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Friday, October 31, 2014

The Southeast Homeschool Convention

Posted by jlwile on March 21, 2011

The Southeast Homeschool Convention is now over, and I am back home. It was an excellent convention, as I have come to expect from the organization that arranged it. There were well over 2,000 families in attendance, and the talks I gave were incredibly well attended. I signed lots of students’ books (something I truly love to do) and met all sorts of impressive homeschooled students and homeschooling parents. I also posed for lots of pictures with students, which is something else I love to do.

I wanted to address two questions I got at this conference: one dealing with homeschooling at the high school level, and one dealing with theology.

During my talk ‘Teaching’ High School at Home, a parent asked about AP and/or CLEP tests – the tests that are often used by students to get college credits without actually taking college courses. The parent wanted to know if it is a good idea to take such tests, and if so, does it matter whether one uses AP or CLEP? The first thing I told the parent is that AP or CLEP exams are always a good idea, if you can afford the fee ($87 for the AP and $122 for the CLEP). If the student does poorly, which is rare among homeschooled students, you can simply not report the results to anyone. However, if the student does well, it strengthens your high school transcript. If you can list “Chemistry” on the student’s transcript and note that the student got a “4″ on the AP (the second highest grade possible), it will go a long way towards convincing the evaluator that the student had an excellent chemistry course.

Now you need to realize that AP and CLEP tests are college-level tests, so your high school course in the subject needs to be very rigorous if the student is to have any hope of passing. I wouldn’t waste my money on an AP or CLEP test unless the student had a serious course in the subject. This brings me to the difference between the AP and the CLEP: Both test whether or not you know a subject at the college level, but the CLEP is an easier test. Thus, it is easier to get a good grade on the CLEP than it is to get a good grade on the AP. Why not just take the CLEP, then? Because since the CLEP is easier, it is not highly regarded by some colleges. There are many colleges that will give a student credit for a good score on the AP, but they won’t give the student credit for a good score on the CLEP. Thus, if you want to use the CLEP to get some college credit without taking the college classes, you need to make sure the college you are interested in accepts the CLEP.

The more important question, however, is should you use CLEP tests to get college credit without taking the college course? In my opinion, you should do so only if the course is unrelated to the student’s major. If so, it is an inexpensive way to get the annoying “distribution” credits that most colleges require for graduation, and as a bonus, you don’t have to sit through the annoying course. However, if the course is related to your major, I do not recommend testing out of it. No matter how good your high school course was, you will most likely learn more (or at least learn it better) if you take the college course. In addition, since the first few courses in a major tend to lay down important fundamentals, you should make sure you are a master at their material! If you had a great high school course, that just means it will be an easy “A,” and who couldn’t use that in the first couple of years of college?

The other interesting question I got was theological, and it was probably inspired by what I posted previously about Ken Ham. In my talk on the science that you find in the Bible, I discussed Matthew Maury, a naval officer who read Psalm 8:6-8:

You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen, And also the beasts of the field, The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.

Since Maury believed (as I do) that every word in the Bible is important, he decided that this verse meant there are actual paths in the seas. Because of this, he discovered many of the prevailing currents in the oceans, and that revolutionized world travel at the time.

A person in the audience asked me how I can be so detailed in my interpretation of Psalm 8:8 but not in Genesis 1. If I believe “path” means “path” in Psalm 8:8, why can’t I categorically state that “day” means “24-hour day” in Genesis 1?

I first made it clear that I do believe that the days in Genesis 1 were 24-hour days. However, I recognize (as theologians have since the earliest times in Christendom) that the case is far from ironclad. As a result, while I believe that they are 24-hour days, I am not about to claim that anyone who disagrees with me on that point has a poor view of Scripture.

To answer his question, however, I made it clear that “path” doesn’t really mean “path” in Psalm 8:8. It means “prevailing current.” However, it is clear what the word is meant to imply, since we have a lot of context for such an idea. We are all familiar (at least through the benefit of books) with the oceans and the fact that fish are found in them. We understand that they swim to get from point “A” to point “B,” and we understand that paths connect point “A” to point “B.” Thus, through context, it is very clear that the paths mentioned in Psalm 8:8 have something to do with getting from one point to the other in the sea.

Now move to Genesis 1. Here God is describing a one-time event that will never happen again. The only people around to witness the event came along right near the end. As a result, we have very little context for the event. In addition, what context we do have is a bit muddled. For example, Genesis 1 continues to repeat “there was evening and there was morning” to close out the account of each day. How do we recognize evening and morning? We use the sun. However, the sun was not created until day 4. Thus, the thing that we constantly use to determine evening and morning does not exist for the first three evenings and mornings!

