Tuesday, May 05, 2009

CHEC "Men's Leadership Summit," Part V - "Visionary Fathers"

#5 in an ongoing series on Christian Home Educators of Colorado 2009 "Men's Leadership Summit" (otherwise known as the "The Vision of the Leadership Summit") held in Indianapolis, Indiana, at one of the hotels owned by Bill Gothard's group over the weekend of March 5-7, 2009. Previous post in this series: CHEC "Men's Leadership Summit," Part IV - "A Vision for the Family". First post in the series: 2009 Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC) "Men's Leadership Summit," Part I.


The following content is from Doug Phillips' second speech at the 2009 CHEC "Men's Leadership Summit" ("MLS")--"Visionary Fathers"--delivered Friday evening, March 6, 2009 and available in full, audio form from ResoundingVoice.com.

There were several presentations between Doug Phillips' first speech on Friday morning and this, his second speech, that night. But rather than break them apart, I thought I would present them one more or less immediately after the other.


"Fellas," Phillips began, "what's the number one sign that we will have been successful in raising a great generation of Christian, manly leaders 50 years from now?"
[T]onight we're going to look into the future and look at the past and we're going to take a good look at where we stand right where we are.

In fact, I believe that is what we need to be giving to our sons. Our sons need to have a panoramic perspective of who they are. They are growing up in a generation of rudderless boys, rudderless men, men who lack perspective. They are individual radicals living for themselves with no sense of family, no sense of posterity, no sense of ancestry, no sense of destiny. They do not know who their fathers were, they are not concerned about who their grandchildren are, and they don't know how to define themselves other than by the experience of the moment. And one of the most important things we can do is to have God's panoramic presentation for us, looking at the past, standing in the present, with our eyes focused on the future. This is a critical component of preparing the next generation for leadership.

Y'know, I'm not going to follow what I've done up to the present. I feel as if I can't really "help" myself. I've got to comment.

And concerning these opening comments, I "just" want to say: I think Phillips is "right on." It's a bit shocking to me to have him speak solely to men and solely about sons. But as long as he doesn't push for what (I have few doubts) he will push for later--that none of these things ought to apply to mothers and/or daughters--I am in full, shout-it-from-the-housetops accord with what Phillips is saying here. I think he is "onto" something profoundly important that each and every Christian parent--but especially fathers and especially sons need to deal with.

Go, Phillips!


Phillips then brought his audience to the conclusion of David's life story as detailed in 1 Chronicles 28:8-10, where David is speaking to his son Solomon:
Now therefore in the sight of all Israel the congregation of the LORD, and in the audience of our God, keep and seek for all the commandments of the LORD your God: that ye may possess this good land, and leave it for an inheritance for your children after you for ever. And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever. Take heed now; for the LORD hath chosen thee to build an house for the sanctuary: be strong, and do it.
And 1 Kings 2:1-4:
Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged Solomon his son, saying, I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself: That the LORD may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel.
"Dear men," said Phillips, "in these short words, these final words, these well composed and well thought through, precise, terse words from the great king of Israel, a young man has heard a synopsis of the generational message and motivation that a father gives to his children. What does it include?
"Listen to me, my son. Gather before me. Listen to the Law of God. Understand that there are sanctions for disobedience. There are blessings that come for obedience. Understand that you can hide nothing from God; that the most important thing you can do as a Law keeper, as a Covenant keeper, is to give your heart to God. He knows your heart. You can't hide it. And with this in mind," David says, "remember: you are your father's son. You're standing on my shoulders. I started a work; I give it to you. I began it; you finish it. Keep in mind that if you are not a faithful son, the generational legacy which was bequeathed to you through your fathers by the Lord will be broken forever. However, if you honor the Lord and do what is right, you will prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn and you will never lack a descendant in our family from the throne of Israel."

Y'know, really take some time to sit and meditate on these closing words.

I don't know how David could have said it any better or any more powerfully: the generational vision; the call to covenant-keeping; the warning of the sanctions of the Lord; the necessity of the heart; the passion of a father speaking to his children.
Phillips told of a man he described as having become "a grandfather" to him, a man he called Grandpa Gifford.

He explained some of the reasons Gifford was so influential in his life.
But then came the day when Grandpa Gifford was be called into eternity. Friends, I want to tell you. This doesn't happen very often, but every once in a while we get a glimpse into the way the great patriarchs of the past and the fathers of ancient days left their temporal existence and went to be with their heavenly fathers.

Grandpa Gifford sat on his deathbed. Around him sat three and four generations of children--his own children; his grandchildren; and some of them had children. And they gathered around him, around the bed of the patriarch, and one by one, he called every single child and prophesied over them. He called them before him as he was dying and put his hands on their heads and he prayed over them and he prayed a blessing and prophesied, proclaimed Christ to them on his deathbed.

The children had never seen anything like this. Almost nobody ever sees anything quite like this. But there they were, watching their beloved spend his last few minutes, hands on the children, on the grandchildren, on the great-grandchildren, and preparing to leave this earth. . . .

Friends, I don't know about you, but there are two ways I want to die. I want to die in combat for Christ, or I want to die on my bed with my children all around me!

"Lord, please don't let me die because I did something stupid, walking across the street."

But I'd love to die with my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren around me so I can speak to the future generations, so I can talk to them, so I can prophesy over them, so I can pray over them, so that they can be standing before me and see the last breath and watch as the spirit leaves the body and goes into eternity.

Or I'd like to die in combat. . . .


Once more: the language of "the patriarch" puts me off, but the concept Phillips is describing sounds extremely attractive. Wouldn't you want to be so tied in to your family that,
  1. They would want to be present as you went to meet your Maker?

  2. You could pray a meaningful blessing over each and every member down to the second or third generation?
Confession: My father--even before any signs of possible dementia or mental decline--was so disconnected from his family that he couldn't remember his grandchildren's names much less what they were doing, where they lived, to whom they were married, or (now) who their children are.

My guess (sadly): He "simply" lacked vision for his family.

So I find Phillips' vision attractive.

Yes! I would love to die with my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren around me so I can speak to the future generations, so I can talk to them, so I can prophesy over them, so I can pray over them.

I don't feel any special compulsion to have them there so they can watch me die. But, oh! I would want to be able to "finish well" with a special, heartfelt prayer of blessing upon each and every one of them.

Before I get there, however, (let me confess) I think I need to establish and develop and maintain a very much deeper relationship with my children and grandchildren than I have today. I need a relationship, I think, more along the lines of what Phillips is yet to describe later in this speech concerning his father and him.


"There was a time when men really died well because they lived for Christ," said Phillips. "And we need to see that generation come again."


May that be so.


So this, Phillips' second speech, was designed, he said, "to nail down the crisis within the home of fatherhood . . . and talk about how fathers remedy that problem, how we look to the future, how we lay down the foundations so that our sons can be very, very strong. . . . [S]o I'd like to speak to you about principles of manhood from Scripture. . . .
I want to speak to you tonight about replacement strategies, exit strategies for Christian men, how we prepare to be the next Grandpa Gifford or David as we stand there and we speak prophetically to our children (not divine prophecy, but we speak the hope of what God will do in the future for our children).

I want to speak to you also more about strategic relationships.
And it is with that last subject, strategic relationships, Phillips really began.
The last thing I said to you this morning was that the world and history is not changed by majorities, but is changed by dedicated minorities. It can be changed for great evil by dedicated minorities. It can be changed for great good by dedicated minorities. But rarely is it the masses. It's handfuls of men that really believe something for good or for evil and that work together in common cause. And God has used great friendships, great marriages. The Devil has used the same things to bring about great travesty and disaster.

