Skip to content

Why I have my kids read Charles Darwin

I am a Creationist, and I am teaching my kids to be Creationists. But I’ve realized that I differ with some others who share my beliefs…

While some parents feel the best way to raise Christian kids is to shield them from non-Christian ideas, I have a different perspective on that. I do want to shield my kids, especially in their younger years, from bad influences… But when they have a foundation of faith of their own, I believe the best way to solidify their Christian worldview is to introduce them to the competing worldviews they’ll find out in society.

Failure to analyze the pervasive non-Christian ideas is like failure to prepare for battle

As some point in their lives, they’ll run into non-Christian perspectives in the world. It may be as a teenager or as an adult, in normal life or as they evangelize the lost – but they’ll run into them. And given that fact, I’d much rather be the one to introduce them to those ideas, and show them the weaknesses in those ideas while doing it.

The alternative is too frightening – that they’ll be confronted with these ideas by devotees, and that from a lack of preparation, they’ll be swayed, even if only for a short time, by the passion of the lost.

It’s not a stretch to say we are at war in society today, so acknowledging that and preparing our children with an effective defense is the responsible approach. Failing to do so, from fear that even a brief exposure to these ideas will harm them or brainwash them, is irresponsible parenting.

There is no idea we should be scared of taking on directly with the Truth

Of course there is an age appropriateness to these introductions. For my kids I waited until high school to begin my worldview course. By that age all of my kids had realized their own sinfulness, accepted Christ as their savior and been baptized, and had a growing personal faith.

They come into the study of non-Christian ideas already knowing what is right, in a mode of gaining additional knowledge and preparation for life.

Overview materials from a Christian perspective are great introductions

Books like The Universe Next Door and Assumptions that Affect our Lives are great explorations of other religions and worldview from the perspective of orthodox Christianity.

Reading original source materials is an important next step

Stopping with the Christian overviews would give an incomplete view of these competing ideas. Going directly to source writings is an important next step. It is there that weaknesses and contradictions can be seen clearly, open for all to see, but seen only by those with discernment. And far from risking a negative influence from these non-Christian ideas, after seeing their problems up close in the original writings, they lose their power completely and forever in the mind of our kids.

Charles Darwin is a great case in point.

At several points in The Origin of Species, Darwin offers (quite humble) commentary about how much his theory relies on intermediate forms (the “Missing Link” and other similar in-between steps) – of which basically none have ever been discovered in the fossil record. Darwin even goes so far as to say that if these forms are never found, that would be a powerful disproof of his theory.

Further, as a major disproof of how Evolutionists have departed from Darwin’s original “theory”, in the final paragraphs of Origin of Species, Darwin credits the Creator with breathing life into being initially. That’s certainly not taught in today’s biology classes when then talk about Darwin!

There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one… — Charles Darwin, Origin of Species

Christians, there is NO idea big enough to stand against God’s truth! Teach your children about those who stand against Him. Realize that introducing them to those ideas is arming them for conflict they’re certain to see in their lives! Don’t leave it to the world to inculcate your children in these ideas – help them understand the true weakness of the ideas which have torn apart the fabric of our once great Christian nation.

Advertisements

Care and Feeding of a Young Career

It is spring time, which means that soon approximately two million new college graduates will be wading into the job market looking for “real jobs” – meaning hopefully they’ll be able to get paid doing something involving what they studied, or at least have some enjoyment of, or maybe that they’ll make enough money to pay the bills for a decent place to live and have some left over to vacation and to save.

Sadly, statistics say that about half of these new graduates will have to settle for employment which does not even require the college degree they worked so hard – and accumulated so much debt – to earn.

There are many reasons college grads get delayed in starting their career

For some of this “disappointed half” of the graduating class of 2017, this may be unsurprising – even the fulfillment of four years of prophecies or worries, given their poor choice of college major; others may have failed to write a resume which motivates employers to bring them in for an interview. For others, the blame may lie with their choice to skip (or inability to obtain) an internship which would have helped them gain some real work world experience.

There are many articles online to help graduates find their “real job”. I’m writing to the graduate who has already found it, and who is interested in nurturing it and building on this first “real job” to develop a meaningful, successful career.

Graduation is better seen as a starting block for life than as a finish line for learning

Some graduation celebrating is certainly in order, don’t get me wrong. A degree requires a lot of hard work over many years, and it is absolutely a milestone worth celebrating. But my suggestion to see it as a starting block is about having the right mindset…

It has become cliché that millennials (and “generation Z” behind them) have a sense of entitlement for many things in life, and expect their trophy at the end of every season. But a job is not an entitlement, and in the real world trophies are not handed out to all participants. The only systems that can possibly work like that are communist economies.

