The Home Schooler
A Biblical Light on Education -
With Special Emphasis on Home Schooling

March 1997

                                                                     
Contents

1) Twelve Teaching Guidelines for Basic Linguistic Skills
2) Principles and Practices of Teaching Reading
3) Bring the Cow into the Classroom
4) Mathematics - What Do Our Children Need?
5) John Dewey and the Russians!


TWELVE TEACHING GUIDELINES FOR BASIC LINGUISTIC SKILLS

1. If the child has a problem in Auditory Reception, follow these rules:

a. Use short, one concept phrases.
b. Ask short questions.
c. Give visual clue whenever possible, i.e., gestures, written material, etc.

d. Use visual aids whenever possible.

2. If the child has a problem in Visual Reception, follow these rules:

a. Allow child to auditorize whenever possible.
b. Use phonic method of reading.
c. Check comprehension carefully, giving auditory clues.
d. Permit child to use records, tape-recorder, or other method of auditorizing materials to be learned.

3. If the child has a problem with Comprehension of Auditory Information, follow these rules:

a. Ask one concept question, eliciting several short answers.
b. Accept concrete answers.
c. Supply more abstract cues for him.
d. Provide visual cues where possible.
e. Give ample time for response.
f. Give child a written question to think about before answering.

4. If the child has a problem with Comprehension of Visual Information, follow these rules:

a. Permit him to trace correct responses first.
b. Provide an auditory cue.

5. If the child has a problem in Verbal Expression, follow these rules:

a. Provide opportunity and time for oral responses.
b. "Show and Tell" may require much help from teacher.
c. Give visual cue to help child describe events.
d. Encourage oral reports, but with use of notes permitted.

6. If the child has a problem in Motor Expression, follow these rules:

a. Do not insist on demonstration before class.
b. Let child express ideas verbally.

7. If the child has a problem in Grammatic Closure, follow these rules:

a. Encourage imitation of teacher s phrase.
b. Provide records to memorize (short poem).
c. Provide visual cues whenever possible.
d. Check sound-blending abilities before pressing phonics.
e. Work on sight vocabulary.
f. Check visual closure abilities.

8. If the child has a problem in Auditory-Sequencing, follow these rules:

a. Permit child to use visual cues.
b. Have him write as he memorizes.
c. Use short, one-concept sentences.
d. Use visual aids.

9. If the child has a problem in Visual-Sequencing, follow these rules:

a. Permit child to use an auditory cue.
b. Permit him to trace when possible.
c. Use audio-visual aids whenever possible.
d. Flash cards to be traced.

10. If the child has a problem in Visual Closure, follow these rules:

a. Check and teach part-whole concepts.
b. Give him time to examine pictures.
c. Ask questions leading to more detail.
d. Ask questions going beyond seen details.

11. If the child has a problem in Auditory Closure, follow these rules:

a. Teach blending.
b. Give ample time.
c. Teach progressively rapid word recognition skills.
d. Keep meaningfulness high.

12. If the child has a problem in Blending, follow these rules:

a. Teach composition of words.
b. Teach letter sounds.
c. Teach blending.
d. Keep meaningfulness high.
e. Teach vocabulary skills.


PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICES OF TEACHING READING

 

To be meaningful, evaluation must be based on understanding of children as learners, reading as a learning process, and learning to read as a long-term developmental process.

Principles:

1. Learning to read is a complicated process and is sensitive to a variety of pressures. Too much pressure, or the wrong kind of pressure may result in non- learning. Sources of pressures on children experiencing difficulty in reading: Pressure from home and parents. Parents are ego- involved in their child's success. Pressure from the child himself (stems from ego-needs and concept of self). Pressure from school. Children's attitudes result from the competitive atmosphere fostered by adults (parents,school, teacher) and from the conformity pattern imposed by society.

2. Learning to read is an individual process. Grouping children is of negligible value unless the teacher adjusts learning situations to each child's need for instruction.

3. Pupil differences must be a primary consideration in reading instruction. It is hypothesized that any home/school will house children/pupils whose present achievement and instructional needs vary greatly.

4. Reading instruction should be thought of as an organized, systematic, growth- producing activity. Sound instruction will start from the premise that the environment is an integral part of instruction.

5. Proper reading instruction depends on the diagnosis of each child's weaknesses and needs. Diagnosis has become associated too often with cure or remedy rather than with preventing the development of poor reading. To establish the fact that a child is reading below what might be expected is not diagnosis. It is an invitation to diagnosis.

