Sunday, April 24, 2005

More Thoughts on Homeschool Accountability

What follows are more comments and thoughts I had in response to some who questioned my intial premise in what I had written in the previous post.

We are, to some extent, creatures of our environment. The American model of rugged individualism and independency has helped to form the mindset of much of American Christian homeschooling. I am disturbed by trends in the Christian homeschool community that elevates the family over all other forms of gov’t, including church gov’t to the point that we see homechurches who are independent of any Church mushrooming on the landscape. This is denominationalism to the extreme.

We are not merely individual families engaged in an individual pursuit, and sometimes I think we homeschoolers lose sight of the fact that we are part of the larger society which requires a lot more cooperative and collective organization to function than we are willing to admit. Case in point: I live in northern British Columbia. The public highways are maintained in part by my tax dollars and serve as an important part of the infrastructure. Without these roads, transport trucks, which carry much of the produce and goods that service this area, would not be able to reach our community. The raw resources of natural gas, petroleum products, and timber that service all parts of the Canadian and US economy would not reach you fine folks to the south. This is a service that benefits all people in society, not just church goers.

Here is my practical question: exactly who is supposed to govern the construction and maintenance of these roads? Family gov’t? Church gov’t? Civil gov’t? These roads are there for the common benefit of all people, whether they are church members or not. So which level of gov’t is best suited for over-seeing this function? Surely not the family or church! And yet this falls outside the narrow role of only bearing the sword, forcing restitution, and protecting private property that some have proscribed as the Biblical role for civil gov’t.

The underlying assumption of many Christian homeschoolers is that it is the responsibility solely of the Church to administer discipline and oversight in Christian homeschool families. Somebody supply me the chapter and verse for that, ok? As well as pertinent passages that we could deduce the proper discipline to be used against recalcitrant parents. The main disciplinary tool that the Church has is to bar people form the Lord’s Table. If that doesn’t work, what then?

The benefits of children who are raised well and who are productive members of society does not accrue merely to the Church, but to society in general. Again I ask, what of the families who are not members of *any* church? Who is to give them oversight or should we be happy with a vacuum in this area? Do we really believe that these families would submit to church elders in this matter?

Everyone is up in arms over the idea of civil gov’t stepping in and seeing to it that children are provided an education and I want to ask you, if they don’t do it, who will?

It is no secret to those who know me that I am *for* an established Church — namely a covenanted reformed presbyterian one and that we should have a religious test for public office for civil gov’t officials. I believe that there is to be One Lord, ONE Faith, one baptism, and that denominationalism is a blot on the face of Christ’s Bride. I don’t think this will happen in my lifetime but it is something I have given my life over to working towards. If it were the case that we actually had a united Church body in our respective nations and if this was reflected in the direction that civil gov’ts took, I think we would be a lot less upset (unless you are a non Presbyterian Christian ) about the notion of civil gov’t supplying some direction and a minimal level of oversight to the educational efforts of families. In the meantime, I think maybe we need to think a little harder and a little more broadly about some of our own thoughts in this area and not be so quick to assume that the workable Christian position on spheres of authority and application have been nailed down for all time and circumstances. A lot of the time the Levites rendered judgements in the OT economy of Israel. Were they acting solely as church elders or did they also function as civil authorities? I don’t know that the lines are drawn as hard and bright for the Levites as we would like to think they were and maybe we need to quit drawing our lines so hard and bright as well.

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