Bullet Points on 16 Approaches to Homeschooling

Dear Reader,

Recently I published my “Find your approach to homeschooling quiz.” If you took the quiz, you hopefully now have a short list of homeschooling methods to consider. To help you in that endeavor, I would like to share with you now my own list of bullet points on each of the 16 approaches I considered in that quiz. These were my working notes as I developed the quiz. They are by no means a complete introduction to all the many ways to educate your children, but I share them with you in the hopes that they can help you get a quick feel for each of the philosophies.

Nebby

Bullet Points on 16 Approaches to Homeschooling

School-at-home

  • the parent/teacher teaches either one student or a group of students
  • the job of the teacher is primarily to teach, that is, to impart knowledge
  • teacher-directed learning
  • the material learned is fairly traditional – the 3Rs plus history and science; STEM subjects may be emphasized
  • the focus is primarily intellectual with more artsy pursuits taking at least a second seat
  • textbooks and worksheets are used
  • learning is measured through testing
  • learning is done for its own sake; whether one likes it is of secondary importance
  • the goal is to be educated so as to make one’s way in society, get a good job, get into college, be “successful”
  • the child is shaped by the teacher, through education, to be like adults/fit into society

Online/distance learning

  • very similar to school-at-home
  • the job of the teacher/curriculum is primarily to teach, that is, to impart knowledge
  • the student may interact with one teacher, one teacher and a group of students, or just with the materials
  • traditional subjects, likely with a heavy emphasis on the STEM subjects
  • the appeal is primarily to the mind
  • fairly traditional teaching tools, but obviously with an online/technology-driven twist
  • learning is likely measured through testing
  • learning is done for its own sake; whether one likes it is of secondary importance
  • the goal is to be educated so as to make one’s way in society, get a good job, get into college, be “successful”
  • the child is shaped through education to be like adults/fit into society

Classical/Great Books

  • the parent/teacher imparts knowledge
  • the teacher interacts with one student or a group of students
  • the material is fairly traditional with an emphasis on classic literature which often includes real classical classics (think Homer, Plutarch)
  • there is a core body of knowledge all people should know
  • the focus is primarily intellectual with more artsy pursuits taking a second seat though there may be some inclusion of art history and the like
  • learning is through great books but also through memorization of facts, especially in the early years
  • learning may be measured through testing
  • learning is done for its own sake; whether one likes it is of secondary importance
  • the goal is to be educated in order to make one’s way and even to excel in society. There is a sense of “those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it” so that those who get such an education will contribute to society/be good citizens as well.
  • the child is shaped by the teacher, through education, to be like adults
  • the child goes through stages of development: the earliest years are for taking in facts, the middle years for getting context, and the last years for rhetoric, that is, learning to argue one’s position
  • learning is teacher-directed. There is a goal or ideal of what an educated person is and the child is moved toward that ideal
  • there is a sense in which children are not complete; they need to learn to reason and develop abilities

Christian Classical

  • same as classical/great books, with an added Christian slant:
  • there is a sense of adults know best and discipline is likely not a bad word in such a household
  • there may be an added or greater emphasis on being virtuous

Charlotte Mason

  • the parent/teacher selects materials but it is up to the child to “ingest” them
  • learning is done by the child and cannot be forced
  • the role of the teacher is minimized
  • implicit assumption that some materials are better than others
  • heavy reliance upon “living books” with nature study in addition for science
  • handicrafts and physical education are included, but not as a part of the main study
  • a broad education is the goal with a balance of history, science literature, and arts
  • ideas are the food of the mind and are emphasized over facts
  • all truth is God’s truth – which means that we can find truth in non-Christian sources
  • the Holy Spirit is the real educator
  • there is little formal education before age 6 or 7
  • play is not part of education but free time (“masterly inactivity”) is valued
  • motivation should be internal; we because of an innate love of learning; we don’t need to make it “fun”
  • “Children are born persons” – the assumption is that all children can learn and are born equipped to learn
  • though there is a generally positive view of children as made in the image of God, there is also an acknowledgment that they need habit-training
  • the goal of education is to “set their feet in a wide place,” that is to give them connections with a lot of different things
  • re goals: we ask not how much they know, but how much they care

Thomas Jefferson Education

  • the teacher is mentor; the teacher is important; his job is to inspire (“inspire, not require”)
  • the teacher and student have a one-on-one relationship
  • the child cannot rise above the mentor
  • the child can pursue interests but the teacher’s role is still vital
  • greatness inspires greatness
  • classic, living books; not textbooks, no busywork
  • no one set curriculum though classics and living books are valued
  • there are stages in a child’s development; no formal education till age 8 or so
  • children have an inner genius but there is also the idea that younger children are not yet equipped for real learning
  • motivation is internal and love of learning is a goal
  • leadership education; training leaders is a goal
  • the goals are at least in part societal
  • a certain set of values (freedom, democracy) are assumed

Montessori

  • teacher as guide
  • the teacher creates the environment for learning
  • originally developed for children with developmental issues
  • children explore at their pace within the created environment
  • children will develop appropriately in the right environment – implies that children need to develop and that the teacher is essential in creating the right environment
  • the environment is controlled and scaled down for children
  • there are stages in a child’s development
  • the last stage is to influence the world and be a leader
  • one goal for M. Montessori was world peace

Waldorf

  • in the early years, the teacher is an example because children learn through imitation
  • lots of arts and specialized movement (“activity always precedes headwork”)
  • no books in early education but songs and finger-plays
  • in later years good books are included and subjects are studied in chunks, ie a few weeks on history, then a few on science and so on
  • no textbooks
  • children create their own coursebooks as a way of cementing learning
  • children are whole people
  • people are spiritual beings
  • each one has a specific life purpose
  • children are fundamentally different from adults
  • though there are stages, the idea is that children evolve as they grow
  • in high school, being well-balanced is a goal but so is pursuing individual interests
  • goal: “to produce individuals who are able, in and of themselves, to impart meaning to their lives”

Enki

  • teachers are cornerstones and examples
  • in the schools, in early years, two teachers and a class of kids; but can be a parent and child
  • security and variety; very nurturing and gentle approach
  • the rhythm of learning is important
  • physical and hands-on/arts activities are integral
  • arts-based; all academics are introduced through the arts
  • stages of development but with a sense of evolving, as a caterpillar into a butterfly
  • the central task: “the integration of body, heart, and mind within each child and parent”
  • societal goals, concern for the global community
  • whole person education: body, heart, mind
  • connectedness and confidence are goals
  • goal: meaningful connections with the larger world