Does that mean the days are not 24-hour days? Of course not! We know that morning turns into evening not because of the motion of the sun, but because of the rotation of the earth. As a result, if there were some other source of light that was acting roughly like a point source of light during the first three days, you could still have evening and morning as usual. However, the very fact that what we typically use to mark evening and morning didn’t exist for the first three evenings and mornings should at least give a person pause. In fact, it caused St. Augustine to write this in the early 400s AD:

“But at least we know that it [the Genesis day] is different from the ordinary day with which we are familiar; and we are attempting to discover its true nature.” (The Literal Interpretation of Genesis, 5:2)

There are other textual cues to indicate that these days might not be 24-hour days. For example, if you read the account of day 3, a straightforward reading indicates that it would take more than a 24-hour day for everything reported to actually happen. The account seems to say that plants emerged and bore fruit that had seeds. However, the fruiting process takes a lot more than 24 hours, and if we assume that the seeds and fruits were formed the normal way, then the plants had to flower and transfer pollen as well. That takes a long time. Now I personally think that God probably sped things up to make that all happen, but the point is that a straightforward reading does not indicate this. As a result, once again, it gives a person pause.

Please understand that I am not arguing that the days in Genesis were not 24-hour days. I think there are many more textual cues to indicate that they were (evening and morning, ordinals, definite articles for two of the days, etc.), and I think there are other parts of the Bible (such as Exodus 20:11) that add to those cues. My point, however, is that the text is simply not ironclad on this, and you don’t need evolution or “millions of years” to see that. Augustine, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and many other great Christian theologians did not need evolution or “millions of years” to force them to interpret the days as something other than 24-hour days. They just needed the text.

Thus, while I think the text (on balance) indicates the Genesis days were 24-hour days, the case is far from ironclad. As a result, I am not willing to say that those who see the Genesis days as something other than 24-hour days are absolutely wrong. I think they are wrong, but I am not certain they are wrong.

I was talking to a representative of Answers in Genesis about this, and he seemed flabbergasted that I do not agree with people who see the days of Genesis as something other than 24-hour days, but I fiercely defend them. He said something like, “If you think it’s bunk, why are you defending it?” That’s the point. I think it is wrong, but I do not think it is bunk. C. S. Lewis doesn’t come up with bunk. Norman Geisler doesn’t come up with bunk. Gleason Archer doesn’t come up with bunk. William Lane Craig doesn’t come up with bunk. These people are not “compromisers.” They are devout scholars who love the Word, and they have some good arguments to support their case. I am not convinced by their arguments, and I think mine are better. However, given that they each have forgotten more Biblical knowledge than I will ever learn, I will at least use them to temper my view with a bit of humility.

Comments

125 Responses to “The Southeast Homeschool Convention”
  1. Hélène says:

    I actually have a comment about the AP & CLEP scores! I am working my way toward attending Bastyr University in WA (its a 2yr finishing school for bachelor degress, along with postgrad work). They do not accept *any* CLEP scores and only accept AP for a math course or two. I can get no explanation for this policy and am having to retake several courses I should not have to.
    Really, really know which school you’re going to and if they credit for these scores or you may have knocked yourself out for nothing and have to pay tuition to take retake the material. (and no, I can’t retake these courses at Bastyr, that’s not the reasoning lol)
    Student Beware!

  2. DeLyssa says:

    “Christa, there have been many devout Christians, long before evolution, who have come to the conclusion that the Genesis days were not 24-hour days. Indeed, that thinking goes back to Jewish theologians before Christ! Thus, to say that such an interpretation is simply trying to “mix” evolution in with the Bible is just plain incorrect.”

    It disturbs me that you actually think this. Here you your self have written science books on the literal 6 days/24 hours creation and now it sounds to me like you are back tracking. Now you are saying that — what’s that comment: Jewish theologians didn’t believe in the 24 hour days. This is hypocrisy. You yourself — should know that evolution dates back to the Egyptians — they were the first people group to “believe this” simple because they did not want to be accountable to a God.

    “Dr. Enns does not QUESTION the Genesis account. He wants to know how to PROPERLY INTERPRET it. His interpretation is different from yours and mine, but that is no reason to call him an unwarranted name and level a false charge.”

    From what I have read of Peter Enns articles — you are correct — he doesn’t QUESTION the Genesis account — he simple dismisses it. Saying Adam was just a metaphor and had an ex-wife and the “flood” was just a bad idea God had that didn’t working. I would interpret that to say — he totally discredits Genesis. I find it interesting too that he says that “other cultures” talk of a flood so one shouldn’t share the account of the flood with your children?”"

