As the controversy over public schooling among Southern Baptists and other Christians continues to gather force, for the first time a president of the Southern Baptist Convention has publicly called upon churches to start more Christian schools and to make sure that provision is made for the children of families that would not otherwise be able to afford to attend.Anyone that reads this blog knows that I am an avid homeschooler. However, I could not get behind the 2004 SBC education resolution. I am not certain it represented a large block of the SBC's membership's feelings on schooling issues, being utopian, unrealistic and radically extreme. You can read the entire text of the failed resolution here, but I excerpt it to show how radical it was.
The resolution failed to take into account the number of families simply unable to afford Christian education, which was one of my primary concerns when the resolution was first made public, the gravity of urging all parents in every SBC church to just "remove" their children from the school system, the fundamentalist bent driving the resolution, as well as the number of members of SBC churches employed by school systems. Moreover, it just sets a goal that cannot and will not be reached.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the 2004 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention encourages all officers and members of the Southern Baptist Convention and the churches associated with it to remove their children from the government schools and see to it that they receive a thoroughly Christian education, for the glory of God, the good of Christ's church, and the strength of their own commitment to Jesus, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 2004 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention encourages all churches associated with the Southern Baptist Convention to work energetically to counsel parents regarding their obligation to provide their children with a Christian education, andBE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 2004 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention encourages all churches associated with the Southern Baptist Convention to provide all of their children with Christian alternatives to government school education, either through home schooling or thoroughly Christian private schools. [All emphases are mine.]
Granted, all radical movements are driven by some extreme personalities. However, the 2007 resolution to be brought to San Antonio is one that I can fully support and makes a lot more sense than the 2004 resolution. You can read the entire (proposed) resolution here, but I excerpt a portion that outshines the first resolution.
This is an education resolution that makes sense--and seems doable. Plus, churches working together to accomplish a perceived end is much more plausible than just "pull out," workable over the course of several years. I know many parents who want a Christian education for their children, but because of aforementioned reasons, cannot provide that for their kids. I have always been an advocate of our churches helping those who cannot provide for themselves and this is a step in the right direction, not just chastising the single mother who works two jobs whose ex-husband doesn't pay child support, that she is failing in adequately having her children educated.
Whereas, event and personality driven methods of evangelism are ineffective, unscriptural, and fail to overcome our failure to disciple our children;
Whereas, Christian educational alternatives to government schools are an effective means for evangelistic outreach and discipling, and, as Dr. Page recognizes, such alternatives are desperately needed immediately by orphans, children of single parents, and the disadvantaged;[...]
Whereas, churches can collaborate in providing alternatives to the government school system; and[...]
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 2007 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention urges that the agencies of the Southern Baptist Convention to heed Dr. Page’s call to expand Christian education by assisting churches in the development of Christian schools and help coordinate efforts, including partnerships with churches in low income areas, to provide a Christian educational alternative to orphans, single parents, and the disadvantaged;[...]
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the 2007 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention applauds the many adult members of our congregations who teach in government schools, and this resolution should be construed to encourage adult believers who are truly called to labor as missionaries to unbelieving colleagues and students to continue their missionary work in the dark and decaying government school system. [All emphases are mine.]
Too often our churches exact a standard on those who cannot reach it and then respond with fury when they do not reach it. (I think that might be called legalism.) Yet this resolution actually offers a plausible standard and then offers ways and means to assist parents in reaching it. This seems to be a bit more in accords with New Testament Christianity. Now, if our churches will just hear and respond.