02 October 2015

Are You Arguing Over Principles or Methods? - Part 5

We've been looking, in the first 4 parts, at how to handle controversies, by deciding if it is an issue of a principle or a method. be sure to go back and read the first four portions before continuing here.

Remember, if we are truly living in a lifestyle of love to God, that will also bring about loving others, which should bring us to where we need to be even amidst controversies like we are discussing. The world is a big place, made up of a multitude of different types of people. Why can’t we just move around it without insisting, as if we were some kind of Unitarian Muslim, that everybody has got to dress the same way, act the same way, eat the same food or drink the same drinks? Why do we not act like we’re Trinitarians?

Trinitarian culture allows us to have a set, yet broad and recognizable culture which contains true variation and diversity within it, which is appreciated and loved. In a more Unitarian culture, it is a top-down, everybody in lock step with each other – that is what a true Unitarian Muslim culture is.

There are many sub-cultures of Christians who don’t have this distinction, yet they are behaving like Unitarians – everyone should do it my way - everyone should dress their daughters like I do - everybody should speak like me - everyone should worship like me. This is not the Christian faith.

An important piece of advice to keep in mind is – we should never react – but should always act. We act on things, but should avoid reacting to the other person’s things. Those of a Unitarian mind tend to react when faced with an issue, which leads to a tightening of the grip on things, which leads to more rigid methods.


There are many things in today’s pop-culture that make their way into our schools and churches. There is the modern mentality of diversity for the sake of diversity – doing whatever you want, regardless of how strange. It is a lifestyle of no discipline, and one that acknowledges no cultural norms or boundaries at all. So, which such a frenzy of activity, people are scattering into fragmentation, and so people react to that.

Their response is - if you do not want to be this post-modern fragmented kid with orange hair, strange tattoos, and a total ignorance on where the waist of the pants should go, you should adhere to our tight set of methods as the only way. Rather than get to the root of the issue, it is a reaction to deal with the methods that come about from it. So they swing to the opposite extreme and produce the super clean cut, perfectly combed hair, nerdy overly-polite child that is not allowed to watch TV or listen to anything but classical music and who pull their pants up to their chest.

What is it going to take to produce a kid who knows the belt goes in the middle?

Okay, while examples of this principle versus method idea can be almost endless, let’s turn back to education as an example.

The principle is – parents must teach their children. The methods can be: homeschooling, Christian schools, private schools, and yes, even government public schools. This is where most Christians in conservative and especially in Reformed circles, may gasp. Oddly, there are parents who believe firmly in homeschooling, and will do so from K through 12. But then they have no issue with sending their kids out to a typical secular college after that. They may stand up and boldly proclaim it to be a sin to send your child to public school for 10th grade or whatever, but then may not even give a thought to that mentality when it comes to college - as if something magical happens during the summer between grade 12 and grade 13.

Now, for me personally, I do not support public government education. Do I oppose statist education? Absolutely. But I want to oppose it for the principle, and not by just drawing some arbitrary line that no one can understand.

The principle is – children of a young age, K through whatever, are vulnerable, and when lied to, cannot understand what is happening. Now, when a Christian kid has received a strong Christian education, and is trained well in how to reason from a Christian worldview, and they can do more damage in 13th grade than will be done to them – then by all means send them to engage the culture.

For someone to stand up and just woodenly proclaim it to be a sin to associate with public education because it is secular, and not be able to articulate precise reasons for saying so, they are failing to understand the principle.

The principle is, you do not leave your kids vulnerable. When they are in their early years, they are vulnerable, and must be brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Then, after being brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, at some point you can feel fine knowing they can handle themselves, and send them forth to engage the culture and do more damage to it - than they allow it to do to them.

One pastor related a story of his son’s experience with college. The son had been educated K-12 in a classical Christian school, and started college courses also in a Christian college. He then decided to also go to the local university at the same time. After about half a semester at the local university, he told his dad - “Dad, I was prepared to fight these unbelievers, but it is not like a real fight. It is more like tearing apart a stress doll.”

He relayed how he had an English Comp teacher who had the whole class watch some existentialist movie. For those not familiar with the term existentialism, it is one of those philosophical terms that describe the belief that the starting point of someone’s philosophy must be their own personal experience. Your own personal experiences are what make your choices authentic.

So, the English teacher had them watch this film, and the point of the film was that you do whatever you feel, don’t let anyone tell you what to do, defy authority, live for yourself, and submit to no one. Then the teacher told them to write a three page paper interacting with the movie.

So, the son wrote one paragraph saying:
I used to be conservative and pretty uptight, things upset me about the way things were going, but I learned from this movie that you shouldn’t let anyone tell you what to do, and I don’t feel like writing a three page paper.
He stapled it to two blank pages and turned it in.

So, he was in the school, a secular college, and it was not a sin as some may proclaim. He was in there doing damage to their silly system. He was fulfilling the principle – he was not vulnerable or defenseless.

The main principle is that parents must insure that their children are taught and equipped with a strong worldview in order that they are protected from what will be thrown at them. The methods employed to reach that principle, may vary from homeschool, computer education, good Christian schools, private schools, or public schools. In the end, the focus should be on the principle.

Last part is HERE