6. The best diagnosis is useless unless it is used as a blueprint for instruction. When test results are not used for instructional purposes, the educational objectives of the testing program are defeated. Any skill not mastered, or only partially mastered, may be instrumental in producing other reading problems. Intelligent instruction must be based on accurate information regarding the children s present accomplishments and weaknesses. In this sense, a thorough diagnosis is a blueprint for instruction.

7. No child should be expected or forced to attempt to read material which, at the moment, he is incapable of reading. All curriculum study and the placing of learning tasks at different points on the educational continuum are related to this principle. The principle should be followed in all areas of child growth and development — physical, social, emotional, intellectual. The principle amounts to a rejection of the myth that “the child is a miniature adult.

This principle is also related to the fact that different children develop at different rates and that the growth pattern of an individual child is not uniform. It is not conducive to social, emotional, or educational growth to subject a child to failure experiences, because he is physically present in a home school environment/classroom where arbitrary achievement goals are set.

8. Reading is a process of getting meaning from printed word symbols. It is not merely a process of making conventionalized noises associated with these symbols. Reading is more than a mechanical process, even though mechanics are an essential part of the process. Creativity and versatility are basic requirements for successful teaching.

9. Any given technique, practice, or procedure is likely to work better with some children than with others. Hence, the teacher of reading must have a variety of approaches. "There is no one best method of teaching." When a parent/teacher becomes enamored of one method to the exclusion of others, she shuts out the possibility of adjusting the method to the individual child's needs. Although such a parent/teacher may be highly successful with some children, she will inevitably produce a number of frustrated, unhappy misfits. Some of her children/pupils will develop behaviors which result in such labels as "bad", "dull", "dreamers", "lazy", and "anti-social." These behaviors, instead of being interpreted as the logical outcomes of failure, frustration, and tension evolving from the reading situation, become in turn, the explanations of why the child failed in reading.

10. Learning to read is a long-term developmental process extending over a period of years. This rests on two promises. First, every aspect of the instructional program is related to the ultimate goal of producing efficient readers. The second, that the child's early attitude towards reading is important from the educational standpoint. It can influence a student's habits for life.

11. This concept of readiness should be extended upward to all grades. There should be as much concern with readiness at all levels as there is at the first grade level.

12. Early in the learning process the child must acquire ways of gaining independence in identifying words whose meanings are known to him, but which are unknown to him as sight words. Pronouncing words is not reading, but sounding out words not known as sight words is essential to independent reading.

13. Children should not be in a formal learning situation if they have emotional problems sufficiently serious to make them uneducable at the moment, or if they interfere with or disrupt the learning process. Just as the practice of "beating the devil" out of the "obsessed" came to an end, so, I pray, will we stop trying to beat learning into a child who is at the moment uneducable.

14. Emphasis should be on prevention rather than cure. Reading problems should be detected early and corrected before they deteriorate into failure -frustration - reaction cases. Sound principles of reading instruction should apply with equal validity to any instructional approach; and by definition such principles cannot reflect what might be called an either-or bias as to particular methodologies.


BRING THE COW INTO THE CLASSROOM

 

Consider your reply if you were asked to list the words most frequently missed in reading, spelling, and/or writing by the child with a learning disability. In spite of the fact that teachers are familiar with these words, authors have continued to record this information in various ways. These words have been printed on cards for the teacher to flash before the child's eyes; others have included these words in "high-interest" stories for all age groups. The words "who", "what", "where", "when", "why", and "how", regardless of the presentation, remain an abstract language concept if the emphasis is continually placed upon the visual configuration of the words.

Nebulous hypotheses have been proposed and devised to "cure" a child of this strange phenomenon - the inability to read. By some miracle, a few are helped to continue their struggle with the visual code while many others are doomed to the label - a reading problem. In recent years, the list of possible approaches has become longer and more complicated. To mention a few - some advocate physical activities, such as crawling, walking a board, or swimming. If one must swim before he reads, then this author can assume that all excellent swimmers are fluent readers! Others recommend a visual approach, emphasizing the configuration of visual symbols. The recommendation for initial training consists of recognition of form, manipulation of puzzles, color clues to show relationship of the parts to the whole, reproduction of designs, and exercises to strengthen eye movements. If the academic subjects of reading, writing, and oral language are ignored, the child does not learn to read, write, or consider which part of the total program can be accredited with the final results. In isolation, neither eye exercises nor angels in the snow can teach Japanese or any other language to students.

