education? Won’t they suffer academically?”
This is what I hear from many concerned parents. What they’re missing, however, is what’s at stake. And what’s at stake is the future—their future godly generations as well as the future of the Kingdom. When they understand this, there is a greater possibility they’ll take the needed steps to begin teaching their children at home or find a Christian day school that teaches the whole counsel of God. When they understand what hangs in the balance, they’ll realize that not only are they more than qualified—they are commanded to teach their children.
R. J. Rushdoony articulates the issue in his unmatched study on The Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum:
Because education means the training of the generations to come in the basic values, goals, and standards of a society, control of education is a central key to power … To control the future requires the control of education and of the child. Hence, for Christians to tolerate statist education, or to allow their children to be trained thereby, means to renounce power in society, to renounce their children, and to deny Christ’s lordship over all of life.1
Christian parents who take the Bible seriously are “training the generations to come.” That’s why the state so desperately wants to monopolize the education of children, and why they put forward the propaganda surrounding credentials and accreditation. They intend for parents to be too intimidated to fight the system and too demoralized by their alleged inadequacy.
This is a misplaced intimidation. Fear is reserved for God alone, not man, and not the state. Our concern, as Christian parents, should be whether or not we are pleasing God in something as important as the education of our children. But parents have an uphill battle because pastors and denominations also endorse statist education. Just consider the annual refusals by the “conservative” Southern Baptist Convention to allow the proposals by Bruce Shortt to reach the floor for vote.2
Christian parents must be taught the truth about the state and accreditation. The most important point is that it is God who qualifies someone for the role of teaching His children, and it is His Word that certifies. Rushdoony states this succinctly:
In Scripture, it is the prophetic ministry of God’s law-word which accredits or certifies, or denounces and places under a ban, all offices of state, and entire nations as well.3
Since the state lacks the divine authority to certify parents to teach their children, parents should not be tempted to pull back from their Biblical mandate. If they are, they might consider a powerful lesson gleaned from the life of the prophet Daniel and his confrontation with statist control over the application of his faith.
Some Things Are Worse Than the Lion’s Den
What preceded Daniel’s stay in the lion’s den? He had been trained in Babylon, yet he and his Hebrew companions did not shy away from their identity as Hebrews. They remained faithful to the training they had received from their parents. God rewarded their obedience. As a result, Daniel and the three young Hebrew men demonstrated savvy in dealing with sensitive and important issues and were elevated to positions of power. Daniel rose to the highest levels of government service and was above repute in the execution of his duties. He was faithful, so much so that the only accusation his enemies could make about him was that he was faithful to the law of his God.
5: Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.
6: Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever.
7: All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. (Dan. 6:5–7)
If you think about it, they were asking for something far less than what is demanded in our modern statist school system. Daniel’s enemies were asking for a moratorium on Daniel praying for thirty days. Just thirty days. What is required of Christians who send their children to state schools has no cutoff date—they are forbidden to vocally honor their Lord and Savior for ten months out of the year, Monday through Friday from eight o’clock until three o’clock daily. Additionally, if they play sports, they are prohibited, in many cases, from asking God’s blessings for safety during a sporting event. When a Christian student attains the highest honors because of academic achievement, he is denied the right to acknowledge and credit his Lord and Savior for that success. Most parents of Christian children in public schools accept this silencing without question for the twelve years their Christian children attend statist schools. If they possessed even a mustard seed of wisdom, they would remove their children from this horrible predicament and fulfill God’s requirements regarding the nurture and admonition of their children.
Daniel refused to be fearful of the consequences of faithfulness. He had a lot to lose. He had a privileged position with the king; he had status in the Babylonian community. He had wealth. He could have justified obedience to the king’s evil edict by saying, “What will my brother and sister Hebrews do if I am no longer in a position to help them?” Why did he force the issue and jeopardize all the good he could do for God in the position he had?
As a man in a position of authority who had to make decisions that would affect the lives of a nation, he also knew that he was a man under God’s authority. The wiles of a few enemies were not sufficient cause for him to give up his identity or his lifeline to the Source of his success and power (Dan. 6:10). Daniel was about furthering the Kingdom of God, despite the protests of his detractors.