I told you about Darwin. I mentioned that he had a five- and even six-generation legacy of apostasy and atheism which was so infectious it polluted England and the theologies and philosophies of the world.
Now, he said, he wanted to tell us of John Calvin . . . a man who turned the Western world upside down by his writings. But Calvin might very well have never exerted a smidgen of the impact he did had it not been for his friend William Farrell.
[I]n John Calvin's preface to the Psalms in the year 1557, he explains how an unusual friendship gripped him by the collar and prevented him from leaving, so that he would engage in combat. Here's what he says.

"William Farrell detained me in Geneva not so much by counsel and exhortation as by a dreadful imprecation . . . "--in other words, "If you don't do this, here's what will happen"--". . . a dreadful imprecation which I felt that God from heaven had laid his mighty hand on me to arrest me. After having learned that my heart was set upon devotion, devoting myself to private studies, he proceeded to utter an imprecation that God would curse my retirement and the tranquility of my study which I sought if I should withdraw."

Now. I want you to imagine one of your friends coming up to you and saying, "Bob, . . . John, . . . Let me be clear. If you abandon your position as a state leader, if you set aside your priorities as a father, if you set aside the duties you were called to in this local church, I pray God destroy everything you do."

Would that put the fear of God on you? Well it put the fear of God on the great John Calvin. And here we see one of hundreds, one of thousands of examples from the Reformation time on how manly friendships, confrontational friendships, vigorous friendships, uncomfortable friendships change the tide of man.

Of course it was Calvin who would end up mentoring John Knox, one of the most ferocious defenders of the Bible of all time. . . .

So Phillips went on to describe Knox and his impact on the Scottish church . . . from which, almost without exception, the entire range of Presbyterian churches grew.

These men "needed each other," said Phillips.
And one of the most important things that we need to be thinking about as we consider raising up the next generation of leaders are the men we put our sons around, the men we spend time with and strategic relationships that we engage in.

Strange: on the one hand, I think Phillips is speaking great wisdom and truth as he emphasizes relationships. This matter of relationships--especially as he developed the theme later in this speech--is of tremendous importance.

That parents should guide and encourage their children (and, perhaps, even, especially their sons) with respect to relationships: brilliantly insightful (and biblical!).

But why the (rather obvious) sexism implicit in the specificity with which Phillips only references men and sons?

I am delighted that Phillips would speak to men; and I think it is fine for him to urge fathers uniquely to speak into the lives of their sons. But why must the "raising up the next generation of leaders" refer solely to the training of sons and to the relationships that sons should engage in with men?

Notice that Phillips didn't narrow his reference to something like raising up leadership "in the Church" or "in the home" or "in the marriage relationship" or any other limited sphere. No. He referred, simply, to "leadership," generic leadership of any and all kinds.

And I wonder: Aren't fathers supposed to be fathers of sons and daughters? Is there no possible role of leadership for a daughter? Are fathers supposed to have nothing to do with helping their daughters to develop as leaders?

I think they are! . . . I think daughters ought to be encouraged in leadership and I think fathers should play a role in the process of helping to develop their daughters as leaders.

And while I want to offer Phillips every benefit of the doubt, I'm afraid there is little reason to think he made some kind of accidental mistake in his narrow reference solely to sons and men. No. By all indications, he has his antennas "up" against women in leadership, women leading, women showing any kind of gumption beyond men . . . unless their "leadership" happens to be in the way of leading women to subject themselves to men. --But more on that some other time.

My point is: I'm on edge. I would like to ignore the implicit slight to women and daughters. I believe the principles Phillips elucidates are valid for them every bit as much as they are for men and sons. Perhaps I am making a mountain out of a molehill. But I think not. And I think that will become clear as we observe what else Phillips had to say. He didn't merely make a "slip." And he wasn't merely speaking to a unique audience. He was deliberately maintaining a practice to which he is committed.

But I will attempt to let him and his paisanos develop that theme further on their own.


According to Phillips, the board of directors of Christian Home Educators of Colorado is successful. Why?
[Because] they have amazing unity, . . . they are a group of men that are in agreement one with another, . . . [an] agreement . . . [that] has been won for the sake of Christ. . . . [T]hey are spurring each other forward to greater and more important works in Christ. . . .

[T]he question I hear from them every year is, "What's next, Lord?" Isn't that true? "What's next, Lord? What do we do? . . . We've got some money: How do we invest it in the Kingdom of God? Right now, how do we do it? What's next? What do we do?"

This comes from manly friendships. It comes from strategic relationships.

???!!! "Manly" friendships? What he is describing is somehow uniquely masculine? Women don't--because, apparently, they are, by nature, unable to--engage in such relationships?


Some more examples of "manly" and "strategic" relationships:
I am friends with Kevin Swanson. Voddie Baucham is my pal. Scott Brown is my bosom brother. We work together. We fight together. We have been engaged in battles together. Our sons are spending time with each other. And there are others in this room that we can say the very same thing about. I'm looking across the room: There are pastors that I can say are my friends. My sons are spending time with you and your families. We spend time together. And you have friends in this room that you have spent time with.

I pray that more and more godly men and women . . . and sons . . . and daughters) will engage in these kinds of intimate and strategic and mutually encouraging--though not necessarily "manly"--relationships!


At this point, Phillips shared some personal vignettes that I thought were highlights of his speech--stories about his relationship with his father . . . or, should I say, of his father's relationship with him.

"If you'd permit me, I'd like to stop for just a moment and invite you into a very personal place in my life: a room, a private room."


My reply: How privileged we are to be permitted such a glimpse!

If more parents were to look to examples like Howard Phillips (Doug's father), we would all benefit greatly.


Phillips referenced a book he recently wrote called The Little Boy Down the Road: Short Stories & Essays on the Beauty of Family Life.

He said one of his favorite chapters in the book is about his father's library.
One of the lessons that my father taught me was that not only leaders must be readers but men need to read; men ought to read. Men that are about the business of changing the world or in the business of drinking deeply from the font of wisdom: they want to know more information. And Christian men have no better source than the Word of God. But it is not wrong for Christian men to read even beyond the Word of God and we have a biblical precedent for that. We have precedent in the fact that even some of the Word of God quotes books which are external to the Word of God with the anticipation--like the Book of Enoch, for example, found in the Book of Jude and in other places, other books. . . .

[T]he anticipation is, you will be reading, you will be well read, you will know about the events of your day and the great deeds of God, the providences of God . . . you will be an informed man.
I think it's interesting that Phillips seemed to feel the need to press the point about reading beyond Scripture:
[W]hen people say, "Well, all I need is the Scripture and nothing else."

Theologically, they are correct. But when they say, "Therefore, read nothing else," they are theologically incorrect, because in the Scripture we see men of God reading things even beyond the Scripture itself. There is a knowledge of those things.

Thank you, Phillips!


He continues about his father:
My father was never a wealthy man, certainly not by the financial standards of the world. But my father, Howard Phillips, gave me many rich treasures. He gave me life. My father gave me an education, to which he contributed substantially through his personal discipleship. My father gave me his hard-earned good name for which I am eternally thankful. He gave me a love for the Word of God.

My father taught me and I pray that I have embraced this: a childlike acceptance of the Bible from my earliest days, even before my father became a Christian . . . when he was an unbelieving Jew who was very open to the Scriptures.