This author is of the opinion that the abstract concepts of the language and the words that describe the child's world and the world beyond him are the important factors that have been completely ignored by educators. Language can be learned if it is taught. The deaf child who learns the language has perfect perceptions of his world; the deaf child who does not learn the language could have the same difficulty as the hearing child who does not learn the language because he may have imperfect impressions of his world. The blind child can learn the language if he has been able to grow with intact perceptions of the environment; the blind child who has not been able to perceive the abstract conceptions of his world can be expected to have the same difficulty as the seeing child with a learning disability. This child with a learning disability must begin to learn the language as the normal child learns to speak.

Except for the disability of nominal aphasia (the approach will be the same) the words that are most easily understood are concrete - the "who" and "what" words. As an example, consider the first words the child learns. These are usually Ma-Ma and Da-Da. They are concrete; they are the "who" words within this child s experience. The vocabulary increases as the child gains experiences and is able to project himself out of his home environment to the world about him. His vocabulary increases to "what" words, such as dog, or he will point to the sky to identify the airplane. Very gradually discrimination begins to occur in the language as Ma-Ma can be used as I, mother, woman, teacher, she, and her - the ambiguities of the language are endless. The oral language becomes complicated and particularly so for the child with a learning disability. The teacher can only project these to the difficulties encountered with the printed and written word. These "who" and "what" words "do". The language becomes even more complicated as the "do" words change form according to the time when "who" and "what" are involved in action.

The language is now dependent upon the child's ability to analyze "when". The child with a learning disability, who cannot discriminate between present, past, and future, is further inhibited with this lack of concept. Teaching the "do" words will be dependent upon concept of time.

The "where" words are as equally dependent upon the concept of spatial relations.

Everything must happen someplace! Note, the abstract concept that the child must be able to project to understand. The child's weird perceptions of himself, the people around him, the things that are happening, and the places and times where they are happening cannot build perfect concepts of his world. How can we expect him to interpret letters on a page relating to the abstract world?

Let's make it concrete for him. Let's make his perceptions of the world concrete. Picture in your mind the totally impractical idea of the teacher who could bring a cow into her classroom. On the side is written these words:

 

These questions are then written for the child:

 

This is an example of a concrete experience for the child. Replicas of objects and, secondly, pictures can provide similar experiences for development of language. The importance of the material is secondary and not the primary concern for the teacher and the child.

The material used initially will be replicas of objects within the child's experience - e.g. home, school, and community. After the initial ground work of language, printed word, and written words are established as labels for the child within his experience, then and only then will the child be able to use the transitional concrete models or pictures which will assure understanding in a vicarious or abstract setting.

The presenting of concrete materials is of utmost importance as well as the use of modality for learning. The symbol or visual code must be interpreted and reproduced first auditorally, secondly from the visual symbol, and finally reproduced to a visual code.

Simply stated the child learns to decode most readily auditorally initially.

Both types of disabilities need an auditory approach - the first type of disability to strengthen or integrate visual to auditory, and the second type of disability to integrate the visual to the auditory. The process is a reverse process of visual to auditory and opposite auditory to visual. In both cases the child is unable to code visually or to code auditorally; but, in both instances, the two processes of visual and auditory perception must be synthesized in order to complete the cycle of being able to understand spoken language, produce spoken language, read language, and write language.

In conclusion then, all problems for all these children are basically language problems based upon concept formation. It would seem that if we approached all learning disabilities from this approach, many confusions of different types of disabilitation would be clarified. Further emphasis should be placed upon the child who seemingly is without disability in visual areas; this child codes visually but encounters difficulty in math and/or social studies. It is this group of children who have fooled teachers for years. This is reflected in the stock answer, "but he reads well." Many of us can "read" highly technical material with absolutely no understanding of the content. It is "parroting" visual code the same as the child that can parrot speech. Perception of the visual code or auditory code of language is only the first step to learning. The second is dependent upon the first. The second step must be comprehension, integration, association, and finally memory of the language so that the third step of reading with understanding, writing, and speaking will enable the child to communicate in his environment.