Christian parents are constantly in predicaments like Daniel’s. A judge or legislature may determine that children are owned by the state and require that parents cede to the state that which belongs to God alone. But like Daniel, Christian parents need to remember the source of their strength and their reason for existence. Rushdoony’s prophetic words are once again helpful:
But man was created, not by the state, but by God, and man belongs, therefore, not to the state but to God. Children are a gift and an inheritance from God, given by God and to be committed to God by faith and godly nurture and education. No man owns his child, even though the child is committed to him by God. For a man to claim ownership of his children is not only morally wrong but also especially offensive. How much more wrong it is for the state to claim ownership of both child and man!
The basic answer to this socialism is that children belong to God, and all men, as God’s creatures, are God’s property. We had better, then, place ourselves under God’s law and liberty, and enjoy the prosperity of His blessing and grace, or we shall find ourselves and our children groaning under the slavery of socialism.4
Liberty under God
Many Christians have a faulty theology of the family. They fail to realize the immense power God delegates to parents. Rushdoony states:
Biblical law places power and authority into the hands of the parents, especially the father, and, as long as the family has liberty, liberty based on power of property, the parents have authority. The primary purpose of the inheritance tax has been to destroy this parental power; the total financial gain to the state by means of inheritance taxes is small. Similarly, transfer of power over education, income, and property from the family to the state has undercut parental power and authority.5
Too many Christian parents today manifest a decided fear of the liberty God has given them, revealing a fragmented and compartmentalized theology of sovereignty. The questions continue: How long do I have to spend on each subject? Do I need to teach all subjects every day? When do I have to teach American history? My answer usually baffles my bright-eyed, albeit scared, mothers and fathers, “That’s up to you. Those are the sort of determinations you as the parents make.” At first they are sure they haven’t been understood and urge me to tell them what to do.
Sadly, once I’ve gotten them to see that God gave their children to them to rear and that they are running the show rather than the state, they immediately want to give me the power and jurisdiction to dictate to them how they should conduct their homeschool. Based on God’s mandate to them, they specifically need to establish a Biblical world and life view before they can establish a mission statement and purpose for their homeschool. Their personal goals, the course of study, the curriculum choices, and the extracurricular activities will all fall into place once they’ve embraced their charge from God.
It is important to emphasize that homeschooling (and Christian education in general) is a means to an end, rather than an end unto itself. All decisions regarding professions and occupations need to be evaluated in terms of the Kingdom of God and of His Christ. In other words, the measuring device for all pursuits needs to be how does this activity work toward building or furthering the Kingdom? If the answers aren’t apparent at the early stages, the course of study should include a solid foundation in the basics with an eye to providing students with a broad overview of all subject areas in terms of God’s law-word. Talents, inclinations, and opportunities will manifest themselves as the student matures, thereby providing direction.
Gateway to the Soul
Of all the areas R. J. Rushdoony could have focused his attention, Christian education, under the supervision of the Christian family, was foremost. Why? Because he knew that education is the gateway to the soul. Teach children they are evolved apes, and that is how they will act. Teach them that they are made in the image of God and are required to adhere to His law-word, and they will act accordingly. Yet, Christian education is not something that should be undertaken without training. Fortunately, the same course of study that allows Christian parents to live life to God’s glory is the precise course of study that will bring accreditation from God. Rushdoony hits the nail on the head:
We accredit ourselves by the Lord’s sovereign word, and we require all things to be accredited by it.6
Christian parents who want to insure that their children have God-centered instruction need to school themselves as they school their children. Study of Rushdoony’s Institutes of Biblical Law (to grasp the nature of God’s law-word and its application to everyday life) and then utilizing his Systematic Theology (to see the law’s application across various disciplines of life and thought) are necessary concurrents to textbook and syllabus choices. All of the titles available from Chalcedon on education along with the host of Rushdoony’s sermons available in CD and MP3 format can serve as a homeschooling school of education for the homeschooling parent/teacher.
