High school: changes and growth
In high school I continued to be surrounded by a strong Christian family, dedicated Christian friends, and a Bible believing church group. While family conflicts often came up, and passages were debated, the faith itself was not the question. In fact, I grew stronger during this time in my belief as I began pursuing apologetics and learning how to defend my beliefs against the world.
Adolescence brought changes in the type of church my family went to. We stopped going to the highly charismatic churches. Instead we attended a new one which focused more on studying the Bible, rather than experiencing exciting spiritual phenomenon.
The dangers of the outside world
One theme I remember constantly throughout my childhood was the idea of avoiding the world. The world was anything outside our version of the Christian faith. Movies, most music, television, magazines, non-Christian entertainment, non-Christian or less conservative friends and family: these were all to be avoided. Secular books and internet sites were also to be avoided.
If you wanted to learn about evolution for example, the best way to do this was to read Ken Ham’s book. He is a popular Christian author and speaker who wrote a book called “The Lie: Evolution”. His book attempts to show that the scientific theory of evolution is ludicrous. Why? Because it was very important to remain pure and to protect the faith and to keep from being let astray by the temptations of the world. If the outside world, even scientists, said anything that would contradict what a literal interpretation of the Bible suggests, then they must be wrong. In fact, much of science was portrayed as being a blatant attack on Christianity or an attempt to disprove God.
Of course everyone has their own interpretation of how far Christians should separate themselves from the rest of the world. My parents certainly leaned to the far extreme of this. I didn’t always agree with where they drew the line. However, I never doubted the need to stay away the world and to protect myself from its pull.
The dangers of friends
Friends were viewed somewhat similar to fire. On the one hand it can keep you warm, cook your food, and be fun to play with. However, on the other hand it can burn your house down, burn you, and even kill you. It was better not to have any than to have those that might lead you astray. While I didn’t always agree with this approach either, I could see the dangers.
This view of friends led to isolation as a child and an increased desire for friendships and acceptance by friends since they were a scarce commodity. However, it never led to the desire for non-Christian friends or liberal circles.
The dangers of the school system
Homeschooling was an effort to help control this filter even more, by keeping us at home and filtering everything that came into our paths for education. In fact, I think that much of the material I used in homeschooling actually erred on the more conservative side than my parent’s beliefs (or my own) rather than risk being too liberal.
Of course there were other benefits to homeschooling as well. These included customizing the education to fit each student’s needs, more free time (arguable whether this is actually a benefit), and at times better academics.
The importance of theology
During my high school years, my dad the theological patriarchal leader of the family, underwent a Calvinist revolution which came to influence everything we believed. If brief, Calvinism is a type of Christian teaching which emphasizes that God is in control of everything and determines what will happen in advance, particularly focusing on how He can glorify His image.
While it took some time, I eventually came to agree with all of Calvin’s’ five key points, as did most of my family. This change was significant as it took the emphasis off the spiritual, almost mystical, aspects of faith, and turned the focus to more logical aspects of Christianity. From a young age, I remember being a very logical kid and I think this change in approach was helpful. Not that faith itself is logical, but the emphasis changed from feelings to reasoning based on the presupposition that the Bible is true and is the Word of God.