In contrast to a child without a learning problem, this child cannot learn incidentally but must be taught language concepts deliberately. They must be taught with concrete examples which are first taught auditorally and second visually. It must be concrete before the abstract symbols are conceptualized. Training through either the strong or weak auditory modality is the same for each type of disability.

The magic for learning is not contained on any printed page. Text-books have been written for the child who can advance in learning from 1 to page 200 and for the child who needs remediation on page 110. It is time we face up to the fact that remedial reading cannot be remedial if the child has no concept of the language upon which to base his reading. If remedial reading has worked, why do we still have the child with a reading problem? We, as teachers, have been spinning our wheels; the child has been practicing his mistakes!

This author challenges you to really observe a child with a reading disability in a classroom setting. He becomes withdrawn for his lack of communication and his face reflects the lack of communication in its mask-like countenance, or he learns to hide his concern with a perpetual grin that is more acceptable or more infuriating to those about him. In either case, he "covers up" for his lack of communication with people.

This author recalls experiencing a reversal problem while driving in the car. When approaching the street sign at an intersection, the sign read "spot" instead of "stop". Past experiences and perfect concept would not allow letters to remain reversed, as the letters soon reverted to the proper message. Teaching would be simplified for the child if we could find the "cookbook" for dealing with such problems.

However, it remains that the teacher must bring the cow in the classroom, as it will be "for real." The "real" is now for understanding and the basis for understanding the yesterday and the tomorrow. The direction problems, the sequence problems, the co-ordination problems, and the behavior he will learn to live with because, as with the blind or the deaf, they are his handicaps to live with the remainder of his life.


MATHEMATICS - WHAT DO OUR CHILDREN NEED?

BY
DR. CARL H. SELTZER

 

This is the third and last of a series of articles focused on the kind of mathematics our children need. The first article dealt with the reasons to teach mathematics and suggested some non-typical reasons. The second article discussed how our world is changing and the impact such changes will have on our children. This article will examine teaching methods to prepare our children for the 21st century.

In the 1980's, every industrialized nation in the world was about the business of educational reform - every nation, that is, on different and diverse courses, tenure issues, year round school, middle school vs. junior high school, bilingual education, multilingual education, integrated curriculum and on and on.

Each of these issues by itself has value, but is it where we should focus our attention? American education should be about the business of educating our people; it's not about the business of teaching; it s not about courses; it's not about majors; it's about teaching people to work smarter. Granted, in 1989 the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) published the NCTM Mathematics Standards. These standards were an attempt to define the mathematics curriculum desired for the 21st century.

However, in two separate research studies, it was found that only 15% of the K-3 teachers and 50% of the secondary teachers were even familiar with these standards. I ll bet that less than 10% of the homeschoolers have even heard of the NCTM Standards. I believe the Standards to be a good document and all math educators should know what is stated and aim toward those objectives.

What about those people who call for a "Back to the Basics" movement? My first question is, "What are the basics?" Is reading, writing, and inventing mathematics basic? Is problem solving basic? Is finding square root without a calculator basic? Is computer knowledge basic? What is basic? Is it possible that we need some basics but not the same old basics of 20 years ago.

I believe the truth of the matter is we don t really know exactly what the basics of mathematics will be in the year 2010.

But I believe we know several things it won t be:

 

We know that calculators and computers will be basic necessities not only in the workplace but also in our homes. We need to get down to business and look around our world.

Before we proceed further with this discussion, let us examine some myths about mathematics and in particular about manipulatives.

Five Myths about Manipulatives:

Myth #1 It's nice to use manipulatives if you have the time, money and patience, but they are not essential to achievement.
Just the opposite is true. Research clearly shows that using manipulatives makes lessons stick and boosts achievement. Manipulatives model abstractions and help students build concrete visual images of what's going on with numbers and shapes.

Myth #2 Manipulatives are appropriate only in the very early grades.
Not true! In fact, learning math requires active participation by learners of all ages.

Myth #3 The teacher s role in the use of manipulatives is minimal. A child s own discovery is what manipulatives are all about.
Simply not true! While discovery is important, it s the teacher who focuses attention on the math concept being explored, who encourages students to think as they work, who helps students make the connection between the visual models and the symbols.

Myth #4 Manipulatives are hard to manage.
Manipulatives do add more activity and noise, require space and more organization, but they are not hard to manage. Simple rules of courtesy, responsibility and cooperation can make it easy.

