...only by the grace of God...
1) Do you believe in God as presented in the Bible? (The only being existing before creation, creator of all that exists exept for himself, omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient.)
The answer for Mr. Engel is yes.
2) Do you believe in Jesus Christ as presented in the Bible (fully God, fully man, virgin born, perfect, sinless life, substitutionary atoning death made for all) as your personal Lord and Savior?
The answer for Mr. Engel is yes.
The more I think about the challenge of trying to give complete, comprehensive, thoughtful, honest responses to the many issues already raised, and the multitude of other ones that must naturally arise as you start to peel back the onion, the more it is clear to me that I am incapable of doing the job well, and a forum like this is a poor venue for even attempting such.
At the same time, I want to say some things I hope are constructive and helpful, and I feel the need to try. Anyone even looking at just recent posts knows I can be long-winded, so to say I hope to be as brief as possible has little meaning. But, I do intend to be as brief as possible.
I am, and have been for some time, working on something completely separate but related to all of this that I hope to finish very soon. If it ever gets posted it will fill in a lot of pieces that I am either going to bypass altogether or just touch on here.
With all of that preamble, I think it is appropriate to really begin by saying that being a parent is the hardest job, bar none. I have six children with ages from 28 to 11. No one knows the mistakes I have made along the way better than I do.
Life might have been simpler if I could have just signed up for (fill in the blank name's) parenting program, followed all of their human rules, and blamed all of the problems that resulted on someone else.
My wife and I do not tend to live like that. For our homeschool curriculum we use one source for math, another for science, another for history, another for etc., etc., etc.
We have followed a similar pattern for our parenting. Stumbling into the role of parents at the arrival of our first child it was obvious that we had much to learn. And with each child and each stage of growing up we have continued to realize that we continued to have much to learn, and are still learning.
To learn something you must find someone who both knows it and has both the ability and willingness to teach it. In our quest to learn to parent we have looked at what has been said by many different teachers and would-be teachers. We have attempted to weigh the teaching offered by two principle standards: (1) what God says, and (2) the results produced by those following such teaching.
As with our homeschool curriculum we looked to many different sources. We looked at what they taught. To the best of our ability we measured it against the Bible, and we looked very, very carefully at how such teaching worked or did not work. We especially tried to look not just at the immediate results, but at what kind of adults it produced. If you were to try to label us with a slogan we would hope that something along the line of "We are not raising children, we are raising adults" would not be unreasonable. But, if that slogan was all you knew about us you could very easily go very far away from how we have actually dealt with specific circumstances and phases of raising up our children.
In the course of looking at many different people with many different opinions about how to raise children we have "discovered" the not so surprising "truth" that there is no one who is 100% correct in all circumstances, and also that even those with which we have serious disagreement may have useful ideas and insights on some things in some circumstances.
Among those whose teaching we have become familiar are Mike and Debi Pearl. We have seen and read what they have written for about 15-16 years. I know pretty well what they teach. It was that knowledge that prompted me to respond when I read things on this forum that, in my opinion slandered and falsely misrepresented what they teach in such a way as to insinuate guilt by association for murder.
I did not jump in to blindly defend Mike Pearl because "he is one of 'us'". More than a single specific accusation, I saw a whole array of accusations against the homeschool community that I know to be either false, or highly exagerated. I have seen these before, repeatedly. They are not new. The only thing that was new was that they had been picked up by former homeschoolers and were being deliberately given to current homeschoolers in what I perceived as an attempt to undermine the efforts of homeschooling parents to teach their own children in the way they believe best.
(For those who think I am going to completely gloss over the existence of any and all problems, please stick with me a bit longer.)
I chose to focus on the situation with Mike Pearl because I was pretty sure I could show that the accusations as presented were simply wrong. I think I was able to do that in a reasonable manner.
Does that now mean I am going to continue by lecturing you all to go out and buy, read, believe and follow everything written and said by Mike Pearl? No, it does not. No, I am not.
As I said at the start, I do not feel capable of handling all of the issues underlying this situation, even just the basic ones raised by "To Train Up a Child", especially in a format like this forum, and also especially when some of you are so biased against certain things that at this point in your life there is no point.
