Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Why I don't have to rely on my parenting skills...

I recently shared this article from the Barna Group about the six trends they noticed in 2010.  I was sad but not surprised by what they shared. 

I want to take these trends and share some thoughts I glean about how these are shown or addressed in homeschooling.  I decided to take on this grandious challenge by breaking it down into bite-sized pieces of one trend at a time.  Only God knows if I'll actually get through all six trends, but I really felt strongly about some of these things.  Maybe I'll find some other people who also feel strongly about the same things!

The first trend was "The Christian Church is becoming less theologically literate." 

An unfortunate Amen to that.  I remember the pastor of a church we used to attend say that he couldn't teach doctrines/theology at our church because it would be too difficult for the people in the county in which we were to understand.  Demographically, they just weren't that kind of people.  (Did I mention that we used to go to that church.)

I remember attending our current church for the first time.  They were actually studying stystematic theology for Sunday School!  And since it's a family integrated church, my daughter sets through service while our pastor teaches us about such things as justification, propitiation, anticipation...wait scratch that last one (unless you're looking forward to the return of Jesus like I am!)

Shall I really go out on a limb?  Most individuals do not understand the impact of doctrine on their lives because many pastors/preachers don't understand it either!  Theology in Bible college can become like many other classes you have to take in many other majors; it's something you have to learn to get your degree, but don't see how you really use it in day-to-day practice.  (Like that 30 page lesson plan I had to do for my "Teaching Science" class in college.  I still shudder at the thought!) 

But ultimately, I don't think the responsibility to become more theologically literate (applicable) soley rests with the church.  We all homeschool for various reasons, but for many it comes down to the fact that the responsibility to educate our children was laid on us as parents in the Bible and not given the state or church.

If we as parents don't know doctrine or understand how it applies to us, how can we impart that to our children?  Guess what? I think it's just like many of thes other subjcts we teach.  We learn and teach at the same time!  What a better example to our children than that?

Catechism is one great way of instilling doctrine into our children.  I used to think that it was merely rote memorization, but now see it as memorizing the truths of Scripture and filing them away for needed times.

Take the first question of the Smaller Catechism. 
Q. What is the chief end of man?
A. Man's chief end is to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31), and to enjoy him for ever (Ps. 73:25-26).
There are so many times since learning that question and answer that we've been able to discuss with our daughter whether or not her behavior was glorifying to God or if she was enjoying God by what she was doing.

While currently, we only deal with the questions and answers, it's a benefit to have the Scripture references available to look up.  Let's face it, there is no benefit in learning theology if it's not based on the Word of God.

Here's another example of how catechism can help.

An anecdote told of Dwight L. Moody will illustrate the value to the religious life of having been taught these forms of truth. He was staying with a Scottish friend in London, but suppose we let the narrator tell the story. ‘A young man had come to speak to Mr. Moody about religious things. He was in difficulty about a number of points, among the rest about prayer and natural laws. ‘What is prayer?,’ he said, ‘I can’t tell what you mean by it!’ They were in the hall of a large London house. Before Moody could answer, a child’s voice was heard singing on the stairs. It was that of a little girl of nine or ten, the daughter of their host. She came running down the stairs and paused as she saw strangers sitting in the hall. ‘Come here, Jenny,’ her father said, ‘and tell this gentleman ‘What is prayer.’ ’ Jenny did not know what had been going on, but she quite understood that she was now called upon to say her Catechism. So she drew herself up, and folded her hands in front of her, like a good little girl who was going to ‘say her questions,’ and she said in her clear childish voice: ‘Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.’ ‘Ah! That’s the Catechism!’ Moody said, ‘thank God for that Catechism.’ ’ (From The Westminster Teacher, April, 1909).

Orthodoxy.  Theology.  Doctrine. Catechism. These are not 4-letter words!  (Really, they are not.  I counted the number of letters in each!)  God wants us and our children to mature in these "so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes" (Ephesians 4:14).

Knowing true Biblical truth is the only way not to be tossed on the waves.  A few sources to start you out if you want to look into catechism are: Every Good PathCatechism CCW, A Puritan Catechism, A Catechism for Boys and Girls.

I'll end with a personal example of how doctrine makes a difference in my daily life.  God is sovereign.  Nothing can prohibit the will of God.  He is in total control.  Knowing this theological truth helps me rest in the fact I don't have to worry about my parenting skills.I can't do anything to warp my daughter more than God will allow!  ;-)

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