Family Contributions in the Odyssey

We’re wrapping up the first of four weeks’ worth of reading of Homer’s Odyssey in our Omnibus class, and we’re finding application in rather unlikely places.

One takeaway relates to the family. Without question, the Odyssey would not be nearly as interesting – and enjoyable – as it is were it not for Odysseus’ son (Telemachos) and his faithful wife (Penelope). While all of the characters have their own flaws and admirable traits, one cannot miss the value of family to the establishment and preservation of a civilization.

Telemachus has a dysfunctional upbringing, being raised (essentially) by a single mom in a house occupied by over one hundred suitors who vie for her hand in marriage. That’s enough to confuse and frustrate any kid. While his spineless tendencies are frustrating early on in the story, it’s rather impressive that he has turned out as well as he has, under the circumstances.

The reader sympathizes with the hero, Odysseus, who just wants to get home. The going is made tough(er) by a disgruntled Poseidon, but Odysseus does not lose heart or stop trying to get back to his beloved Ithaca.

But I am compelled by Odysseus’ effort to preserve his family. Penelope patiently waits (twenty years?!) for her husband’s return, fending off suitors in the interim and raising young Telemachus. Telemachus longs for his father’s return from the Trojan War and often becomes sad when thinking of his unfortunate father.

But easily lost in all of this is the value of the family. The family is the cornerstone of civilization. As the family goes, so goes the culture. It was the case in a 3,000 year-old piece of fiction and it is the case in our lives today. How quickly we forget that children’s conception of right and wrong are forged in the home. Children’s first notion of what their heavenly Father is like comes from their earthly fathers (or father figures). Children learn how to be courageous (or not), how to die to self (or not), how to prefer others ahead of themselves (or not), and how to work hard (or not) first from their parents. They can learn these things from a variety of sources, but it is first evident in the home.

And if the enemy can reach us on the family level, he can score a major victory in the battle. That is why the family is under strategic attack by the enemy today. Ours is a society that sanctions the marriage of husband and husband. We will kill our own children in utero if doing so is convenient or expedient. The powerful and influential institution of the family is under full-scale assault while we make like frogs in the heating kettle.

Though it’s certainly not the point of the story, this lesson in the white spaces made for some healthy discussion among our students. It is incumbent on all of us to help to preserve and cultivate biblical relationships first in our own homes if we would look to impact the dying world around us.
When we can do that, little things like fighting off mythical monsters on the way home from work should be a cakewalk.

Sin and Consequence in First and Second Samuel

Week five of the Omnibus finds us studying the books of First and Second Samuel. These books make a rather salty contribution to the river of Western Civilization. They help flavor the waters in ways that showcase yet again the fallenness of man and his need for a savior. Further, they showcase the kindness and goodness of God in continuing to use those same fallen men in His sovereign plan. In perhaps the most dramatic, soap-opera-like books in Scripture, God drives home a number of messages. I’ll key in on a couple.

Private Sins Have Public Consequences

When David committed adultery with Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11, he effectively ensured the presence of the sword in his own house indefinitely (2 Samuel 12:10). The rebellion of his son Absalom, its accompanying death and immorality and a whole bunch of the Psalms (That’s right! Inspired Scripture!) were direct results of his sin with Bathsheba. To be sure, the deaths of Uriah (Bathsheba’s husband), David and Bathsheba’s baby, Absalom, and several others (e.g. Shimei of Saul’s house, even David’s son Amnon) can be traced back to this particular sin done in private.

Similar in principle was when David found confidence in numbering Israel rather than in God Himself, so God struck down 70,000 Israelites (2 Samuel 24:1-17). David’s sin here was considerably more public, but still private in that it was personal. And scores of thousands of Jews suffered the consequence of David’s sin.

Considering God has been trying to teach us this lesson for a while now, we sure have a hard time grasping the concept. Sin is deceptive, and we convince ourselves that the consequence of our sins ends with us – and for some reason this adds to sin’s appeal. The thought process may go something like this: “I’m the only one who will suffer for my sin, and I’m okay with that. So I know it’s wrong, but I’ll do it anyway.”

