Chapter 1 – Where there is no vision
“Where there is no vision, the people perish…” (Proverbs 29:18a)
When I entered college, I had excellent vision. A couple of years after graduating, I started to realize that it was becoming more difficult to read street signs and other objects in the distance. I finally went to get an eye exam and received a prescription for glasses. It was a light prescription, but I immediately noticed a difference – street signs were easier to read, and objects across the room were more distinct. I’m sure that there are many who could share a similar experience as they received their first pair of glasses, and they could understand the value and importance of vision.
Throughout our Baptist churches across America, education has been an important element of the ministry. The success story for many of these churches, however, does not continue for very long – many of the families transfer to other churches or schools, move away, or become disconnected. Many of our Baptist families have gone to “Christian” churches, “Community” churches, or other non-denominational churches. While we can all see this trend as we examine our churches, many have failed to realize a main reason for this “falling away.”
Our Baptist churches have unfortunately failed to define sure, distinct goals regarding education. Throughout the years, this negligence has darkened the vision of our Baptist churches, and we were subtly given goals by those that did not share our theology. These foreign goals and theologies that are now taught through our Baptist churches have been embraced by our families, and their hearts have been lured away. James Beller says that “we have abdicated our pulpits and classrooms to our enemies without knowing the full background of the so-called culture war.”
Historically, it has been the Baptists that have stood for true liberty of conscience (freedom of religion) in our country and around the world, but our Baptist heritage has been quietly hidden from us through school curriculum. We have taken a rewritten history by those that have opposed us, and our true Baptist heritage has not been passed on, consequently cultivating passiveness in our people. We must define true Biblical principles and goals for a Baptist worldview of education, and preserve and pass on our Baptist heritage.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish…” If we have no definite goals and a correct Biblical worldview concerning education – Baptist Christian education – we have no vision. If we have a skewed concept of goals and correct Biblical education, our vision is blurred and our path is unclear. As Baptists, our lack of endeavor in this area is spiritually fatal to our children, our families, our churches, our nation, and even our world. This may seem to be an extreme, radical statement, but if we take the time to examine the Word of God and history completely, it becomes truly evident.
Other religions and denominations, not sharing our
Baptist theology and ultimate goals, have influenced and even infiltrated our Baptist churches with their “philosophy and vain deceit.” We are unable to rightly judge the motives of other people, but we can clearly see that some of the deceit was intentional; however, I believe that although some may have had truly pure motives, they were, and still are, ignorantly passing on the lies. The reception of the deceit by Baptists was unintentional and, unfortunately, unnoticed – whether it was the result of indifference, a focus on other ministries, or an attitude of laziness in not doing the research themselves, claiming that they do not want to “reinvent the wheel”.
We cannot argue about the existence of this problem, nor should we focus solely on the source of the problem. We need to look for the solution to the problem. Just as Paul admonished the Philippian church, we need to forget those things which are behind and reach to those that are before (Philippians 3:13). While God will deal with those responsible for causing and allowing the false doctrines to creep in, our job is to focus on what actions we are supposed to take. In many cases, this will require forsaking our pride and admitting to our own neglect. We cannot allow ourselves to bury our heads in the sand, but we need to acknowledge the problem and move on to take care of it.
We have been losing our vision because we have failed to define sure principles and goals in the past. The process of losing our vision has been in effect for some time now, and, since we cannot teach what we do not know, we have become blind leaders of the blind. Being in this predicament is very dangerous, especially since we have not noticed this blindness before.
Just as I had been slowly losing my vision physically, we have been losing our vision spiritually. We may have realized that there was a problem, but it crept in so slowly that we have become accustomed to it. It is not until we come to the Great Physician and have our vision corrected that we will realize just how much of our vision we have lost.
“Where there is no vision…” We tend to think about soulwinning when we look at this verse. I am not saying that there is anything wrong with that interpretation, and I am not minimizing the emphasis we should have on soulwinning. It is clear in Scripture that winning souls is at the very heart of God. (2 Peter 3:9) Throughout the four Gospels, Jesus was constantly pointing to the cross as His central purpose for coming. Soulwinning is definitely not a wrong interpretation, but it is not the only thing that having a vision applies to. We must have a vision regarding education as well.
Many times in a photograph, there are just one or two objects in focus while the rest of the picture is slightly blurred. The soulwinning emphasis in our churches may be in focus, but other areas, such as education, are in the background and become blurry compared to soulwinning. We must keep our focus on soulwinning, but we also need to get our vision restored and to get refocused on education.
 James Beller, “Sacred Betrayal.” p. iii