In a capitalist economy, job offers are made when organizations feel a job candidate is the best choice of available options, to fill a role performing work of greater economic value than the cost of their salary and benefits. Pure and simple.

If you are not considered the best available option for a given job, you should not expect to be offered it; a corollary is that the wise job seeker only spends his time on potential roles for which he has a good chance of being judged the best option. Other points spinning out from this maxim: compensation is directly related to the economic value of the work being performed and the availability/scarcity of people to perform it, AND if there is insufficient work of that type to be performed, there will be no job at all. It is naïve to think as a new college graduate that you could benefit any company you walked into, and that you deserve a salary at a certain level, no matter what you’re doing. A corollary to these insights is that the wise professional seeks to build skills which have high economic value AND high demand.

Capitalism is the most powerful job- and wealth-creation system the world has ever known, but it is not a table stacked with trophies all of the same size, in exactly the right quantity for everyone to receive one. Trust me – that is a good thing, because it lights the fire of achievers; it’s why Capitalism is the best economic system in history.

The right mindset is key to advancement above and beyond the first “real job”

Seek excellence in every job you have. Having the skills to perform work of greater economic value than the cost of your salary and benefits  is requirement #1.  When you’re starting out, most of your marketable skills were learned in college, but as you progress you’ll increasingly need to gain more advanced skills in the work world.

Treat every day as an interview for the rest of your life. Excellence is more than just technical ability; it requires great communication skills, professionalism, and possibly most importantly, being a great teammate – being pleasant and fun to be around, willing to help colleagues, willing to own up to mistakes (without throwing teammates “under the bus”) and willing to share credit with the team (not attempt to hog it, which fools no one anyway).

Just as getting a job offer is the result of being the best available option among job candidates, getting a promotion (in a fair, healthy organization) is the result of being the best available option to fill a new higher/larger role. Patience and humility are key to the right mindset here – being part of a strong team with very experienced colleagues may seem like a negative thing, until you realize that this is exactly the kind of team which can help you build your own expertise more quickly and deeply.

It’s also important to realize that most of the time, promotion can only happen when an opening of that type exists (value exceeding costs) – either resulting from the growth of the organization or from someone vacating a role above you… or a similar situation opening up in another company which would value the skills you’ve been building. Patience is just as important as keeping an awareness of where, when and how such an opening might occur.

Volunteer for special assignments, and make some friends.

Avoid the mindset of just doing the minimum required on the job. “Special assignments” come up from time to time, and if you show a willingness – even a hunger – for those opportunities, you may earn yourself a chance both to learn something new and to make new friend(s).

I’ve seen young professionals turn down optional work because they’re worried it will add too much to their workload, or they lack confidence in anything outside their normal sphere of responsibilities. Don’t make that mistake. Your next job opportunity may involve a skill you learned in a special assignment, or it may come from a contact you made while working on it. Why not have as many irons in the fire as you can possibly have?

In short, as with so many things in life, taking the long-term view pays dividends, even in seemingly small day-to-day decisions and interactions.

Armed with this knowledge and a great work ethic, young professionals can be poised to make the most of their young careers and to grow them into a satisfying lifelong pursuit. In addition to climbing the corporate ladder, early career success can also open the door to later entrepreneurship, yielding another avenue to harvest the expertise, contacts, and good reputation one has cared for and fed from the beginning…

New approaches to College offer benefits, avoid pitfalls

There are few topics on which secular society is more unified than the homeschooling community, few topics on which homeschooling parents can find themselves in vehement disagreement with people they otherwise align on so many issues. The stakes are very high, and there are (what seem at times) competing goals in play: on the one hand we all want to position our children for “maximum success” in their adult lives; on the other hand we want to guide them through their late teen years to help them avoid risks to their morality and faith.

Secular parents nearly unanimously subscribe to the importance of sending their children off to college, seeing it as the last critical boost to ensure their kids’ success in life, and their last step completing their responsibilities as parents. Many feel the four (or will it be five?) years of college will be their child’s chance to “find themselves” and set their direction in life. They take their kids on campus tours and feel a great deal of pride talking with their friends about the schools their kids are considering.

More than 2/3 of parents push their kids to take on student debt in order to enable their years in college – a debt averaging over $37,000 per student, over $1.5 Trillion in total. It is proof of the extent to which it’s seen as a critical investment, that despite college costs climbing at approximately 400% the rate of inflation of family incomes in the U.S. since the 1980s, the number of students attending college has doubled over that period, to 23 million.  In another sign of our times, the number of women with college degrees surpassed the number of men in the 1990s, and the gap is growing…

college-degrees

Homeschool parents raise legitimate concerns about the college experience

Homeschooling parents, in contrast, are significantly divided on the issue. While some families see value in a college education, whether via traditional or newer approaches, other families are hard set against their kids getting a college degree, for a variety of reasons:

