30 October 2011

Spurgeon on Home-Schooling and Catechesis

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
posted by Phil Johnson

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. The Following excerpt is from "The Form of Sound Words," a sermon preached Sunday morning, 11 May 1856, at New Park Street Chapel, southwark.

he reason why men forsake truth for error is, that they have not really understood that truth, in nine cases out of ten they have not embraced it with enlightened minds.

Let me exhort you, parents as much as lieth in you, to give your children sound instruction in the great doctrines of the gospel of Christ.

I believe that what Irving once said is a great truth. He said, "In these modern times you boast and glory, and you think yourselves to be in a high and noble condition, because you have your Sabbath-schools and British-schools, and all kinds of schools for teaching youth. I tell you," he said, "that philanthropic and great as these are they are the ensigns of your disgrace; they show that your land is not a land where parents teach their children at home. They show you there is a want of parental instruction; and though they be blessed things, these Sabbath-schools, they are indications of something wrong, for if we all taught our children there would be no need of strangers to say to our children 'Know the Lord.'"

I trust you will never give up that excellent puritanical habit of catechising your children at home. Any father or mother who entirely gives up a child to the teaching of another has made a mistake.

There is no teacher who wishes to absolve a parent from what he ought to do himself! He is an assistant, but he was never intended to be a substitute. Teach your children; bring up your old catechisms again, for they are after all blessed means of instruction, and the next generation shall outstrip those that have gone before it, for the reason why many of you are weak in the faith is this, you did not receive instruction in your youth in the great things of the gospel of Christ. If you had, you would have been so grounded, and settled, and firm in the faith, that nothing could by any means have moved you.

C. H. Spurgeon


CGrim said...

One of the most reassuring things I've seen at our church is how many international students from China have been introduced to Christ while studying here in the U.S. and committed their lives entirely to his service, despite having spent their formative years being indoctrinated in communist chinese public schooling. It has occurred to me that perhaps God does this on purpose, demonstrating his power to rescue his sheep out of even the deepest of ravines.

Although I suppose the case could be made that California public schooling actually represents the deepest of ravines. Nevertheless, what is impossible with man is possible with God.

stratagem said...

I agree with the California comment. I suspect many Chinese, having seen the bitter fruits of state-sponsored Atheism, have an easier time seeing the need for an alternative. And the Holy Spirit starts and finishes the job!

Geldie said...

Is Spurgeon speaking about homeschooling??? Really? Back in his day they taught the Bible in public school. Was he telling parents not to leave the responsibility of teaching & instructing the gospel to the teachers in school but on the parents. Cathecism was part of the school
Curriculum back in Spurgeons days.

Sir Brass said...

He was saying to not leave one's child's education completely up to others, but to be chief over it.

Basically, don't just drop your kids off at public school and expect the state to raise them.... if you want a bit of a modern analogy

benj said...

Who was Spurgeon quoting that was saying, "Know the Lord?" The Public School teacher, that's who! It must have been guilt producing in the day for a school teacher to have to tell your kids "Know the Lord."

I love Spurgeon, but I would have loved to see him quote some scripture to support his point. I wonder if he would have prooftext Deut 6, Proverbs 22:6, Eph. 6:4 (The Homeschool Doctrine, presumably) like the modern day militant homeschoolers do?

Because Spurgeon makes positive argument for homeschooling in this article does that mean this is further evidence that homeschooling, as we understand it today, is “God’s Way?” Is that the point of the post?

Anonymous said...

I think the title having "home schooling" in it was just a play on words. I am quite sure that Spurgeon was not exhorting all believers to school their children at home. He was saying that we should not leave the teaching of the gospel to our children completely to others.

Even if schools are teaching Bible in school, it is still the parents responsibility to make sure that their children are learning the truth of God's Word from them. Whether or not you home school, as a parent you better take Deut. 6 pretty seriously!

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am speaking as a proud home school mom who has loved the responsibility that has been required of me over the last fourteen years (and counting) as I have taught my children. I am sorry for those who come across as "militant home schoolers". I suppose it is easy for anyone who truly believes that the choice they are making is "right" wants to encourage others to think the same way they do. (Not just home schoolers as I have met some pretty militant public schoolers!)

Alienrighteousness said...

What do you make of Spurgeon's comments when he quotes Irving saying,, "you think yourselves to be in a high and noble condition, because you have your Sabbath-schools ...I tell you," he said, "that philanthropic and great as these are, they are the ensigns of your disgrace; they show that your land is not a land where parents teach their children at home. They show you there is a want of parental instruction; and though they be blessed things, these Sabbath-schools, they are indications of something wrong."

Did Spurgeon just say that the very existence of these sabbath-schools is our disgrace and the evidence that there is something wrong? Something to think about perhaps? Maybe Spurgeon understood something that we don't.

GW said...

Spurgeon - "Teach your children; bring up your old catechisms again"

What catechism would Spurgeon have used?

GW said...

I suppose http://www.spurgeon.org/catechis.htm


This is interesting to me, because I listen to a lot of Dr. MacArthur online and others, but I never hear anything about using a catechism. I never heard of it growing up in very Baptist East Texas. Why the disconnect?

benj said...