Fortunately for me I do not have to answer all of your questions. God has other peope in your lives and he will lead you through circumstances as he chooses. You will continue to learn under the day you die. It is inevitable.
To touch briefly on "To Train Up a Child" I do understand the reactions to how Mike Pearl presents his teaching. But, I think there is a reality about our nature as humans (as we were created by God) that Mike Pearl recognizes and attempts to address that we as humans wish we could deny, and try very hard to deny.
(I may well mischaracterize Mike Pearl myself, but I will do my best to be fair and honest.) We are born with one center of the universe, ourselves. We want what we want and we want it now. The concept of obedience is completely foreign to us, except as we develop the idea that others can and should obey us as we express our demands.
That stands in contrast to another reality that is the obedience we must acquire to simply function in the midst of society. We must obey the government. We must obey our boss. We must control ourselves and "obey" certain social conventions if we hope to have others allow us be around them.
In the providence of God through the creation of the family, the family is the first source for training the necessary obedience. The family is not only first, it is the primary source for children, and one of the fundamental functions of the family.
Once you recognize the need for learning obedience you are faced with the choice and the challenge of how to teach it.
At this point I will simply note a few of my opinions about Mike Pearl and the approach presented in "To Train Up a Child".
-What he teaches was pretty common up until very recent times.
-There are what I consider good arguments to be made that modern child training methods have not produced better results that the older ones.
-If you will read Mike Pearl honestly and gain a true sense of what he is saying you will find that he is not advocating harshness in any way. He believes that minimal discipline promptly and consistently administered will preclude the need for harshness, which actually fails more often that it succeeds.
Beyond those few basic thoughts, as for me dealing with more specifics in "To Train Up a Child" you can mark this down as Mr. Engel's official punt. I am not going to do it. I sat down yesterday evening for a couple of hours reading and writing notes. It was during that time that I realized what I consider to be the impossibility of the task.
I am now going to make some hasty(?) generalizations. If as you think about yourself you find they in some way apply to you I suggest you think about them just a little. If they don't apply to you, just ignore them and move on. You have learned to be critical, and that is important, necessary and useful. But, sometimes in your ignorance and youthful arrogance you pass hasty judgement on things that you really do not understand yet. (I use plain English words here intentionally. We are all ignorant until we have the opportunity to learn something. God has given youth the gift of a zeal to attack the world and the audacity to believe they can succeed when they do so. He knows that you will learn as you make the attempt.)
Having come this far I am going to make a bit of a turn and say a few more things that you may or may not believe or accept.
I was definitely surprised to see Mike Pearl's name introduced into the disucssion as it was. I was further surprised to see how wide the sentiment ran with the belief of the severity of teaching supposedly advocated by Mike Pearl. I also believe that some of you may be surprised to learn that Mike Pearl has himself openly criticized the harsh discipline methods some parents use. This is not a one time passing occurrence, but in my observation an important issue of great concern to Mike Pearl.
Having said that I am going to stick my neck in the noose so you can hang me if you want. I am going to link one article that was written in two parts. I am not going to comment on it, and I am not going to defend or debate about it.
Why do I say "stick my neck in the noose"? Because I know that just like the objections raised with "To Train Up a Child" there are things Mike Pearl says, and ways that he says them, in this article that some of you will not like. So I am taking the chance that on balance bringing them to your attention will be a net benefit. But I am well aware there is no guarantee of that.http://nogreaterjoy.org/articles/jumping-ship-part-one/http://nogreaterjoy.org/articles/jumping-ship-part-two/
Miss Batman, I believe I would be remiss if I did not respond to your post. Since you are so confident in your opinions at this point I suspect it would be pointless to try to convince you of how likely it is that you will either change them some day or regret the resulting consequences.
"Also, to some extent what the Pearls actually advocate is irrelevant. If a significant number of people have interpreted it as justifying homicidal abuse, then we have a problem, even if the Pearls themselves would decry such a reading." MSD, I hope you recognize this as unfair, and that you would not like to be judged by this standard.