Posted in Theologically Speaking
There are two things to remember about this term, “Religion”, that will help us home educators train our children in Godly wisdom. First, that everybody has a religion of one kind or another. Second, that there are ultimately only two religions.
Even unbelieving sociologists confirm that all cultures of all times have had a religion of one sort or another. But what exactly is “religion”? My Oxford Dictionary, Bible Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Theology all found the word very hard to handle. However, it is usually defined as the human practice stemming from some sort of belief in the divine.
Non-theistic evolutionists have tried to say that it is some sort of development to meet some sort of need, or something clever con men thought up to exercise power over people and secure an easy income. But these explanations assume, without actually saying so, that mankind does have that “God-shaped vacuum” within. Otherwise the need would never arise and the con man would not be able to con anyone. So even the unbelieving evolutionist does acknowledge, although begrudgingly, that human nature is inescapably religious. After all, that is the way the Creator created us.
There is another understanding of “religion” that is very helpful to us home educators as we endeavour to pass on to our children a concept of why other people we meet do what they do. One definition in my Oxford is, “Devotion to some principle; strict fidelity or faithfulness; conscientiousness.” Notice there is no reference to the divine. Self-conscious atheists and agnostics I have met have been fairly articulate about what they believe … .that is, they could explain why they believed as they did with a lot of confidence and clarity. These people are religious because they are devoted to some set of principles, and are conscientious about it, even if those principles can be summarised as “Me”. Ultimately even the common man in the street is as religious as a priest (no disrespect intended) since he will and does operate according to SOME set of beliefs or concepts about the nature of reality and the way things work. Whatever that set of beliefs is, even if they are contradictory (and they probably are), that set of beliefs is that person’s “statement of faith”, his “creed”, his religion, even if it supposedly does not acknowledge the existence of God or any kind of supernatural.
Now although some would have us believe life is terribly complex, it is really fairly simple at the foundations. All the worId’s philosophies, religions, belief systems, creeds or whatever can be divided into two simple groups. One is Biblical Christianity, wherein man trusts in the only true God, the Creator. The other group is everything else, all of which by definition trust in some thing which is created: man or some man-made idea or institution. This is known as the religion of humanism. Even atheistic, secular humanists refer to their belief system as a religion.
The Bible itself says there are only two kinds of people, and you will find that concept all through Scripture, even in John 3:16 (those who perish and those who have eternal life). Knowing there are only two, really makes life easy: you answer all the others in roughly the same way, that is, either focusing upon their misunderstanding of Christ, His finished work, His Divinity, etc.; or focusing upon the fact that they ultimately trust in man or some human agent for salvation. The Muslim, the Hindu and all the rest practice a religion of salvation by human works; the atheist and agnostic are trusting that their own human speculations regarding the non-existence or unknowability of God are correct. In either case, they are ultimately trusting in man or some other created thing. Biblical Christianity is on the opposite end of the scale, as true Christians trust in God the Creator.
Now this idea of religion, that everybody is religious and that there are really only two religions, Biblical Christianity and humanism; this idea of religion is useful to us home educators as it helps us to easily evaluate ideas that are presented to us in books, on TV, on radio talk-back, in lectures, in conversation. It is easy to recognise where other ideas are coming from as there are really only two possibilities: from the Creator God or from some thing which He created. When we can evaluate ideas in this way, no matter how they are wrapped up, we will be less likely to be deceived. Also, we can more easily evaluate OUR OWN thinking as to whether it is Biblical or too tainted with humanism to be compatible with a life of faithful obedience to God.
We must watch our own thinking very carefully since most of us parents have been trained to think like humanists in our public school classrooms. This is why we must strive all the more to re-train our minds to think God’s thoughts after Him, allowing His Word to continually flush out the garbage as we read, study, memorize and meditate on the Scriptures. The objective is to take every thought captive to obey Christ (II Corinthians 10:5). Not only do we parents need to be able to think this way, we must train our children to think this way, and show them how to easily distinguish between right thinking and wrong.
The issue we must face today in our pluralist society in the areas of education, literature, entertainment, medicine, justice and all things else is not whether it is right for us Christians to force our religious values on others. The issue is whose religious values will we accept being forced upon us.
From Keystone Magazine
March 1996 , Vol. II No. 2
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