Unit Studies

  • all subjects ate studied around a common theme which could be based on one book or be a theme like knights or apples or really anything
  • the burden is on the teacher to tie all subjects together
  • education should be fun, interesting, enjoyable
  • there seems to be some assumption that the child cannot but that the teacher can
  • themes could be child selected but there is still a large role for the teacher

Ruth Beechick

  • parent/teacher as tutor
  • one-on-one teaching
  • “teach the child, not the book”
  • individualized education; not one core curriculum
  • real books, not textbooks for history but also one should not be too “bookish”
  • teachers provide a rich learning environment
  • no busywork
  • if it is boring, the fault is in the curriculum, not the child; implies curriculum should be made enjoyable/fun
  • basic skills must be mastered so further learning can occur
  • pre-K and K don’t need schooling
  • information should be processed in some way leads to hands-on projects, real life activities
  • can use unit studies
  • thinking skills are taught and learned – this implies that there is some development in the child

(Radical) Unschooling

  • the role of the teacher is minimal
  • though learning is initiated by the child, the parent may help in finding resources
  • learning is done by the child
  • there is no one set of material that everyone needs to know
  • very individualized
  • child-led learning
  • the child will learn what they need when they need it
  • there is an inherent belief in the child’s goodness and ability to select what is right for him
  • often combined with the disciplinary view that the adult should not impose their will on the child
  • goals can vary greatly but are likely to include allowing the child to be an individual, find himself, find his passion

Moore Method Homeschooling

  • parents are the best teachers
  • manual work as much as studying plus household work or community service
  • fewer workbooks and textbooks, but drills are used
  • no formal education before at least age 8
  • learning also happens through real life activities
  • the best motivation is internal
  • goals: high achievement, responsibility, sociability

Robinson Curriculum

  • self-education, but with a set curriculum
  • almost no teacher interaction, but the curriculum and study environment are very important
  • uses high quality books; learning is through books, almost exclusively
  • core subjects are taught: math, LA, science, history
  • “they teach themselves to think”
  • goals are academic and learning to think, self-educate

Accelerated Learning

  • geared to the whole person, understood in a very scientific sense
  • activity based learning
  • students collaborate
  • real world contexts are important
  • positive environment is essential
  • goals: “success”, “excel”

Reggio Emilia

  • focuses on early years (preschool and primary) only
  • the teacher facilitates based on the child’s interests
  • children’s interests are important; self-guided learning
  • children have “a hundred languages”; are knowledge bearers
  • heavily reliance on the arts
  • environment is important
  • long term projects are vehicles for learning
  • relationships are important as is the community
  • goal: to develop one’s potential

(Biblical) Principle Approach

  • there are principles which underlie everything and these are the goal of education, not facts
  • the principles are assumed to be biblical principles
  • “There is no better textbook than the Bible.”
  • emphasis on “America’s Christian history”
  • the process of education is found in the 4R’s: research, reason, relate and record.
  • A teacher with students like a rabbi with disciples
  • the teacher’s role is important; the teacher is the living book
  • no worksheets
  • individuality is appreciated but it is also believed that there are right answers
  • a fairly high, positive view of human nature and reason
  • idea of personal calling
  • a societal goal as well: “What did you do to secure freedom and proliferate it while it was in your power to do so?”

 

Kids’ Art Contest: Last Call!

Dear Reader,
My 14yo dd has an art contest on her blog ending Saturday and she really needs more entries. There are prizes and all the entries will be put together to make an adult coloring book. Details are here: https://creationsbymaris.wordpress.com/2016/04/01/make-your-own-adult-coloring-page-a-contest-for-kids/
Please feel free to pass along this information too.
Thanks!
Nebby

Quiz: Find Your Homeschooling Style

Dear Reader,

One of the pieces of advice I always give new homeschoolers is to think about what your approach is. To aid in this endeavor, I have developed the quiz below.

Why should you take this quiz?

  • Ideas have consequences. Even if you have ever thought about how learning happens or what your goals for your child are, the person who wrote your curriculum has. Those ideas will play out in what is taught and how it is taught. This quiz will help you make sure that what you are using fits your personal philosophy (even if you didn’t know you had one).
  • You are more likely to hit your goal if you know what it is and use the right tool for the job.  If you haven’t thought about what your goals are, this quiz will help you start down that road.
  • You’ll be a more confident homeschooler (and better able to fend off attacks by well-meaning friends and relatives) if you know what you are doing and why. And when your kids some day ask why they need to learn (grammar, algebra, . . . you fill in the blank) you’ll have an answer for them.
  • Your friend’s, sister-in-law’s, neighbor’s goals might not be yours. Never take curriculum advice if you don’t know the approach of the person giving it.
  • There are oodles of homeschooling materials out there. They may be published by lovely homeschooling families (or not), but they are still businesses trying to earn your money. If you are a new homeschooler, this quiz will help you narrow down your choices. If you are a veteran, it will help you make sure you are on the road that is best for you. You may even find approaches you have never heard of or be led to consider new ideas.

How is this quiz different from other ones?

  • I have included no less than 16 approaches to education. (Find them all listed in this Google doc.)
  • I look at not just what is learned and how but also at the big ideas behind each approach — what do they say about human nature?

How do I use the quiz?

  • First, print out the quiz (link opens a Google doc) and circle your answers. With the exception of the last question, you should try to pick the one answer that best fits your ideas.
  • Then print out my list of approaches to homeschooling (again, found in this Google doc). This will be your score sheet.
  • Now read through the answers. For each one make a tally mark or check next to the philosophies that matched your answers.
  • Look back at your score sheet. Are there clear winners and losers? Now is the time to narrow down your choices. Pick a few that seem to be your best matches or that you find intriguing and read up on them.

Finding resources:

One way to start is to look back through all the answers to the quiz. If, for example, Reggio Emilia showed up as a good fit for you, skim back through and see how that approach would answer each question. You can also use the quiz to compare philosophies — if this one fits you for one question  but that one does for another, ask yourself which is most important to you. Many homeschoolers, consciously or unconsciously, combine approaches — is there a way your favorites can be combined?

For a quick overview of each philosophy, check out my bullet points post here. I also have a series covering the philosophies behind many of these approaches which you can find here (I’ll warn you though, I am biased as a reformed Christian and an aficionado of Charlotte Mason’s methods, but hopefully my posts can still give you a start even if you don’t agree with my underlying assumptions). I plan to add to this series to include all the approaches as I have time. I also plan to publish a list of resources to get you started reading about them. Links will be added here when they are published.

Questions? Problems?

