In November 1973, after four years of reading the Bible and exploring alternative religious and philosophical views, the Lord captured my heart. In reading the Sermon on the Mount on my second excursion through the whole Bible, the love of Christ finally penetrated my hardened heart and head. My young wife and principal evangelist earlier had sought the Lord, but waited for my leadership. She was now ready to join the Walk. In July, 1974, upon receiving my first job after college, we began to attend Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa, at which time the Lord began seriously to peel away the hardened sin of my previous life. After three years of study with Calvary Chapel, we moved to Thousand Oaks, California, where we volunteered to assist with the children’s ministry at the new Calvary Chapel there. The church asked my wife and I to take more and more responsibility for service in the church. Considered elders, we helped to establish a secondary Christian day school, which we subsequently headed.
Inspiration from the Historic Biblical Faith
About this same time, building on our early Biblical background, we discovered a historical view of the faith derived out of the experience of early American Christianity and of Christian history in general. This view has had profound impact on my life, my family’s, and many others. In essence, it yields, Biblically and historically speaking, high expressions of the faith. We know a tree by its fruit. We study the Bible and attempt to practice it by faith. Then we test the results, keep the good, and return to Scripture for further refinement. History allows us to learn from those who went before. This Biblical-historical method of scholarship discovers the governing principles that will reproduce those same good fruits. Thus we “take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” in practice for every subject and endeavor in life (2 Corinthians 10:5). We explicitly seek the Lord’s mind in Scripture for every activity in life, great or small.
An important distinction Christian history is the expansive nature of the Christian walk. Contemporary faith tends to emphasize the personal, the old sinful life, and recovery. The historic view includes these, of course, but then encourages allowing the Holy Spirit to become victors in the strife. We are thus more than conquerors, though murdered all day long (see Romans 8:18-39). This mystery seems strange to us, but it is true. I have watched some of the most damaged folks become some of the greatest leaders and most accomplished in Christ.
A major theme of the Christian walk in Scripture is the subject of Christian liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17). As the Persons of the Holy Trinity are perfectly Individual and in perfect relationship — One — we accept the fundamental notion of the equal ultimacy of the individual and the community. We can diminish neither without diminishing both. This God-imposed tension between liberty and covenantal union guides every relationship from the personal to international. It identifies, expands and gives practical models of the Biblical concept of Christian Liberty under Law–or rather, the Law of Liberty (James 1:25). Liberty is central to God’s way. Self-restraint and preferring our neighbors is central also.
The fruit of this approach has proved its truth repeatedly in many adult and children’s lives, over many years. We identify the fruit Biblically, historically and personally. These experiences have proved a solid body of Biblical wisdom applied directly to the education process. The Lord has allowed me the grace to contribute to it both theologically and practically in education, human relations at all levels, and in the arts and sciences.
One extremely important aspect is the balance and self-correction through a systematic approach to repentance — a willingness to learn from Jesus, a willingness to stick to the narrow path which leads to life. As to balance, for example, we labor in faith, but God brings the increase. We have liberty in Christ, but we restrain it so as not to sin presumptuously. The Law is good, if used lawfully — the Law is for the lawless (1 Timothy 1:9). Discipline is practice under the right level of government. Thus, we discipline ourselves and our children in anticipation of Christian self-government and mastery, but never practice discipline for control’s sake. Every human endeavor ought self-consciously spring from the Two Commandments of Christ in both philosophy and practice, leading to wholeness, liberty and grace.
God Principle of Individuality with Union
Another central aspect is the relational and organizational truth that comes from apprehending God’s principle of individuality — especially the truth that man is only whole in relationship with Christ. This wholeness is of the kind God always intended for mankind and which we will finally and fully realize in His eternal kingdom, but which work by the Holy Spirit has already begun in this life, including in children. As the central organizational truth, individuality lends its power to the teaching and learning of every subject, allowing optimum breaking down of every subject from the whole to its parts in context for learning and mastery. Both the above principles and others taken together give a wonderful model for personal and institutional relationships of all kinds, relationships balanced between selfish complacency on one hand and selfish crusading and bullying on the other.
Christian Service is Relational
I would add that true Christian service, the educational process especially, is essentially relational. “It is enough to become like your teacher.” A balanced approach to authority, liberty under law, provides an excellent foundation for working with teachers, parents, students, those in authority, and those under authority (Matthew 8:9-10). After appropriate objectives and limits are established, a person assigned a task ought to have certain liberty to accomplish the job. Lapses ought not to be cause for condemnation nor even rebuke where self-correction is the normal practice. The job of one in authority is to serve those under him to facilitate the work. Outside of well-defined authority-relationships are peer, that is, hold no authority over one another, except that which is granted in the relationship through election. Even that authority is earned. When offense comes as it surely will among sinful human beings, Jesus’ provision for correction, reconciliation and justice where needed — that is Matthew 18 — must prevail.
Accordingly, I have spent the past many years attempting specifically to implement the above in service to Christ. This American Christian theology, produced through strict yet mild biblicity (Matthew 11:29-30), refined and tempered in the crucible of the trials of life, has become the central theme of Christ’s work in me at every level from my own home outward. I hope to continue to propagate this thoroughly Biblical view, this “mild and peaceful spirit of Christianity” (Daniel Webster on the Pilgrims).
Lastly, the most important grace of my history, after personal salvation, is the precious family the Lord has given me. I am extremely grateful for my wife, my five children, and as of this moment fourteen grandchildren as they exemplify the fruit that one should expect of a truly godly theology and philosophy — with no gap between theory and faith and practice. This is the work of the Lord. Yet, far from having arrived, we rather look to Christ to re-produce the fruit of God’s Providence, which our generation has largely squandered. We look forward to the Lord continuing to shed His love, correct our children, and us, and to produce ever-greater character skill and accomplishment for the Gospel.