  • Some believe getting a degree is an acknowledgement of dependency on the world’s approval for one’s future success. (It is sometimes hard to know how to apply Scripture’s call to be “in” the world, but not “of” it)
  • Others worry about the party-oriented “hookup” cultures on most college campuses being a constant temptation to sin, leading to later regrets
  • Some have convictions for young ladies, in particular, that if they are setting their sights on a life as a wife and mother, a college education is a waste of time, effort and money – or worse, a mixed message nudging them toward feminism
  • Some parents believe that more true “learning” is possible in the work world, because college imparts theoretical information of little value outside academic settings (depending on one’s major)
  • Recent studies showing the prevalence of both cheating and short-term memorization “cramming” cast doubt on how much material college students are actually absorbing
  • Some point to the dilution of the value of a bachelor’s degree, with rising college enrollments driven by easy access to student loans and reduced standards at many universities enabled by SAT score inflation
  • Many Christian parents are very concerned at the problem of university professors intent on destroying students’ faith – even at so-called Christian universities

 

But in our complex modern society, the value of advanced specialized education seems clear

High school curriculum covers many useful subjects, but it’s extremely unlikely that anyone can find a way to earn a decent income in the world, either using or selling their skills from a high school education alone. Additional education is critical, either to learn how to produce goods that can be sold with enough scale and enough profit margin to be profitable, or to learn a skill for which someone will be willing to pay them. Investing in one’s self to become skilled and marketable is a prerequisite for success, whether one wants to become an entrepreneur or an employee poised to climb the corporate ladder.

There are other ways to gain valuable additional education, as I discussed in a previous post, but many of the skills our society needs, for which it is willing to pay, are taught in college. So at least some college degrees have a value in increasing one’s earning potential. Choosing one of these majors is critical, and we must guide our children to avoid majors which lead only to a future in academia, which is surely on the precipice of major disruption.

Addressing an objection some homeschoolers raise, even if young ladies do rightly set their sights on homemaking and motherhood as their primary goal, there are two reasons a college degree might make sense for them. Firstly, gaining additional skills can be just as valuable for a woman as for a man, as exemplified by the Proverbs 31 woman, who is engaged in commerce for her household. In this context, obtaining a college degree is a far cry from adopting a feminist worldview.

Secondly, it’s possible in the future that the U.S. government may mandate that homeschool teachers be credentialed alongside those in private schools; the recent ten-year increase in homeschooled students of over 60%, coupled with the growing divide between how public schooled children and homeschooled children view the government, makes federal regulation more of a risk with each passing year. In short, the more of us there are, and the more different we are, the more the government will be motivated to do something to slow the progression. Homeschooling mothers possessing a college degree in the future will have an extra layer of protection of their right to teach their own children.

New approaches to college allow the benefits of learning and obtaining a degree, without “going” to college

So earning a college degree, with a major applicable outside of academia, is a helpful thing to a young adult’s life prospects, for both young men and women. If enrollment in brick-and-mortar institutions were the only way to obtain a college degree, we would be facing a significant trade-off indeed, as most of the concerns listed above spring up from the culture while “away at school” – student life in the dorms, in fraternity and sorority houses.

Thankfully, the growing acceptance of two recent innovations are removing the trade-off, truly enabling a path to a college degree (at least within certain disciplines), with all of the benefits but none of the potential pitfalls. These recent changes are credit by examination (CLEP credit) and online college courses.

CLEP testing (including DSST and other similar testing programs), enable a student to earn college credit if they prove a true mastery of the material for each course. In other words, it measures the truly meaningful part of college – whether students are learning the materials in the classes they take. Even better though, with this approach, students can learn the material at their own pace, in the style of learning best suited to them – in other words, they can learn college material in the same way adults gain new knowledge in our everyday lives! These tests acknowledge what has long been common knowledge – that the material in undergraduate college programs all over the country is the same basic material, explained in the same textbooks. If and when students gain that level of mastery over each subject, they can rightfully gain college credit for that knowledge by paying a minimal testing fee to the College Board organization, who administers these tests on behalf of colleges nationwide.

Online college is likewise a growing trend, with most courses offered by traditional universities, often taught by the same professors in combination with their on-campus courses. Here again, the ability to separate out the core activity of learning course material enables a student to earn a college degree without needing to submerge themselves in the college’s on-campus culture. They can learn the material while remaining at home, receiving constant counsel from their parents to keep their bearings and priorities, and likely avoiding the need for student debt. For anyone familiar with the number and type of temptations which may distract on-campus students, it is no surprise that online students often set the curve in these courses!