    What?? Does he stop to think that the reason that other cultures talk of a flood is because there was a FLOOD and it is discussed in Genesis and it just points back that — the Bible really is TRUE. how can this be confusing to children but it should only encourage children in their faith and knowing who God is.

    Yes — I would agree his interpretation is different from mine — I am unsure about yours — and it certainly does not match the Bibles — God’s WORD. Not sure if you believe in that or not but I do!!

    “an unwarranted name and level a false charge.”

    I think calling someone a COMPROMISER is anything but a “unwarranted name” — you obviously was raised in a much SOFTER society than I but I could give you some really good unwarranted names. Ones that wouldn’t be appropriate to put here.

    ANd I would say from the research I have done on Peter Enns — A “DR” of the Anti-Christ theology — this is no false charge but it does in fact draw a line deeper in the sand about WHO we as people are going to stand for. Do we stand for God — the Alpha and the Omega — the first Adam and the last Adam –

    or will we compromise our beliefs for the fear of man instead.

  3. jlwile says:

    Maria, have you looked at Videotext Interactive? I think it is great. They would say you don’t need prealgebra – that you can start with their algebra course.

  4. jlwile says:

    Hélène, thank you so much for that excellent comment. You are absolutely right!

    The reason for their policy is that CLEP tests are much easier to pass. Some colleges just don’t see them rigorous enough to allow for credit.

  5. jlwile says:

    DeLyssa, I am not backtracking, and I am not being hypocritical. I am just stating facts. The idea that the Genesis days were not 24-hour days goes back to before Christ. This has nothing to do with evolution. It has to do with the text itself. The text itself is not nearly as clear as many young-earthers think it is. This is nothing new. I have always said that and will continue to say it, because it is quite true.

    Of course my books support a young earth, because I believe that to be true. However, I do not set myself up as the sole arbiter of Truth, so I am willing to listen to what my brothers and sisters in Christ say. I also take Romans 14:1-9 very seriously. I wish that was something ALL Christians would do!

    You are certainly incorrect about Dr. Enns ignoring the Genesis account. It is unfortunate that you mischaracterize your brother in Christ like that. Read his book. He takes great pains to determine how to interpret the Genesis account. If he dismissed it, he wouldn’t spend any time on it in his book!

    Dr. Enns believes the Bible is true. However, he believes that the first few chapters of Genesis are not historical narrative, and he cites textual reasons for that. In fact, he thinks that you are doing a GREAT disservice to the Bible to read it as historical narrative. I disagree, of course, but to falsely charge him of not thinking the Bible is true is not the way to treat a brother in Christ.

    This has nothing to do with a soft society. It has to do with speaking the truth. It is simply untrue to call Dr. Enns a compromiser, and it is untrue to say his view of inspiraton is not Biblical. It is also nothing short of libel to say he has anything to do with an anti-Christ theology. Your comment saddens me more than I can possibly express.

  6. Maria says:

    Jay,
    Thanks for the link. Sorry to bring this topic of math up here! This looks a lot like A Beka’s DVD curriculum but can I assume a little better?
    Thanks again.

  7. DeLyssa says:

    You are speaking out both sides of your mouth Mr. Jay Wile — first you say that “the idea that Genesis days were not 24-hour days goes back before Christ — which this has nothing to do with evolution — but than you say that your books support a young earth – because you believe it to be true.

    So – Question — how can you believe it to be true but say there is no historical evidence before Christ?? That makes no sense. In order to write an accurate science book I would think one would want to have solid rock evidence to support the information being presented.

    I am sorry Mr. Jay but I am thinking that you saw nothing more than an opportunity to make money in a great way and along with it gain some fame. After all the home school movement is a multi-million dollar business.

    Do you Mr. Jay Wile believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, that He is the SON of God, born of a Virgin, rose the third day — now sits at the right hand of God and is waiting for the go ahead to return to collect His Bride? Do you believe Mr. Wile??

  8. Lori Jeffries says:

    It saddens me when men of faith argue over such issues. While these are issues for debate among learned men, they are not issues of salvation. I am saddened that Mr. Hamm did not have more grace when dealing with this issue. I am sorry that you are caught up in it. My husband is a chaplain. As such we live in a very diverse world of faith. I have learned to appreciate people of faith who don’t share the specifics of my faith. What is important is matters of salvation. I will be praying for you and your family. Blessings.

  9. Kathy says:

    I believe somewhere in these comments, someone said that you could learn college-level subjects, including math, on your own. I confirmed with my older son what I had suspected. Textbooks for these subjects aren’t written for this type of learning. Also, on many occasions he’s told me how bad some math or science text is. He has plans to someday write some understandable material.

