What is the catalyst that awakens us to what become our convictions? Let’s assume we are Christians, convinced through faith that Christ died and rose for us, by name. Beyond that point, what compels us to adopt and cling to related convictions as we grow older? And are all the convictions we hold of equal validity, just because true Christians hold to them?
In the early seventies I was in high school and the topic of a “woman’s right to an abortion” was all the rage. The United States Supreme Court was about to take it up as a constitutional issue and make a pronouncement. I recall one afternoon during that time when, as a Christian young man raised in a Christian home, I argued strenuously with Doug Wilson (also in high school) about the issue of abortion. I repeated the worldly view I had heard from the media and argued that a poor, single woman should not have to bear the burden and cost of raising yet another child. Doug laid out the biblical view of children as God’s gifts and that abortion was murder. I left unconvinced that day.
A couple of years later, after the infamous Roe v. Wade decision, I was in the Navy. Outside a naval base store one day I was handed a small book on abortion. The chief petty officer who gave it to me said he, too, was a Christian and that this book might help me understand how abortion was an offense to God. I took the book back to my ship and read it and stared with sickening awe at the gruesome photos of dismembered children. That day I awoke to the need to re-think my previous wrong-headed view. How could I have been so blind? There would never again be any question where my convictions on this issue lay.
Not all our awakenings, or changes in convictions, happen that rapidly. In fact, even as Christians, we can be pretty thick; yet God is patient but sure in transforming our thinking. “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are mature, have this attitude and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you.” (Phil. 3:14,15) Christ-likeness doesn’t come overnight, obviously, but we Christians sometimes talk and act as though it doesn’t come at all until after we die (when it will be completed), or that it must happen at the same rate for everyone (so no one can be “further ahead” in pressing “toward the goal”). But neither of those are biblical views.
Many times at our annual ACCS (Association of Classical, Christian School) conferences Julie and I go out to eat with new-found, or long-time friends with schools like Logos. Frequently our conversations turn to how we each came to be at this point in our lives, i.e. convinced beyond a shadow of doubt that this form of education was worth pouring our lives into. Often the stories sound much like the testimonies I grew up hearing in church services. Especially by visiting missionaries who would start something like this:
“If you had told me ten years ago that I would be sharing the Gospel with the Bongo-Bongo tribe today, I would have laughed in your face!” Yet somewhere in those ten years, God had awakened them to not only the need for the Gospel to be preached to the Bongo-Bongos, but that that particular family needed to do it.
Similarly, at one time all of us in ACCS assumed that we already knew all there was to know about how we should educate our children. Then, slowly or rapidly, our convictions were altered bit by bit and we awakened one day to the fact that we could settle for nothing less than a full-orbed biblical education for our off-spring. I’ve heard this similar tale so many times, that I came up with the following hierarchy of sorts:
Awakening To the Need For Christian Education: (Going up?)
- Ground floor – “Public schools have problems that won’t go away, but that’s America. What was good for my parents is good enough for me and my kids.”
- First floor – “Our kids can be “salt & light” in those schools. We will plan to biblically train them in Sunday School and youth group.”
- Second floor – “Ok, the schools are pretty tough on Christianity, but maybe our kids can at least survive without having huge problems like drugs or premarital sex.”
- Third floor – “Enough’s enough! We’ll put them in a Christian school – any Christian school! They need to be supported in their faith.”
- Top floor – “Not all Christian schools teach a thoroughly biblical world-view or provide a quality education. We believe that classical, Christian education will meet our goals.”
Am I trying to say, by using the metaphor of a “top floor,” that classical, Christian education is the ultimate in perfection for education? Of course not. We are still very ignorant, sin-inclined people. Am I trying to say that I believe this kind of education is far better than other current forms of education, especially the one most American Christian parents turn to, i.e. the “secular” schools? Yes, a thousand times, yes! And I pray that these parents would someday awaken to the need for a far more godly form of education for their children than the one they tolerate now.
America had what is called The Great Awakening back in the 1730s, which arguably spiritually and mentally prepared us to fight and win the War for Independence, by God’s grace. That awakening didn’t just happen inside heads and hearts, though it had to start there. It had dramatic consequences for our country. Wouldn’t it be marvelous to see God move again and have America, or at least thousands of Christian families, have a Great Awakening in their thinking about how their children are to be taught? What kind of effect would that have for generations to come?