But this is folly. All sin is against God chiefly and directly (Ps. 51:4), yet when we (especially leaders) sin, it is a sin against any who depend on our example or who depend on our effectiveness.

How about one more lesson?

Ignorance and Good Intentions Do Not Excuse Sin

Uzzah and the Ark of God
Uzzah and the Ark of God

When David and his chosen men were bringing the ark of God back to Jerusalem, they did so by way of an ox cart (a new one, mind you!). Lo and behold, one of the oxen stumbled and Uzzah took hold of the ark to stabilize it. “And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God” (2 Samuel 6:7).

Now Uzzah should have known better. For that matter, so should David. They had no business transporting the ark in this manner when it was supposed to be carried on the shoulders of the priests. And it was constructed as it was (replete with rings through which the poles could pass for transport) so that it would not need to be touched. Apparently God wasn’t kidding when he gave those instructions.

Even assuming that Uzzah had only the very best intentions (although the ark should not have been in that situation to start with), his behavior is still inexcusable. If he didn’t know better, that ignorance was also inexcusable.

Over the years, I’ve had countless students lay down the trump card of ignorance when holding them to a standard they said they would keep. “Oh. I didn’t know that were weren’t allowed to wear tutus to school. Nobody ever told me that.” Then their silent follow-up is something like this: “And you certainly can’t hold me accountable for what I don’t know, so I win.”

Well, that doesn’t fly. In fact, it doesn’t really work anywhere in life, and the sooner we understand that, the better.

  • If you’re going to have a driver’s license, it’s your responsibly to know and adhere to the rules of the road. Not knowing a speed limit doesn’t reduce the fine for speeding.

  • If you’re going to play a sport, not knowing the rules doesn’t exempt you from them. Grabbing the face mask is a very effective way of tackling, but it’s also illegal. Football players ought to know that.

  • If you’re going to attend a certain school, then you need to know and adhere to the rules, policies and procedures of the school. And when you join the school you actively commit to do just that; not knowing what standard you’re affirming is a bad idea.

  • If you’re going to transport the ark of God, do so in keeping with God’s instructions. Failure to do so may result in swift and certain death.

The application in all of this includes taking responsibility for our actions, which includes proactively learning what God (or the DMV, or the school, or the referees…) requires of us.

David sinned egregiously, to be sure. But he remained a man after God’s own heart, and the people of Israel experienced blessing because of his faithfulness and favor with God. I’d be thrilled if my son turned out like David. While I’d prefer that Joshua not follow David’s example in murder, adultery and bigamy, I love that these things did not exclusively determine the character and person of David. He was marked by mistakes, but he was also marked by repentance (e.g., see Psalm 51). He responded well and learned well from most of his sins, and he enjoyed tremendous blessing as a result.

Mistakes are inevitable. Just ask David. But like David, when we mess up, may we acknowledge our sin and make it right. And may our people experience similar blessing as a result.

The Code of Hammurabi vs. the Law of Moses

Hammurabi Stele
The Code of Hammurabi

Week four at ECS brings us to a study of The Code of Hammurabi, an ancient Mesopotamian series of laws that predates Moses by a thousand years.  Hammurabi was ruler of Ur in Abraham’s day and had a rather expansive and lengthy rule.  Surviving today are about 250 laws etched in an eight-foot stele that also features an image of the king receiving the laws from the sun god Shamash.  Most likely, this stele was a trophy, changing hands multiple times as its possessors were conquered.  Somewhere in there, some thirty-five laws were scratched out, otherwise we’d have just over 280 laws.

Last week we observed an example of a savior story from the mind of men in The Epic of Gilgamesh that contrasts starkly in a number of ways from the great savior story of Jesus Christ.  But for all of its differences, there are some similarities, which stem largely from a common state of mankind four thousand years ago and two thousand years ago (and today!): man is completely corrupt and in dire need of rescuing.

