A big part of the reason is simply financial. We've been struggling to make ends meet, and it has been necessary to re-evaluate. Then there's the fact that Hannah's social group seems to have disappeared (and it is a very small school - a factor that attracted us in the first place, and up until now has been a lovely thing!). I've appreciated lots of things about the school community. Both of my kids have some "quirks" (how could they not, with me as a mother!) that mean they sometimes need a bit of extra understanding and TLC - and the teachers they've had there have been supportive, gracious and caring. If I needed to look for examples of love, from people who are invested in the Christian "institution" - I could very honestly say that I have seen them there, with a consistency that can't, and shouldn't, be dismissed. I have seen, in so many of the teachers there, the genuine love of God. If we could stop there, I would be fighting to find the funds to keep my kids in that education community.
But... (and it's a REALLY. BIG. BUT.) I've come to the conclusion that the fundamental theology that the school teaches, is damaging my kids' faith. I've struggled for a long time, with knowing how to share with my kids a faith that is real and life-giving, without burdening them with the same religious shackles I grew up with, and have taken not years, but decades to recover from! I still don't have the
answer to that - but for us, at this time, "Christian" schooling is not it. One child has been avoiding school on the days that "Biblical Studies" is being taught. The other has simply learned to parrot when necessary, then dismiss the content as irrelevant. They can't stomach the rigid doctrines; they are unwilling to place their thinking into the bridle and blinkers being offered - and I wholeheartedly support them! Signing up to a specific doctrinal stance, and swearing allegiance to a single, culturally and historically determined "interpretation" is NOT faith. It is most definitely not a pre-requisite for a connection with God. Dogma and relationship are poles apart. I want my children to discover genuine relationships with others and with God. And this religious stuff is getting in the way!!
Somehow, the very assumption that the "foundation" for "a good Christian life" is "correct (!???!) doctrine" is something I can no longer get my head around, at all. It makes absolutely NO sense, and the reason it makes none, is the person of Jesus.
Now, I'm still meandering towards my big Jesus manifesto... but as I write this, I'm realising it isn't going to fit into a single post, and this one is probably a bit too higgledy piggledy to be "it" anyway. However, since the "Biblical Studies" component at school has been catalytic in our final decision to abandon "Christian education", perhaps this is a good point to think about what it is I do and don't believe, about the Bible.
As in the "Things I don't believe" list - I may tweak this over time... but here it is, as I see it today!
- I don't believe that the Bible is some kind of "magic book". There's no inherent power in the actual printed words on the pages of whatever modern translation OR ancient document you care to name.
- I don't believe that the printed words in translations or ancient originals are "inerrent". Face it, translations are FULL of mistakes, and the whole thing comes, and always has done, via human perspectives.
- I don't believe that there is only one plain, clear way to read and interpret the Bible. Contrary to what I was often told as a young person - the truth of the Bible is NOT plain and easily read. It is a text that needs to be wrestled with. It is full of contradictions and difficulties, and will provoke more questions than answers.
- I don't believe that the Bible is a "rule book". Yes, it contains the books of Jewish religious law, but these are not the whole story, or even the whole point (I actually believe that the laws speak in pictures, of greater realities - but that's a whole other study!)
- I don't believe the Bible is a science text. ANY of it. It is a collection of poetry, history and various narratives. All of its writings are embedded in their own social and historic contexts. None of them were written with the purpose of what we would call "scientific education" in mind.
- I don't believe that the Bible is the ONLY way God speaks, or has ever spoken, to mankind.
- I don't believe God stopped speaking when the "canon" of Scripture was closed.
- I do believe that the flawed, human perspectives contained in the books we call the Bible, are valuable because they are flawed, human perspectives. If we are meant to connect, and to relate, rather than "follow rules", it is better to have a text that cannot be followed like a rule book (and much as people have tried over centuries to do just that, I think it is obvious that this really doesn't work!)
- I do believe that the story of the Bible is powerful, because it is the story of mankind wrestling with and grappling with understanding ultimate reality and experiencing the divine response to that wrestling.
- I do believe that the Bible is inspired. If it is (as I believe it is) a collection of authentic accounts of humanity (in all its gory reality) encountering the power of the divine - then the shape of the divine should be discernable within it.
- I do believe that the Bible, in it's entirety, points to the person of Jesus.
Incidentally - this is, according to blogger - my 100th blog post! Perhaps I should bake myself a cake!!!