I always remember my father saying, "Well, if it's in the Bible, it must be true."
This last item worked itself out in Phillips' commitment to a young-earth and global flood perspective. His dad gave him books by Henry Morris and declared as truth: "God created the world in six 24-hour days exactly as it says in Genesis."
I remember the first time my father said that, I thought, "Y'know, I really love you, Dad, but that's just not true--because I've been watching PBS and Carl Sagan and Jacob Bronowski, and listening to my school teacher, and there just ain’t no cotton-pickin' way that that happened!" . . . [But] the simple, childlike, acceptance of God's Word by my father affected me. He didn't need lengthy explanations. He didn't need lengthy Ph.D. explanations behind what he was reading. The Bible said it, there was no question: "There was a global flood! That's what's there! It's either true or it's not. We're going to believe it! . . . We don't need the scientific paper. It's interesting. Fun to read. Helpful. But not necessary to believe that. Not necessary. God has spoken authoritatively and definitively."

My father gave me that.

I would like to point out--whether you believe in a young-earth and global flood or not (and, obviously, Phillips is seeking to convey that young-earth/global flood message!)--his primary point has to do with the impact of an involved father on his children . . . or, if I may extend the point, really: It has to do with the impact of any significant relationships on our kids. And if you're a parent, it ought, especially, I think, cause you to think seriously about the people with whom you have your children interact.


Phillips went on to describe his understanding of the character and behavior of his grandfather or great grandfather [he spoke inconsistently, so I can't tell which] . . . and how that understanding was mediated to him by his dad.
Both for good and for evil, the way our fathers interact with us remains for a lifetime. It touches us in our heart. It establishes a grid, a paradigm by which we perceive reality.
Phillips mentioned how young boys often mimic poses and mannerisms of their fathers. He described how his young son, Providence, has taken on the persona of a soldier "reporting for duty" to his father [Phillips] almost every day.

And then he returned to a discussion of his father's unique input into his own life and, especially, how his father gave him books, a love for books, and a love for book learning . . . partially (indeed, very much) through the room in his parents' home set aside as his father's library . . . and through a set of books personally selected for and given to him by his father.
The various seasons of my father's life from his childhood to Boston Latin School, to his undergraduate work at Harvard, to his various epochs of service on behalf of Christ and country--they all seemed to me to be chronicled, for every family member to see, through the books my father had acquired over a lifetime of adventure, experience, and intensive reading. . . .

[O]ften the information contained in the pages of these books was less important to me than the story of what the books represented to my father at the time he purchased them. I found clues to my father's life handwritten in the margins, clues that pointed to his priorities, my father's challenges, his struggles, his epiphanies, and the victories which he may have experienced at the times the books were first opened and read by him.

In some cases--with his copy of R.J. Rushdoony's Institutes of Biblical Law, [for instance]--[I could] flip to the back cover and reveal notations on the date when he completed the first, second, and even third reading of the same book: "1976--Howard Phillips"; "1983--Howard Phillips." And I would see my father's notes. Here's the red pen that represents this reading, the blue pen that represents this reading. Here's the notes on the side of the page.

The mere presence of my father's library taught me to respect and love these important books, and it increased my respect for my father as a man.
And so his father's example--the fact that he had "chosen . . . to invest his limited and precious resources in . . . documents, in literature and resources that filled our home with knowledge--helped to direct Doug to follow a similar path.
In my father's library, I met and grew to love the men that my father respected. There were shelves dedicated to the writings of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, to the life of George Washington, and to the great reformers and heroes of Christianity. In my father's library, I met Shakespeare, Tacitus and Blackstone. They were all there. And I knew they were important to my father; they needed to be important to me.
Phillips described how his father's behavior, too--his personal, daily regimen--also affected him.
I watched my father rise early in the morning and I would watch him read. And for many years my father's daily regimen included close to a half dozen newspapers, journals, and of course the Bible. This took place early in the morning in his library and sometimes lasted two hours or more.
In his father's library, said Phillips, there were large piles of books, some still in the cartons in which they had been delivered.
Many of these books were designated for his children and their future libraries. Dad was always thinking ahead. He was committed to sending us, some day, substantial libraries of our own. The Phillips children rarely received toys. Sometimes we did, but not often. On birthdays and holidays we were given books, lots of books, constantly books.
Phillips mentioned, with particular fondness, Xenophon's Persian Expedition, given him when he was six years old.

Three or four years ago, he said, he passed Xenophon along to his two eldest sons, have them read it, and then talk about it with them. --A connection between father and sons and, really, grandfather as well.

"That book wasn't given to me," Phillips concluded. "It was given to grandchildren. He didn't even know their names or whether they would be born. But he understood that this would be important someday."


Maybe. Or, at least (may I propose?), it became important, partially, because of the unique values and personality of Doug Phillips himself.

Either way, however, clearly, Doug Phillips credits his father--appropriately, I think!--with having deeply shaped the man he would become.

Would that more fathers would take such interest in their sons!

The library that my father began building for me when I was only six continues to grow as he adds to it year after year. And for my 40th birthday I received a gift box with 40 individually wrapped books on subjects as diverse as economics, theology and foreign policy, each book hand-selected for the occasion by my father, each book a reflection of my father's priorities in his ongoing mentorship in my life.
Phillips said his father, even today, "meets once a week with his grandchildren and spends the entire day teaching history lessons to his grandchildren once a week in the Commonwealth of Virginia."
Since he can't meet with me and my children on a regular basis, my father sends me, . . . three to five days a week, a [thick] packet . . . [of] newspaper articles my father has read. I have received those newspaper clippings and those newspaper articles--I'm about to turn 44--I have received them three to five days a week, every week, every month, every year, since I was 18 years old. If you did the math, the cost of the postage and the printing, you could see that my father spent over $100,000 over the last 22 years, printing, publishing, collecting and sending me ongoing material for an ongoing mentorship process. And he puts notes on the side to actually make sure that I'm reading the stuff.
Apparently, Howard will call Doug: "Son, I was wondering if you happened to have an opportunity to read that New York Times obituary? Or perhaps that book review on the latest story that came out?"

"Oh, Dad! You know what, I'm a little bit behind and . . . "

"Son! . . . How can you be a leader if you're not a reader?"

Based on a story Phillips said his father has told him far too many times to count, his father himself was similarly blessed by a man named Charlie "Tremendous" Jones, a man who died just last October.

Jones, apparently, gave Phillips' father a pile of deeply influential books--no charge--as long as Howard agreed to read them all.
[Jones] said, "I need to invest in a leader. I see something in this man. I'm going to invest in the next generation by giving him something that he can get for free. . . ."

My father took those books, and you know what my dad did for the rest of his life? He gave away books. That man had invested in him, and he gave away books.
Phillips said that Gregg Harris did the same for Beall, the woman who would eventually become Phillips' wife, back when Beall was in college.

She was going to write a paper critical of homeschooling. Phillips said she told Harris she was planning to write a critical paper, but figured she should go to the "horse's mouth," as it were. So she asked Harris if he would give her some information.
And Gregg Harris turned to this young woman and said to her, "I'll do better than that. I'm going to give you a pile of books, and all I will ask you to do is to read them."

And so a pile of books in a box arrived at the dorm of this particular young woman . . . who read those books. . . . By the time she was done reading those books, not only had her thesis changed, but she was the biggest proponent of this particular theory known as home education in the entire College of William and Mary. . . . I would have never met her, I would have never married her, had it not been for a man by the name of Greg Harris, who invested in her life by seeing that we must give to future leadership. We must give them books, we must take the time, we must disciple them, we must talk to them, and we must be about the business of raising up the very next generation.
Phillips told several more stories about his father's influence upon him.

Despite Swanson's generally disparaging remarks about college education and the study of the City of Man, Phillips, as has already been demonstrated, seems to feel a bit more positively disposed. (Why else would he speak so glowingly of Xenophon's Persian Expedition?) And so, he said, "[M]y father . . . asked me to apply to his alma mater, Harvard."

It wasn't that Howard wanted Doug actually to attend the school. But he wanted Doug to go through the application process.