Similarly, part of what is so interesting about The Code of Hammurabi is how it compares (and contrasts) to the law of Moses.  Consider some areas of similarity:

  • Justice.  Given that the image of God is in all men, and given that the law of God is inscribed on the hearts of men, it comes as no surprise that some of the laws in The Code are just.
  • Civil order.  If a people would apply The Codes of Hammurabi and Moses, each offers  a recipe for civil order.
  • The Lex Talionis, or “the principle that a person who has injured another person is similarly injured in retribution” (hat tip to Wikipedia for the helpful, concise definition.)  There’s lots of eye-for-an-eye type language in The Code, which also pops up in Moses, too.    

And to be fair, there are more similarities than these.  But of far more striking significance are the differences.  Consider some of them with me:

  • Sanctity of human life.  The Code of Hammurabi represents a lower view of human life than Moses.  For instance, in The Code of Hammurabi, the consequence for theft is to repay ten- to thirty-fold. If that’s not possible, the thief is executed.  That’s never the case in Moses.
  • Favoring the privileged vs. protecting the oppressed.  Protection of the oppressed is near to God’s heart; not so much with Hammurabi.  Many of Hammurabi’s laws favor the free and wealthy.
  • Justice.  Though some of The Code of Hammurabi is just, much of it is eminently unjust.  There is no injustice at all in the law of Moses.
  • Mercy.  The notion of mercy is exceedingly rare in Hammurabi, but appears with regularity in Moses.
  • The focus of the laws.  The vast majority of The Code of Hammurabi concerns money, property, and business transactions.  While these are addressed in Moses, the focus on moral laws, loving and honoring God and taking care of man’s relationship to God are strong emphases in Moses.

These are but a few of the differences that pose real problems for those who try to argue that Moses borrowed from Hammurabi.  The two codes (i.e., of Hammurabi and of Moses) come from different starting points and points of authority.

Flashing back again to last week, in the person of Gilgamesh we are offered an example of what sort of a savior we could expect if we were left to ourselves: a fearful, corrupt, powerful, but ultimately impotent mortal who is a lot like us.  Gilgamesh contrasts with Christ.

The Code is the law as written by man. In The Code of Hammurabi we are offered an example of a system of laws that represents man’s best effort at justice…and it’s colored profoundly by Hammurabi’s self-promotion and self-interests.  The Code of Hammurabi contrasts with the Code of Moses, which comes from the true God, is inspired and reflects His just and unchanging nature.

If you’re interested in a more complete defense of any of these points, you could ask me, but why not read The Code yourself?  It only takes a few hours and will give you a deeper understanding of the heart of man and appreciation for the heart of God.

Lessons from The Epic of Gilgamesh

The ancient Babylonian story The Epic of Gilgamesh occupies a well-deserved spot in the Omnibus syllabus. Our recent study of the poem gave us opportunity to examine a whole host of worldview-enriching lessons for our students.

In case you’re not familiar with Gilgamesh, Sean Higgins provided a short rundown of the story and the main characters in his own blogpost, which I’d recommend. Sean’s recurring thought throughout his reading of Gilgamesh was one of gratitude: “Thank God that our God is not like Gilgamesh.” And that ought to be where we end up – and remain – at the end of our reading. But I was impressed with a few other takeaways from Gilgamesh. I’ll off your three of them for now.

Man did not write the Bible

Gilgamesh is one of many savior stories in the canon of Western literature. The notion of one person rescuing others, being a hero, and so on resonates deeply within men…for good reason: God made it like that. He’s a really great storyteller! It is evident from the reading of Gilgamesh that the ancient Babylonians were aware of the nature of man (that is in turn reflected in the nature of their gods): he is sinful and prone to destroy himself and is in need of rescuing; he needs a savior.

And Gilgamesh is the ancient Babylonians’ idea as to what sort of a savior men need. Gilgamesh is how men would (and did!) write the story; the gospel is how God would (and did!) write the story. John MacArthur often makes the case that Scripture is its own best defense. This is most evident in the gospel. If the Bible were from the mind of man, Jesus would look and act more like Gilgamesh. But it’s not! Think about it:

Jesus is humble; Gilgamesh is proud. Jesus delayed his glory; Gilgamesh manufactured and ensured his glory. Jesus is fully God and fully man; Gilgamesh is two thirds god and one third man. Jesus endures but does not fear death; Gilgamesh fears death. Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before him; Gilgamesh dreaded what awaited him upon death.