Rather than wasting time, effort, and financial resources to become “credentialed” in the eyes of the godless state, Christian parents should prepare for warfare with the powers and principalities that seek to overthrow the Kingdom of God and that want their children to aid in the process. By fulfilling the mandate to teach and nurture their children under God, Christian parents will be storming the gates of hell, which according to Scripture, will not prevail against them. This is not merely a turf war. This is the self-conscious fulfillment of our calling as members of the body of Christ.
Chalcedon Teacher Training Institute
It would be ideal if all parents had the sixteen years of training and mentoring that I received under R. J. Rushdoony and his wife, Dorothy. What a blessing it was to be able to read his books, listen to taped lectures, sit under his Sunday sermons, and then be able to clarify his meaning during hours of discussion. The same resources are available (except personal discussions with Rush) through the faithful work of the Chalcedon Foundation. With minimal organizational effort and some financial backing, I believe a “Chalcedon Teacher Training Institute” could provide parents with resources to equip them to assume the responsibility to which the Bible calls them.
Such an institute could develop increased competency and direction in the Christian homeschool teaching community through assigned readings, lectures, and position papers and would further the competency of homeschool teachers in all of their educational endeavors, ensuring their ability to convey and maintain a Biblically consistent and orthodox worldview over every subject area.
A self-paced program could provide feedback and discussion from a mentor/instructor. Specific areas could be addressed to meet individual needs. Such an institute could allow the homeschool teacher to “remain on the job” while participating in the program. This would provide a more “hands-on” approach to the coursework, enabling the homeschool teacher to immediately apply what is learned to the real-life situations in the homeschool.
Parents who are currently homeschooling, new fathers and mothers, and those who will be parents in the future, are candidates for such a program designed to further the Kingdom of God. An effort could be made to provide networking assistance and informal internships with other homeschooling families, to solidify the concepts learned. Additionally, those preparing to teach in Christian schools could benefit greatly.
Trainees could be encouraged to interact with the material and formulate their own position papers, thereby preparing them to articulate their beliefs. Not only would this solidify their philosophy of education, it would also provide a strong foundation upon which to nurture their students and withstand the assaults of those opposed to educational freedom. At the completion of such a program, graduates would be ready to assume a mentoring role with other homeschooling teachers and be designated Master Teachers themselves.
This concept developed could take homeschooling to the next level by establishing a firm foundation in advancing the Kingdom.
The great missionary requirement of the days ahead is Christian schooling and institutions. This is in part Chalcedon’s function. It must become a central area of activity for all Christians, and for their tithes, in the days ahead. The word of God through Isaiah is this: “[F]or the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9). This God will accomplish, with or without us. Those who are not a part of God’s purpose had better beware of the consequences of being indifferent to His ways.7
1. R. J. Rushdoony, The Philosophy of the Christian Curriculum (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1981), 158.
2. See Lee Duigon, “SBC Caves: No ‘Exodus’ from California Schools,” June 16, 2008, http://www.chalcedon.edu/articles/article.php?ArticleID=2863.
3. Rushdoony, The Roots of Reconstruction (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1991), 20.
4. Rushdoony, Bread upon the Waters (Fairfax, VA: Thoburn Press, 1974), 37–38.
5. Rushdoony, Law and Liberty (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1984), 71.
6. Rushdoony, The Roots of Reconstruction, 23.
7. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law, Vol. II: Law and Society, (Vallecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1986), 117.
- Andrea G. Schwartz
Andrea Schwartz is Chalcedon’s family and Christian education advocate, and the author of eight books including: A House for God: Building a Kingdom-Driven Family, The Biblical Trustee Family: Understanding God’s Purpose for Your Household, Empowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom Service, Woman of the House: A Mother’s Role in Building a Christian Culture, and The Homeschool Life: Discovering God’s Way to Family-Based Education. She’s also the co-host of the Out of the Question podcast, and Homeschooling Helps (weekly live Facebook event). She can be reached at [email protected].