Myth #5 Picturing manipulatives on a computer and manipulating those images is just as good as hands on.
Absolutely false! Nothing can replace a child's hands-on experience with manipulatives which model mathematical ideas. The computer is a marvelous device and is wonderful for repetitive rote memorization, simulation problems, etc., but not as a substitute for hands- on. The computer and technology are vital but cannot replace hands-on!

Mathematics can be defined as the science of patterns and relationships. If mathematics is a science, then should it not be taught as a science? I believe it should. So, what basic things does a scientist do? Allow me to suggest four things:

1. Explores or experiments
2. Observes
3. Generalizes or draws conclusions
4. Verifies conclusions (proves)

Yes, your mathematics "classroom" should contain these four components. The NCTM Standards gives five goals for ALL students. Students should be able to:

1. Think and reason mathematically
2. Solve problems
3. Communicate mathematically
4. Have confidence in their mathematical abilities
5. Value mathematics

In reality, no one can TEACH mathematics. Effective teachers are those who can stimulate students to LEARN mathematics themselves. Educational research clearly shows that students learn mathematics well only when THEY construct their own mathematical understanding. That's where the manipulatives come in. Furthermore, we must stress true problem solving. There is a big difference between giving our children exercises and giving them problems. Let me illustrate:

An example of an exercise:
Kim went to the store and spent $.95 for milk and $1.10 for bread. How much money did she spend?

I view this as a mere exercise. Let's look at a problem using the same data.

Kim went to the store and spent $.95 for milk and $1.10 for bread. The clerk gave her change for $3.00 If she received change in only nickels, dimes and quarters, how many coins could she receive? Explain.

This, my friends, is a good problem!

An exercise is a question which can be answered without much thought. The operation is usually obvious and this type of question is typically done for drill and practice.

A problem is a question which seeks an answer which is not obvious nor is the procedure

A good problem will contain a number of the following components:

Another good problem:
Examine and explain your thinking. What is the relationship between perimeter and area?
That is, if the ea remains the same, will the perimeter remain the same or change?

Here's a good algebra problem.

Use only these numbers to fill in the blanks. You cannot use any numbers except those in set S.

S = {0,1,2,3,4,6}
x = _______ x + y = _______
y = _______ 5y = _______
x2 = _______ y - x = _______
xy = _______ y2 = _______

Answers: x = 4, y = 6, or: x = 0, y = 6

The new learning holds that math can be learned more efficiently in groups: hands-on is better than hands tied behind the back. And counting on fingers is evidence that a child is "trying to figure it out" - a thought process to be encouraged rather than punished. It further establishes that reading and writing are as essential to learning math as they are to the study of any other subject. Blocks, games, puzzles, balance beams, fraction pies, calculators, and computers - these "manipulatives" and new tools of math have made its study the most enjoyable part of the day for children in schools that are engaged in this new learning.

Yet, whereas it is true that every child can learn math, it is a fact that under the present math program few of them do. Small wonder. We teach a math program consisting of nine years of drill in arithmetic, followed by algebra taught as a foreign language in the old way - by memorizing word lists and grammar.

For most students, the final bow is inflicted with a blunt instrument: plane geometry which is too abstract and difficult for many survivors of the death march from arithmetic to algebra. This course has a reputation so bad that less than half of U.S. students even attempt it, and of those who do, most do not learn it. This must and need not continue. First, the calculator and the computer have made skills in rapid paper-and-pencil computation, flash cards, and "rote and drill" obsolete. Second, the ability to analyze real- life problem situations and to express them in mathematical terms has become far more purposeful than the ability to apply the right formula to obtain the correct answer to a textbook math problem.

For these reasons, problem posing, problem solving, and collaborative learning are at the heart of the new learning in math.

Each day, nearly all children are subjected to instruction in the old-style math, and few of these children are learning it."

-From Everybody Counts

Theon to Hypatia once said, "Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all."

B.F. Skinner said, "Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten."

Oscar Wilde said, "Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught."

Folks, we must change our educational system. We must change the way most of us homeschool. We must change before it's too late. We can no longer teach our children the way we were taught. You can't just give a child a workbook or a textbook or a video and walk away thinking everything will be okay.

My father once said that if we always do what we've always done, we ll always get what we ve always got...And that s no longer good enough.

There are four basic skills though that every child will need in the 21st century:

Mathematics can help children accomplish some of these objectives but remember, "Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts."