Men just wouldn’t write the story the way God did!

It’s no wonder Jesus was a stumbling block

If Gilgamesh is any indication as to what ancient pagans envisioned a savior should be like (and the Jews’ apparent expectations regarding the Messiah would also be consistent with this), then they would have expected the Messiah of the Bible to be a conquering demigod-type military hero who would subdue his enemies, establish his own greatness and promote his own glory…like Gilgamesh.

Imagine their surprise when Jesus shows up in his first coming, meek, humble and wise. His humility alone would have been difficult to understand.

Make no mistake: Jesus will ultimately vanquish and destroy his enemies and liberate the captives and establish his governmental authority on the Earth. It was just not in his plan when he came the first time.

A stream will never rise above its source

The gods of ancient Babylon were amoral. That is, they had no sense of morality. They were capricious and sinful, selfish and unpredictable. They – like the natural men who gave birth to them – are driven chiefly by their own desires. We see this absence of morality again in the pantheons of Greece and Rome. It makes for an interesting mythology, but it provides little direction as to how to lead a righteous or happy life.

It is no surprise then, that Gilgamesh is amoral. How could he have a sense of morality when the gods he worshiped did not? This distinguishes the true God from the false gods of ancient Babylon and other polytheistic cultures: He is absolutely holy, good, just, powerful and yet righteous. He is not capricious, but is unchanging.

Now, this has far-reaching application, especially for any who wish to lead, to be the source of a stream. But for now, it’ll suffice to merely echo the sentiment: Thank God that God is not like Gilgamesh.

Changing the World from a Basement

The following is the address given by Sean Higgins during the inaugural convocation of Evangel Classical School on Tuesday.


Many school years ago Solomon wrote that the end of a thing is better than the beginning. I did not graduate highly enough in my class to argue with him, but I do know that you can’t get to the end without a beginning. You’ve got to start somewhere. This is our start, a sunny first day of school, an historic beginning for Evangel Classical School. Lord willing, we’ll finish well, however long it takes us.

When the end is worth it, it’s worth getting going even if you don’t have everything in place. C.S. Lewis wrote,

If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work. The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while the conditions are still unfavourable. Favourable conditions never come.

Over the last few years, and especially over the last year, a growing number of us have realized how much there is to learn and, in particular, how much we, as Christian parents, have to learn. The simplicity of being made in the image of the Triune God means that we are to be mini-creators everywhere we go. Not only that, but we’ve also come to appreciate Abraham Kuyper’s declaration that rings out over a planet full of opportunities.

There is not a square inch [one thumb’s width] in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry: “Mine!”

The world is Christ’s, we are Christ’s, and He would have us live everywhere and in all things for His sake. That means that building homes and governing nations should be done for Him, which means that math and history and politics must be mastered for Him first. We are to sing songs and write books for God, which means that we must learn how God made harmony and poetry to work in His world. It also means that we must learn how to read, which means that we must start with the alphabet and phonetics, which means we must learn how to sit still. Christ cares about it all, so we must care about it all.

Today is a small beginning. God admonished His people not to despise the day of small things in Zechariah 4. His people were returning home from exile and were charged to rebuild the temple as they anticipated the Messiah’s coming. With such a huge project before them, with so few raw materials and with so many enemies, God encouraged them that He was pleased for them to start small. Likewise for us, though the beginning is small, we trust that God is pleased with it.

G.K. Chesterton famously said that “[I]f a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.” And here we are.

On one hand, our beginning is small, it is less than ideal. Our second greatest certainty is that we will do some things badly. So be it. Our greatest certainly, though, is that the opportunities are so great that we can hardly wait to get to work and try to catch up to where we should be. Christ is Lord everywhere so we have to start somewhere. Jesus has no jurisdiction clashes; you name it and He reigns over it. His reign covers everything He created and holds together in the universe; no principle or person is neutral. We want students who will grow up to laugh at any worldview that denies it. This is our Christ’s Lordship worship boot camp in a basement, as little as it may be.