With the trade-offs, risks and costs involved with traditional college, newer online/CLEP options are certainly worthy of consideration

The foregoing points establish at least that online college and/or CLEP testing are valid options for Christian students to consider. I purposefully stop short of claiming these are the perfect pair of solutions for every student, for several reasons:

  • Every family and student is different. Although it’s difficult to know with certainty that parents aren’t rolling the dice with their child’s spiritual wellbeing by enrolling them at a brick-and-mortar university, I am very certain that some students are mature enough to handle all of the social challenges and temptations at university and go through completed unscathed.
  • Every school is different. Some create a safe environment among students and are purposeful in choosing faculty who are respectful of Christian students’ beliefs (although having “Christian” or a denomination in the school’s name is FAR from guaranteeing this). There are families who trust one specific school to be a wholesome environment in which the student can have “the college experience” safely, mainly due to the fact that only kids from likeminded families would be sending their kids to such a school. On the other hand, there are families who believe this kind of school is precisely the wrong place to send kids, because the frequency of “rubber-band rebellion” will be higher in a student population coming out of more restrictive homes, finding themselves for the first time free to make their own moral choices.
  • Some fields of study don’t setup well for online or CLEP study – specifically those which require significant laboratory work, in-person interaction, performance, etc. Likewise neither CLEP or online options are likely to enable one to obtain a graduate degree. The good news in some of these cases is that students involved in graduate studies or laboratory-intensive undergraduate programs are likely to be among the most mature on campus, muting many of the risks found in general undergraduate cultures.
  • Friends and extended families may be just as critical of this approach as they would be of bypassing college altogether. The “finding one’s self” conception of the college years is set deep in the minds of many people. They may absolutely see the risks and concerns of the traditional approach, but still hold this need for a young person to use those years to set their direction. To these we can only say that surely home and real-life community are safer places to find one’s self – more realistic and balanced – than an artificial social construct comprised solely of young adults away from home for the first time.

 

Having said all of this, I know and respect many strong Christian families who have set a course to send their children away to brick-and-mortar colleges, some for the exception reasons I list above.  I know other strong families who have determined not to have all or some of their children earn a college degree in any form, for the reasons listed above. They love their children and are acting in conviction that these are the best decisions for their family. I love these families dearly and still believe their kids can go on to have happy adult lives.

I publish this article humbly, not as exegesis or judgment on those who disagree, but merely as the best application I can make for my own children, and I hope as an article which will be thought-provoking to readers, if you strive, as I do, to apply God’s Word to every aspect of your lives. Comments are welcomed!

Selfie (Dopamine) addicted nation

Social media has been one of the most powerful trends in our society since bursting onto the scene. Its impact on our culture is shocking considering how recently these sites were launched: MySpace in 2003, Facebook in 2004, Twitter in 2006, Instagram only in 2010, and Snapchat in 2011.

Beyond their power to connect people, social media has a dark side

A good portion of traffic on these sites are messages of the kind that might have been passed, or which people may have wished they could pass, via older communications media for generations: messages between former classmates, friends and neighbors now distant from each other, messages and updates between family members on their lives and interests, etc. But a growing portion of the traffic on these sites (now over 1/3 of all posts, according to Adweek) are “selfies” – pictures people have taken of themselves for the express purpose of posting on social media.

Think about that for a moment – one out of every three messages people feel are worth taking the time to send out to their connections are pictures of themselves.

Anyone with teenagers in their social media network can likely attest that for many of them this type of post represents more like 95%. Over 90 million selfies are posted every day. More people died in 2015 attempting selfies than from shark attacks worldwide! This phenomenon has never been seen in the history of our society or any other, and it represents an enormous investment of time and expense – but time and expense toward what aim?

Why do so many people post so many selfies?

An easy answer given for why selfies have become so common is simple narcissism – obsession with one’s appearance and with obtaining admiration from others about their appearance. This has been a part of human nature forever (after all, narcissism named for Narcissus, the man who fell in love with his own reflection in Greek mythology; that’s going back a ways…) New technologies offer new and more outlets for this human temptation. This is clearly part of the answer, explaining why, for example:

  • More than 2/3 of adults admit to editing their selfies before posting
  • Followers intuitively know the selfie poster is fishing for a compliment – what other purpose do they serve? – and often oblige with comments on these posts about how they are “beautiful”, “hot”, etc.
  • Many teenagers, especially girls, experience a “low” feeling when their posted selfies don’t garner enough likes; some even later delete posts which don’t meet their target threshold

 

Is Narcissism and appearance obsession the whole story?

The title of this blog post tipped my hand that there is more driving the selfie craze (and the social media craze more generally). Brain chemistry is a huge dynamic in the addictive power of these systems. When we receive notifications that someone has “liked” or commented on something we posted to social media, it gives our brains a little burst of dopamine, a neurotransmitter which delivers pleasure to our brains. These bursts of well-being can become addictive, creating a heightened need for future experiences of the same feeling. This need can even escalate to feelings of withdrawal during periods away from social media.