Make your mathematics "classroom":

 


JOHN DEWEY AND THE RUSSIANS!

"It is unlawful to learn, even from an enemy." When the Communists took over Russia, the Communists still remained Russian, and they still wanted Russia to be the leading nation of the world. They were determined to provide the Russian people with the best type of education. They had heard so many glowing commendations for John Dewey and his great system of education, called Progressive at Teachers College, Columbia.

They arranged with John Dewey to set up his discipline-less, progressive education on a national scale in Russia in 1920.

At the time, in Teachers College there was another progressor named William Bagley who was a great champion and defender of mental discipling and classroom discipline in education. He reminded John Dewey that his progressive education would be thrown out of Russia in ten years.

John Dewey, beginning with 1920, had the full cooperation of a totalitarian government to put his progressive education through a great experiment. However, in 1932, the government of Russia informed John Dewey that his progressive education was a failure.

It did not educate the children, but it developed a nation of juvenile delinquents. Bagley had prophesied that progressive education would be thrown out. He further specified the time - ten years. That was really close; it was actually 12 years.

Let us look at the patriotic Russians who discovered that Dewey's theory of permissiveness and opposition to discipline did not educate. They discovered that discipline was necessary by practical experience in educating children.

In sizing up and evaluating the professors of progressive education at Teachers College, it can only be concluded that these progressive professors are not interested in education for its own sake. They are only interested in education as a means of propagating their atheistic religion of evolutionism. In almost every class, evolution is brought up and proposed as an explanation of many things.

The promulgators of progressive education are opposed to discipline because they seem to be convinced that the only reason that their super-man has not yet evolved, is due to the restrictions imposed by every preceding generation on the succeeding one. And these restrictions were transmitted through the rules and regulations imposed by the school, the church, and the home. This goal appears to be their great dream. If they could eliminate the discipline imposed by these three agencies, nature would be free to continue its process of evolution.

It can readily be understood that with such an obsession Dewey and his progressive education would not be blamed for the failure in Russia; the blamed would be put on the Russian people who were too ignorant and too uneducated to appreciate the great benefits of the atheistic, materialistic, educational concoction of John Dewey. The American people were thoroughly brainwashed by the worshipers of John Dewey. The progressives had acquired such a strangle-hold in the field of education that no one could expect to advance in that field unless he or she burned incense to John Dewey.

It took the uneducated but genuinely patriotic Russians only 12 years to realize what a big fraud progressive education is. They had the courage to give a great atheistic philosopher, John Dewey his dismissal papers.

The great education professors and educators who have obtained many American college degrees have not yet succeeded in putting the soulless education of John Dewey out of American education. It is now over 55 years since the Russians showed us what to do. And now, the graduates of our grade schools and high schools are so uneducated that colleges have to have corrective courses in the fundamentals, and juvenile delinquency is on the increase.

Another important factor must be considered. The Russians have learned what a fraud this much-advertised type of American education is.

Their great love and great patriotism for their country, Russia, gave them the insight and the courage to learn the truth about progressive education. Their great patriotism and love for Russia inspires them with the hope that those responsible for education in the United States will continue the idolater of progressive and behavioristic worship. This may also account for the confidence that the Russians have that they can outwit us in all types of negotiations. They conclude that we are the victims of an educational system that does not educate. How many times have our great statesmen been outwitted and tricked by the diplomats of Russia?

Footnote; John Dewey's progressive education was not the only American idea tested by Russian experiments. The Russians took on also classroom sex education. The date on which it started, I do not know. But I know it ended in July, 1949. They discovered that classroom sex education was destructive of family life and detrimental to society. So by national decree they gave that instruction back to the parents. Those who admire patriotism will not blame the Russians for rejoicing that progressive behaviorists are paid tax payers money to have children classroom-sex-educated in the United States.

WHAT IS THE VERDICT?

When the state takes YOU to court, what will the verdict be? But you say, "It will never happen to me!" This is what the hundreds have said that have already gone to the courtroom for their religious freedom. It did happen to them!

If someone had said to you twenty years ago that in 1995 there would be hundreds of cases pending against churches and pastors in the United States; what would you have said? You would have probably said, "You're crazy!" You would have thought that even if the state did take a church to court, the Christians would rise up in a massive revolt. But hundreds of churches have now already been sued and most Christians have not even found it objectionable. Most of us have simply been content with living our lives in another direction. We have been content to let the state's grip tighten on our faith and religious freedom little by little.