On the other hand, it could be said that we already have too many good things to claim that this is hard. We have a delightfully suited-just-for-us place. We have more pencils than the apostle Paul. We have 30 years of a classical education movement ahead of us to learn from. We have families involved here who actually have lives worth sharing with students. We have a local church that supports us. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit and the Institutes of John Calvin and beautiful chairs and a magical mascot that hardly anyone one knows what it is…yet. Considering how many things we have to be thankful for, it’s hard to say that we have it hard.

What makes it hard is that we’re entering a new field in the battle between good and evil, between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. We are taking aim at the world system, at rebellion and unbelief, and we can be certain that the enemy would prefer us to sit on the sidelines.

Evangel Classical School is a front-line offensive campaign for Christ’s sake. From the first meeting of the school committee less than a year ago, we committed to fight and confessed that the first place we must fight is against the sin in our own hearts. We want to show the students how to deal with sin, to show them how to repent from laziness, fear, grumbling, and unbelief. By God’s grace we’ll kill our own sin first as we grow as disciples of Christ.

Isn’t that exactly what we want our kids, our students, and the following generations to have? More than brains crammed full of facts, more than grammar paradigms and dead languages and big textbooks and logic debates, we want our students to love God with all their hearts and minds and to believe that they are responsible to figure out all the ways that they can honor Him in the world no matter how crazy it seems! We want them to count the cost and then go to battle!

We don’t want our kids to want someone else to do it. We don’t want them to wait for all things safe and predictable and comfortable, for the “perfect” conditions. We don’t want them to work in reliance on their giftedness but rather because they believe God. We want them to walk by faith, ready to deal with the challenges of the battle even if they don’t have all the resources. We want them to be starters and singers. We want them to be just like us, only better. We want them to have first days like this, only bigger.

We do not have everything we need. We don’t even know enough to know all the things that we need that we don’t have. As others have said, we are attempting to provide an education that none of us received in order to slingshot these young people into a life we are still learning to run. Whether they use five smooth stones or five Latin verbs, we want them to fell giants and fight the dragon. We want them to read great stories, as they learn to write great stories, so that they will live great stories. We know it’s right and we praise the Lord that He’s brought us to the first day of changing the world from a basement.

For this year at Evangel Classical School, and we pray for many school years to come, we cry Soli Deo gloria!

Introducing the Omnibus

* Among the most compelling aspects of the classical and Christian model of education is its integrated nature. The lines that so clearly distinguish math from science, literature from history, and Bible from art are intentionally removed, not just obscured. Doug Wilson states it well:

“Classical and Christian academies teach all subjects as an integrated whole with the Scriptures at the center.”

From a curricular standpoint, one superb example of this philosophy is the Omnibus. The Omnibus is a curriculum that features a host of works that have contributed to the river of Western Civilization. A student of the Omnibus will read – in his first year – Heroditus, Plato, Homer, Moses, Shakespeare, Lewis, Paul and many more influential contributors. Further, the curriculum itself comprises – in addition to the primary readings – a series of essays and study questions offered by conservative Christian scholars that will help to inform the student’s study of the primary resources. So our Omnibus students won’t just read Histories by Herodotus, but they’ll also read a short essay and study guide by ND Wilson to help them get the most out of the reading and to help them best understand where we’ve come from, where we’re going, and even why.

Omnibus I-VI spans six years, grades seven through twelve. Over that six-year span the students will cycle twice through three epochs: ancient (grades 7 and 10), medieval (grades 8 and 11) and modern (grades 9 and 12).

But here’s one part that I especially like: The Omnibus in its entirety is good for one credit apiece in Bible, History and Literature. This is one three-credit, integrated class.

The philosophy undergirding the Omnibus presupposes – and teaches the students – that it is fallacious to try to avoid evil. After all, we live in a fallen world, and evil surrounds us like the air we breathe. The dragon is to be fought, not fled. We want to give our students an excellent, integrated, well-rounded education that will properly equip them to confront and conquer evil.

The Omnibus helps enrich secondary students’ understanding of Western Culture and equip them to conquer evil rather than avoid it.