This document is a work in progress and I expect to emend it over time. Have I missed an approach? Misrepresented one? Do you just not know what to make of your results? Leave a comment or contact me. I am happy to help or to explain why I think a philosophy fits in one category or another.

And now, without further ado . . .

 

Find your philosophy of education:

Questions for new (or not so new) homeschoolers

Part I: What We Learn

Is there a core body of knowledge everyone needs?

A. Absolutely, naming the Presidents in order, reciting the periodic table, and/or knowing the classics of western literature — those are goals I have for my kids.

B. They need a basic foundation (basic math, reading and writing skills), but beyond those education should be more individualized.

C. Not at all.

D. I don’t think there is one core body of knowledge, but some books/art/music/etc. are certainly more valuable than others.

What shall we study?

A. I’m looking for a fairly traditional curriculum, possibly something that lines up with the schools.

B. I’m in favor of a balanced, broad-based education with an emphasis on the liberal arts (history, literature).

C. We need to study the foundations of our civilization — the good books, speeches, etc. of our past.

D. STEM is where it’s at today.

E. The arts are our main emphasis.

F. I don’t have an agenda.

The role of the arts in education is  . . .

A. Optional or non-essential.

B. Secondary.

C. As a core subject

D. As the cornerstone of education.

Hands-on or Hands-off?

A. Handicrafts, physical education, kinetic activities are all great — after our real work is done.

B. Hands-on activities, manipulatives, and physical activities are secondary.

C. Yes, please. Hands-on and/or physical activities are vital for learning.

D. Children learn through free play.

E. Real work is a complement to schoolwork.

Part II: How We Learn

How do you measure learning?

A. Grades and/or standardized tests help me know what my child is learning or needs to learn.

B. I prefer a non-standardized measure at the end of every unit or every year (think broad essay questions at the end of a term, not multiple choice tests).

C. Big projects at the end of a unit or a year help consolidate learning.

D. Learning can’t be measured and doesn’t need to be.

How do you motivate them?

A. Bottom line — schoolwork has to be done, liking it is a bonus but is not necessary.

B. Motivation needs to be internal. The desire to learn should be cultivated.

C. The desire to learn comes naturally to children.

D. Kids learn better when they enjoy their schooling. I try to make schoolwork enjoyable or even fun.

E. I don’t motivate; I inspire.

Learning should be . . .

A. Teacher-directed: Parent/teacher knows best

B. Curriculum-directed : The material to learn is provided but the student works more independently

C. Child-led: Let them follow their interests

D. A blend: the teacher provides a framework within which the student has freedom to choose.

The role of the teacher . . .

A. Is to impart knowledge.

B. Is to select the best materials.

C. Is to be a mentor.

D. Is to be a guide or facilitator.

E. Is to be an example.

F. Is to help find resources.

G. Is to create the right environment for learning.

H. Is to present the materials in the best way.

I. Is minimal. You can’t force learning.

What parts of the personality/person are involved in education?

A. Primarily the mind

B. Hands with mind: the creative side must be appealed to as well as the mind

C. Whole body- mind, physical body, feelings and senses

Early childhood education?

A. Absolutely. Let’s get going here.

B. No. Delay formal learning.

What’s on your homeschool bookshelf?

A. I like textbooks and worksheets. They help me know what my kid is learning and that he is learning.

B. Living/great books all the way.

C. Books? I think there are some propping up the laptop.

D. Hands-on materials, manipulatives, etc.

Now close your eyes and peek into the door of your ideal classroom. Who’s in there?

A. A teacher standing up in front of a class of students

B. One teacher and one student

C. A group with multiple students interacting

D. A teacher sitting amid a small group of students (think a rabbi and his disciples)

E. A true community with multiple adults and children

F. The student alone

G. Classroom? What classroom?

Part III: Who We Are

Ages and Stages

A. Children go through different developmental stages as they grow into adulthood and their education should change with them.

B. There are different stages — but it is more than growth. Children are fundamentally different from adults and evolve into what they will be.

C. Children are “born persons”; they are whole people and how we educate does not need to change as they age.

Encountering the Real World:

A. Part of the reason we homeschool is to protect our kids. No, they are not locked in their rooms, but it’s our job to protect their innocence as long as we can.

B. The best environment takes real things and puts them in kid-sizes and contexts.

C. Children need to experience the real world and interact with real things, with some consideration for what’s age-appropriate.

Choosing the Good and Rejecting the Evil

(The Bible uses this phrase to describe the age at which a child has discernment. We can think of when and if a child knows right from wrong on a moral level but also of when he is able to tell good from bad in other ways — Does he know what is edible or does he put everything in his mouth? Can he choose what is right or best for him or should the choice be trusted to those who care for him?)

A. It’s a parent’s job to train up their children in the way they should go. It’s ultimately our responsibility to make sure they get what they need.

B. The child has a natural taste for the good but is not inherently good.

C. The parent/teacher’s role is to help mold or shape the personality.

D. I don’t impose my will on my kids. They will gravitate towards what they need.

E. My children are evolving into who they should be.

F. Given the right environment, children will develop rightly.

The Nature of Children and What They Will Become:

A. Children are little adults in the making, something like apprentices. I have a picture in mind of what they should be and/or what they should know, and we move towards that goal.

B. “Children are born persons.” They grow in wisdom and knowledge but they are inherently whole people.

C. There is something fundamentally different about children. Childhood is a magical, special time of life.

Part IV: Why We Learn

Let’s talk goals. Finish this sentence: “I want my kids to . . . ” (Pick as many as you like; bonus points if you rank them):

A. Meet academic goals/be equipped for employment or higher education/have success.

B. Contribute to society.

C. Be leaders/make their mark on the world.

D. Be virtuous.

E. Have a love of learning.

F. Care.

G. Have lots of different interests or relationships.

H. Be responsible.

I. Find themselves.

J. Find their interests/passion.

K. Have meaningful lives.

L. Find (and fulfill) their calling.

M. Develop their potential.

N. Learn to think/learn how to learn.

O. Have wholeness.

 Evaluating Your Answers

Okay, now, are you all set? Have you done your best to answer all the questions? Good. Now the next step is to print out your score sheet and read through the comments below. (See the “how to take this quiz” section above.)

A few notes: Not every approach will come up for every question; sometimes an approach just doesn’t address a topic or I don’t have a good enough idea of what they would say for it. I have tried to go with the best, most representative answer for each one, but sometimes an approach will fall into more than one category.

Part I: What We Learn

Is there a core body of knowledge everyone needs?

