My friend responds to those who disagreed with his proposal...

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(Tim) A couple days ago, I posted concerning an oped written by a friend of mine dealing with problems with homeschools, and my friend's suggestion that it would help for state authorities to take more authority over them.

Saturday, I spoke with my friend, Pastor Tom Stein of Richmond, Indiana. We had a good conversation. Afterwards, he forwarded this e-mail he's sent to those who wrote to complain about his column. I post it here because I think his response is good.

Tom and I still disagree over the role Covenant Seminary may or may not have had in what he proposed. Yet we've both heard one another's arguments, so misunderstanding is not the source of our disagreement.

Anyhow, I thought you'd all want to read his e-mail...

Dear -----

I am writing in response to your email about my recent article on home-schooling. I am responding with a generic answer to all the emails, since I have many responsibilities, and since many of the responses presented similar arguments.

First, I ask the forgiveness of you and others who were offended by my article. Early in the article, I made a light-hearted remark about offending people, but that was truly not my intent. Obviously, that was the effect. I pray you will extend the grace of forgiveness to me.

Second, I hope your remarks were in response to my actual article, and not the HSLDA posting about me. I believe that posting was misleading, inflammatory and unfair. To their credit, I believe they did provide a link to the article. Please read it - and make sure you read all of what I said.

Third, you need to know that I have been a pastor for almost 17 years, and I have always had home schoolers in my two congregations. I believe I have always been supportive of them and encouraging to them. If you will re-read (or read) my article, you will notice that I praised those who do it well. I admire them for their commitment and hard work.

Now for a general response: I wish I had written the article differently. As I reflected on it, I realized I should have said this: doesn’t it stink that we have people who do this good thing well (home schooling), and now their efforts are being tarnished by people who are abusing the laws?

I would have gone on to ask, “Does anybody have any good ideas as to how we can protect the freedom of home schoolers, yet address the real concerns that are here?” I say that, because this issue is a real concern here.  Some of you accuse me of being misinformed, but you have no idea about the content and weight of the issues surrounding the schools in this community. As citizens, we cannot ignore the issues involved here.

I am no fan of more government involvement. I felt I gently suggested a few ideas as possible ways to address the issues we are facing here. If there are better ways, I am open to them.

As I close, I would offer this: some of your letters were written with respect and even kindness, and some were not. I challenge you to take heed of the way you “speak.”  In Colossians 3:12-14, we are given a guide for how we are to treat one another, especially in the body of Christ. I urge you to read it, pray over it, and ask if your words to me met that standard. Disagree with my views if you like, but honor Christ in your disagreement.

I hope my words are helpful.

Grace,

Tom Stein