    Any plans to write or have someone write a high school psychology text?

  10. Byawp says:

    You may have read this already, but I found Tim Keller’s white paper on this issue very interesting: http://www.biologos.org/uploads/projects/Keller_white_paper.pdf

  11. jlwile says:

    Maria, I would say it is a LOT better.

  12. jlwile says:

    DeLysaa, I am not speaking out of both sides of my mouth. I am simply stating facts. The idea that the Genesis days were not 24-hour days dates to times before Christ and has nothing to do with evolution. After all, some Jewish theologians before Christ saw the Genesis days as not having to do with time at all!

    First, I did not say there was NO historical evidence before Christ. There were Jewish theologians before Christ who thought the days were 24-hour days, and there were Christian theologians from the beginning of Christendom who thought they were 24-hour days. However, there were Jewish theologians before Christ and Christian theologians from the start of Christendom who did NOT! What I said was evolution and millions of years are most certainly not the reason some theologians see the Genesis days as something other than 24-hour days, because that idea has been around since LONG BEFORE evolution and millions of years.

    Second, I believe that the Genesis days are 24-hour days because I think the BALANCE of the textual evidence suggest that. However, there is textual evidence that DOES NOT support that interpretation. Thus, while I think that 24-hour days is the proper interpretation, I am not going to label those who disagree with me as “compromisers,” because they are not. They simply consider the textual evidence differently than I do.

    How, exactly, am I making money on this? I don’t sell anything. This blog is free and has no advertisements. Assigning false motives is not the way you should treat a brother in Christ!

    I most certainly do believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, that He is the SON of God, born of a Virgin, rose the third day — now sits at the right hand of God and is waiting for the go ahead to return to collect His Bride. And, in fact, Dr. Enns believes that as well.

  13. jlwile says:

    Thank you so much for your prayers, Lori!

  14. Cathy says:

    It seems that the key problem here is that Dr. Wile believe that there have been “false” charges against Dr. Enns. Namely, the false charges are the “compromiser” comment and the “unBiblical source of inspiration” comment.

    The only means to evaluate the true/false of a charge is to examine evidence of Dr. Enns’s teaching, and how his teaching demonstrated his understanding of the Bible.

    Strangely, after examining the evidence — Namely, after watching Dr. Enns’s lecture he posted on his own blog and reading excerpts from his book, I do not find anything to support Dr. Wile’s claim that these charges are false.

    Just because past renowned theologians compromised their interpretations of the Bible to fit with their understanding of the science of their days, doesn’t mean the Dr. Enns did not engage in similar behavior.

    When we believe a Bible passage to be God-breathed as a divine revelation, we do not interpret a passage that CAN be interpreted literally simply by trusting God’s power to operate miracles as metaphoric. We do not make such metaphoric interpretations based on the fact that such miracles disagree with popular hypotheses of earth origins.

    I have read Dr. Wiles stating over and over that Dr. Enns have been faced with false charges, but very weak evidence and reasoning is being used to support how these charges are in fact false. Given that it is questionable that Dr. Enns were facing “false” charges, I do not see how it’s wrong.

  15. jlwile says:

    Kathy, that is an excellent point. School textbooks (be they high school or university) assume the presence of a teacher. Thus, it is difficult to use them in an independent-study format. However, “difficult” does not mean “impossible.” There are free lectures available at many universities. If you use the book that class is using and follow the lectures, you can do it on your own. In addition, there are some materials made for independent study. If you use both my high school books in a subject (like Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Advanced Chemistry in Creation), you have covered everything in a first-year university-level chemistry course.

    I am not a part of Apologia anymore. I don’t know their plans. I could not write high school psychology. That’s way too far from my area of expertise!

  16. jlwile says:

    Thank you for the link, Byawp.

  17. jlwile says:

    Cathy, it is wrong because the charges are false. You might disagree with Dr. Enns’s views, and you might not understand how they constitute a Biblical view of inspiration, but many other Christians do. If a view is clearly unBiblical, it should be obvious to most Christians. His view of inspiration is supported by many, many theologians and many, many Christians. That might not make it RIGHT, but it makes it very hard to say it is UNBIBLICAL.

  18. N. MacDonald says:

    My husband, son and I attended the event in Greenville and heard both John Stonestreet’s and your lectures (didn’t make it to Dr. Enns’). We reviewed and purchased several of Mr. Stonestreet’s materials (have used yours in the past), including the What We Believe Book 1 as we didn’t find any aspect of his lectures or materials “unbiblical” or “compromising”. If we do come across something that we disagree with, we’ll address that as we would do with anything else. My husband and I are realizing that (as much as we want to keep them safe) we cannot fully live out the Great Commission by creating a “safe culture” (Christian or otherwise) for our children to live in where they will not be exposed to beliefs that we don’t agree with. In these precious years of homeschooling, we hope to meet these differences together and understand them via exegesis so that they will be equipped to do this once they leave home.