"Oh. Okay, Dad," Doug said he told his father. "I will do that if you like."
And so my father said, "Here's the deal. You are going to have to write an application for Harvard, and if it is not acceptable, I'm going to ask you to go back down to your room and just to keep working on it till you get it right."

I brought up my first Harvard application. I had worked on it for days. I brought it to my father. My father marked it up with a red pen. He said, "I'm sorry, son. This doesn't work. Go back down. And, by the way, I don't want you leaving the home till this essay is exactly correct."

"All right, Dad." So I went back down.

Second time, I brought up the essay and said, "Okay, I'm done. Dad, I've been working on this for days. I hope you like it."

"Son, this essay just really doesn't cut it."

Red pen, red pen, red pen. He sent me back down.

The deal was, I wasn't allowed to leave the house or do anything until the essays were done. It took me 17 essays and more than 35 days. I was in that house, locked in that room, and I kept going to my father until I finally heard from my father, "Well done, Son. This is a worthy essay."

Guess what I do today? I write essays.

I'm so thankful for that miserable experience today!

I'm so thankful for the phone calls and for the 2000 years of Jewish guilt.

I'm so thankful for every single moment that my father took seriously the necessity of investing in the children that would come and the grandchildren that would come.

I thank God for the maxims that he left me: "Leaders must be readers." "Truth takes time," he would say. And we would spend hours and hours and hours studying, listening to tapes, traveling together. The emphasis on investing in others: "Get it right and don't quit! Get it right and don't quit!" And, "Son, if you don't know where you're going, any train will get you there." In other words, you've got to have a vision. Today, my ministry is called Vision Forum.

All of these things came from my father. They all came from my father saying, "I will invest in the next generation."

Side comment from John: Interesting, my Jewish father treated me much the same way. And I still bear the imprint of his exacting demands and relentless push for "perfection." . . . And my children, I'm afraid, and employees who have worked as writers and editors under my supervision have suffered some of the same "shredding" experiences I experienced under my father's tutelage.

I am--just now (see "Let your speech always be with grace . . .")--realizing anew how strongly my father's behaviors, good and bad, have impacted me.


And with all of these accolades for his father and for older men who have influenced younger men (and women--à la his wife Beall!), Phillips suddenly took what to me felt like a very sharp turn. Just the smallest moment's time break--no grammatical break--between him talking about his father saying, "I will invest in the next generation" and the following:
Gentlemen, we stand here today at a time when the homeschool movement is in a state of potential disaster. That's strong words. But I really believe that we're looking at potential disaster, unless we get a few things right. And so many of these things hearken to our view of leadership and our perspective of how we will navigate into the future. So let me step back for just a moment and let me offer you a little bit of historical perspective on the legacy of fathers preparing the next generation for victory in difficult times. And then I want to speak specifically to the homeschool movement. I want to talk about us. I want to talk about our role in history and how we navigate so that there will be another generation that comes after us.
Historical perspective:

A trip Phillips took last year with almost a hundred homeschoolers to Scotland and, especially, the Greyfriars Kirkyard where, he says, he recalled fathers' faithfulness "in discipling and teaching their sons" even "in the midst of unbelievable persecution[, apostasy,] and trial, . . . their families being put to death, fathers being murdered, daughters being murdered."

This faithfulness, he said, eventually produced "things like the Westminster Confession, . . . [and] the great books and . . . documents that [America's] founding fathers taught at places like Princeton Seminary, the College of New Jersey, where they raised up [America's] founding fathers." That same faithfulness, with "histories of martyrdom, came from the fathers and went all the way back to the Culdees."

Manly men teaching their sons to be similarly "hardy, manly, vigorous men."

"And so," said Phillips, "let's go back in time once again" to the time of Isaiah and Hosea and the double message of Isaiah's two sons, the one a son bearing a name of judgment (Mahershalalhashbaz, Isaiah 8:1 and 3, means "quick to the plunder, swift to the spoil") and the other a name of promise (Shearjashub, Isaiah 7:3, means "a remnant shall return").

Phillips suggested that our current era is very much parallel with the era of Isaiah: "[We] are entering into very hard times. And . . . [t]hese are the seasons that the most noble, the most interesting, the most God-fearing leadership can arise, by God's grace, in the furnace of difficulty. . . . God has been preparing the homeschool movement for this time. And the greatest work is not going to be done in vendor halls. The greatest work is going to be done in the father-to-son discipleship which will be taking place in the years to come" as men/fathers "stop and speak the words of manly preparation."
"Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee." [Deuteronomy 32:7--JAH]

"There shall not be a man able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee. I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." [Joshua 1:5-9--JAH]

What great words, . . . what wonderful words that we need to be speaking to our sons and our sons need to be seeing their fathers model.

"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. " [1 Corinthians 16:13--JAH]

Dear friends. I am concerned . . . that we as a movement are missing the blessing that God is giving to us and we are beginning to be divided, and elements of effeminacy are once again beginning to creep in.
Phillips said he wanted to explain what he meant, but first he felt the need to discuss some history.
During the 1940s and '50s there were very few parents who were challenged or were forced to think about the presuppositions of government education. It just wasn't that bd. And when things aren't that bad, we don't think about whether they are biblical. We are only forced to think if something is biblical when it is so bad, so stinky, so repulsive, we can't stand it anymore. That's not the way it should be, but that happens to be the truth too often, doesn't it? We are lethargic, we pay no attention until the evil is right before our eyes.

In the 1960s, some Christians said we need to do something about this and the Christian school movement began. Men like Rushdoony, Henry Morris and others began testifying in court cases to seek greater freedom for people to work with Christian education.

By the 1970s, Christian education was not simply a retreat from the government schools, but there began to be an effort to have distinctively biblical worldview-oriented education. Now, the good news was, the desire was, to take every thought of the curriculum captive to the obedience of Christ. The bad news was that the pedagogical method was still unbiblical. The methodology was still inconsistent with the Hebraic concept of discipleship, which we get in Deuteronomy 6. But there was a movement in the right direction.

Then we had the 1980s and the birth of the modern homeschool movement. The birth of the modern homeschool movement gave us a generation of mighty ladies--ladies that fear the Lord, ladies that wanted to see great things happen to their families, ladies that walk beside their sons and their daughters and their men as well. But it was predominantly a woman's movement. And the absence of fathers, men so tied up in the things of the world, without a vision for discipling their children: It was just obvious that God was not done, because . . .

By the time we reached the 1990s, men began to turn their hearts toward home. And you remember the 90s, don't you? I mean . . . I remember men would go out and preach on the issue of manhood. And you would go out and see men weeping and broken as they were realizing, "I haven't been getting it! Something is wrong! I need to turn my heart to my children. . . . God, turn my heart toward my children!"

The demographics began to change. More and more men turned their hearts toward home, and you are the progeny of that time period. This wonderful room filled with men, home educating men, are the children of the spiritual work that began in the 90s and has blossomed and brought us to where we are today.

But brethren! If we do not continue to grow and advance further on toward where God would take us next, we will become worse off, we will become like Massachusetts, like Boston, like New England, which, having had the glory and the blessing of the Gospel, ultimately rejected it and became one of the darkest places imaginable.

And that's what I want to talk to you about, because I see right now two trends, one of which is threatening the future of leadership and the other of which is a hope for future leadership.

We need to identify this.

I want to say that I believe we are beginning to lose our bearings as a homeschool movement.

I remember a time when you could speak to most homeschool leaders and these leaders would tell you, "Here's what we believe. Here's what education is." They would cite documents and books. You can pull out the old books, as Kevin and others have mentioned, from Greg and other great men, who are very presuppositional in the way they defended things.