A. Absolutely, naming the Presidents in order, reciting the periodic table, and/or knowing the classics of western literature — those are goals I have for my kids. Classical, school-at-home, Robinson curriculum, online/distance learning

B. They need a basic foundation (basic math, reading and writing skills) but beyond those education should be more individualized. Ruth Beechick’s approach, Moore

C. Not at all. Unschooling, Reggio Emilia, possibly AL

D. I don’t think there is one core body of knowledge, but some books/art/music/etc. are certainly more valuable than others. Charlotte Mason (CM), the Biblical Principle Approach (BPA), Thomas Jefferson Education (TJEd)

What shall we study?

A. I’m looking for a fairly traditional curriculum, possibly something that lines up with the schools. School-at-home, Robinson, online/distance, possibly Moore

B. I’m in favor of a balanced, broad-based education with an emphasis on the liberal arts (history, literature). CM, Classical, TJEd, Robinson, Waldorf (for high school level)

C. We need to study the foundations of our civilization — the good books, speeches, etc. of our past. TJEd, BPA, possibly Classical

D. STEM is where it’s at today. Possibly online/distance

E. The arts are our main emphasis. Enki

F. I don’t have an agenda. Unschool, possibly Reggio Emilia and AL

The role of the arts in education is  . . .

A. Optional or non-essential. School-at-home, online/distance, Robinson

B. Secondary. Possibly Classical

C. As a core subject. CM, Waldorf, Accelerated Learning (AL), possibly Montessori, Reggio Emilia

D. As the cornerstone of education. Enki

Hands-on or Hands-off?

A. Handicrafts, physical education, kinetic activities are all great — after our real work is done. School-at-home, online/distance, possibly CM or Classical (see below), Robinson

B. Hands-on activities, manipulatives, and physical activities are secondary. Possibly CM or Classical. CM advocates handicrafts and physical exercise, but does not use hands-on projects as a part of learning. Classical does not require a hands-on approach, but my experience is that many use hands-on activities (filling in maps, creating lapbooks, etc.) as tools to learning.

C. Yes, please. Hands-on and/or physical activities are vital for learning. Montessori, Waldorf, Enki, Reggio Emilia, AL, possibly Unit Studies and Beechick

D. Children learn through free play. Unschool; CM also sees the value of free play (called “masterly inactivity”) in addition to more formal schooling.

E. Real work is a complement to schoolwork. Moore

Part II: How We Learn

How do you measure learning?

A. Grades and/or standardized tests help me know what my child is learning or needs to learn. School-at-home, Classical, Robinson Curriculum, often online/distance, possibly Moore

B. I prefer a non-standardized measure at the end of every unit or every year (think broad essay questions at the end of a term, not multiple choice tests). CM

C. Big projects at the end of a unit or a year help consolidate learning. Waldorf, Beechick, Reggio Emilia, Enki, BPA, possibly TJEd

D. Learning can’t be measured and doesn’t need to be. Unschooling

How do you motivate them?

A. Bottom line — schoolwork has to be done, liking it is a bonus but is not necessary. School-at-home, online/distance, Classical

B. Motivation needs to be internal. The desire to learn should be cultivated. TJEd, Moore Method, Robinson

C. The desire to learn occurs naturally in children. CM, Unschool

D.  Kids learn better when they enjoy their schooling. I try to make schoolwork enjoyable or even fun. Unit Studies, Beechick

E. I don’t motivate; I inspire. Montessori, to a lesser extent TJEd

Learning should be . . .

A. Teacher-directed: Parent/teacher knows best School-at-home, Classical, possibly Unit studies

B. Curriculum-directed : The material to learn is provided but the student works more independently Online/distance, Robinson  

C. Child-led: Let them follow their interests Unschooling, Reggio Emilia; many allow some degree of following one’s interests including Beechick, Waldorf (in high  school), BPA, AL, Moore; Unit Studies can be done in a child-led way

D. A blend: the teacher provides a framework within which the student has freedom to choose. CM, TJEd, Montessori, Waldorf, Moore (though these approaches may view the framework in very different ways)

The role of the teacher . . .

A. Is to impart knowledge. School-at-home, Classical, possibly Online/distance depending  the program

B. Is to select the best materials. CM, Robinson

C. Is to be a mentor. TJEd, BPA, possibly Unit Studies

D. Is to be a guide or facilitator. Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Waldorf (in the later years)

E. Is to be an example. Enki, Waldorf (in the early years), Moore

F. Is to help find resources. Reggio Emilia, Unschooling, possibly Unit Studies

G. Is to create the right environment for learning. Montessori, Beechick, AL, Robinson

H. Is to present the materials in the best way. Unit Studies

I. Is minimal. You can’t force learning.  Unschooling, Robinson, CM, possibly AL

What parts of the personality/person are involved in education?

A. Primarily the mind School-at-home, online/distance, Classical, CM (though handicrafts and PE are secondary), Moore (but with a practical work component as well), BPA, TJEd, Robinson

B. Hands with mind: the creative side must be appealed to as well as the mind Montessori, Unit Studies, Beechick, possibly Reggio Emilia

C. Whole body- mind, physical body, feelings and senses Waldorf, Enki, AL, possibly Reggio Emilia

Early childhood education?

A. Absolutely. Let’s get going here. School-at-home, Classical, and Robinson have provisions for early learning (before age 7 or 8).  Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Waldorf, and Enki all have learning at early ages but do not use what I would call “formal learning.”

B. No. Delay formal learning. CM delays formal learning till age 6 or 7. TJEd and Moore Method delay till age 8 (or later). Ruth Beechick omits pre-K and K. And, of course, unschooling never has (forced) formal learning.

What’s on your homeschool bookshelf?

A. I like textbooks and worksheets. They help me know what my kid is learning and that he is learning. School-at-home; Moore method and Classical may both use worksheets and textbooks, but in a limited way

B. Living/great books all the way. Classical (but may use textbooks and worksheets), CM, Beechick (but don’t be too “bookish”), BPA, TJEd, Robinson, Waldorf (in later years)

C. Books? I think there are some propping up the laptop. Online/distance

D. Hands-on materials, manipulatives, etc. Montessori, Waldorf (in early years), Enki, AL, Reggio Emilia, often Unit Studies

Now close your eyes and peek into the door of your ideal classroom. Who’s in there?

A. A teacher standing up in front of a class of students. Okay, this is hard to  achieve at home, but if it is your ideal, you may have a school-at-home mindset. Classical could work here too and they often have coops that provide a classroom setting. CM was also designed for a school setting as was Enki.

B. One teacher and one student. TJEd, Moore, and Beechick emphasize the one-on-one. In a homeschool setting, CM, classical and Enki can work this way. Many approaches will end up one-on-one or with a small group of students, depending on how many children you have.

