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Expert Opinion and Homeschooling

by Christine Miller

Expert Opinion and Truth

In our society, we venerate expert opinion. I would venture to say that as a society, we put more weight on expert opinion than on truth. And we certainly put more weight on what experts say than on what we observe and discover ourselves.

Evangelical Christianity as a whole suffers from this, especially in the area of creation. Unwilling to look like religious fanatics in the face of “established science,” we have been willing to disregard, or reinterpret and stretch, God’s own Word in what it says about the creation of the universe! Even some Reformed leaders have compromised Genesis in order to agree with the modern *interpretation* of the scientific facts. Individual Christians, not wanting to seem as if they don’t agree with the collective experts in their own church, go along.

Where would we be today if Martin Luther or John Hus went along with the expert opinion of their day instead of being willing to be the sole voice “crying in the wilderness?” Each one of us has the Teacher of Truth, the Holy Spirit, indwelling us. What we discover on our own, through our reading and the teaching of the Holy Spirit in our lives, is valid. One beauty of the Reformation is that it returned the validity of individual Bible reading, study, and prayer to a person’s spiritual growth.

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Individual Intellectual Growth

A natural extension is the validity of individual reading and study to a person’s intellectual growth. In other words, our minds can learn. Surely, if we can read the thoughts of God, as written in His Word, and be taught by them, when His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways not our ways, then we can be taught when reading something much less majestic, such as The Republic, On Christian Doctrine, and Institutio Oratoria.

The Holy Spirit understands completely what Plato was trying to say, and Augustine, and Quintilian, and even better, He knows completely our own family, children, homeschool, strengths, weaknesses; and, most importantly, He knows the plans that He has for our children’s future, and what will be their proper and necessary preparation. He can tailor Quintilian et al to our homeschool, to our individual children. I know this to be true, because I have asked Him to do it for us, and He has -- that is to say, He is continuing to do so. We are in a constant state of learning and application, and that learning and application has grown as we, as homeschooling parents and Christians, continue to grow in our own self-education.

So what is the place of experts in our homeschooling? And I include Classical Christian Homeschooling in that question. I believe it should be: Listen to what they have to say, and then sift it through, as the Bereans did after hearing Paul (Acts 17:10-11). No single homeschooling expert or group can be a perfect fit in every application in your life and homeschool, because no single person or group lives in your family’s shoes. Take from CCH what seems good, and meld it with you have learned from the other homeschool and classical education experts, and Quintilian, and Augustine, et al that seems good. And meld it even with what was said that was true by a non-Christian like Richard Mitchell -- if it’s true, then we want it, no matter from whose mouth it came. God has spoken through donkeys before.

And as we grow and learn, we will need to adjust -- which is perfectly okay.

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Individualism and Traditionalism

Now I must clarify my thought so that no one will misinterpret me. Taking individual freedom too far is also a trait of modern evangelicalism. Modern evangelicalism, by and large, has thrown off the yoke of Christian history and the great cloud of witnesses that have gone before us in the faith. The Reformation, while returning to individuals the validity of individual Bible- reading, study, and prayer, sought to also return us as a Body to the centrality of Christianity, from which the church had strayed. It sought to return us to the Living Heart of our tradition; and in doing so, had to overthrow other traditions that have occluded that Heart. The Reformers were not anti-traditionalists, but pro-traditionalists. Traditionalism and individualism, like faith and works, or grace and law, can be two sides of the same coin when they both have their roots sunk deep in the Lord of Life. :-)

Likewise in homeschooling, we are desiring to return to our traditional center: parents as the teachers of their children at home, as set forth in Scripture as God’s desire for families. In doing so, we throw off other traditions that have grown up and occluded that center. And those truths and those applications, as proven through long use, whether they are esposed by Paul or Quintilian or R.C. Sproul; whether advocated by Doug Wilson or Susan Wise Bauer or Harvey Bluedorn or Christine Miller (and please forgive me for including myself in that list) we preserve.

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Classical Christian Homeschooling / Christine Miller / Last revised November 1999
Copyright 1997-1999