Blogdom of God Interview

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Army of One has posted the latest Blogdom of God interview with ... me! He asked me these questions months ago, and I did about half of them within a week or so afterward and just got the rest answered and back to him maybe a week ago. It was fun answering most of his questions, so go ahead and check it out to see if it's as fun reading my answers. Also, at the bottom of the post is a list of the first nine Army of One Blogdom of God interviews. If you read any of those blogs and haven't read the intereviews, it's worth doing so to get some more background on the blogger. Someone always presents a different side of themselves when someone else determines the topics and questions than when they can just blog about what they want.

9 Comments

That's very cool! I had never heard of this before. Thanks for the tip - later I'll have to read the rest of them!

Wow - you're married? I dunno, I was picturing a 25-year-old single guy. Maybe it's the name Jeremy...

I've had a link to her blog with an explicit reference to it as my wife's blog at the top of my sidebar for as long as I've been blogging, so you have no excuse! I'm actually 30, I've been married for 5 years, and we've got three kids (one not born yet). There are pictures at the old blog, and if Wink and I ever get to revamping the look around here maybe there will be some here too.

>>>>

At the risk of entering the wonderful world of blogdom as a pure outsider....I was wondering upon what information or observation do you base this statement? Is there a biblical underpinning? Many homeschoolers cite Psalm 1 (and other passages) as a basis for removing "time intensive" peer relationships. And it should be noted that it is more of a myth that homeschoolers overly shelter their children from the world than an actual reality.

Okay.. back to lurkdom...

jenzy

I wasn't making an empirical claim about what homeschoolers do. I was making a normative claim about what homeschoolers should do.

The information it's based on is purely the command to evangelize. There's no way to train children to evangelize unless they're in contact in time-intensive ways with non-believers. There's no way for the children to actually do it unless they're involved in the lives of other children who aren't Christians. There's no way for children to become comfortable around nonbelievers unless they interact with them.

Most of my friends in high school were Christians, and I naturally gravitated toward Christians in college to the point of not forming many relationships with non-Christians in my life. It's hard for me to look back on that as good. Christians who homeschool their children will likely produce kids like me unless they go out of their way to avoid it.

So if I understand you correctly, the issue you were addressing in this last comment is actually independent of the choice of homeschool or public school. You are addressing evangelism. The usual arguments in favor of homeschooling especially in light of the fact that we want our children to obey all commands to evangelize are: 1. Children are not necessarily equipped to evangelize in the school setting where they are usually vastly outnumbered by unbelievers. In fact, some question whether children are actually required to evangelize at all 2. Children will better learn to effectively and properly share their faith with others as they observe their parents lifestyle of evangelism and model after that and that this can only happen in the absence of "time intensive" peer relationships.

In other words, I think putting kids in schools and expecting them to evangelize might be more like throwing them to the dogs than actually teaching them careful, prayerful, natural evangelism as it occurs on the journey of life. Case in point,... if my kids are in school all day, can they see me pray, cry and write to my dearest friend on earth about Christ? Can they hear me minister to unbelievers in time of crisis? Were they at home waiting while I took the time to comfort a unbelieving friend in need even though it cost me the price of my child's piano lesson because we never made it there?

I have always maintained that my children will be better witnesses because they are actually not walled up in an institution where the people in authority would likely forbid open evangelism or intimidate them. There are spiritually gifted children who are able to stand up under the pressure cooker of public institutions with their faith intact and even carry on evangelism. In my experience, they are rare. The majority seem to give in to secular humanism and walk away from God altogether when faced with such pressures at such young ages. They are often embarrassed and distance themselves from the faith of their parents at crucial ages when they could be pressing in to their faith.

I have always been puzzled by the notion that children should spend extensive amounts of time with other children. I do think children should be comfortable communicating with all ages and we should teach them the manners required to interact well with all people, believers or non-believers.

Most use the analogy of the greenhouse.... yes we shelter the kids for a time until they are strong enough to stand out in the real world and their roots can go down deep enough to sustain life.

But, of course, this assumes the parents are equipped to evangelize and often this is not the case... still.. it is not like the public school is going to equip the children.

Actually I was really wondering if you had a biblical basis for making the claim that children needed a larger percentage of time spent with non-believers. So much of what I see in the scriptures has to do with keeping a youth from spending time with fools... and then there's always the concept that if you know the Lord and His ways well, you won't have trouble spotting the counterfeit.... so there would be no need to go out into the world intentionally immersing oneself in the world in order to be comfortable with it in order to evangelize well.

But this leads us to another related discussion... how to be IN the world and not OF the world. I think that is exactly what we are trying to do when we bring our kids home for school. We feel we will lose at least some of them TO the world if we don't keep some distance and one method of keeping more distance from the world is to keep them home for their education. And thus... really we are back to the concept of "time intensive" which would really have to be defined to continue this discussion.