Are we having more books written like that, other than by men like Kevin and Voddie and a few others? Are we seeing these principles taught at conferences? Is every homeschooler that goes through a state conference getting a heavy dose of vision and presuppositional apologetics in the area of education? Because if they're not, we are actually training them to be apostate. We are training them to have a humanistic vision of education unless we are actively training them to have a biblical vision of education which is far more important than what books they pick out.

I remember a day when we talked about fundamentals. And we need to be speaking about them again. I think we're losing our bearings, and we need to get back on track. And I want to say that if our love for Christ is not expressed through our heart in outward obedience to his Law-Word, we will devolve as a movement, and we will lose the blessing of God.

Dear friends, the Bible needs to be our standard. If the Bible is our standard, we will begin to take positions on difficult things. Will this be, in some ways, bifurcating? Yes. I'm not sure that's the worst thing, friends. Throughout the history of the church, we have seen it be the establishment and the proclamation of principled action which has separated the wheat from the chaff and prepared the church for the next wave of victorious movement for Christ.

These are difficult things, but these are things that must be done rather than that we wither on the vine. Let me mention just some practical homeschool issues that, once upon a time, we talked about and we need to talk about again.

Dear friends, if the Bible is our standard, then this means that neither the content nor the methodology of education is neutral. This means that every subject from math to history needs to be reformed to incorporate distinctively biblical presuppositions about facts and the interpretation of facts. This means we can never separate the biblical objectives and process of discipleship from the end result itself. It means that all matters, every bit of it, and we should be talking about this. We should be explaining to people that mathematics makes no sense in an atheistic universe. We should be telling them that Genesis 1 is the very first primer on basic arithmetic: God told them to be fruitful and multiply, and He divided the night from the day, and He had added to them greatly. All those things and much more in a sequential, time-number system of the first day, the second day, third day, and a 24-hour clock-calendar system, all given to us, expressing the wisdom of God in a mathematical creation, a reflection of who He is, Himself, the very person and character of God. And if you remove that from mathematics, you destroy it, making it impersonal. This means falsehood. We've done this.

If the Bible is our standard, friends, then we need to understand something. Regardless of what is happening in Washington, DC, as far as we're concerned with our choices, we need to realize the state has zero jurisdiction in education. None! [Applause]

And here's what this means. This means we shouldn't be encouraging it. We shouldn't be participating with it. We shouldn't be, in any way, seeking to encourage a Marxist system of wealth redistribution and indoctrination of evolutionism into the children of America! We should oppose that! If the Bible is our standard, then we should not look to the state for dangerous educational subsidies like vouchers. We will stay far, far, far, far away from the temptations of the government and from others. We will say, "I will not take even a shoe latchet from you, lest you say you made me wealthy." [Genesis 14:23--JAH]

If the Bible is our standard, dear friends, then we reject, at least principially . . . we understand that the core problem with Child Protective Services is its existence. [Smaller applause.]

"Okay, Phillips! Phillips, what in the world are you talking about? This is nutty, Phillips! What do you mean?"

Here's what I mean.

The Bible establishes the government to bear the sword against evildoers, and it gives us principles for prosecuting criminal behavior. Criminal behavior should be prosecuted. Child Protective Services is based on quasi-criminal understanding, namely, "You're not guilty of anything criminal, but we are going to claim the right to have jurisdiction over you to regulate you and possibly take away your children." The state has no biblical authority to do that. It is unbiblical. It is unjust. It is wrong. And at the end of the day, the problem isn't simply Child Protective Services to get better; it is eliminating it altogether. And you know what? The children of America would be safer.

The children of America will be safer if we have strong church.

The children would be safer if we taught our fathers to be more responsible.

The children would be safer if we didn't develop a nanny-state philosophy that taught us that someone else will be acting on behalf of the parents watching out for the children.

If the Bible is our standard, then it is the fathers who have a duty of lovingly leading their family, and fathers, not moms, will be overseeing the home education discipleship of their family.

If the Bible is our standard, then it is the local church, ultimately, which should serve as a form of accountability over us, not just ourselves.

But we have accountability with our brothers and sisters. However,

If the Bible is our standard, then the local church is not jurisdictionally responsible for establishing parochial school systems. This is not the duty of the church. Education is the duty of the family.

If the Bible is our standard, brothers, then there is both overlap, but there is also great distinction in the educational goals we have for sons and for daughters. That means that boys and girls are different, and we train them with much similarities, but also with distinctive objectives. And the movement within home education circles of creating an androgynous educational system where we view boys and girls as having the very same outcomes of careerism and world independence is contrary to the principles of the Word of God, which teaches that we should be training our daughters, ultimately to prepare themselves for the assumption . . . --and the assumption is, they will be married, they will be keepers at home. If God blesses them, they will bring forth children. And the older women should teach younger women, even before they're married, the principles of what it means to love a husband, to care for children, and to guide a home, since this ultimately is the normative pattern for where we want our daughters to grow and prosper if the Bible is our guide.

This is going to affect our home education. And if we are not willing to talk about this, what it means is, we have been usurped by feminism.

We have been so afraid of what other people will think, that we have become effeminate ourselves. We may be finding the prophecies of Isaiah 3 which speaks of a day when "my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err," "children are your oppressors, and women rule over you." [Isaiah 3:12--JAH] This is a shameful thing!

Friends, I want to tell you that the greatest threats to home education are not legal. I served as an attorney for Homeschool Legal Defense and I'm keenly aware of the legal problems. I believe they have to be fought. I support it a million percent. But I'm quite confident that Chris [Klicka], my brother in HSLDA, . . . We all stand unified in recognizing that the greatest threats are not legal. Those are real and they have to be addressed, but they are not the biggest ones.

The greatest threats are not societal. They are, each and every one, internal. They are spiritual. They relate to vision. They relate to theology. They relate to character. They relate to accountability. And so, when we look at the threats, the threat is not first and foremost the economy. This is not the first economic crisis in history. There have been other ones, there will be other ones. There have been famines. Bad things have happened. Remember crisis is opportunity in disguise.

I always remember the story of a young man. His father lost his job and for one year he had to live out of his car, driving around doing odd jobs. He had his little boy with him. He couldn't be away on an oil rig anymore. He now had to be with his son, so the little boy went in the car, traveled around all over Texas looking for little odd jobs in the hope that, possibly, somehow, he could eek by a living.

What kind of year do you think it was for that little boy? How about the best year of his life? How about the greatest moment of his existence? He was with his father for a year! Praise the Lord!

That calamity was God's gift.

Crisis is opportunity in disguise.

How I thank God for Brian [Ray]'s faithful evaluation of our testing scores. I think Brian would agree with me, failing test scores is not a problem, it's a symptom; it's not a cause. It's a symptom. We are returning to Egypt to eat the leeks and garlic of humanistic textbooks, we are going to have problems.

If our mission is simply to get us the credential or degree, we're going to lose our heart. But, if our mission is to be more and more presuppositionally biblical, and our methodologies and the content of our education . . . --Guess what's going to happen to our test scores? They are going to go out the roof. Because when you have the right motivation and the fear of the LORD, we have the beginning of knowledge! And without that, we have nothing.

I am deeply concerned about the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. [See ParentalRights.org for an explanation of key concerns by opponents of the Convention. --JAH]

When I worked for Home School Legal Defense more than 15 years ago, I wrote the booklet. I was the guy tasked with the responsibility of studying it and preparing the homeschool movement to fight against it. I am keenly aware of how devastating it is. We need to fight this one. It's a bad, bad deal. It could leave unbelievably challenging circumstances and, for the first time in 20 years, there is a real significant possibility of its passage. It needs to be taken very seriously. But can I tell you something? If the Christian community were not tolerating the evils of feminism, we wouldn't have to be publicly tolerating the evils of the child's rights movement. It is our embracing of principles of feminism, which has led to broader societal acceptance of principles of child's rights. We are Pogo: We
have met the enemy, and he is us!

