For it is by grace you have been saved...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Desert Island Challenge

What if your family were alone on an island, with nothing but a copy of God’s Word? How would you begin to build your family and the new “culture” of your island world?

I may not have gotten it word for word exactly like Doug Phillips of Vision Forum, but this was the question he asked during a session entitled A Family Vision of Victory. The point is quite simple, yet the truth of it hit me quite profoundly. If you had no other cultural ideas to infect your thinking, nothing but the Word of God, how would you shape your family and your life? Interesting idea, isn’t it?

For years now, people like Doug Phillips, and Voddie Baucham’s Family Driven Faith, and Tom Eldredge’s Safely Home and others have been calling into question how our families operate in today’s world. And the unanimous verdict is that we have given in to culture way more than we want to admit; in everything from the size of our families, to how we educate them, to how we disciple them, etc.

But what if we had nothing but God’s Word to guide us? Wouldn’t we see children as a blessing and desire a “quiver full” of them? Wouldn’t we realize that it is our responsibility as parents to disciple our children, not just the Sunday School teacher’s? And would we ever send them off to “fools” to be educated the way we do now?

Whoa! Harsh words. But think about it. We live in a culture that ridicules large families, not to mention the whole culture of death that wants to rid us of children all together. Though the idea of a Sunday School isn’t even found in the Bible, we’ve come to see that as the primary discipleship avenue for our families, neglecting our parental responsibility. And the secular humanistic government schools that we ship our kids off to every day have repeatedly shown us that they don’t want God to have any part in their curriculum. Since Scripture clearly says that only a fool says in his heart that there is no God (Ps. 14:1), this makes them the very fools I mention at the end of the preceding paragraph.

So the question again is: If we were alone on an island with nothing but God’s Word to guide us, would we be doing the things we’re doing? Have we been taken captive in our ideas from the God-hating culture around us? And shouldn’t we be living according the standard of God’s Word regardless of what the culture around us does?

In another session called Jerusalem and Athens: the Battle of Christian Culture, Doug Phillips builds on this idea of the Desert Island Challenge by comparing two ways of thinking: Biblical Hebraic thinking, or Jerusalem vs. Greco-Roman thinking, or Athens. And he points out that the American church is much more influenced by the later as our nation “de-volves” into paganism.

Again, sounds like harsh words. Unfortunately, they are also true. This idea first hit me after reading the aforementioned book by Tom Eldredge a few years ago. It was the first time I had ever thought in terms of Hebrew vs. Greek thinking in regard to family, education, etc. And yet when we read the New Testament, this is exactly the conflict we see confronting the early church. How much do we hold to our Jewish roots, and how much to we give in to the Hellenistic culture around us? And we are still facing the same battle today.

The early church father Tertullian wrote a piece called The Prescription Against Heretics. Chapter seven deals with “Pagan Philosophy The Parent Of Heresies. The Connection Between Deflections From Christian Faith And The Old Systems Of Pagan Philosophy.” (Got to love those old titles!) It was here that Tertullian asked the question from which Phillips derived his session title: What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem?

What indeed do they have to do with one another? What do the children of Jerusalem, God’s children, our children have to do with the pagan, humanistic, evolutionary worldview of this modern culture and education system. The answer should be: nothing!

Now I’m not advocating, as I’m sure Phillips was not, that we literally go out onto a desert island somewhere and ignore the rest of the world. We do have a missionary mandate, after all. But that missionary mandate does not include turning our children over to a godless school system; does not include abdicating the discipleship responsibility of parents, does not include seeing children as a burden rather than a blessing, and so on.

Phillips summarized it with this question: By What Standard? By what standard are we going to live? God’s or man’s? We ought to live “as if” we were on a desert island, with only God’s Word to guide us. Imagine how much different our families and our churches and our own lives would be if we simply lived according to the word and not the world.

Still more to come….


Applied Christianity said...

Wow, that was really good. I will have to link to it.

One thing that bothers me about my church is that the Bible class brochure is titled "Presenting Everyone Mature" as though maturity comes from sitting through 1 hour a weak of lecture. I say maturity comes from diligently seeking the Lord.

I especially liked the part of your post that says, ". . . that missionary mandate does not include turning out children over to a godless school system;"

It baffles me that so many Christian parents can be so sure that God wants them to send their 5-year-old to train under a humanist system. I just don't get it."

Scott said...

I have to be careful, because even when we started homeschooling 11 years ago, I was only luke warm about the government school issue. I've even done a lot of substitute teaching over the years. God has brought me more and more clearly to oppose, not just ignore, the gov't system; but I know He will have to be the one to convict others. So I'll have to be patient and try to make our family a godly example, not just seem like a protest group!

Thanks for the kind words.