C. A group with multiple students interacting AL

D. A teacher sitting amid a small group of students (think a rabbi and his disciples) BPA; I think Waldorf, Montessori, and Enki would also fit here.

E. A true community with multiple adults and children. Homeschoolers often pride themselves on being out among all different ages and kinds of people, but Reggio Emilia specifically emphasizes learning within the community.

F. The student alone. Online/distance and Robinson adapt well to this, whether your student wants to or has to work alone (due to other familial constraints). Moore has a slightly larger role for the parent but also a fair amount of working on one’s own.

G. Classroom? What classroom? Unschool

Part III: Who We Are

Ages and Stages

A. Children go through different developmental stages as they grow into adulthood and their education should change with them. Classical, TJEd, Montessori

B. There are different stages — but it is more than growth. Children are fundamentally different from adults and evolve into what they will be. Waldorf, Enki; I’m not sure if Reggio Emilia sees children as evolving into adults, but they also view them as unique, different creatures who “speak a hundred languages.”

C. Children are “born persons”; they are whole people and how we educate does not need to change as they age. Unschooling, CM

Encountering the Real World:

A. Part of the reason we homeschool is to protect our kids. No, they are not locked in their rooms, but it’s our job to protect their innocence as long as we can. Enki; Moore advocates being in the real world on some levels but is also very strongly family-centric

B. The best environment takes real things and puts them in kid-sizes and contexts. Montessori, possibly Waldorf for the early years

C. Children need to experience the real world and interact with real things, with some consideration for what’s age-appropriate. CM, AL, Moore (but see note on A above); Unschooling, as usual, can vary a lot from family to family but my feeling is that in principle it fits best here

Choosing the Good and Rejecting the Evil 

A. It’s a parent’s job to train up their children in the way they should go. It’s ultimately our responsibility to make sure they get what they need. School-at-home, Classical; possibly Unit Studies, Moore, BPA and Robinson

B. The child has a natural taste for the good but is not inherently good. CM

C. The parent/teacher’s role is to help mold or shape the personality. TJEd (though the role of the teacher is more to inspire or model than mold), Beechick; possibly Unit Studies, Moore and BPA

D. I don’t impose my will on my kids. They will gravitate towards what they need. Unschooling; my sense is that Reggio Emilia also fits best here — it has a very high view of the child as a “knowledge bearer”

E. My children evolving into who they should be. Enki, Waldorf, possibly Reggio Emilia

F. Given the right environment, children will develop rightly. Montessori, possibly AL

The Nature of Children and What They Will Become:

A. Children are little adults in the making, something like apprentices. I have a picture in mind of what they should be and/or what they should know, and we move towards that goal. School-at-home, Classical, Montessori, Moore, TJEd, probably Robinson and BPA

B. “Children are born persons.” They grow in wisdom and knowledge but they are inherently whole people. Unschool, CM, AL, possibly BPA and Robinson

C. There is something fundamentally different about children. Childhood is a magical, special time of life. Enki, Waldorf, Reggio Emilia

Part IV: Why We Learn

Let’s talk goals. Finish this sentence: “I want my kids to . . . ” (Pick as many as you like; bonus points if you rank them):

A. Meet academic goals/be equipped for employment or higher education/have success. School-at-home, online/distance, Moore, Robinson, AL, BPA, Classical

B. Contribute to society. Montessori, Enki, Classical, TJEd

C. Be leaders/make their mark on the world. TJEd, Montessori, BPA

D. Be virtuous. Christian Classical, TJEd, BPA

E. Have a love of learning. TJEd; to some extent CM and Moore

F. Care. CM, Enki

G. Have lots of different interests or relationships. CM, Enki; possibly also Waldorf

H. Be responsible. Moore

I. Find themselves. Unschool

J. Find their interests/passion. Beechick, Waldorf, Unschool

K. Have meaningful lives. Waldorf

L. Find (and fulfill) their calling. Waldorf, BPA

M. Develop their potential. AL, Reggio Emilia, Montessori

N. Learn to think/learn how to learn. Beechick, Robinson

O. Have wholeness. Enki

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Post Round-Up

Dear Reader,

Here once again are some of the posts and articles I have been reading recently:

The Primacy of Habit” from Brandy Vencel at Afterthoughts Blog. I love this blog and this post is perfect because my own local CM group is going through Charlotte’s 20 Principles as well. Living Charlotte Mason in California is also in the midst of a series on “education is a discipline.” You can find part 4 of that series here.

The Legacy of Fiction” from Leah’s Bookshelf tells of the power of books in our lives. If you like Christian fiction, subscribe to her blog for lots of good book reviews.

“Spelling Other than by Dictation” from Sage Parnassus raises a question I think many of us have — will my child really learn to spell just from dictation and what if they aren’t? Personally, I have used a spelling curriculum till high school age with my kids. I am thinking of dropping it next year and trying to do better with dictation instead. But I am pondering, based on this article, how the two can be integrated.

If you have ever wondered why we need to study algebra or chemistry or . . .??, Shannon Goods’ article “Why I Didn’t Want My Child in My Chemistry Class” at Charlotte Mason Institute will give you something to think about.

Joy Shannon discusses Charlotte’s 12th Principle in “Finding Fullness of Life in the Science of Relations” at The Charlotte Mason Institute. If you have ever wondered what that phrase “the science of relations” means, her article will help you understand.

Finally, a plug — my daughter has a kids’ art contest on her blog. The deadline is coming up (4/30/16). Please check it out.

Happy Reading!

Nebby

 

 

 

Psalm Study: Psalm 11

Dear Reader,

For some background on why and how we do psalm study see this post on Psalm 8.

For this week’s psalm study, I did something a little bit different and gave some specific questions. You can find my translation of Psalm 11 with the study questions here (opens a Google doc).

To begin I gave each of my kids a copy of the psalm and the questions, a pencil and about 10 minutes to see what they could do with it. After that time, we came back together and went through the questions one by one.

Here again are the question with our answers:

-Read through the psalm. What kind of psalm is it? (Some choices include: praise, lament, thanksgiving, royal, wisdom) After some discussion we agreed that the psalmist is not mainly giving praise but is asking for help. Therefore we called this a lament psalm. We noted that help has not come in the psalm; he is only expressing confidence that it will, which is usual for laments.

-How would you divide up this psalm? Look for sets of parallel lines and mark them. There were some obvious sets in this psalm which we all agreed on: lines 4,5, and 6; 9 and 10; 11 and 12. One child thought lines 2 and 3 should be combined making a pair with line 1. They weren’t all convinced but I put 7 and 8 together. There was some dispute over whether 14 went with 13 or 15 and 16. Personally, I like starting the psalm with 2 triads (1,2 and 3; and 4,5, and 6) and then putting all the rest of the lines in pairs. Not all psalms work out so nicely, but this one can.

