What is Classical Christian Education?

Last week I was asked to speak to the parents involved in our homeschooling co-op, Coram Deo, about what Classical Education is. Below is the text of my brief explanation. Certainly more can be said about the value and distinctiveness of Classical Ed, but this was my 5-minute pitch.

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Nelson Mandela has rightly said that education is the most powerful weapon with which you can use to change the world. As homeschooling parents we not only have the opportunity to directly influence what our children learn, we also have the opportunity to mold them into young men and women who will be equipped to change the world. We want their education to be the absolute best it can be.

I want to briefly talk tonight about how Coram Deo fits into that. I speak tonight not just as a board member of Coram Deo, and not just as a teacher, but as a parent.

Coram Deo believes the best way to educate our children is to use a model of Classical Education, tapping into the rich tradition of education we’ve inherited as Christians in our western culture.

We need to ask: What is Classical Education? This is important for all of us, all Coram Deo parents, to understand because this is what Coram Deo is all about: providing homeschool enrichment using a classical education model. Continue reading

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Why I Baptized My Babies (Summary)

Thanks to everyone who has been reading my series on infant baptism. I’ve tried to outline the reasons why my opinion shifted from a creedobaptist to a paedobaptist position.

Below you’ll see a listing of all the posts in this series.

Part 1 – Covenant Kids

What started my journey was the nagging question: Just how does God see my kids? As part of the church? Totally lost? His people? Pagans? I started out completely closed to the idea of infant baptism. But I wanted to know who my children were in the eyes of God. This opened the door to my exploration.

Part 2 – All in the Family

My first stop along this journey was when I started to embrace a more biblical view of the family. While I didn’t find paedobaptist arguments convincing yet, I found myself more and more drawn to their understanding of God’s covenant community and covenant family.

Part 3 – My Objections

I had some serious objections to infant baptism. This post outlines 4 critical ones.

Part 4 Circumcision: A Seal of the Promise

If it’s true that infants in the church should be baptized like those in the old covenant were circumcised, this would mean that circumcision held profound spiritual significance. But as someone from a baptistic background, I believed circumcision was merely a mark of Jewish ethnic identity. I needed to have this notion overturned.

Part 5 God’s Generational Faithfulness

One of the reasons I rejected the idea of infant baptism was because I believed an advantage of the new covenant was that only professing believers would be considered a part of God’s people. Therefore only believers should be given the mark of membership. The old covenant was too inclusive, I thought, embracing members by virtue of their parentage and not their faith. In order to buy into infant baptism, this assumption needed to be dismantled.

Part 6 – From Circumcision to Baptism

In order to believe in infant baptism, I needed to believe baptism somehow replaced circumcision, but there are no statements in the Bible to this effect. Why do paedobaptists believe baptism is the New Testament counterpart to circumcision?

Part 7 – Baptized Born Again Believers

My biggest objection to infant baptism was my belief that baptism is always linked to a personal profession of faith and a believer’s personal union with Christ. How could an infant be united to Christ? How could we baptize someone who is unable to profess faith? If paedobaptists couldn’t explain this one, there was no way they would win me to their side.

Part 8 – The Household Connection

With my objections answered, I searched for some sign from the New Testament that baptism was for more than just professing believers. I originally believed the absence of infant baptisms in the Bible was a clear indication that it was wrong: I later came to see this silence as one of the greatest arguments for it.

Part 9 – The Difference It Makes

Since my children have been baptized, how has this new theological position changed the way I think about baptism? About God? About my kids?

Why I Baptized My Babies (Part 9)

In these last 8 posts I’ve been telling the story of my move from the Baptist to the paedobaptist position. While I’ve attempted to give a reasoned defense of this position, my posts are as much biographical as they are theological. I’ve only outlined specific aspects of this debate with which I personally wrestled, certainly not every possible angle or every relevant Bible passage.

For this final post, I want to share what difference this change has made in my life.

How I understand baptism

I used to believe baptism was first and foremost saying something about me: I am united with Christ; I am forgiven; I am born again. But now I see baptism as first something about Christ.