So far, the adults with whom I’ve shared this information have shared a common response: “I wish I had that.” Well, I feel their pain. And the Omnibus offers a great way for those of us who did not receive a classical and Christian education to catch up. To that end, we want to offer a way for you to follow along with our Omnibus I class this year, to do the readings and to take part in some of the discussions.

Our plan – for now – would involve having one day per week (presumably Thursday) being especially discussion-oriented, and interested adults wishing to audit the class would be invited to join us during our regularly-scheduled meeting time. By “us,” I mean Sean Higgins, the students and myself. Interested parties will purchase their own texts, but will incur no additional cost for their participation. We will determine more of the details as others express interest.

So, if this interests you, you’re welcome to contact me for more information.

But regardless, we covet your prayers that we would be able to optimize our opportunities while doing our part to help create powerful, informed worshipers of the living God.

Announcing the ECS Uniform Policy and Shopping Links!

Hello, ECS families! We are about four weeks from the start of school, and things are really ramping up.

After much time and research, we have generated a uniform policy replete with some helpful links on how and where to make uniform purchases.

If you decide to utilize Old Navy’s current sale involving many approved uniform garments, I believe the sale ends August 15, so you should act soon, whether online or in person!

Go HERE to see our Uniform Policy.

Go Raggants!

Risus est bellum!

Why Is This So Hard?

Why is this so hard?

Last week I was at a national conference for the Association of Classical and Christian Schools in Dallas, TX, and I attended a workshop led by George Grant, pastor of Parish Presbyterian Church in Franklin, TN, who has quickly become one of my favorite biographical speakers.  The workshop was entitled “Why Is This So Hard? The World, the Flesh, and the Devil Against Reformation.”  Now, while Pastor Grant was addressing educators, the message has very broad application.

His thesis was pretty simple: It’s hard because it’s supposed to be.

I guess I should have seen that coming, but I was expecting – in typical workshop fashion – something like, “Ten ways to maintain your passion and focus when the going gets tough.”  Instead, I got the blunt reminder that nobody ever said anything worth doing was easy…because it almost never is.

In fact, what is easy?  I mean, really.  Try to think of something that is easy that is actually worth doing, important, valuable, culture-changing, lasting, whatever.  None of it is easy. Because if we are a threat to the world or the devil, then we should anticipate resistance; if the world and the devil are fine with what we’re doing, then we should anticipate little resistance.

Am I suggesting that anything that’s easy is of the devil?  No, not necessarily.  That’s not the point.  But when we find ourselves asking “Why is this so hard?”, we should be encouraged to know that the difficulty is probably a good sign.

So, what do we need to remember when it gets hard?

  • We are making the enemy nervous.  He is threatened and is forced to direct greater attention our way because we are rattling the gates of the the Kingdom of Darkness.  And anything that Christians do to generate greater happiness, influence or dominion in the domain of darkness makes the devil nervous.
  • We are used to failing – and so is everyone around us who is trying to steal our dreams.  People quickly point out all that could go wrong, assuming that we can’t possibly have counted the cost or we’d stick with what we’ve always done.
  • Growth is uncomfortable.  In fact, growth cannot happen in your comfort zone.
  • Reward doesn’t come without risk.  We’ve said it all and heard it all before:

Don’t invest those dollars, because you may lose them.  

Don’t start that school (or business), because people might not come and then what will you do?  

Do you have any idea how much work it’s going to be to lose fifty pounds?  You’ll probably just burn out and quit, so why bother starting?  Just be content with who you are.  

If you ask for that raise, your boss may tell you, “No,” and that would be humiliating.  It’s better to just take less money and retain your dignity.  

The list goes on and on and on.  But in each of these examples the reward could be tremendous, but it will not come without risk.

  • Easy success breeds independence.  If it were easy we would become self-reliant and would not depend on God as we ought.  God forbid.
  • Others have gone before us…and it was hard for them, too.  Grant pointed to the examples of Charles Spurgeon, George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards.  All three men faced tremendous adversity because while God was using them to make a lasting spiritual impact in the world.