But your last point is certainly true...as homeschooling parents (dare I say any kind of parents, educational choice notwithstanding) need to help their children to share their faith. Partly that means encouraging them to be comfortable enough around non-believers to carry it out. I just don't think this would be a reason not to homeschool, but rather a rather strong argument for homeschooling. So while I have never felt a need to go out of my way to involve my children with non-believers, I do train them to take advantage of opportunities to witness... at the playground, in the neighborhood, at Scouts, etc. They have the opportunities if they open their eyes a bit, just like all of us. And the fact that it is somewhat limited because they are not in school is actually a good thing, because then my husband and I have the chance to take the time to allow their experiences witnessing to be processed.. in other words we can take the time to pray about the people in their lives and talk about what their conversations are like when they make attempts to share.

Evangelism seems more a mindset than a real issue that would drive a decision to place children in institutional education over home education.

Now I am sure I have exceeded the normal blog comment length.... forgive the newbie once again.... and sheesh.... I am just too tired right now to figure out exactly what you meant by normative vs. empirical claims, but I get the drift.

You just hit a subject close to my heart and I feel humbled just to know my daughter is off holding bible study with non-believers on her dorm floor over at Skidmore. So we might have done something right, but really all the credit goes to God because she is really a better witness than I am, having been trained by the folks at Summit Ministries and having more natural "people skills."

Enough for now. You already knew I was a homeschool zealot, but really.... I do respect every parents right to direct their child's education as they see fit. So I haven't gone off the deep end altogether.

jenzy

I think you've still totally misunderstood what I was saying. I never said anything about what kind of schooling is best, and I never said the time-intensive stuff was for the sake of the Christian homeschooled kids. I know through experience that evangelism generally is far more effective in ongoing relationships where a nonbeliever can experience the light of Christ by interacting with a Christian community in a time-intensive way. Interacting with Christians only in short encounters such as receiving a tract or hearing a "God bless you" every now and then isn't going to do much. Simply add hearing the gospel to that, and I don't think it will tend to have much effect without seeing Christianity lived out. If someone is going to reach out to children with the gospel, the best way to do it is through time-intensive relationships, and the best people to do it are other children. This has nothing to do with the issue of training up Christian children. The most effective ways of doing this may be through homeschooling + things like soccer leagues, boy scouts, etc.

Those who don't homeschool have to deal with the opposite problem, as you said. I was simply explaining what's important for kids who will face this particular problem, which isn't exclusive to homeschooled kids but is present for any kid who associates primarily with Christians.

Perhaps we could take a step backward here for a minute. Okay? Here's the quote I was referring to....you said....

I see nothing wrong with homeschooling. In many cases it may be the best option, but it has huge downsides. Christian parents who homeschool are robbing their children of both privileges and responsibilities if they don't find some other way to get their children interacting in a regular and time-intensive way with children who aren't from Christian homes.


Perhaps I have totally misunderstood you. When you were asked about your opinion of homeschooling children you did include a statement to the effect that there were huge downsides. I made the assumption that these downsides were for the children being educated at home. That is what your statement seems to indicate to me. But it seems to me now that you were talking about downsides to society in general for removing Christian children from the schools who would be salt and light in the schools for the other children who are not believers. Okay, fair enough..... if I have finally come to understand your original statement.

My only question was the if you held a biblical underpinning for believing that Christian children should have "time intensive" relationships with unbelieving children.

And I think I disagree about children being the best people to evangelize children. For the most part I do think that older generations reach down to the younger generations with the gospel most effectively (parent, aunt, uncle, older sibling, trusted neighbor, parents of friends, Sunday school teacher, etc.). At the college level, or possibly high school, is the first time I observe effective witnessing peer to peer.

I still think my assertions apply to this situation even if we are talking about the effective witness about Christ to the next generation of children.... either the effectiveness of training the witnesses or the ultimate outcomes that result in the next generation being won for Christ.

But.... I see we are mostly on the same page here.

Although I sometimes think that "friendship evangelism" isn't always nearly as effective as the Christian engaging in it hopes. Still it is as sound a method as any if the Word is central to the focus and the Christian sharing in this way is both exemplary and humble.

All in all, Jeremy, basically when someone thinks there are "huge downsides" to homeschooling, I want to hear about it....iron sharpens iron, you know. But I also don't want to make a huge deal out of one small question in a very interesting interview. And I just haven't personally observed many homeschool families who haven't had plenty of opportunities for their children to engage in evangelistic efforts, even if they do not have time intensive relationships with peers. Once again... time intensive relationships with unbelievers within the family or church setting, i.e. the Christian community you mention, but not so much confined to youth alone.

I was saying that it's only a problem with homeschooling if you isolate your kids from the rest of society, which you obviously don't. Boy scouts fills the role I was describing.

For those it's a problem for, it's primarily a problem with teaching kids to have a life content with not sharing the gospel and not having relationships with nonbelievers at all. That's got negative results for society, and it's got negative results for someone's development, but the primary negative is in disobeying the Great Commission. What I worry about is teaching kids to share their faith but not providing any atmosphere or example for them to learn it.

As I said, I don't think you're doing this, but it's a danger homeschoolers need to be aware of. That was my point. There are equally bad dangers of any other way of schooling, but that's not what the question asked, so I didn't go into it.

Jeremy you are golden... thanks for the discussion.. back to lurkdom for me.... as my brain needs a bit more exercising before I even think about taking on a discussion with you.... cheerio sir and keep on...

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