We need to be about the business of going back and reclaiming what God's Word says, not what society says is acceptable. Until we love Christ and obey His Word more and love His Law more, we can put Band-Aid after Band-Aid after Band-Aid and you know what? We have to fight these. I don't think we can stop simply because this isn't the only problem out there. We have to fight these. But these are symptoms; they are judgments. They are not the cause. Even the evil court cases, like the review of Proposition 8, which took place yesterday while we were here, by the California Supreme Court.

This is a judgment! It isn't a cause. We need to remember that.

What are some of the causes? Here's what we need to fight if we want to see leadership emerge in the future.

We need to fight false love. We need to fight false fear. We need to fight rampant idolatry.

Can I speak to you for a moment about theology? We tend to, some of us, have an anti-theology perspective. Somehow theology is a bad thing; theology is a divisive thing. This is really an incoherent statement, when you hear people say this, because even that is a theological proposition. Theology, or the understanding study of the study of God, is anything which involves, hopefully correctly and accurately, a proclamation of Who God is, His character, what He has commanded to us.

So for us to take an anti-theology perspective or to think that we don't need to root our thinking on fundamental principles of Christianity is ultimately to concede that it is okay for us to root them in our autonomous mind . . . which is rebellion before God. We will either go back to the Word of God and find the theological principles of Scripture guiding us, His sovereignty--this sovereignty of our God, His Lordship, His Law-Word, Who He is, His Holiness: these things will be our guide, or we will be rudderless.

We have another problem: compromise theology.

I tell you, I heard the most grievous message I've heard in a long time in San Antonio the other day as I was sitting and listening to a proponent of an evolutionary compromise system, Dr. Hugh Ross, come down and tell us--and I'd never heard anybody say this, and I wrote it down several times to make sure we're quoting it accurately and it kept being said--that faith is finding empirical evidence and being persuaded by it . . . which is exactly opposite of what faith is!

And while we were told about the Big Bang and how we need to be reasonable and how unreasonable it would be in the universities if we accept the simple truths of Scripture . . . And I was watching all these college students and everybody saying, "Oh. Okay. So there were proto-humans that existed before man. The Flood didn't really happen as the Bible says. Dinosaurs existed millions of years before man, and the Big Bang created the earth and the earth is millions of years old, and that's what it says in Genesis . . . --"Oh! Okay! Is that really true?" And walking out of there with their worldview destroyed.


And we have problems with feminist theology. Oh, it's a big one! It's a huge problem. And it's a problem which God is using right now to help our movement. Because the wheat is being divided from the chaff within our movement, within homeschooling.

Broadly speaking, there are those that never did embrace biblical foundational principles. There are those that do not want to see fathers leading their homes, and a genuine abject hatred for principles of male leadership within the family. And they have an influence. It may not be much. But it's enough to cause confusion to the sheep and they do not know their left-hand from their right-hand. And it's significant. We need to be wise about this. We need to understand that God directly addresses these sorts of rebellious theologies.

Bad theology isn't our only problem. The fear of man is a problem.

Already addressed has been our concern with credentials. But, you know, I'm concerned that the homeschool movement is fundamentally over-involved in partisanship.

Y'know, a very embarrassing thing happened last year. I realize that what I'm about to say makes me the skunk at the garden party. And I may lose a lot of you, maybe I will lose most of you with what I'm going to say. But I want you to realize that we just went through one of the largest theological shifts in American history, and it took place because of political fear. Political fear. Here's what it was.

What do you think about asking someone to potentially lead the nation, who has a family in distress, who is the mother of young children, who is having her husband stay at home essentially to care for children? What do you think about that? Well, if I were to ask you that question two years ago, before Barack Obama was running for president, most of you would say, "Well, that's just not right. I have a problem with that." Right?

But when Barack Obama runs for president, we just have to hush up on those principles because the worst thing in the world is Barack Obama! That's how people think. Now, ladies and gentlemen [sic; despite the audience being only men--JAH], let's stay away from the issue of who do we vote for, who do we not vote for. Let's put that on the table right now. What I'm talking about is how you talk to your children.

What do you say to your children when they say, "But, Mommy . . . but Daddy: I thought that you said that mommies are supposed to be keepers at home and be with their children. Isn't that what you taught me, Mommy?"

"Yes, but not in this case."


"Because things are really bad and I'm afraid." [Some laughter.]

And we saw our theologians jettisoning hundreds of years of principle. Complementarianism is usually the term that has historically been used, or in recent years been used, by organizations like the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood to describe the fact that there are complementary but distinct roles between men and women according to the Bible. And that we see these distinctions in the family and in the church, and the state. But for the first time we had to carve out and formally articulate, "Well, we're not going to apply it to this jurisdiction; only to that jurisdiction." Why? "Because we're terrified of the alternatives."

Friends, we have to stop fearing men, fearing outcomes. We have to stop being so caught up in partisan activities that we're more concerned about political victories which will come and will go rather than the long-term battle!

Here is another problem: Love of security more than love of freedom, which is why we turn to vouchers. Or hatred for accountability.

But there is something that I'd like to speak to you about, especially. I need to mention a couple things before we bring this thing to a close.

We will lose this movement and this work of God, men, if we do not govern our households. And that means lovingly shepherding our wives. The less you love your wife and the less you shepherd your wife, the more you create an open door for the female sin of the internet. The male sin of the internet is pornography. The female sin of the internet is gossip-mongering.

Now, that doesn't mean that men don't engage in gossip-mongering. And it doesn't mean that some women may not be attracted pornography, either. But there is a unique attraction to gossip-mongering which is specifically addressed in the Bible. Here's what it says in I Timothy 5:13, speaking of the ladies of the New Testament church:
And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought
Here is another passage. II Timothy 3:5-7:
Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Dear friends, we don't live in the type of communities where our wives tend to go from house to house gossiping. They tend to go from blog to blog gossiping. And they spend their day going from blog to blog gossiping. And some of you are letting them. Some of you are encouraging them. And guess who they're gossiping about? It's not the world. It's Pastor Joe. It's homeschool state leader Sally. It's Charlie. It's my friend John.

Guess who's watching? The world is watching. When the lesbian, feminist, transgender publishing house Beacon Press decided to release their exposé this month on families that believe in large households, they knew exactly who to go for. Go to the internet assassins. Go to the blogosphere gossips and get the information to denounce and divide the homeschool movement directly from the wives who live on the internet, gossiping 24/7.

It's a bigger problem than you realize, men. And it is causing heartache. It is creating problems.
At this point, Phillips told the story of an email he received from the headmaster of a Christian school who said he had heard that Phillips believed "if your wife doesn't agree with you . . . she should be executed."

"Do you still hold to this position? And could you share with me your biblical passages for supporting the execution of your wife?"

The men in attendance laughed heartily at the apparent foolishness of this headmaster.

Phillips did not laugh.

"Dear Mr. Academy President," he said he replied, "No, I don't hold to that position, and, by the way, why in the world would any sane man suggest something like this?" The reason? According to Phillips, because he had read such claims on a number of slanderous websites, "DirtyDogs.com and WhistleblowersOfJehovah and Titus2LesbianFeminists.com, and VeryRighteousWomenOfGraceWhoHaveTheSpiritualGiftOfCriticism.com, and things like that." --A comment the audience obviously felt was very witty, gauged by their laughter. But, once more, Phillips did not laugh.

"The time has come for us to grow up, brothers," Phillips urged his audience.
It's time to grow up. It's time to introduce a little bit of civility. It's time to find such behavior completely unacceptable or you will not be here in five years. And your families will be destroyed. Your churches will be split. And the world will come down around you.