Parents, let’s help our families use social media as a tool, not an addiction!

Just like any other addiction, social media (dopamine) dependency must be avoided at all costs. To give over so much control of our happiness to any aspect of our lives is to make idols for ourselves which can empty life from its real meaning. This is a risk both for adults and children. The “selfie” is only one manifestation of dependence on social media attention, but it may be the easiest to spot.

Society is Obsessed with Apocalypse, not Salvation

First it was the Millerites, convinced that the world would end Apr 28, 1843 (later revising this to Oct. 22, 1844, claiming they made an arithmetic error in the first calculation). Many gave away all of their worldly possessions and stopped educating their children years before this date, only to regret for the rest of their lives their presumption in assuming a secret understanding of God’s Word.

More recently, it was Harold Camping, who successively predicted Sep 6 1994, Sep 29 1994, Oct 2 1994, Mar 31 1995, May 21 2011, and finally Oct 21, 2011 (claiming each time to have misunderstood a certain component of the calculation or to have miscalculated arithmetic in previous predictions). Camping took in millions in donations in the months leading up to the 2011 dates, including some families’ entire estates, in order to fund an enormous advertising campaign warning people of the coming End.

And of course Dec. 21, 2012 was heralded by many as the unavoidable End of Days because that date was the end of the Mayan “long count” calendar. It provided the plot line for a good number of prophetic/fiction books and Hollywood movies – commercial gains which might be the basis of a new conspiracy theory about the benefits of conspiracy theories…

Actually, before and between these dates there have been myriad predictions for the end of the world. And now in 2015 we see a rising conspiracy theory that the Apocalypse will come on Sep. 23, 2015.

The Case from Daniel 9 for the Predicted Apocalypse Sep 23, 2015

The 70 weeks passage in Daniel 9:24-27 seems to be the Biblical connection people point to for most of the prophecies being made about Sep 23, 2015:

Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.

There are various ways people arrive at this date based on this passage – each with its own justification, and each with its own problems Biblically:

  • 7 “weeks” (49 360-day years) from the Six-Days War (June 7, 1967) – this is Isaac Newton’s prophecy. It seems strange that these 7 “weeks” would be a partial repeat from the fulfilled prophecy in Daniel. 9/23/15 is correct arithmetic for 49×360 days after 6/7/67, but there is nothing in the Bible to show that the prophecy should be partially re-activated in our times. Also the 7 weeks is the initial period of the Daniel prophecy not the end.
  • 1 “week” (7 years) after Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This is problematic because he was given the award on 10/9/09, only 6 years ago. a full “week” (7 years) would actually end on 9/2/16.
  • Jubilee years – some people claim that there is a count of Jubilee years from the original decree that Jerusalem’s wall be rebuilt to 9/23/2015, but this would be far short of 70 weeks and more like 49.2 Jubilees since the decree (2460 years). 49 is a symbolic Biblical number for sure, but the decree is the key milestone in the prophecy, and it is only referenced in this passage, which uses 70, not 49.

The True Meaning, and Prophetic Power, of Daniel 9

All of the citations being used to support the Sep. 23, 3015 Apocalypse date are misuses of what is actually an amazing passage of fulfilled prophecy about the coming and death of Christ. The 7 + 62 “weeks” are 483 years. Artaxerxes’ decree that the Jerusalem wall be rebuilt occurred in 445 BC (Neh. 2), which is exactly 483 years from 30 AD when Christ was crucified – Daniel’s prophecy fulfilled that the Messiah would be “cut off”.

People have different understandings of the 70th “week” of the prophecy, but I believe that the prediction that “the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary” was definitely fulfilled when Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD.

For hundreds of years this prophecy was stored in the scrolls of the Hebrew Scriptures without anyone fully understanding it.  For generations it was copied over and over again, and read at the synagogues, without the Hebrews understanding it in full.  Only when Christ came and was crucified did this passage’s full original meaning become clear.  It is a beautiful example of the divinity of Holy Scripture, and it does not need a re-activation or double meaning in the 21st century.

The Circular Reasoning that the “Elites” Know, But Can’t Say Much

There are dots being connected by people in other ways trying to point to 9/23/15, showing that the elites know it’s coming, but without any explanation of how they would have been informed (aliens? special revelation from God just to the powerful of the world?)

One incident in particular seems to have sparked the entire Sep 23 2015 conspiracy theory – the French Prime Minister claiming that the world had exactly 500 days from May 11, 2014 “to avoid climate chaos”. (Standing right beside him in that press conference, Secretary of State John Kerry certainly gives little hint that the Prime Minister has given away the largest secret in the history of the world – but the conspiracy theorists chalk this up to Kerry’s amazing acting abilities…)

In addition to a climate-related cause, other popular causes cited for the upcoming end of the world are an asteroid/”wormwood” event, Iran nuclear Armageddon, a biological attack or outbreak. There are no specific reasons to believe any of these things would destroy the world, or that any incident on these fronts is expected on a given date, particularly one this far out in time.

