When Homeschool Heroes Fail: What’s A Father To Do?
I won’t name him. If you follow evangelical news, you know who I’m talking about. This past week, he left his wife and his faith.
If you’ve been homeschooling any length of time, you probably have his books on your shelf. He was there at the beginning of the modern homeschool movement, tagging alongside his conference speaking father. He went on to lead his own conferences, write bestsellers, and become a pastor. He was a model for others. Hero might be too strong (it worked for the title of this article), but he was certainly a leading figure in some homeschool circles.
The news shocked many. How does a person process such news? He grew up in the church. He wrote books dealing with theological issues, books well received by other leading evangelicals. He pastored a large church. Then….he changed his mind.
I went through one of his books with my older children. We studied it together and it encouraged us in our faith. His change of mind caused me to toss and turn, to lose sleep. What should I do? Pull his books from our shelves and throw them away?
As I processed the news, my concern became acute. My mind focused on one thing. How can I be sure of my children’s salvation? If this man who grew up in a prominent homeschooling family could leave the faith, how can I be sure my children will continue in the faith?
Various teachings exist concerning the doctrine of salvation. I won’t argue my position here. Whatever view one holds, the news of a leading evangelical figure leaving the faith is disturbing. It should cause fathers to think about how they are doing with regard to teaching their children the things of God.
As shocking as such news can be, we shouldn’t be completely surprised. Scripture clearly teaches that some people will be among the saints on earth who don’t actually belong to Christ.
Jesus said that not everyone who calls Him Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven. Some will do things in His name but He will tell them that He never knew them. (See Matthew 13:21-23.) Jude verse 4 says that some people have crept into the church unnoticed. These are ungodly people who pervert the grace of God. They must have looked like true believers, but they didn’t know God. Actually, He didn’t know them. The authors of Scripture warned the early church about false teachers. Not teachers from false religions, but teachers in the churches they attended. These teachers sat among the believers, sang songs with them, prayed with them, then took center stage to teach falsehood. They looked like Christians, they smelled like Christians, but they didn’t have true saving faith.
So, what am I to do? My children are being raised in the church, in a homeschool which teaches all things from a Biblical worldview. They memorize Scripture and we read through Christian books together. My children can explain salvation, justification, and sanctification. They can describe the nature of the Trinity and the dual nature of Christ as fully God and fully man. Although none of us can completely grasp such things, we can apprehend them in the text and state them in confessions and creeds. My children know a lot of things about God, but do they know God? More importantly, does God know them?
In light of this recent news, I’ve determined three things.
First, I will pray more earnestly. God desires that all men (and women) be saved. I will plead with Him to save my children. Although I’ve prayed this prayer continually since the birth of my first child, I will pray more often and more earnestly. God works through prayer. No magic formula can be found. I can’t pray words that will make God do anything. But I will stand before Him and plead with Him in light of His character. I will beg Him to show mercy to my children, to display His graciousness, to move by His Spirit upon their hearts.
Second, I will proclaim Christ clearly. My children need to hear Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection proclaimed clearly and persuasively. My children know all the major Bible stories, but that’s not enough. They need to hear preaching and teaching which shows them Christ in all His glory and pleads with them to come. Come and follow! Leave behind your sins, your doubts, your fear of man. Count the cost and come to Christ. I praise God that we attend a church where Christ is faithfully preached. My children hear the Gospel in Sunday School and from the pulpit. I will make certain they continue to hear. Alongside church leaders, I will plead with my children to trust in Christ. I won’t take their faith for granted but will continue to share Christ clearly and trust Him to work by His Spirit in their hearts.
Third, I will trust God completely. Many homeschool parents have seen their children leave the faith. It grieves parents who worked diligently to teach their children about God. It tears at their soul. At the end of the day, we must all trust that God is in control. We can’t blame ourselves. Each person is responsible before God for their own sins and their own faith. Our children grow up in Christian homes and churches but that doesn’t make them Christian. Each must repent and follow Christ as the Holy Spirit convicts them. I pray that God does this work in my children, I plead with Him to do it, but whatever happens, I must trust in Him. Job said of God, “Though He slay me, yet I will trust in Him.” (See Job 13:15.) Placing my children’s eternity into God’s hands is comforting. He created them, He placed them into my home, and He has good plans for them.
Homeschool heroes come and go. Most are good role models. Some will fall and discourage us. But God is always faithful. He is on the throne in heaven no matter who on earth claims Him as their own.
Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.