The purpose of this article is to show you the real issues that face the Christian at this moment. We want you to be able to give the Biblical explanations for the stand that you take. We want you to have a strong Godly conviction: about your actions in the ministry of the Gospel. In Hosea 4:6, it says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." When the test comes to your home, will you stand or will you fall to the control of the state?

SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE

The first principle that we as Christians must know and understand is that the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights say that there is to be a separation of church and state. This is found primarily in the First Amendment.

The First Amendment. The First Amendment has two religious clauses: (1) the non-establishment clause and (2) the free-exercise clause. The first clause has little to do with most of the law suits right now. It says that government will not become involved in the "establishment" of a religion. They are not to do anything that will help religion. They are not to finance it, foster it, or further it. The one danger with this clause that has turned up is that if you do take the government s money, you have no right to object to the government's controls. But since we don t believe that Caesar (the state) has any business financing the Church anyway, we do not accept the State's money. (Do you?)

The second clause, the free exercise clause, is the issue in almost every case across America. It says simply: "There shall be no law abridging (depriving) the free exercise of religion." This was worded exactly right by the framers of our Constitution. The word "exercise" is the outgoing, or the putting into implementation of our faith. In communist lands, they say they have religious freedom, but that is only to "think" whatever you want. In America, however, we have (by the First Amendment) true freedom of religion. The test for religious freedom is in action and not just in thought.

The Biblical Base. We cannot "believe" in the Constitution. The Supreme Court changes it nearly every week. But there is a document that we can believe and you will be asked this in great detail in the courtroom. They will turn to you and ask, "Is there a book which contains every single one of your beliefs without exception?" "Yes. The Bible." "Are there any other documents; or are there any other persons living, about to be born, or past lived who can give you a further amplification of those beliefs or curtail any of those beliefs?" "No. There is even a curse on the one who adds or subtracts from the perfect revelation as we have it." In a court of law our beliefs must be contained in full in the Word of God.

In Romans 13:1, Paul said that there is no authority but that which is given from God. And Jesus, in Matthew 22:21, voiced the fact that God reserves certain matters to Himself. Matters of faith and worship have not been given to government. The Church and Her actions in the gospel ministry are governed by God, and the government dare not meddle with these areas. These are the foundations on which the framers of the Constitution founded the philosophy of church-state separation. They believed the Bible to be the only document containing perfect truth. They knew that the Constitution must agree with the Word of God.

DEFINITION OF THE CHURCH

Now, if our Constitution guarantees us separation of church and state, we have to define these two entities. The state had trouble defining itself. If the state is all the people, how can all the people sue a few of the people? So the Supreme Court chose to define the church. The surprising thing is that they agreed perfectly with the Word of God.

First, they explained what a church was NOT It is not a church because of its title or name. Just to put the word "Church" with a group of words does not make a church. A church is not a church just because of its organization. It is not a church because of its building. Really, a church does not need any of these three things. The Supreme Court said simply that a Church is "the BELIEFS and the BELIEVERS."

But now the Supreme Court went one step further. They not only defined what the Church was, but they also defined which beliefs are legitimate. They developed a test that each of us must go through and pass in a court of law. Following is that test; a test impossible to cram for; a test that we must be able to pass before we go to court.

EXPLANATION OF THE TEST

The Supreme Court said that a belief must be something that you as a believer can make oral. You don t have to be eloquent, but it must be more than an (it seems to me) a hunch. Also, you as a believer must have a knowledge of that belief. This is to prevent people from hiding behind a title. To say "I m a Fundamental Baptist" doesn't give you beliefs.

In 1972, in a case involving education, the court came up with the ultimate test to determine which of these beliefs were legitimate and which were not. They classified beliefs in one of two categories; "convictions" or "preferences". Convictions are protected by the First Amendment, and preferences are not. Below is this test in brief.

Preferences. A preference is a very very strong belief held with great intensity and strength. You might give your entire life and go into full time service in the name of a preference. You might give all your wealth to this belief. You could be energetic in spreading and propagating this preference (hand out tracts, go on soul-winning, visitation, etc.). You could even want to teach this to your children. But the one thing that makes a preference different from a conviction is that under the right circumstances, you will change a preference.