Salvation is Mentioned By Some Prognosticators, but it is the Armageddon that Gets the Attention

There is one message that many of these Youtube Experts are passing that I agree with, that we need to be saved by Christ in order to avoid ultimate/spiritual death. And while the conspiracy theorist subculture doesn’t need the Gospel any more than any of the rest of us, neither does it need the Gospel less.

Conspiracy Theorists, Please Read the Bible for its Truth, not for the Secret Codes You Imagine!

The Bible is not a code book to be cracked and deciphered, but rather a description of man’s fallen sinful nature, a history of what God did to make a way for us to be saved from that sin, and a set of prophecies – all but one of which have already been fulfilled, like the one in Daniel 9. Those fulfilled prophecies, together with the accurate description of man’s nature, the description of what God does in the hearts of the saved, making us new creations, and how that describes what has happened to us in our own lives, are the absolute proof to believers of the truth of the Bible and everything it says.

The one unfulfilled prophecy in the Word is the return of Christ for final judgment. I do not believe it is coming in September 2015, but only after the gospel has been preached to the entire world and His millennium reign has occurred.

Will September 24th 2015 Bring Dawning Realization? Let’s Pray and Preach the Gospel

If Sep 23rd passes without incident, we can hope that conspiracy buffs might push the ‘Bible code’ theories to the side, and read the Bible for its core truth – that we all have sinned, that we’re selfish liars at heart, and that in God’s justice we all WILL be sent to Hell in final judgment. The Bible makes it clear we cannot ask for forgiveness at His throne, no matter how much “good” we think we’ve done (Matt.7:21-23); we can only be saved if we truly acknowledge and repent of our sin (turn from it), and ask Christ to be our Savior and Lord of our Life – it is only His change in our hearts that will make our repentance real (2 Cor.5:17).

But being realistic, if the long line of embarrassed prophets who’ve been wrong before doesn’t discourage these theories, there is little chance that they will cease on Sep 24, 2015 either. Please join me in praying that at least some eyes are opened with wisdom and discernment though.

Discernment – Even in Honored Sources

One of the most complex and challenging lessons I am Teaching My Kids is Discernment – obtaining the correct understanding of doctrines, and separating those they should accept as Truth from those they should reject, and even fight against.

This lesson is made all the more challenging for me to teach because I have not yet fully learned it myself. I often wish I had far more wisdom from which to guide them on choosing ideas to reject and accept. But it is clear that either my wife and I will fulfill that role, or we leave it to the society to do so.

Sometimes Separation of falsehood is needed from otherwise rich and trustworthy sources

The notion of “separation” is a critical aspect of discernment, and it sometimes requires separation of ideas from within the same author or even the same source – even when those sources and authors are correct on most or all of their other teachings.

Such is the case with the concept that Christ descended to hell after His crucifixion, a claim added hundreds of years later into the world’s most popular Christian Creed: the Apostle’s Creed, and later supported and taught by John Calvin, among other theologians.

…Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven… – excerpt, the Apostle’s Creed

But, apart from the Creed, we must seek for a surer exposition of Christ’s descent to hell: and the word of God furnishes us with one not only pious and holy, but replete with excellent consolation. Nothing had been done if Christ had only endured corporeal death. In order to interpose between us and God’s anger, and satisfy his righteous judgement, it was necessary that he should feel the weight of divine vengeance. Whence also it was necessary that he should engage, as it were, at close quarters with the powers of hell and the horrors of eternal death… — Institutes, John Calvin – Book II, Chapter 16, Section 10

What more beautiful and straightforward summary of Christian faith is there than the Apostle’s Creed? What more learned and stalwart Reformer of true Biblical faith than John Calvin? And yet Discernment is needed with both to separate out this incorrect doctrine.

The hardest falsehoods to see are those with what seems like Biblical support

There are several Bible passages used to support the idea that Christ went down into hell after his crucifixion, although each has a more consistent orthodox interpretation:

…that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. — Acts 2:31 – the whole point of the verse is that Christ was not put there, as other dead would be. Also the Greek word “hades” means only “place of the dead”, not “hell” (the place of eternal punishment).

In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? — Ephesians 4:9 – I heard an excellent sermon recently on this, making it clear that this passage is really not speaking about the crucifixion at all, but Christ’s descent to earth in the Incarnation.

For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does. — 1 Peter 4:6 – preached to those who are dead need not mean when they were dead; the verse before this one is speaking of the judgment coming on those who are living and dead when it comes.