Here is my definition of a militant homeschooler: Someone who states, suggests, or otherwise implies, in any way shape or form, that homeschooling is the only God obedient way to educate all Christian kids.

Leaders and followers of militant homeschooling will typically use politically conservative language to demonize public or private education, i.e., words and phrases like, “state run schools,” “State School Empire,” “state education,” “government-run schools,” “government-school people,” “government schoolers,” “the enemy’s schools,” and the like. What conservative would want that? They do this because the Bible doesn’t make the case persuasively enough on its own.

Also employed is the very typical use of emotional phrases to guilt non-homeschoolers, or brand new parents, or new members of a church, into homeschooling. Your comment above is suspect to me because I have seen similar “Loved” and “Responsibility” verbiage used in this way.

If you sincerely believe that homeschooling is “right” for you, does this mean it has to be “right” for all? A militant homeschooler would imply, state, or suggest it does.

There are popular homeschool leaders telling their followers that unless you homeschool your children, you are not qualified to be an elder at your church. There are other homeschool leaders telling their followers, “May it never be said again of any of those who name the name of Christ that they rendered unto Caesar the things that are God’s—his covenant children.” (RC Sproul Jr., When You Rise Up, p. 139) Spiritualized meaning: that if I send my kids to public school I am rendering to Caesar the things (my kids) that are God’s. I prefer the literal meaning.

The influence of these homeschool leaders has permeated just about every church with homeschoolers in it. If we are not careful we will fall into works righteousness. It’s subtle. The militant would say we are saved by grace, but then add the burden of their law upon another’s shoulders. There are web sites for “recovering Christian homeschoolers.” It’s that bad out there. It’s the new Party of the Circumcision.

If this doesn’t apply to you, then you are a homeschooler that is doing it right! More power to you. Keep on keeping on!

God is sovereign in the salvation of our kids and homeschooling will not make that more or less true. In other words, if one homeschools their kids, God won’t be more inclined to save them. If I don’t homeschool my kids, God won’t be less inclined to save them either. That is works righteousness and many secretly or unknowingly trust in this program.

CGrim said...

I'm a little uncomfortable with the term "militant homeschooler" because it just seems to be demonizing in a different direction.

My kids aren't quite school age yet, but for a while I did feel a lot of anxiety from those who insisted that homeschooling was the only legitimate option if parents truly cared about their children's spiritual condition. That was before we found our current church, where the pastor sends all his kids to public school, coaches local little league teams, etc and basically uses every opportunity to pierce deep into the community with the gospel.

I've come to suspect that a lot of the people who are fervent advocates of homeschooling are mostly seeking to validate the parenting decisions that they've already made.

Sometimes I forget my own experience - I went through public schooling (in New Jersey!), yet at no time was I ever out of God's reach. Indeed, some of the most faithful believers I know today were also students at that same public school.

With a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, the Lord brings his people out, even out of public schooling.

CGrim said...

(Nevertheless, I agree with much of what benj said about the similarities to works righteousness.)

Geldie said...

CGrim - love that your Pastor is leading by example to you & your congregation to not live in fear of this world.
My husband & I were saved not just from public school but from very dis functional homes - but God is sovereign He had a plan for my life. Sometimes I think we live as Christian atheists because we follow this recipe ( marry a Christian, have babies & raise them God's way) and map out our lives & where is God in this whole equation? Are we parenting like Armenians or Calvinists? Thinking we choose - not God choosing? Like there is something or anything we can do to usher anyone into the kingdom?? NOT!!!That's works
righteous not saved by grace!!! Been Catholic - done that!
No thank you!! Reading "Give Them Grace" by Elyse Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson ...it's so good! Salvation is of the Lord!!! As parents we need to not be parents who tell our children to follow rules but parents who are in love with Christ and being examples of what that looks like. I think you'd really enjoy this book CGrim!!!
Dan Phillips book on "God's Wisdom in Proverbs" has an appendix which explains Proverbs 22:6! Great read as well.

Tyrone said...

Look as I may but I am yet to find anything this man ever said that I disagree with.

Anonymous said...

I noted most specifically Spurgeon's comments on "Sabbath schools" which is our modern day Sunday School. There is much to say about it, but i agree wholeheartedly that we cannot abdicate our roles as primary instructors in the things of God to our children. Too often have we left the full instruction to the Sunday school teachers. We are to train up our children and disciple them, as their parents..

Regarding homeschooling, I am a mom that homeschools our eldest, while the 3 youngest are at the public elementary school. I fear for the generaliziation that most of us are "militant homeschoolers", as that is not the case. Each one must pray about it. We are praying about it. Our 3rd grader has asked that he be homeschooled next year, and I am fine with that. I also would've been fine w/ him wanting to continue in the Public School system.

Either way, it is a matter between you and the Lord. There must be grace on both sides of the fence: for those that don't homeschool, and for those that do.

The primary thing I heard in that Spurgeon snippet was that we, as parents, need to step-up and teach our children the ways of the Lord, and not leave it to everyone else.

As far as "catechizing" goes, it is a series of q & a's on what you believe and why you believe it. Valuable.

I absolutely enjoyed this post, as it reaffirmed some things for us. Thanks for posting it.