Excellence and humility
Christian homeschooled students have the potential to become truly significant leaders in their adult lives. However, there are two forms of error that need to be avoided—even rebuffed—in order for this potential to become a reality.
The first error is the noted propensity among evangelical Christians to embrace attitudes of “anti-intellectualism.” For several generations, Bible-believing Christians have shunned academic scholarship as a pursuit, much in the same way that generations of such Christians shunned political involvement. We have reaped consequences from our neglect of both of these areas of human endeavor.
As is so often true, definitions of terms are essential to a proper understanding of an issue. I will use the term intellectual to simply mean a person who is an excellent scholar with integrity. This is not the popular or operational definition in most universities. But for our purposes this is what I mean by the term.
There is a good case to be made that Christians need to be excellent scholars. We need to be the ones most vigorous and rigorous in our search for the truth—living in full confidence that all truth is God’s truth and that the truth will never contradict God’s revealed truth in Scripture.
We see this approach to scholarship commended in Scripture when the Apostle Paul writes, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness” (2 Timothy 2:15–16; KJV). Christians should strive to be the finest workmen in every field of endeavor—including academic fields that are so overrun with professors who reject the very idea that there is such a thing as truth.
Homeschooling moms, lacking the credentials that the world believes are necessary to provide quality elementary and secondary education, are actually mentoring their sons and daughters with the academic prowess to enter the highest echelons of academia. Our students are bright and if they will work hard, they can climb to the very top of this world.
We need to recover lost ground. Academic institutions in America were once dominated by excellent Christian scholars. The students of those eras produced our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and a republic that has endured for well over 200 years.
We need more men and women of the stature of William Tyndale, John Witherspoon, and C.S. Lewis. Ideas have consequences and we need to be people of ideas with the ability to communicate those ideas with excellence and persuasiveness.
Yes, we must avoid the tendency of Bible-believing Christians to reject the rigor of intellectual life. But we must also reject the temptation of intellectual life to embrace arrogance.
Homeschooled students, like anyone else who is repeatedly told how smart he is, after a while start believing their own press and can develop the deadly disease of intellectual pride. The Bible warns: “We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Corinthians 8:1; NIV). Likewise Isaiah says, “Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight” (Isaiah 5:21; NIV).
Knowledge can lead to the core sin of our race—pride. Satan was hanging out under the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, not the tree of idleness.
Pride blinds us to the big truths of life. Arrogance can make us unable to see the needs of those around us. It can also offer us excuses to turn our backs upon God or treat Him as if He were an advisor rather than the Sovereign God of the universe.
We need to be training our children—including those on the edge of adulthood—that humility and love are as essential to true greatness as excellence. Indeed these characteristics define excellence of the spirit. Loving God requires us to be committed to Him with both our minds and our spirits.