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits — to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water. — 1 Peter 3:18-20 – the reference to Noah’s days (about 2300 years before the crucifixion) makes it clear that the proclamation was made to those people who now are imprisoned in hell, by Christ through the words and actions of Noah in those days. This is the sense in which 1 Peter 1:10-11 talks of the prophets speaking “with the Spirit of Christ” earlier in the same book.

Even Honored Sources sometimes miss clearer passages in which Truth is Revealed

What could be a clearer way to discern this doctrine than with Christ’s own words on the cross?

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” — Luke 23:42-43

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. — Luke 23:46

These passages make it clear that Jesus went to be with His Father in heaven (paradise) immediately after he died on the cross. When he was “raised” on the third day it was not “from hell below” but back to earthly life, to walk His last days on earth.

Calvin’s error comes right after an excellent insight which has long resonated with me

Just prior to this error regarding Christ’s supposed descent into hell (a step “too far” not at all supported by other Biblical passages), John Calvin articulates an excellent point about the critical nature of Christ’s spiritual death, which I feel has a significant Biblical basis, despite the fact that most modern theologians disagree with it: Although His “corporeal” death was important in fulfilling much Old Testament prophecy, sacrificial foreshadowing and symbolism, it is Christ’s spiritual death (that moment when He is forsaken by God the Father – Mark 15:34) which was the true turning point of history. Here is Calvin’s statement:

Nothing had been done if Christ had only endured corporeal death. In order to interpose between us and God’s anger, and satisfy his righteous judgement, it was necessary that he should feel the weight of divine vengeance… — Institutes, John Calvin – Book II, Chapter 16, Section 10

To me this seems to be proved by the fact that Christ is obviously still alive physically as He exclaims “It is finished!” (John 19:30); i.e. He does not claim that “it will soon be finished…” only once His body has died. It seems clear that it is the spiritual death while on the cross of the only man who lived a perfect life, unstained by sin, which saves His elect.

This also seems the best understanding of the “cup” Jesus asks to pass by Him in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:42). It makes little sense to consider Christ as fearful of physical death or severe physical pain. And He knew He would be resurrected on the third day (Luke 9:22). We cannot believe that Christ had less courage than Roman Christians, just a generation later, possessing only a fractional understanding of ultimate reality compared to Christ’s, who went to their physical deaths mauled by wild animals while singing hymns. But it makes an enormous amount of sense that contemplating spiritual death – separation from His Father – was an anguish sufficient to cause Him to sweat “like great drops of blood” (Luke 22:44) and to ask if the cup might pass.

Understanding the centrality of spiritual death also makes sense of God’s promised punishment that Adam and Eve would die “in the day” they ate the forbidden fruit. That very day they did not die physically, but they did die spiritually; further, the very existence of the Tree of Life from the moment the Garden was created seems to be strong proof Adam and Eve were mortal all along, prior to the Fall.

…but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. — Genesis 2:17

Perhaps the most compelling fact when considering this view is that it is not physical death, but spiritual death, from which Christ saves us. All people, saved and unsaved, must die physically. It seems somewhat of a stretch to use the phrase “saved from death” when what is meant is that the death will still occur, but a resurrection will restore the body to life later.

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” — John 3:5-6

Understanding that we are saved from spiritual death brings this entire concept into focus, which in turn aligns with understanding Christ’s payment for our sins as His endurance of spiritual death. For if believers all drink from the same cup as Christ, how have we been “saved” in any sense?

Let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. — James 5:20

The fact that this great insight was written as the line just prior to one of Calvin’s greatest theological errors is a testament to man’s fallen condition and our inability to fully grasp the Truth in God’s Word while here on earth.

Even our best theologians and most articulate statements of faith cannot be read without Discernment

Nothing but Holy Scripture is perfect and without error. Discernment is critical even when reading the very best Christian thinkers and the very best works of past generations.

And please realize – discernment is most critical when reading the blog post of one man who has invested very little time when compared with so many others in studying those Scriptures and drawing out the strongest foundation of doctrine.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. — 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Loving History in our Homeschool

We started homeschooling for many reasons, and with many hopes for how it would benefit our children. We knew we could teach them worldview and science from a Christian perspective, speed them on subjects in which they excelled, and give extra time whenever that was needed for full mastery of their subjects. We knew we could protect them from some corrupting influences from public school peers. And we knew we could enrich their learning with travel to some of the places about which they’d learned. All of those things have been true blessings even beyond what we expected they would be.

The biggest surprise benefit we’ve found from homeschooling is the love of history that all of our kids (and even my wife and I) have developed. It happened naturally, not with any special focus on our part. Looking back now though I do see several key reasons for it…

We taught the kids history together

My wife taught them all the same lessons together (with different work assignments afterward for different ages). This made their study of history a journey they were taking together, listening to a book read aloud and doing projects and writing about the same period of time as all their siblings.