Listen to what the Scripture says.
He that hideth hatred with his lips, and he that uttereth slander, is a fool. [NOTE: The KJV actually says, "He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool." --Proverbs 10:18. --JAH]

For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together. [Psalm 31:13a--JAH]

He that hideth with lying lips, and he that uttereth slanders is a fool." [A repeated slight misquoting of Proverbs 10:18. --JAH]

Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD. [Leviticus 19:16--JAH]

A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends. [Proverbs 16:28--JAH]

The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly. [Proverbs 26:22--JAH]
. . . Friends, the message that I'm sharing with you today is: If you want to raise up leadership; if that's something that you really want to do, we're going to have to demonstrate leadership ourselves.

This means shepherding our wives. It means discipling our sons. It means having a level of civility in our conversation and not tolerating railing gossip or those that engage in it--not giving them aid or comfort. Not giving them shelter. Not welcoming them. But, by God's grace, preserving and protecting the sheep from these very problems.

As we move into the future, we're going to need to sit down with our sons. We're going to need to put them around godly men. We're going to need to train them up in the Word of God. We're going to need to address core principles of vision.

And I want to close by saying there are at least five, six, perhaps seven things--and I'll just state what they are--that are going to be key elements of the battleground. These are the areas that we're going to have to fight for and this is the training ground for our leadership.

The very first one is the church. We must be involved in godly, family-integrated, orthodox, sound churches. Without accountability, without the love of brethren, without the nurturing and the teaching of the Bible, we will fall apart, and the homeschool movement can no longer tolerate, it can no longer handle, unassociated Christian members that are simply not willing to be part of formal biblical associations.

We need it for accountability and you're going to need it for a lot more. I pray this never happens, I hope it never, never, never happens. But you could very well see a day in which there is judgment and persecution on the church, in which people are willing to turn in their brothers and sisters to the coliseum, turn them in to the state, and get goodies from the state, be appreciated by the state, and things like that. We will need churches to protect one another. If we ever find ourself in a state of martial law; if somebody puts anthrax in one of our major water supplies; if there is a suitcase nuke, which is opened up in a major city, we could very well see panic break out.

It is this time that the church can thrive as we seek to minister to others, if we are prepared, if we are well disciplined.

The church militant isn't a bunch of gun-toting people going out on the streets to establish a paramilitary takeover from the government, but it is the church militant in the sense that we are taking the Gospel everywhere in the midst of the most difficult circumstances imaginable. And it will involve preparation for difficult times.

In those times, you had better have strategic relationships, you better have friendships that are built on something which is a little bit deeper, a little bit stronger. We will not be able to tolerate the type of immaturity which oftentimes runs rampant within the homeschool movement. We need mature men. We need older men. And at the end of the day, we need grandfathers. And that's what will come. Remember I started today, and I said to you, "What will be the sign of a truly mature movement in 50 years?" It will be a truly mature movement if we see grandfathers, if we see men that are able to gather their children around them when they die, discipling them, teaching them, leading them and giving them the hope of the Gospel. We need grandfathers in this movement. And that's your role. That's who you will be. That's part of your future as we prepare to give a multigenerational vision, as we prepare to train for the rebuilding of Christian family culture, as we prepare to cast a vision for our sons of biblical manhood and biblical womanhood, as we seek to see unity between the church and the family, as we seek once again to develop the old paths of Hebraic discipleship which God has called us to embrace.
And he set captains of war over the people, and gathered them together to him in the street of the gate of the city, and spake comfortably to them, saying, Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria, nor for all the multitude that is with him: for there be more with us than with him: With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon the words of Hezekiah king of Judah. [2 Chronicles 32:6-8--JAH]

Rather than holding off posting while I spend another day or two analyzing the end of Phillips' speech--which is where, in my opinion, "the rubber hits the road" in terms of solid, programmatic recommendations--I thought I would release this now "for information's sake."

You want to know about CHEC's proposed homeschool manifesto? Here is a goodly portion of it.

We will hear more of it in days to come.


ETA as of Thursday afternoon, May 7, 2009:

Okay. Time for my comments on this final, long portion of Phillips' speech. Rather than making a new post, I thought I would place my comments here, in the post itself where I hope readers will respond.

You may have already gathered, I was amen-ing most everything Phillips said at the start of his speech. I began to become troubled at the point where he spoke of the homeschool movement being "in a state of potential disaster."

Now, at the moment he said that, I realized the "disaster" to which he referred might be something for which I would--and should--feel true distress or it was possible that he could have used the term in a manner that would trouble me, but (in my opinion) inappropriately. I might have discovered that (from my perspective), he was engaged in fear-mongering.

So what is the "disaster" to which he was referring? Something, he said, that would require not some kind of generic preparation of "parents" with their "children," "fathers and mothers" with their "sons and daughters." Oh, no! That's not good enough! Rather, something that, for some reason, uniquely requires "fathers" to prepare their "sons." And not even some kind of generic preparation, but "manly" preparation; indeed, preparation of sons to be "hardy, manly, vigorous men."

Whatever could it be?
Before I say anything more, perhaps I should confess a potential "conflict of interest" or bias in my way of hearing words like these.

I suffered severe asthma as a child. By the time I entered 5th grade, while all the boys my age were able to engage in what many might consider "hardy, manly, vigorous" sports, I was still physically underdeveloped. I lacked the strength to throw a basketball high enough to hit the rim of the basket. I couldn't do it.

During the course of that year, I gained the strength. By getting my whole body into the movement, if I cradled the ball in the palms of my hands and used both arms to swoop it upward, in an underhand motion, I finally got the ball over the top of the rim and eventually began to make baskets.

By high school, I was "not bad" enough to get a few minutes of play time on the church basketball team. I actually went out for cross-country for a day or two until my flat feet hobbled me so that I could hardly even walk.

I became an aggressive bicycle rider in high school. But, by and large, I was never one of the "hardy, manly, vigorous men" on campus. I was the guy who got spit upon in the locker room by the guys who would have met that description of being "hardy, manly, [and] vigorous" (y'know, the guys we called "jocks").

My "playing field," the place where I found I could shine, was much more in the social and--even better--intellectual realms. Moreover, though I had a number of guy friends, in general I felt I related better to girls. I felt like I understood them better than I did the "manly men." Indeed, I didn't like the "manly men" . . . any more than they seemed to like me.

So--I'm just saying--I don't immediately take to talk of "manly men." Such speech doesn't attract me. And though I am pleased to think that I may be in better physical condition today than I have been at any time prior in my life, and though I am (speaking very honestly, here!) rather (possibly even sinfully) proud of the fact that I may be in better physical condition than most of those guys who at one time proudly strutted and flaunted their "hardy, manly, vigorous" physiques, I always take such speech [imagining such speech being something that one might drink, through one's mouth; . . . --I take such speech] with several grains of salt firmly planted on my tongue. [Sorry for the note about "drinking" speech; but how else can one "take [something] with a grain of salt"?]
So what specific type of potential disaster does Phillips believe requires such uniquely masculine qualities to overcome? He says it has something to do with how "we as a movement are . . . beginning to be divided, and elements of effeminacy are once again beginning to creep in."

Strange: According to to Phillips, effeminacy is not just beginning to creep in, but it is once again beginning to creep in! (Is he, by that adverbial phrase, meaning to remind us of a previous reference he made to effeminacy creeping into the homeschool marketplace (see his "A Vision for the Family" speech and search for the word effeminacy)? Or is he suggesting that effeminacy had crept into the homeschooling movement at some time in the past, had been removed, but is now returning? --I want to be careful, here, not to misunderstand this danger. But his phraseology is a bit ambiguous.)

