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Vision Forum's Quest for Family Renewal

 
The word “vision” has taken on a highly subjective meaning for most people. Within the context of Scripture, “vision” often refers to a profound appreciation for the law of God in the life of the believer. When we read “where there is no vision, the people perish,” we are actually learning that without a long-term appreciation of the promises of God applied to the believer, and without the passionate application of the law-word of God to every area of life, the people will perish.

Every age has its defining crisis. Sin is always at the heart of the crisis. But the manifestation of sin expresses itself differently from age to age. The defining crisis of our age is the systematic annihilation of the Biblical family. The family was the first institution created by God and blessed by Christ during His earthly ministry. It is God’s primary vehicle for communicating covenant promises to the next generation. It is the basic agency of dominion on earth. Within the context of the family, the father is the God-ordained vision communicator.

Minimize the father and the family will perish. Minimize the family and you have neutralized the church. The sad truth is that broken and weak families are the norm even within the most conservative and doctrinally orthodox church assemblies. This is in large part due to the death of Biblical patriarchy with its emphasis on father-directed vision, leadership, and self-sacrifice.

The next time you are in a used bookstore, look through the shelves for ancient volumes on child training and family discipleship. Here is what you will find: If the book was written in the eighteenth century, it was directed to fathers. If it was written in the nineteenth century, it was directed to mothers. What happened? The nineteenth century brought many profound social changes which rocked the family and paved the way for the absentee fathers of the twentieth century. The influence of Unitarianism and early feminism, certain adverse effects of the industrial revolution, and the abandonment of the old Reformation view of the family all contributed to the decline of fatherhood in America. The result, for the first time in the history of the church, was the gradual transfer of spiritual training responsibilities from the father to the mother. Generations later, few Christian fathers even know how to begin the process of shepherding their children and leading their families in the ways of God.

The tragedy gets worse. Though many of us would firmly stand for the proposition that good doctrine leads to sound living, the fact is that rebellious children, broken homes, and vision-less fathers are every bit as present in the Reformed community as the Dispensational. Even among our most cherished church leaders it has become the exception to find happy, unbroken homes which radiate the love of Jesus, where the children call the parents blessed, where the mother is a content keeper at home, and where the father practices daily family worship. Like “righteous Lot” who stood in the very gates of Sodom vexing daily, but who did nothing about it (and who lost some of his beloved children to the consuming fire which destroyed the city), many men lament and grieve over the state of affairs, but they lack the vision and the courage to reprioritize their lives such that they can cry out for the hearts of their children, communicate a multigenerational vision of faithfulness, and see their households established on the promises of God. Few men have the passion of Job who rose every morning to cry out to God on behalf of his children (Job 1:5).

The mission of The Vision Forum is to address this problem. Our name — The Vision Forum — points to our desire that the Lord would use this work to be a forum for communicating a vision of victory to Christian families. I personally thank the Lord for an outstanding staff of about ten extremely talented individuals, all home school graduates or home schooling parents, united with a common passion for the Biblical family. At the heart of the message we share is a commitment to see the wedding of orthodoxy and orthopraxy among the people of God. Sound doctrine and sound living must come together. We can preach the covenant and the sovereignty of God until we are blue in the face, but if we allow our children to be educated by Canaanites, if we encourage our daughters to pursue a careerist philosophy, if we fail to make our homes economically vital, hospitable centers for love and learning, we are hypocrites. Not surprisingly, the scriptural warning against such hypocrisy is specifically given within the context of the family. If we have not taught our wives and daughters to love children and be “keepers at home” then we are “blasphemers” (Tit. 2); if we have not trained our men to be providers, then we are “worse than infidels” (1 Tim. 5).