Credobaptists and paedobaptists alike agree that the act of baptism symbolizes or demonstrates spiritual realities. But historically there has been a great divergence of opinion over what exactly it symbolized in baptism. Continue reading

The Child Training Bible: Review & Giveaway!

I was so excited to have the chance to review the Child Training Bible (CTB). I am always on the look-out for resources that can assist Luke and I as we seek to raise our four sons in a way that will glorify God.

More specifically, the integration of Scripture into the lives our children is something we continually seek after. It’s not always easy having Scripture on the tips our tongues that correspond with behaviors and attitudes we see in our children though. Continue reading

Why I Baptized My Babies (Part 8)

Eventually I came to what I believed was the crux of the debate about baptism. The crucial question I asked myself was: Is it likely the apostles understood baptism as a household rite and ceremony, like circumcision was, or is it more likely they understood it as something only meant for individuals—specifically believers?

The Baptist in me saw a clear case for baptizing individual believers: the Bible speaks to baptized men and women as if their baptism meant something to them personally—as if it went hand-in-hand with their conversion. Baptist and paedobaptist alike recognize that baptism in the New Testament is coupled with conversion. But going back to our crucial question, I asked myself: Was conversion to the faith something only individuals did, or was it something for whole households as well?

The Covenant with Abraham’s Household

The Bible is full of covenants, solemn agreements between God and specific groups of people. A foundational covenant God established between Himself and His chosen people is the Abrahamic covenant. God’s first promise to Abraham has profound implications for us:

“Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

God would spend the rest of Abraham’s lifetime spelling out the implications of these promises and building on them: a promised land, a promised family and nation, and a promised blessing. God would later ratify these promises through a formal compact or covenant (Genesis 15:18; 17:1-14; Exodus 2:24).

There are many aspects to this covenant, but three observations are relevant to our discussion of baptism. Continue reading

Why I Baptized My Babies (Part 7)

As a father wrestling with this question about infant baptism, after studying this subject for a year or so, I looked back and realized how far my opinions had shifted.

  • I had started to celebrate the truth of God’s “generational faithfulness“: God promises his kindness to my children and their children after them. God considers my children to be a part of His covenant community. They are considered holy, set apart unto Him.
  • I started to embrace the belief that the sign of circumcision, given to Abraham, was not merely an ethnic sign: in it God sealed Abraham’s family as his own and signed to them His promise of righteousness.
  • I started to understand that baptism in the New Testament occupies the place circumcision had in the Old. I could see more of the parallels between these two rites.

But I then came to what I considered the linchpin of my whole baptistic theology. This was the one objection to infant baptism that I believed was insurmountable. It seemed to me, reading through the New Testament, that baptism and personal salvation go hand-in-hand. If infant baptism is a biblical practice, why is baptism so commonly paired with personal faith in Christ? If infant baptism is right, why is baptism often paired with regeneration? Can infants have saving faith? Can they be born again?

This was the one area of baptistic theology I was most unwilling to yield. I thought, of course there is continuity between the Old and New Testaments, between circumcision and baptism, but aren’t there also discontinuities? Yes, God’s covenant with Abraham embraces both testaments, but there is also progression, isn’t there? As I read the New Testament, it seemed one of the fundamental changes between circumcision and baptism is who receives the covenant sign: before, the sign was given by virtue of family connection, but now it is given to those who profess personal faith. Continue reading

Bible Memory with Children

As I discussed in a prior post, Bible memory is a very important part of our family devotions. It is a discipline we believe has a lasting impact even on our young children. It’s a discipline we believe we will reap the benefits of for the rest of our lives.

We begin Bible memorization with our boys as soon as they are able to put sentences together. It seems like this was around 2 years old for both Bradley and Cameron. We begin working through full chapters or large portions of chapters with our children and shy away from individual verses (though there are exceptions).

Some have skeptically asked how children so young can be expected to memorize long portions of scripture, to which we heartily respond that childhood is the perfect time to memorize scripture. Young children are like sponges. They retain a vast amount of information with relative ease.

What technique do we use?