So what about us at ECS?  We will be collecting registration paperwork and first semester payments in a matter of days, and we are squarely in a holding pattern, waiting for new students to enroll and for the first semester to begin.  Many of us are excited and downright impatient.  Others are nervous.  Still others are overwhelmed.  Personally, I’m all of them at once.

But we can be certain of this: Just like anything else with a gargantuan upside, this is going to be hard.  It’s going to be hard because it’s supposed to be.  We are a major threat to the enemy and to the world, and we are looking to create generation after generation of worshipers who will be dangerous weapons in the hand of our Redeemer King.  God willing, they will be familiar with hard work mixed with happiness; the mindset of fallen man filtered through Scripture and the mind of God; their place in the river of Western culture and the river’s source and destination.

I’m guessing that what we have become as a society is less like a threat to Satan than it is  like a warm blanket:  ambivalent about religion, ignorant about history, apologetically spineless, altogether faithless.  But when it comes to the Church, we remember the words of Martin Luther (still another guy familiar with adversity):

For still our ancient foe,
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And crowned with cruel hate;
On earth is not his equal.

 

But Luther doesn’t stop there.  Two verses later he offers excited encouragement:

The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him.
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure;
One little word shall fell him.

 

It’s hard because it’s supposed to be.  We face resistance from the world, the devil and even our own hearts.  But we also know that the future is bright, because we serve Christ Jesus.  Let’s let Luther take us home:

Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing.
Were not the right man on our side,
The man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
From age to age the same,
And he must win the battle!

 

Risus est bellum.

Creating Worshipers

If you tell a lie frequently enough and convincingly enough, people are going to eventually take the lie as a given fact.  There is tremendous power in narrative.  The classic example with which we’re all familiar is the preposterous theory of evolution.  At every turn, academics and academic wannabes push the evolutionary agenda…with particular attention given to children’s programming, whether on TV or at the museum.

“It’s taken us millions of years to get this far!” says one animated shrimp to the other (Happy Feet Two).

“The sting ray evolved from the shark about 150 million years ago” (Jeremy Wade in River Monsters, one of my favorite Animal Planet shows).

“That’s a lie, by the way, Abbie!  God made stingrays and sharks differently from each other a few thousand years ago hours before He made Adam. (Me, with Abbie sitting in my lap while we watch River Monsters together.)

Our spongelike minds of our children absorb truths and lies with natural ease and enthusiasm.  We must be intentional about what we give them to absorb, particularly in the grammar years.

And the narrative of evolution is but an example.  There are plenty of seemingly-harmless half-truths and non-truths that distort the picture of Christianity in the world.  The narrative is powerful:

Christians are pacifists.

A Christian in the military has a built-in conflict because the Bible says, “You shall not murder.”

We go to church on Sundays to be fed for the rest of the week.

My personal devotions are more important than corporate worship on Sunday mornings.

The list goes on.  These are tricky issues to address, but the composite picture here is that believers need to be in an ongoing and passive state of preservation with a defensive mentality, when the New Testament picture of the role of believers in the world is decidedly more assertive.

We may be peace-loving, but not at the expense of the name of Christ.

The military needs Christians because the government exists to bear a sword, and killing in the context of war is distinct from murder.

What we do on Sundays is powerful as we gather corporately to worship God together.  Approaching Sundays with the typical consumer mindset (i.e., primarily to get something rather than to contribute) is misguided.

I don’t intend exhaustively to set the record straight in each of these matters in this blogpost.  Rather, as relates to education, my aim is to raise the questions that I myself ask in seriousness regarding the education of my own children:

What is my children’s school doing to prepare my children to advance the cause of Christ in the world?

How will Evangel Classical School train and equip my children to be worshipers of Jesus Christ?

If this is the aim, an excellent academic education will be a necessary outcome, though not the chief end in itself.  Learning to identify logical fallacies, anticipating historical trends, understanding complex concepts and clearly and winsomely defending or combating arguments will serve our students well in college and the workplace, to be sure.  But more than that, by God’s grace it will better equip them to be a powerful presence for Christ in their homes, communities, workplaces and churches.