-Below are lines 4-6. Put boxes around the parts that go together (i.e. “the wicked” in the first line corresponds to “they” in the second line so they would go together in one box).

For behold the wicked bend    a bow;

                                They    fix         their arrow upon the string

                                         To shoot                                 in secret    the upright of heart.

There was a little confusion over what I was asking for here. I am going to add a picture of how I did it below so you can see what I had in mind and hopefully guide your children. You can slide in a little grammar lesson here too. The verbs line up very nicely and go in one box. Lines 4 and 5 have subjects– “the wicked” and “they” — and complements — “a bow” and “their arrow” — which go together. Line 4 has an added bit at the beginning, but lines 5 and 6 both have prepositional phrases after the verb. Finally, line 6, which doesn’t have a subject, has something added at the end which actually has two parts itself — “the upright” and “of heart.”

What do you notice about the length of the lines? Once you have made the boxes, hopefully you will see that each line really has 4 parts. Line 4 has: behold, subject, verb, complement. Line 5 has subject, verb, complement, prepositional phrase. And Line 6 had verb, prepositional phrase and a 2-part added but which is actually a complement and a prepositional phrase describing it.

Do we have an exact parallelism here? Or is there a progression? (Hint: think about the verbs.)

No. If you act out the verbs, you will see that the lines take us through the steps in drawing and shooting a bow. As the wicked bends his bow, fixes the arrow and shoots, the suspense builds . . .

What does the last line add to the meaning? And then in the last line we find that he is not just out hunting, he is hunting in secret! It’s an ambush! And the target is not an animal, but people!!

-Look through the psalm again and mark any repeated words. What do you notice? You may note different things here. Some we found are: wicked, LORD and righteous/righteousness/upright. If you have a child like one of mine, you may need to instruct them that words like “the” and “in” are not worth marking even though they occur frequently.

-Who sees whom in this psalm? God sees man and the upright will see God.

-Look at lines 13-14 again:

“The LORD the righteous examines and the wicked and the lover of violence his soul hates.”

Remember that there is no punctuation in the Hebrew. Are there different way you could divide up these lines?  Which do you think it best? This might be  a little bit trickier. If they have trouble getting started, remind them that lines 4-6 were nicely balanced, each has the same number of elements so they appear the same length. If you look at my translation of the Psalm, what do you notice? Line 13 is much shorter than line 14. How could I have done it differently so that the lines would be more even? Your answer should be that “and the wicked” could go with what comes before. How does this change the meaning? If the wicked goes in line 14, then the LORD is examining the righteous but hating the wicked. If we put it with line 13, then He examines both righteous and wicked and hated the wicked (aka the lover of violence). Go on to the next question, to see why this might be important . . .

What do you think this psalm is about? There seem to be two parts: the problem in lines 1-8 and the solution in lines 9-18. Describe the scene in the latter half. How do you see it?

If your kids can’t picture it, ask them what God is doing in this psalm. Is He fighting? Standing? Sitting? He is sitting on His throne. His throne is the place of judgment. If we take the wicked with line 13, as discussed above, then He is judging the righteous and the wicked. He looks at both of them and then passes judgment on the wicked. What about the righteous? What happens to them? They see the face of God. This might be a good time to point out that faces seem prominent in this psalm. Earlier we had eyes and eyelids, now we have faces. A good question to ask whenever you read the Bible is: What other passages does this remind me of? For me this one is the parable of the sheep and the goats when God judges and puts the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. One goes off to eternal punishment and the other lives with God forever.

FullSizeRender

Here you can see how I did the boxes around parallel the sections of lines 4-6.

Next time: Psalm 12

Nebby

Living Books on the American West

Dear Reader,

In our study of American history, we have reached the latter half of the 19th century. I am dealing with this period somewhat topically; we just finished  a study of the west and will next address industrialization. The are a number of topics subsumed under this heading: Native Americans, cowboys, pioneer life, the gold rush, the settlement of the west and its closing, plains farming and ranching, and the beginnings of the move for conservation. You can find all our reading lists for American history here.

Living Books on the American West

Our Spine

We used, as we usually do, a spine book which I read aloud to all the kids. This book provides and overview of the era and ensures that we don’t have any huge gaps . My children (4 of them, ages 10-15) can then read more in-depth books on specific topics at their own level. Our spine this year has been the series The American Destiny by Henry Steele Commager. It is aimed at a high school level (which two of mine are) and though I am not 100% satisfied with it (it can be a bit dry) and I am content enough with it to see it through this year at least.  Volume 8 of this 20-volume series address the west.

Picture Books

There is no shortage of books on the west; it is one of those topics which captures the imagination. I’m sure there are many good picture books on the subject. We read just a few (my kids are getting a bit old for picture books). Here are some to look for:

Klara’s New World by Jeanette Winter is a long picture book. It is the story of a young girl who emigrates with her parents to America (from Sweden, I think). The book mostly describes their journey, with only a little about their life in the New World, and nothing really on the hardships of being a pioneer.

Dakota Dugout by Anne Turner is another long picture book. As its name suggests it tells about like in a dugout house on the prairie.

Glen Rounds has a number if picture books on the west. We read Cowboys and Sod Houses on the Great Plains. The former was very short and well below my kids’ levels but Rounds’ pictures are nice and it would be good for pre-K through maybe 1st or 2nd grade. The latter was a little more complex (though that’s not saying much) and did give a good description of what sod houses were like.

Fiction: chapter books and beyond

We weren’t able to get to all the books we would have liked. I did not read Smokey the Cow Horse by Will James. My librarian was very excited I was checking it out though and apparently had fond memories of it. It looks like a nice old book but was a little long for us right now. It is fairly thick.

We’ve enjoyed Sterling North’s books in the past but didn’t manage to get to The Wolfling. None of my kids are that into animal books right now but if you have one who connects better with animals than people, this could be a good choice.

I checked out Carolina’s Courage by Elizabeth Yates, but my 10-year-old told me I ad made her read it last year when we studied Native Americans. Like most of Yates’ books, it is a sweet one and not too difficult. I would call it 3rd-5th grade level.

I did have my 10-year-old read Thunder Rolling in the Mountains by Scott O’Dell. O’Dell is an author I always look for; he has many historical fiction books. This is one of his simpler ones; I would call it 4th-6th grade level. My daughter seemed to enjoy the story which is about a Native American girl whose tribe is forced to move. She meets Sitting Bull at the end.