As far as I can make out, his historical review of the Christian homeschool movement is fairly accurate. I find it intriguing, tantalizing, challenging. As a father--and as someone who wants to speak to fathers--I think it is appropriate to challenge dads: "Have you caught the vision to disciple your children? Are you so tied up in the things of the world, that you lack a vision for discipling your children? Have you turned your heart to your children?"

I believe this is a necessary message--even today--for the bulk of the church.

But in order to answer this call (I believe of God), do we require the uniquely "hardy, manly, vigorous" men to whom Phillips referred? Or can some of us who seem to lack the extra testosterone, the martial spirit that Phillips seems to suggest we need: can we participate in discipling our kids, too?

Well, then he spoke of how he thought the homeschool movement is losing its bearings because--apparently--not enough of us have bought into the Rushdoony/North/VanTillian presuppositional approach to apologetics, and not enough people are writing books that deal with the fundamentals of educational philosophy, and--I gather, possibly most of all--because far too few of us express our love for Christ through outward obedience to God's Law-Word the way the Rushdoony/North/[Swanson/Phillips?] Postmillennial Dominionist/Reconstructionist theologians believe we ought.

Those of us who cooperate in any way with the public school system, too, have proven ourselves traitors to the cause. "We need to realize the state has zero jurisdiction in education." Apparently, if any of us does not take an aggressive stance against the public school system, or if any of us sense that there is any valid role for a state-run Child Protective Services: we have proven ourselves "enemy" to Phillips and his paisanos; we are on the wrong side; Phillips knows better: two key goals of the homeschool movement need to include the destruction of the entire government-run school system and the abolition of Child Protective Services. If you disagree; if your goals don't include these things: you are part of the problem and not the solution; you are causing the homeschool movement to lose its bearings.

If, in our families, Mom oversees the educational program: we are wrong. We are misleading our families and the homeschool movement as a whole.

If we attend or support or contribute to a church that offers a church-based or church-run school: we are wrong; we are placing the homeschool movement at grave risk.

If we prepare our daughters, potentially, to pursue some kind of professional service outside the home (what Phillips calls "careerism"); if we do not assume in their behalf--so that we prepare them solely to marry, bear children, and stay at home: then we are wrong, we are in sin, we are threatening the future of the homeschool movement, we have gotten ourselves involved in rebellious, feminist theology.

If we happen to believe, on Scriptural and scientific grounds--as have numerous stalwarts of the faith down through the millennia--that Genesis 1-11 do not necessarily require a literal, six-24-hour-days creation of the universe: we, too, are engaged in grievous, destructive, compromise theology, and are part of the threat to the future of the homeschool movement.

And did you dare to think--even for a moment--that Sarah Palin might possibly have made a decent vice president for the United States? --If you did, you have been grossly misled and are ignoring perhaps the most important verse in the Bible when it comes to defining what biblical femininity is all about--Titus 2:5, where, Phillips appears to say, Paul has stated it as a rule for all time and in all cultures--young women are to be keepers at home (homemakers, workers at home). They have no other rightful role. (And, as already noted, parents of young women have no business preparing their daughters for any other roles.)

Ah! But then there is the biggest problem of all: "The female sin of . . . gossip-mongering" on the internet. Clearly, this is such a large problem that the men to whom Phillips spoke needed to attend to that sin more than to (what Phillips mentioned in passing) their own "sin of the internet," pornography.

Oh. And then one last item. --Phillips said he would list "five, six, perhaps seven things"; but he only mentioned one. One last item that is "key . . . [to] the battleground." And what is that? "We must be involved in godly, family-integrated, orthodox, sound churches." Four months ago, I wouldn't have recognized the buzz word in the midst of that sentence. I wouldn't have realized the coded, almost brand name: "family-integrated." And if I had, I would have asked why anyone would care a fig about it. Don't we all want our families to be involved in our churches? Don't we all want to attend churches that are friendly to the entire family?

Well, yes. But not quite.

You see, you need to understand what that coded "brand name" really entails. I recommend you do a search online for family integrated church. Read the positive perspectives (like D. Baisley's brief comment about the book titled Family-Integrated Church by J. Mark Fox), and the critical as well (perhaps like Pastor Wade Burleson's cautionary post . . . along with as many of the 90-some comments that follow it as you can stand; note that the follow-through comments are, some of them laudatory of Burleson's post while others are highly critical).

My point, here, is this: I am astonished that Phillips seems to focus on so many issues that, while potentially helpful to some, seem generally off-subject for the majority of homeschoolers.

Now, maybe I'm being unfair. He was intending to speak to a select group of homeschool "leaders" . . . or aspiring leaders. And so, perhaps, for some, some of the issues he raises are worthy, at least, of some thoughtful consideration.

On the other hand, since when did the homeschool marketplace become dominated solely by Reconstructionists? Since when did it become necessary for and central to the purpose of the homeschool movement to seek the utter abolition and destruction of government schools?

Frankly, honestly: While I would love to see the government get out of the educational business, I don't see that happening anytime soon. And if, and as long as, guys like Phillips push their more radical agenda while marginalizing any others among us who don't want to jump on his unique bandwagon, I sense he is unnecessarily and destructively not only "bifurcating" the homeschool movement (as he suggested he might be doing), but he is raising the "bar" for entry into home education unnecessarily--and, if I might say so--illegitimately too high for those who have never gotten in to begin with. (My opinion.)

Phillips and his paisanos, in attempting to call the "leaders" of the homeschool movement to full-bore home educational discipleship, are ruling out the possibility that others might be able to be--what I might call--homeschool evangelized. From these guys' perspective, it seems you must either buy-in wholly to their (what I will call) "extreme" brand of homeschooling, or nothing at all.

This, I am now realizing, is why Sonlight was banned from the CHEC convention.

Of course, we weren’t informed of CHEC's movement to the place where you must either agree with all of the propositions Swanson and Phillips raise or you will be considered unbiblical. But, I think it has become clear, that is where they are coming from.

How sad for the homeschool movement as a whole.

You either join them, or you're banned. Either take them as the purveyors of final truth, or keep your mouth shut (or they will be glad to attempt to muzzle you).


One last comment. At least for the moment.

About daughters.

Phillips didn't mention in his speech the issue of how wives should be helpers that are "meet" (or "appropriate" or "suitable") for their husbands (Genesis 2:18)--a theme these guys who stress the "complementary" roles of men and women often emphasize.

But it just really bothers me.

What if a man wants--because, in fact, he is convinced she really would be the absolutely finest co-worker--a woman who is highly educated, insightful, sharp, inquisitive, a critical thinker . . . y'know, kind of like what I expect Doug Phillips' wife, Beall, is--well-educated, capable of speaking knowledgeably on all manner of subjects besides home, children, food and decoration. . . . What if a guy ardently desires a Marie Curie kind of woman? Or--in my case--a Sarita Holzmann kind of woman. Or . . . well, I don't think I need to add to the list.

I didn't want a wall-flower. I wanted--I sensed I needed--someone who could, as it were, "take me on" intellectually.

Why should Doug Phillips', or Kevin Swanson's, or anyone else's preference for a "Titus 2:5 woman" hold precedence over my preference for a Proverbs 31:14 or 31:16 or, even, 31:17 woman? (And for that last verse--let me say, this kind of woman is not my preference, though I expect she is for some men--could she possibly be this kind of woman--or is she not allowed? Is it impossible for such a woman to love God with all her heart, soul, mind and strength?)


I'm going to quit here, again. At least for now.

I'm afraid I haven't been terribly insightful, but I thought I should say something. It's been on my heart.

Thanks for listening.

Next post in this series: More on Doug Phillips' vision for the future of homeschooling in America.
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