The homeschool community in America has been in an uproar for the past week. Online message boards, Facebook communities, and Twitter accounts have been frantically exchanging information and conversation on recent events. Questions have arisen. Accusations have flown. Statements have been made. Stands have been taken.
There is much to be concerned about. We are grieved about the public disagreement between Ken Ham and the leadership of the Great Homeschool Conventions that broke out this past Tuesday. We are praying, still, the schism may one day be resolved biblically and fellowship in truth may be realized again.
We are also concerned about the future of godly small businesses and publishers blindsided by the controversy. Many were caught completely unawares, not understanding the import of this moment until days into the discussions. Now, many fear for their ministries and their livelihoods lest they misspeak or misrepresent their hard-built works. And since so many friendships are inter-related with other homeschool businesses, what one says could reflect on someone else’s ministry. Some keep silent when they wish to speak; others wish they could take back everything they said last week and start over. Prayer and grace is much needed.
I definitely had a unique perspective on the situation. Perhaps because I wrote the critical review of Peter Enns’s Bible curriculum published by Susan Wise Bauer’s Olive Branch Books before it was published; or perhaps because I now find myself in the unique position of knowing writers/publishers and homeschool moms personally, so I could talk to both intimately.
I cried with publishers who wondered, quite frankly, if this was the end of their ministry forever and they would never, ever, sell a book again. I cried with moms who wondered if this was the end of their relationship with their favorite homeschool ministries and would they ever, ever buy a book again? I prayed with and for both for wisdom and discernment. And by the end of the week, I began to see God answer those prayers.
I see God answering these prayer in two specific areas:
Home educating families are clarifying their priorities.
Whether they are secular homeschoolers or intentional homeschoolers, classical homeschoolers or traditional homeschoolers, home educating families are taking a hard look at what they are doing and why. They are firming up their core beliefs and making sure these beliefs are central to their teaching.
This is especially true of biblical home educators, those who make up the strong minority of the home educating community. Many of them now feel confronted with the reality that we are, indeed, in a spiritual battle (Eph. 6:10-12) for the faith of our future generation (Jude 1:3). These parents are experiencing a personal revival, a re-commitment to the central doctrines of salvation by grace through faith, the inerrancy of Scripture, and the sufficiency of the Word of God. Parents who build their family and their futures firmly upon the Word of God have the most sure foundation, indeed. I am filled with such optimism for the future of these families.
Homeschool publishers and authors are clarifying their principles.
As a writer for Home School Enrichment magazine, I cannot be more proud of the public stand the magazine has taken with Ken Ham, who also writes for this publication, by not attending the two conferences from which he was dis-invited. Home School Enrichment is a unique magazine in the home education community – unique in their message, unique in their scope, unique in their writers. If you are a home educator, teaching from a biblical perspective, this is definitely the magazine for you.
Not all businesses could afford to boycott the conference. And even so, perhaps not all should. Regardless, there are many large and small businesses attending this weekend, offering excellent materials to support your homeschool. Many are eager to tell you of their passion for the God’s Word and the next generation; be sure to ask. And be sure to support them with your purchases and with a word of thanks. Don’t just take my word for it; read this plea from Hal and Melanie Young of Raising Real Men.
I am especially encouraged by the public statements of faith many publishers are releasing now. Realizing, at last, that this is not about science, not about personalities, not about homeschool methods or philosophy, but that this conflict is in reality about the very fundamental doctrines of our faith, publishers are making clear where they stand. Apologia led the way in clearing the air; Fourth Day Press quickly followed. I am expecting more to come, and I’m saving the links to them all for future reference.
In the meantime, a lesson for us all is, If you wonder what an author believes, just write and ask. It is in their interest to be forthcoming about key beliefs on the Bible, salvation, faith, the deity of Christ, and more. If a publisher is producing works for Bible-believing Christians, they want those families to know where they stand on the teachings of Scriptures. If a publisher is writing for a secular market, they should frankly say that, too. Just ask. Increased communication between publishers, authors, and home educators will clarify our mutual commitment to rearing the next generation for Christ and ensure quality materials continue to be available.
It is natural there should be confusion whenever there is disagreement so public and so passionate. That was just temporary. The benefits of our labors are eternal; we will reap, if we faint not.
I believe we are seeing, because of the increased commitment to our eternal values and increased communication between publishers and families, that the state of home education in America is strong.
In the meantime, let’s continue praying for one another.