What are the reasons that you decided to homeschool? If you are like me and many other parents who have chosen homeschooling, it may be a combination of any of the following reasons...
· To provide more individual instruction and choice in academics
· To cultivate Godly character
· To protect from worldly influences or unhealthy cultural trends
· To instill a Christian worldview
· To nurture family relationships, authority of the parent and bonds between siblings
· To instruct them in the principles of your religion
I’m sure there are many others I could list; you probably have a few others that were important to you. But would you say that these things are the center of your homeschool? I don’t think that many of us would state it that way. If you are a Christian home educator, you would most likely say that Christ is the center of your own life, your family and your homeschool. In my own life, I would say this is what I want to be true; however, I have found that my heart is really prone to wander. In fact, as C.J. Mahaney has said, my heart is an idol factory producing all sorts of objects of worship and substitute saviors. All these good things that are part of our choice to homeschool can end up functioning as idols that we serve and look to for our salvation. Ken Sande defines idolatry this way:
“An idol is not simply a statue of wood, stone, or metal; it is anything we love and pursue in place of God, and can also be referred to as a ‘false god’ or a ‘functional god.’ In biblical terms, an idol is something other than God that we set our hearts on (Luke 12:29;1 Cor. 10:6), that motivates us (1 Cor. 4:5), that masters or rules us (Ps. 119:133), or that we serve (Matt. 6:24).”
Richard Keyes steps on my toes a little more when he states,
“An idol is something within creation that is inflated to function as God. All sorts of things are potential idols, depending only on our attitudes and actions toward them...Idolatry may not involve explicit denials of God’s existence or character. It may well come in the form of an over-attachment to something that is, in itself, perfectly good...An idol can be a physical object, a property, a person, an activity, a role, an institution, a hope, an image, an idea, a pleasure, a hero - anything that can substitute for God.”
Christian counselor and author David Powlison has helped me to diagnose my functional idols with what he calls “X-ray questions”. Here are a few that really struck home to me…
1. What do you love? Hate?
2. What do you want, desire, crave, lust, and wish for?
3. What do you seek, aim for, and pursue?
4. Where do you bank your hopes?
5. What do you fear? What do you want? What do you tend to worry about?
6. What or whom do you trust?
7. How do you define and weigh success and failure, right or wrong, desirable or undesirable?
8. What do you talk about? What is important to you? What attitudes do you communicate?
9. Where do you find your identity? How do you define who you are?
Do you see how these questions can really reveal a heart that depends more on our choice to homeschool as the salvation and security of our children than on Christ, the power and wisdom of God? I want Christ to be the actual, functional center of our homeschool, our family and my life, not just the “mascot” on our flag. But how does that happen, in real life? Should the Bible be our curriculum, should I post the 10 commandments on our walls, start the day with prayer, copy bible verses for handwriting? Well, I could do those things, but they would probably just be external religious trappings, and they don’t have any power to change my idolatrous heart or the hearts of our kids.
Without the Gospel….academic excellence results in knowledge without worship.
Without the Gospel…character training is simply moralism that either produces Pharisees or rebels.
Without the Gospel….protection from the world results in isolation not mission, fear and not compassion.
Without the Gospel…worldview training produces dead orthodoxy.
Without the Gospel…family centeredness bears autonomous family units disconnected from the larger body of Christ.
Without the Gospel…religion training is worthless, powerless, and results in death.
That is why I have chosen to name this blog “Gospel-Centered Homeschooling”. I want to attempt to work out what that means, what it looks like and how it works in the trenches. I don’t have the answers to all of this, but I want to figure it out.
Any other “center” will result in idolatry.