We did not get to Donna Vann’s Wild West Adventures. It is part of  a series which I am tempted to use for geography, each volume being set in a different locale. It looks to be 4th-6th grade level and to be a wholesome, Christian series. It might be a bit obvious on the Christianity bit for my tastes but some like that.

I had my 6th grader read The Bite of the Gold Bug by Barthe deClements. If anything, it was too easy for him so I’d say it is again 4th-6th grade level. I don’t think it’s fine literature but it did give some sense of life in the gold rush.

I had my 9th grade daughter read My Antonia by Willa Cather. This is a classic make-your-high-schooler-read-it book. I had never read it myself and really enjoyed it. I tend to be skeptical of the books everyone reads but this one is well worth it. I also read another of Cather’s books, O, Pioneers! which I also enjoyed. It is slower to get started and I can see why My Antonia is the one most people go to, but it is still a good book if you have the time. Both are about Scandinavian immigrant families on the plains.

Non-Fiction

I had my 5th grader read The Story of the Homestead Act from R. Conrad Stein. This series, The Cornerstones of Freedom, is a good one if you get the older version. Look for the books with “story of” in the title. I believe there are others that would fit this time period too but I didn’t get them from my library in time.

I also had my 5th grader read Wild and Woolly West by Earl Schenck Miers. It’s one of those lovely older books which do a good job of making a story of history.

My 6th grader read War Clouds in the West by Albert Marrin and Westward Adventure by William O. Steele. Both are favorite authors. War Clouds is one of Marrin’s simpler books and I would call it middle school level (most of his I would use for high school). Westward Adventure is also middle school level and is really six short biographies in one though at the end they all come together.

I also had my 5th grader read Saving the Buffalo by Albert Marrin which, not surprisingly tells all about the buffalo, the extinction they faced, and how they have come back. She seemed genuinely concerned for them which seems like a good sign.

I read Holling C. Holling’s The Book of Cowboys aloud to my younger two. I didn’t used to be a fan of Holling’s books but they are growing on me. Some parts of this one dragged (we weren’t very interested in all the kinds of saddles) but it is not a bad story and is certainly thorough. Two New York City kids go to the west to spend a summer with their uncle on his ranch.

My 9th grader read yet another Marrin book: Cowboys, Indians and Gunfighters. This one is a little harder so I am calling it high school level, though Marrin’s books are well-written and not truly difficult. In the interest of honestly, I’ll tell you my 10th grader, who has done the most Marrin books, balked at doing another one, though his reason was that they are really too thorough which I consider a good thing.

I did have my 10th grader read Ghost Towns of the American West by Robert Silverberg. We have done a couple of his books previously as well and have enjoyed them. He narrated it well and seemed to enjoy the book.

Poetry and Movies

west6

We already owned Tales from Gizzard’s Grill, a long poem by Jeanne Steig. It is silly fun.

We also watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, the old movie starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. We all thoroughly enjoyed it. There are one or two bits that are a bit racy (though nothing is really shown) and you do see that a man and woman are sleeping together. But there is enough humor and plot for a modern kid. We had also watched a number of Gene Autry movies recently (in another context) and my kids enjoyed those as well. They tend to be on the short side which is nice and are completely wholesome.

Next up: the Industrial Revolution

Nebby

Authority in the Church: Biblical Evidence (Part 2)

Dear Reader,

This is the second part of my examination of what the Bible has to say about authority in the church. Read part 1 here to see my method and conclusions thus far.

The remaining questions we have to address are:

  • How are leaders in the church chosen?
  • What gives leaders authority?
  • Are there circumstances in which a leader’s authority can be abrogated?
  • Who has authority to interpret the Scriptures?
  • How can we know true from false teachers?

Leadership in the Church

In part 1, I said that though the office of apostle does not continue that the apostles did appoint elders to care for the church and to teach and that these elders would in turn appoint others and so on. The authority of these church leaders (who may variously be called elders, bishops, overseers or presbyters, depending on one’s denomination) is then from above in that it comes from the previous leaders of the church and is conveyed through he laying on of hands.

In his pastoral epistles (his letters to Timothy and Titus) Paul gives qualifications for elders. These include both tests of ability (can they teach?) and morality (are they sober? are they good family men?). The implication is that these are the criteria which Timothy and Titus (and others) should use in choosing elders.

The question then arises: Can such authority be lost? If there are  qualifications for an elder, it makes sense to say that one who fails to live up to such criteria might be disqualified. I am not going to spend a lot of time arguing this point because it seems that all Christian churches agree that a church leader can be deposed. Even the Roman Catholic church, which believes that a pope (the bishop of Rome) cannot lose his authority, will depose a bishop. The only real question then is not whether a leader’s authority can be abrogated, but if the pope has special status in this regard which gets back to whether the bishop of Rome has special status at all, an issue I addressed in my previous post. I will only say in this regard that we are told that false teachers will be within the church (Acts 20:29-30; 2 Pet. 2:1) and that Paul says that he even he himself were to come with a different message that his audience should reject his message (Gal. 1:6-9).

The Legacy of the Apostles

There is one more big issue before us which is how the human successors of the apostles relate to the Scriptures of the New Testament, which we might think of as the apostles’ written successors. Both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches give the people authority over the word. Both say that the Scriptures (Old and New Testaments) can only be rightly interpreted by the successors of the apostles, thus giving the people power to say what the written word means. Protestants take the opposite view, saying that the word is the primary legacy of the apostles and that once Christ’s message was written down that the human authority became less important and must always be ruled by the written word.

To begin to get at this issue, I’d like to look at a use of the word apostle which we haven’t addressed yet. A number of passages speak of “the prophets and the apostles.” As we look at these occurrences, we must understand that the word “prophet” in the Old Testament has a broader meaning than we usually associate with it. A prophet is not just one who tells the future but one who speaks for God. The Hebrew Bible has traditionally been divided into three sections: the Torah (the five books aka the books of Moses or the Pentateuch), the Prophets, and the Writings. The Writings are those books we may also call Wisdom Literature including Psalms and Proverbs among others. The Prophets include not just those books we think of as prophetic but also the historical books, known in Hebrew tradition as “the Former Prophets.” If we consider that Moses, the traditionally ascribed author of the Torah, was also a prophet himself, we can see that most of the Old Testament could be called “prophetic.”

We first find the phrase “the Prophets and the Apostles” in the book of Luke in which Jesus says,

“Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute.'” (Luke 22:49)

While the people are clearly here in mind, the association with Wisdom makes me think that it is the human authors of God’s written word who are in view here.