The technique we use with our children is the same as we use ourselves. It really isn’t anything fancy. First, we choose a passage we’d like to work on as a family. Then, we begin by going over the first verse or the first part of the first verse if it happens to be a long verse. We go over that several times and have the kids repeat after us. As nights progress we quiz each other on the segment. When most of us seem to have it, we then add the next portion of scripture, continuing to recite what we have already mastered. We continue in this manner until we have the whole passage memorized.

We recite the scripture during our family bedtime devotions and the kids and I work on the passage first thing in the morning as part of the first school subject of the day: memory time. We use the Charlotte mason memory system, for many more things than just Bible memory, and we’ve found it has really helped us move information into our long term memory.

If you are looking for some good passages to start with the following is a list of a few our family has worked on: Psalm 1, Psalm 130, Psalm 131, and Romans 12. I’d urge you to begin scripture memory as a family now! Helping your children learn this discipline young is ideal. Don’t be intimidated by longer passages. Even if it takes you a year or more to memorize a chapter, the spiritual rewards you will reap are worth the time and effort.

We would enjoy hearing more from you, our readers. What scriptures have you enjoyed memorizing with your children? Are there any tricks or tips you have for helping you kids (or yourself) memorize the Bible?

Why I Baptized My Babies (Part 6)

When I first started interacting with more paedobaptists, their argument about circumcision and baptism seemed clear enough. God told Abraham that all his male descendants should be marked with circumcision as a sign that they were members of the covenant community. Knowing this, is there any corresponding mark that members of the new covenant community have? Yes, baptism. Just as God commanded adult covenant members to circumcise themselves and their children, so God must want Christian converts to do the same for their households.

But does baptism really replace circumcision? This was one of my questions about infant baptism. The New Testament never directly says that baptism replaces circumcision. The absence of any clear statement is startling.

In all the controversies among the first generation Christians that raged around the subject of circumcision, at no point does Peter, Paul, or any other apostle try to alleviate the problem by saying, “The reason you shouldn’t be circumcised is because baptism now replaces it.” For instance, in Acts 15 when the apostles and elders met in Jerusalem to settle the question about Gentiles being circumcised, at no point did the subject of baptism arise. If baptism really had replaced circumcision, wouldn’t this argument have silenced the Judaizers? Continue reading

What’s In The Bible: Giveaway and Review

“Hey, he sounds like Bob the Tomato.”

These were the first words out of my 8-year-olds mouth while we were watching the first DVD of What’s in the Bible. I quickly explained to Bradley that the man on the video does the voice for Bob on Veggie Tales. He immediately got a big smile on his face.

The clever, comedic genius Phil Vischer, creator of the adored vegetables of Veggie Tales, strikes again! What’s in the Bible features Vischer (as himself), and a host of puppets like Buck Denver: Man of News, Chuck Wagon, the piano playing Pastor Paul, a church history teaching pirate, and a Sunday School Lady complete with magic flannel-graph. The characters are engaging, the music is catchy, and our family loved watching the interviews with kids talking about Bible themes.

There are currently 8 DVD’s available, spanning Genesis through Song of Solomon, answering questions like, “What is the Bible?” “What is Salvation?” and “What is the Pentatuech?” To call this series ambitious would be an understatement. Continue reading

5 Reasons Our Family Memorizes the Bible

If you’ve been around our family much, you know one of the spiritual disciplines we emphasize with our children is Bible memorization. Memorizing the Bible at a young age has so many advantages. Children have amazing memories and are able to absorb so much, so why not fill their minds with the Word of God so it can permeate their souls as they grow and mature?

We know that Bible memory isn’t just edifying for them, it is also something that nourishes our souls as well. Do you wonder why we emphasize memorizing the Bible so much though?

  1. We memorize the Bible so we can discern truth from error. We desire to make right choices and avoid sin. Knowing Scripture helps us guard our minds and make correct choices. Psalm 119:9-11 wisely says: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word…I have stored up my word in your heart, that I might not sin against you.” Ephesians 6:13-18 talks about the armor of God. Is it any wonder that the word of God is likened to a sword? It is able to cut through the lies of this world! Likewise, Psalm 37:30-31 states: “The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. The law of his God is in his heart; his steps do not slip.” If you are to be righteous, have wisdom, and speak justice – you must have the law of God in your heart. Continue reading