Our challenges transcend debunking evolution.  Christians are in an ongoing battle to propagate an accurate narrative about Christ, Christians, and the Church.  The enemy is working tirelessly with the propagation of a powerful and insidious narrative of his own, but we want the world to know that Jesus Christ is Lord over all the world, and that impacts all spheres and epochs of life, from creation to His coming and beyond.

Risus est bellum!

The Plan for Fall of 2012 at ECS

Greetings once again from Evangel Classical School!

Over the course of the last several months, I’ve had occasion to think about all of the really great things that started out really, really small.  It is my prayer that Evangel Classical School would one day be on that list.  Right now it is small, to be sure (we haven’t yet had any classes), but with God’s blessing and our hard work it can be great.

Based on the preliminary numbers and expressions of interest in the school, we present – with great excitement, I might add – the following plan:

The Plan:

Meeting days: 

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday

Location: 

To be determined

Classes to be offered:

Kindergarten, grades 1-3 and grades 4-6 and secondary

Teachers:

Andy Bowers, Morgan Higgins, Sean Higgins, Jonathan Sarr, Sonja Sarr, Jen van der Beken, Ron van der Beken.  The remaining teacher(s) are still to be determined.

Teachers’ qualifications: 

Of those listed or referenced, five have teaching degrees and the other two have experience educating their own children in the classical Christian model. All are committed to the classical and Christian model of education along with a Kuyperian-Calvinistic worldview.

Teaching assignments:

They are currently being settled, but this is the latest:

  • Teachers will primarily teach subjects rather than grade levels, as we will generally have Kindergarten together, grades 1-3 together, and grades 4-6 together.
  • Sean and Andy will handle the majority of the 4-6 teaching (including Latin 1 to grades 4 and up).
  • Morgan and others to be announced will handle the majority of the teaching in grades K-3.
  • Jonathan will teach formal logic and a secondary literature class and will oversee supplemental secondary classes that are either self-directed or are taken online

Tuition:

$4,000-$4200 per student, depending on the payment option.

Tuition payment due dates:

  1. Option A (one payment of $4000/child): Due July 1.
  2. Option B (two payments of $2000/student): Due July 1 and January 1.
  3. Option C (10 payments of $420/child): First payment due September 1.
  4. Option D (12 payments of $350/child): First payment due July 1.

Questions and Answers:

Will students have every class every day (that is, Tuesday through Thursday)?  Yes, with the following exceptions:

  • K-6 Science (2 days per week)
  • K-6 Art (one day per week)
  • Latin 1 (2 days per week)
  • 4th-6th Writing (one day per week)

When is the first day of school?  Tuesday September 4 (the day after Labor Day).

Will students have PE? We’ll likely have strategic activity during recesses and potentially even give “homework” PE assignments for the parents to administer.

Will there be discounts?  None at this time.

Is any financial assistance available?  There may be some assistance available.  All requests should be submitted personally or via email to Jonathan Sarr.

What if my secondary student has not had Latin or formal logic? We will offer Latin 1 (technically a grammar class) to interested secondary students or encourage them to take a Latin class online. We will offer formal logic to secondary students.

What additional fees will we incur?  At this point, none.  There will be no registration or activity fees.  After August 1, however, there is a $420 withdrawal fee per student for any withdrawals.

Will we buy our own books?  No.  Curricular costs are included in tuition, and consumable texts will be issued to the students and will be yours to keep.  Families incur the cost for any replacements (lost, damaged, stolen, etc.).

So once more, what does my tuition payment cover?  The cost of the classes and all curricula.

What does tuition not cover?  School uniforms, replacement of lost, stolen or damaged books and the occasional fee related to a field trip (e.g. museum admission, etc.).

You mentioned uniforms.  Where do we buy those?  More information is forthcoming on that.

Now I should note that plans are by nature not reality; they chart a direction.  As such, some of the details of our plan may change based on actual enrollment numbers or our facility, but we’ll be quick to communicate changes of any significance, should they be necessary.

We covet your prayers as desperately now as ever.  Perhaps you and your family will be part of a fantastic story and testament to the kindness of God to ECS and our people in the near future.

As always, please feel free to contact any of us if you have any questions.

Risus est bellum!