Equally important is the urgency of communicating a message of courage to fathers and mothers. The entire world conspires to mock and belittle Biblical manhood and womanhood. Great courage is needed to do things which as recently as a century ago would be considered normative. Today, it is not enough to know what is right; one must be willing to act upon it. Our goal is not to accept reality, but to change it by the grace of God. Most men are gripped by fear. They fear the loss of job security. They fear the unknown. They fear the opinions of others. This fear prevents many fathers from beginning home education — the educational approach most consistent with both the methodology and goals of education as articulated in Scripture. This fear prevents other fathers from making lifestyle changes which will allow them to spend more time walking beside their children, as God commands. Our vision is to raise a standard which exhorts the beloved in Christ to fear God alone, knowing that faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of that which is not seen. Faith is trusting that God’s Word is true, even when there is no empirical evidence to back it up. This is the entire lesson of Hebrews 11 which outlines the great heroes of our faith.

My father often reminded me that I would be the same person next year except for the books I read and the people I met. How true. In my personal case, the Lord was gracious to use my father, the books he gave me, and the people he brought into my life to develop within me as a teenager several passions which today serve as the basis for the work of The Vision Forum: a love for the sovereignty of God; a recognition of the Lordship of Christ in every area of life and thought; an advocacy of presuppositional apologetics; a zeal for the restoration of Biblical patriarchy; a gratitude for the covenant promises of God; and a recognition of the centrality of the family to God’s kingdom work. Our mission at The Vision Forum is to facilitate the restoration of the Biblical family by communicating vision on each of these points, and by offering the resources necessary to implement the vision.

The Significance of Home Education to God’s Kingdom Work

This year Vision Forum will bring our message to more than twenty major home school conferences in America. Through keynote addresses, workshops, and seminars we will reach more than sixty thousand home educators this year. Our goal is to encourage and build up home school parents with the Biblical foundation and long-term vision for the training of their children. As R.J. Rushdoony has pointed out, “Education is inescapably a religious discipline.” One of our goals is to give meat to this profound statement by showing parents the far-reaching implications of a distinctively presuppositional approach to family and education. For example, while many Christians have correctly focused on the religious nature of the content of education, they ignore the fact that the Bible also speaks to the methodology of education. Methods are not neutral. The rise of the home education movement is not merely a response to the failure of government education; it is an affirmation of a distinctively Biblical approach to both the methods and the objectives of Christian education.

Unlike the peer-driven culture of the classroom, with its unbiblical approach to age segregation as a basis for training, home educators benefit from the one-on-one tutorial approach which allows parents to walk alongside their children while communicating faith, virtue, and knowledge, in that order. Home education, with its emphasis on relationship-driven training, is a distinctively Hebrew approach to education, while the modern classroom, with its emphasis on efficiency, is a distinctively Greek and pagan approach to education.

The Necessity of Turning the Hearts of Fathers to Their Families

The last verse of Malachi and the New Testament passages heralding the coming of John the Baptist indicate that the turning of the hearts of parents to their children is a sign of great revival. Over the last decade there has been a revived interest in fatherhood, but much of the emphasis has, in fact, been effeminate. Men are concerned about “finding themselves,” about their sexuality, about psychological solutions to family problems. In the midst of this Satanic silliness, The Vision Forum attempts to communicate the clear Biblical message of vision, responsibility, love, sacrifice, and leadership to men — the key components of Biblical patriarchy. Each year The Vision Forum sponsors Father and Son Discipleship retreats in locations as diverse as California, Texas, Illinois, and New York. The goal of each retreat is to encourage fathers to disciple their sons in the spirit of John 5:18. Sons are taught the significance of claiming and living by the promise of the Fifth Commandment. Fathers and sons are encouraged to think generationally and to make the principle of Psalm 78 — a covenantal view of history — central in their relationship.

Books that Inspire, Teach, and Help Families Build Covenant Households

There is only one perfect book — the Bible. Nevertheless, we believe the books offered by The Vision Forum represent some of the most helpful tools on the market today which address critical issues concerning family renewal, child discipleship, and Biblical patriarchy; godly education; Christ-centered apologetics; righteous government; and the providential hand of God in history. These are real books for families of vision. In short, this is the library we recommend to any family hoping to build a Christian worldview for its children.

Every truly great library is a multigenerational library. Books must be able to stand the test of time, demonstrating quality both physically and in terms of content. We have tried to offer such products at affordable prices that allow you to build a family library that may someday be enjoyed by your children’s children.

Blessings,

Douglas W. Phillips, President

 

 
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