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England and the Human Right to Home Educate January 31, 2009

Posted by G.L. Campbell in Christianity, politics, Relationships and Family.
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As a parent who educates his four children at home (ages ranging from 2 to 15 … we start early here) in the classical Christian model, I watch closely for government intrusion in this, the most ancient and, in many cases, best modern instructional option for many families.  Not only am I observant of what America’s politicians are pursuing in regards to education, but I keep an eye out for international indicators as well; I think the instruction of children by their parents, particularly for religious reasons, is a basic human right, as basic as the freedom of religion and association.

To the point, Peter Hitchens has penned a well-written, yet troubling article on England’s move to review home education in Great Britain.  This review has a preconceived end in mind and is not at all interested in truly understanding the breadth of excellence resulting in home education.  Here is a sample of Hitchens’ notable quotes, though I heartily recommend its full digestion, for America has the unusual knack of following Europe on societal and philosophical matters:

Why should [the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children, Young People and Families] be less than keen on home education? Why is she even interested in it?  English law since 1944 has allowed parents to educate their children at home without any state interference at all. In this, we are quite unlike Germany, for instance, where it is a criminal offence to do this – a law, I believe, dating from 1938, when Hitler wanted everyone brought up as a National Socialist,   but somehow not repealed by the new Germany.  …

… Certainly the home education movement is largely Christian, and Christian in a pretty uncompromising and Protestant way – that’s why it has rejected state schools from which Christianity has been expelled thanks to an absurd misreading of the US Bill of Rights. Roman Catholics tend to use the network of parochial schools instead. But the education achievements of homeschoolers have been considerable, and they regularly capture many of the best scholarships at Ivy League universities. There are also a lot of them, sharing many non-school activities, which disposes of the cliche (invariably trotted out by opponents, and based on nothing)  that home-schooled children do not have any social contact with others of their own age. What they do have is much more contact with adults who think it worthwhile to say ‘no’ to them when it matters, who read to them and converse with them and teach them morals and manners. But let that be, I’m sure we’ll have a chance to debate this.

What the modern left really don’t like about homeschooling is that it is independent of the state, and threatens its egalitarian monopoly from below. If it became a mass movement, it would be very dangerous to their project of enforcing equality of outcome, while using the schools to push radical ideas on sex, drugs, morality and politics.

Waning Virtue: Expanded Gambling in Kentucky January 28, 2009

Posted by G.L. Campbell in Christianity, Economics, politics, Relationships and Family.
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“I’m a Southern Baptist.  I’m kinda proud of that . . . What I hear my preachers saying in my communities are that, ‘Well, you know, we can’t really be for more gambling, but this really isn’t an expansion of gambling as such . . .'” 

–Greg Stumbo, Kentucky Speaker of the House

Kentucky’s Family Foundation is doing the yeoman’s job of notifying Kentuckians about the danger of expanded gambling as proposed by Greg Stumbo.  Mr. Stumbo is apparently redefining terms to fit his own agenda.  Adding thousands of slot machines is in fact an expansion of gambling regardless of whether Mr. Stumbo cares to name it such or not.  He simply wishes to appear to be a mainstream “Christian” by placing such a remark on the record and, of course, then hopes to use that claim as leverage to get his pro-gambling bill through the legislature.  This is shameful, absurd, and nothing more than political trickery.  While I question the veracity of the speaker that he has encountered any Southern Baptist pastors who have said, “we can’t really be for more gambling, but this really isn’t an expansion of gambling as such,”  if it were true, one must question the theological foundation of such men; without question we may wonder at the theological foundation of the speaker.  This scenario is similar to someone who claims to be a religious conservative being in favor of partial-birth abortion — the two concepts are antithetical to one another and cannot be rationally held or adopted at the same time.

Kentuckians, a great many of which are Southern Baptists, should be revolted that such a political leader is attempting to use the Christian faith and heritage of Baptists to prop up support of the damaging sin of gambling.  It is true that we each struggle with sin in our lives, but we enter a different arena when we adopt state-sponsored, i.e., legislative, approval of sinful behavior such as gambling. 

I would encourage every concerned Kentuckian to view The Family Foundation website’s section on casino gambling.