The court has noticed five areas where you would be most likely to change. These five areas are (1) peer pressure, (2) family pressure, (3) the threat or the carrying through of litigation (law suits), (4), jail for your and your wife (your children being taken by the state), and (5) death. If any of these things would make you change or even bend just a little, then your belief was a preference, and will not be protected by the First Amendment. Think seriously about these five areas. Before too long, many of you will be called on to give your beliefs.

Convictions. A conviction is different in primarily one way: it is a belief that you will NOT change; a belief that you can not change. There are four things that make up a conviction. The three Hebrew children are excellent Biblical examples of these four qualities.

First, a conviction is caused by a man who thinks that his belief is a commandment from God. It must be God-ordered. The Hebrew children had been commanded of God in Exodus 20:3 that they should have no other gods before them. We, too, have been commanded in the Scriptures that certain things are wrong. Just as the Hebrew children in Daniel, chapter three, refused to bow to the golden image made by Nebuchadnezzar, we must refuse the state in matters not pertaining to it. A God-ordered belief will give us the strength we need to withstand the test for conviction.

Second, a conviction must be a personal belief. It must be a belief that you as an individual holds and will hold even though no one else stands with you. The three boys in Daniel stood when everybody else bowed to the image. Where were all the other Hebrews? They were complying with the state. But these boys had purposed in their heart not to defile themselves long before the test came. Would you stand alone against the state on a God-ordered commend? Remember, God plus one is a majority.

Third, a conviction must be non-negotiable. In Daniel, the king gave these boys a second chance, but they said, "We are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us...but if not, be it known unto thee, O King, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." (Dan. 3:16-18). No amount of talk was going to change their minds. Are your beliefs non- negotiable?

Fourth, convictions must be unconditional. By this is meant that no matter what the outcome is, you will not change. If you must be guaranteed a victory before you take a stand, your belief is a preference. The Hebrew boys were willing to die before they would bend to the wishes of the state.

These are the four qualities that make up a conviction. It must be a belief that is God- ordered, personal, non-negotiable, and unconditional. Only this type of belief is protected by our Constitution.

Lifestyle Consistency. There is one more part to the Supreme Court's test between conviction and preference. It is based on the philosophy that a man's conviction will show up in his life. This test is also Biblical. James said it best: "Faith without works is dead" (James 2:20). The way we live our life must be consistent with our beliefs. When the court tests you, they will delve into literally every area of your life. There is no one part of your life that is secular and another that is sacred. Every part of you belongs to God and must be lived in accordance with His Word. They will search the use of your finances; the use of your time; your recreational activities and your reading materials; every area!

One example of how the court might question you is in regard to the television. Cases have been lost by the following line of question. "Is it true that one reason for your child going to a Christian School is so he will matters of pornography, obscenity, and nudity? (Yes) "Is it true that it is so he will not see unrighteous upheld nor righteous themes debased?" (Yes) "Sir, do you own a television?" (Yes) "How much did it cost?" ($200- $500) "Where do you keep it?" (The living room) "And why is that?" (It is most traveled) "Sir, isn t it true that a TV can not affect you unless you turn it on?" (Yes) "now, do you ever hear obscenity, see nudity, and view righteous themes debased as well as unrighteousness upheld?" (Yes, sir) Your conviction has just been destroyed.

This area of lifestyle consistency is a little deeper than most would think at first. You are challenged to think seriously about the ramifications this could have in your life.

One other matter concerned with your lifestyle is on the other side of the coin. If convictions are God-ordered and come from the Bible, what is it to disobey them? It is sin! You must not only believe; you must say that the opposite of a conviction is a sin. Pastor, do you preach that public education is sin? If not, you have only a preference. Parent, do you teach and train your child in the steps of Christ? Do you have a daily family altar? If not, your conviction that your child is lent to you by God to train in the paths of righteousness is simply a preference.

When the test comes down to you, what will the verdict be? Will the court find you protected by our Constitution, or will it find you unprotected? Will you have a conviction or a preference? Will you be consistent in your walk, or will you be found with a contradiction in your lifestyle?

Before you continue, check your understanding of these ideas by answering the questions below.

 


Answers: (1) The free-exercise of our religious beliefs. (2) The Bible. (3) Romans 13:1 and Matthew 22:21. (4) The beliefs and the believers. (5) A very strong belief that can and will change under certain circumstances. (6) A belief that is God-ordered and therefore cannot change. (7) When you live what you believe and believe the opposite of a conviction, it is sin.

 

Pastor Need


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