    Whether my children agree with me or not on the historicity of Adam is not my primary concern. I want them to love and live the gospel. Period. There are too many other worldviews competing for their attention for me to argue about the finer points of Christianity. The point I want to make here is that sometimes our own internal bickering and name-calling compromises our higher purpose. We’ll know beyond a shadow of a doubt when God chooses to reveal His Perfect Mystery to us. Until then, I think we should try very hard to remain in solidarity as Christians (with our differences) and keep the Gospel message as our focus.

    In my desire to more fully understand the controversy, I found Apologia’s response to this issue, and thought it might contribute to the discussion.

    http://www.apologia.com/news.php?item=75

    Thanks, Dr. Wile, for demonstrating how to agree to disagree!

    Blessings to you,
    Nancy MacDonald

  19. N. MacDonald says:

    I just realized that Dr. Enns’ bible curriculum is a Peace Hill publication. So then what is the connection with John Stonestreet and the What We Believe series, if I might ask?

    Thanks, Nancy MacDonald

  20. jlwile says:

    Thank you for your comment, Nancy. Mr. Stonestreet isn’t really involved in this at all. I doubt that Mr. Ham finds anything compromising or unBiblical in his work. Mr. Ham’s ire is directed at Dr. Enns, not Mr. Stonestreet.

    I cannot agree more with your statement, “Whether my children agree with me or not on the historicity of Adam is not my primary concern. I want them to love and live the gospel. Period.” That’s all I desire from my little girl. Thank you for putting it so well!

  21. jlwile says:

    Nancy, there is no connection. Mr. Stonestreet has nothing to do with this controversy.

  22. Kim says:

    I was at the Southeast Convention in Greenville. I did not get to go to a session by Ken Ham, but I find the materials from AiG to be invaluable for educating my children. I also use the excellent materials from Apologia. I have found the materials from Peace Hill Press by Dr. Susan Wise Bauer to be extremely helpful. I might also add that I do not agree with Dr. Bauer on some theological issues, but I do not use her materials in teaching theology. Therefore, I have no problem recommending many of her materials to my friends.

    All that being said, I do not know first-hand the characterization Mr. Ham used to refer to Dr. Enns, but if it was only to call him a “compromiser”, then I find the decision to remove him from the other conventions basically nothing less than censorship. If the convention does not want to censor those such as Dr. Enns, who believes the first part of Genesis is only metaphor, then why would it censor Mr. Ham for disagreeing with him? I know there are people who do not believe in the literal Adam or the Fall, but I would not want to unknowingly buy materials from them. I think that if Mr. Ham was just showing parents what these materials contain, he was helping those of us who believe that the Bible is literally true and want to use curricula that reflect that. If Dr. Enns is selling Biblical curricula, then it is important for parents to know about his stance, so that those of us who do not agree with him but who find the Genesis account important to the coherence and premise of the rest of the Bible, will not mistakenly purchase a curriculum we could not use.

    I would hope that Mr. Ham did not use defamatory remarks to characterize Dr. Enns, and if that is the case, I think he should publicly apologize. However, I do not believe that calling someone you disagree with a compromiser is defamatory. It is simply characterizing the way those beliefs are viewed.

  23. jlwile says:

    Kim, thank you very much for your comment. I cannot speak for the convention, as I am nothing more than an invited speaker there. However, they seem to think that Mr. Ham was quite unkind in the way he addressed his disagreements with both the convention and Dr. Enns.

    I would also point out that Mr. Ham’s view is definitely not being censored. The convention has replace Mr. Ham with Dr. Jonathan Sarfati, who is the author of Refuting Compromise. He agrees with Mr. Ham on virtually every theological issue related to origins. Thus, it is not the view that is being censored. It is the behavior.

  24. karensk121 says:

    Dr. Wile, I have only read a small portion of the comments and your replies, but I am amazed at your patience! Thank you for taking such large amounts of time to answer, in appropriate detail, those who have all manner of questions — from those who are truly seeking answers and from those who seem to be more intent on bringing accusations against you. I’ve never seen anything like your responses. Seriously.

    Blessings to you and your family,
    Karen K.

  25. jlwile says:

    Thanks so much, Karen. I take Romans 14:1-9 very seriously, so I do try to treat my brothers and sisters with respect, even when I disagree with them.

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