And here is a timeless warning from the prophet Isaiah with commentary by Matthew Henry:

Isa 5:20: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who give out darkness for light, and light for darkness; who give out bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.” The previous woe had reference to those who made the facts of sacred history the butt of their naturalistic doubt and ridicule, especially so far as they were the subject of prophecy. This fourth woe relates to those who adopted a code of morals that completely overturned the first principles of ethics, and was utterly opposed to the law of God; for evil, darkness, and bitter, with their respective antitheses, represent moral principles that are essentially related (Mat_6:23; Jam_3:11), Evil, as hostile to God, is dark in its nature, and therefore loves darkness, and is exposed to the punitive power of darkness. And although it may be sweet to the material taste, it is nevertheless bitter, inasmuch as it produces abhorrence and disgust in the godlike nature of man, and, after a brief period of self-deception, is turned into the bitter woe of fatal results. Darkness and light, bitter and sweet, therefore, are not tautological metaphors for evil and good; but epithets applied to evil and good according to their essential principles, and their necessary and internal effects. 

 Sadly, this scene looks all to familiar when viewing the landscape of Kentucky politics.

Igor: Lessons in Virtue January 26, 2009

Posted by G.L. Campbell in Christianity, Movies, Art, & Music, Philosophy, Relationships and Family.
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The movie, Igor, is now available on DVD, and I’m planning to pick it up at our favorite, low-cost rental kiosk, Redbox, this morning.  Focus on the Family’s Plugged-In magazine has a helpful review of this family picture and gives us a breakdown, if somewhat forensic, of the value of morality and virtue Igor tries to show in a world where “bad is good and good is bad.”  

A good discussion with the kids of how we know what is bad and evil is sure to follow (see Romans 1:19-20, “men … hold the truth in unrighteousness”, and 1 Cor. 2:14, “he is not able to [know]”), which will invariably lead to a discussion of how we have the ability to do that which is good or evil (see igor_galleryteaserRomans 7:23-25).  These questions erupt: What does God think of sin, which, in all its varied forms and grades, is evil since there is no such thing as a “good” sin?  How can we escape it (both it’s immediate effects and its future significance)?  Is there anyone or anything that is truly “good”?  If not, then why pray, why do good deeds, why even attempt to love at all? 

If sin is always with us, and if God cannot abide any sin, then our only hope, as the Scriptures declare, is to have an intermediary, someone through whom our acts of devotion are deemed acceptable to God the Father.  See the following from Romans 3:10, 21-27:

… as it is written, “None is righteous, no not one.” … But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it — the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.  Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith.

For more in-depth analysis of God’s view of sin and its effect on mankind, click here to review a list of sermons by John Piper in his detailed series on the letter of Paul to the Romans.

A New Endeavor for an Old Purpose January 19, 2009

Posted by G.L. Campbell in Business, Christianity, Law, Movies, Art, & Music, Philosophy, politics, Relationships and Family, Religion, science.
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Two Kingdoms.  The phrase may spark memories of history lessons and midieval empires or perhaps  images of the Sphinx Stele of Amenhotep II and the New Kingdom’s conquoring of all enemies.  For others, this phrase, “two kingdoms,” has an entirely different meaning.

In the Christian faith, throughout the Scriptures we find reference to kingdoms.  We find kingdoms of men noted repeatedly, but we also find discussion of another kingdom, a spiritual kingdom, God’s kingdom.  It intimates along lines of his rule and authority in the heavenly realms; yet, it also concerns his soverignty, his control absolute over the affairs of men and the kingdoms of men.  This is the biblical rule.

In his work, Church History in Plain Language, Bruce Shelley expands on this:

In the third century Christianity was no longer a minor Jewish sect. It was fast emerging as the dominant rival to the old ways of Rome. Men of culture and power were asking the big questions. What is Christianity’s role in the affairs of men and empires?

The church always stands in a dual relationship to human affairs. Jesus summarized the role best when he spoke of his diciples — “not of the world” but “sent into the world” (John 17:16, 18). This suggest taht in God’s plan the church feels the rythm of detachment and involvement: detachment because of the gospel and eternal life are not from but from God; yet involvement because God sends the church into the world to shine as light and to lead men to the truth.

Thus, the church moves through history to a special beat: separation from the world yet penetration of the world…

Thus, we have a glimpse of the two kingdoms this blog will address.  I will endeavor to speak to matters both related to this realm, the kingdom of men (including philosophy, relationships, politics, business, science, ethics, law, medicine, and art), and the other, the kingdom of God, which, as noted, touches every corner of the kingdom of men as well.  The purpose is old: I do it solely for God’s glory.  I do not seek attention, save in the expansion of knowledge of these kingdoms and in the general search for truth. It is my prayer and ultimate hope that some will find comfort in these pages, illumination, and better knowledge of the faith of the Christians, rooted in the redemptive cross-work and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the “author and finisher of our faith.” (see Hebrews 12:2).