They could talk about interesting aspects of what they were learning with each other – and with their mom and dad.

We taught them history chronologically

This was a shockingly simple but powerful approach. Beginning with Creation and progressing chronologically shows the continuity and context of history – how it has “unfolded” through time.

We all understand intuitively that what happens in life often depends a lot on what has come before, and everything that happens has an impact on what will come later. It has absolutely helped make history connected and unified as an exploration of God’s providential work in the world.

We used biographies and inspirational stories

Our curriculum included biographies and stories about the lifestyles of people living at different times and in different places. This helped the kids understand how some things are similar to our lives and how some things have been dramatically different.

This is one of the areas I was able to help most as a father, saving the family read-aloud stories for evening time.

Why is history not taught this way in school?

Nearly all school programs break up history into subjects divided geographically rather than by time period. So students often learn U.S. history before ancient history, then jump to their state’s history the next year – disconnecting everything from what came before and after, and what else was going on elsewhere in the world at the same time.

My wife and I both disliked history in school because it was too dry – focused on the memorization of dates, places and names. I don’t recall ever being inspired or thinking that anything I had learned in history could be instructive to me in living my life in the present. Some of this is because a school has to teach subjects in a way that can be tested en masse – this no doubt explains a lot of the focus on dates, places and names.

Not only that, but the specific dates, places and names have been carefully chosen to align to the historical narrative the government schools want to plant in children’s minds. For example, why are we taught that George Washington was the first president of our country? Did you ever stop to wonder who led our country in the thirteen years between the Declaration of Independence and Washington’s inauguration in 1789? In fact there were 16 presidents of the United States of America prior to George Washington, but because these presidents served under the Articles of Confederation, the original structure of our republic, they were significantly weaker than Washington and all subsequent presidents under the Constitution. It cannot be coincidence that I’ve never met anyone educated in public school who was ever taught a single thing about any of these earlier presidents, or even made aware that they existed. In this and many similar instances, our true history has been taken from us by being kept from the minds of the next generation.

Why wouldn’t schools want our students to have an empowering grasp of history?

Practical considerations for testing cannot explain why history is taught in government schools in a way that mixes up time periods and disconnects all context. And there is no rationale that properly explains the utterly bizarre choices of historical episodes included vs. excluded in textbooks.

I think the reason for this approach goes far deeper, to the very purpose that government schools see for themselves – to produce stable productive citizens.

I believe that the school is primarily a social institution. Education being a social process, the school is simply that form of community life in which all those agencies are concentrated that will be most effective in bringing the child to share in the inherited resources of the race, and to use his own powers for social ends. — John Dewey

Obviously, a particular society is stabilized most when citizens focus on finding their place in it, more than on changing it. This is an insidious idea which did not need a widespread conspiracy involving everyone who taught in a classroom or anything approaching that. It needed only that the key decisions about our approach to education would be made with this goal – in the case of the United States, to model our educational institution after that found in Prussia.

A small number of passionate ideological leaders visited Prussia in the first half of the 19th Century, fell in love with the order, obedience, and efficiency of its educational system and campaigned relentlessly thereafter to bring the Prussian vision to our shores. To do that, children would have to be removed from their parents and inappropriate cultural influences. — John Taylor Gatto, The Underground History of American Education

…and History, above all other subjects, had to be contorted and stripped of its power in order to fit this model.

A people without a heritage are easily persuaded. — Karl Marx

Most teachers pursue that career because they have a desire to invest in children and try to light in them a spark of knowledge and intellect. I am convinced that many teachers do not realize that these are the stated goals of the high elite founders of their craft (e.g. John Dewey, Horace Mann), which are now the hidden underpinnings of the system to which they have dedicated their life.

Sadly, the structure of the institution itself insures that even the most well-meaning of teachers, focused on instilling in their students the strongest appreciation of history they possibly can, can never hope for real success. At best they can create interest in a specific time period, which will likely get diluted the next year when the students are jumped forward or backward in time or to study another part of the world, with little or no reference to what they learned that previous year.

This is no doubt part of the reason that teaching is consistently listed as one of the most depressing professions in America.

Homeschooling enables History to come to Life

Homeschoolers, we must take full advantage of the freedom to enliven history and to teach it chronologically. Let’s forget about what will be easy to test and instead teach what will inspire our children. Let them see how history flows together, and yes, make sure they know that great men and women have changed its course many times through their providential actions and statements. Let’s take them to the places where great events have occurred – let them see that they are all around us.

Our world sorely needs our next generation to be capable of finding a better course and leading the world toward it. A love and an understanding of History is not sufficient in itself, but it is a wonderful, and surprising, seed of this potential.

The march of Providence is so slow, and our desires so impatient; the work of progress is so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope. — Robert E. Lee