Paul in Ephesians tells us that:

“In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.” (Eph. 3:5)

And from Peter:

“. . . that you should remember the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken through your apostles.” (2 Pet. 3:2)

Note the emphasis on words here. The words spoken through the prophets correspond to the OT and the commandment of the Lord through the apostles to the New.

And then Peter speaks of Paul’s epistles specifically, equating them with “the other Scriptures”:

“So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, since you are forewarned, beware that you are not carried away with the error of the lawless and lose your own stability.” (2 Pet. 3:15-17)

I don’t think anyone really disputes this point, but I cite these passages to show that the apostles’ legacy include not just human successors but also the written word, which we now call the New Testament, and which stands beside the Prophets, that is the Old Testament.

The real question is not whether we have the written word of the apostles but how their written legacy relates to their human one. In the quote above from 2 Peter we see that Peter says that Paul’s writings are at times hard to understand and can be twisted by lawless men. Though Peter’s immediate conclusion is only that his readers should be forewarned and not be led astray, he does say in his earlier epistle that “you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders” (1 Pet. 5:5). I think it is reasonable to conclude that one way to keep from being led astray is to listen to one’s elders (elders in the technical sense of the church leaders called elders) but Peter stops short of connecting the dots and saying that only the elders may then interpret Scripture.

Another passage from 2 Peter is often used to show that individuals may not interpret Scripture for themselves. It reads as follows:

“20 First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 because no prophecy ever came by human will, but men and women moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (1 Pet. 1:20-21)

Usually the first verse above (v. 20) is taken to mean that individuals may not interpret Scripture for themselves. I think, however, that, in context with v. 21, this is not what Peter is saying. He is not making a point about who may interpret Scripture but about how Scripture itself came to be. In v. 21 he tells us that the human authors of Scripture were not speaking on their own authority but that their message comes from God. His point in v. 20, then, is that the Prophets and Apostles were not giving their individual interpretations but were speaking as God led them. This is the same point Paul makes in 2 Timothy when he says, as the NIV translates, that Scripture is “God-breathed.”

In fact, if we look at the entire context of this passage from 2 Timothy, we find that Paul presents the Scriptures to Timothy as the antidote to both persecution and deception:

12 Indeed, all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But wicked people and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving others and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it, 15 and how from childhood you have known the sacred writings that are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is inspired by God and is[b] useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 so that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim. 3:12-17)

Though Timothy to whom the letter is addressed is an elder, Paul does say that “everyone who belongs to God” should be equipped by Scripture.

Personally, I don’t see any indication that Scripture is to be interpreted only by the leaders of the church. On the contrary, Scripture is good for everyone and is to be treasured by all:

 This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful.” (Josh. 1:8)

 The law of the Lord is perfect,
    reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
    making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
    enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is pure,
    enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true
    and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
    even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
    and drippings of the honeycomb.

11 Moreover by them is your servant warned;
    in keeping them there is great reward.

(Ps. 19:7-11; I know I said I would not get into the OT, but I couldn’t resist these quotes.)

Conclusions and More Questions

To bring it all together, I’d like to return to the nine questions I posed at the beginning of my first post. Here they are again, with the conclusions I have come to:

  • Who were the apostles? What makes one an apostle? There were 13 apostles, Christ’s 11 closest followers (Judas having been lost) plus Matthias and Paul. Others may be spoken of as apostles as well though these references are not as clear. An apostle is one who has seen Christ in the flesh and has gotten his authority directly from God.
  • Is there a continuing apostolic authority or apostolic succession? The office of apostle does not continue but the apostles appoint elders who continue their ministry though their work is not backed up by signs and wonders as the apostles’ was. These elders in turn appoint other elders and so on.
  • What is Peter’s role relative to the other apostles? Does he have greater authority? Peter is a leader among the apostles and is prominent in the earliest days of the church, as depicted in Acts 1-12, but there is no evidence that he has authority above and beyond that of the other apostles.
  • If Peter does have any greater role, does he pass this on to his successors? Even if Peter did have more authority, there is no evidence within the NT that Peter passes this authority on to anyone.
  • How are leaders in the church chosen? Elders are appointed first by the apostles and then by other elders. Authority is conferred through the laying on of hands. Lists of qualifications for elders, both having to do with their abilities and their character are given.
  • What gives leaders authority? See above.
  • Are there circumstances in which a leader’s authority can be abrogated? Yes. With the exception of the Roman Catholic view of the popes, all agree that a leader can lose his authority through doctrinal or moral error. This seems to be a reasonable conclusion based on the lists of qualifications given.
  • Who has authority to interpret the Scriptures? Scripture can be misused and twisted and we must be on our guard against these things. Christians are urged to listen to their elders and to respect their authority. However, I see no evidence that the interpretation of Scripture is the exclusive prerogative of the church leadership, rather, we are told that Scripture is “for everyone,” that it is a delight and a help to the believer.
  • How can we know true from false teachers? I didn’t really touch on this but I will say, briefly, that false teachers may be known both by their fruits, that is their deeds and morality (Matt. 7:15-20; Matt. 12:33; Luke 6:43-44), and by their teachings, whether their message (2 Cor. 11:3-4; Gal. 1:6-9; 1 John 4:1-3).

If these things are true, then I think the Roman Catholic Church, whose authority depends upon that of its popes, has gone astray and is in a very dangerous position. On the other hand, most, if not all, Protestant churches, including my own, also have to answer the question of where their leaders’ authority comes from. If it cannot be traced back to the apostles is it valid? The Eastern Orthodox may cheer at these conclusions, but I cannot fully support their position either. They, like the Catholics, exalt the church leadership (and Tradition, but that’s another issue) above the Scriptures, and I do not see that this is biblical either. I don’t honestly think that there is a perfect answer or a perfect system. This should not surprise us, perhaps, since we are not perfect people. I have been going round and round in my own head and though there are certain aspects of my own chosen tradition which I am not completely comfortable with, I am no more comfortable with the others. In the end, I come back to where I began — I would rather have a choose the church with a written standard as my ultimate guide than one that relies upon men to tell me what that standard says. Part of the controversy comes down to whether we are even able to understand Scripture without outside interpretations and it may be others look at what I have written and see all my biases and preconceptions and reject my conclusions. But for myself I feel like I have gone back to the biblical text, I have tried to approach it honestly and not to read into it what I want it to say, and it has not let me down. It speaks pretty clearly, I think, on most of these issues. And, beyond that, the more I study the Scriptures themselves, the more I am impressed with them and even love them. I have no desire to choose otherwise.

Nebby

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