Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Socialization and the Thief on the Cross

Those of you who have homeschooled have probably heard it time and time again.
Those of you who are against homeschooling have probably said it time and time again.

"What about socialization?"

It is the most common argument against homeschooling.  Because obviously homeschooled children have no social opportunities whatsoever and must grow up to be totally socially inept.  And just as obvious, a child can only learn how to act properly in social situations if with children within 12 months of his age.


Those of you who believe that baptism is a necessary part of salvation have probably heard it time and time again.
Those of you who don't believe that baptism is a part of salvation and one is saved by faith alone have probably said it time and time again.

"What about the thief on the cross?"

The narrative of the thief on the cross can be found in Luke 23:39-43.  I'm sure you remember it well. Two criminals were crucified with Jesus, one on each side.  One was mocking Jesus, saying, "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" 

But the other rebuked the first, saying, "Don't you fear God since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."  Then he asked Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom.

Jesus response was, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."  

So obviously this thief on the cross was saved. And obviously he didn't need to be baptized to be saved.  TADA!!!  Baptism is not a necessary part of salvation.  


So, what about socialization?  I find it hard to believe that anyone actually would say that a child can only be properly socialized if in a classroom of people within a year of the child's age day after day. 
My children were socialized in a variety of situations:  dance class, church, youth group, family, swim team, swim lessons, homeschool coops, grocery stores, Costco, nursing homes, work, service projects, etc.  My children were actually socialized around young children, children their age, children older than they, adults, and the elderly.  Doesn't that seem like socialization to you?  

I have seen the same examples you have in the news of the homeschooling parents who hide their kids away, use homeschooling as a cover for their educational and oftentimes emotional and physical abuse.  But that should be used as the rule for judging homeschooling about as much as the high school drop out or the school shooter should be used to judge public schooling.  

And now, what about the thief on the cross.  He was with Jesus in paradise on the day he died, without baptism, so. . . .baptism isn't necessary for salvation, right?

But let's look at what baptism is a bit more closely before we jump to that conclusion, shall we?

Romans 6:3-5 reads, "Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.  If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection."

Colossians 2:12 speaks of baptism as being buried with Jesus and being raised with Him through faith in the power of God who raised Jesus from the dead.

So Christian baptism is dying, being buried in a watery grave, and being resurrected into new life in Christ.  

To put it plainly, the thief on the cross didn't need to be baptized into Christ's death because Jesus hadn't died yet!  Doesn't get much easier than that, huh?

Jesus hadn't commanded baptism yet, either.  He did so AFTER His resurrection (Matthew 26, Mark 16).

But wait, there's more!!  

That Christian baptism hadn't been instituted yet is enough of a reason to say that the thief on the cross didn't need to be baptized to be saved and to lay to rest the argument "what about the thief on the cross?" as an argument against the necessity of baptism.  

But there is another very good reason that using the "what about the thief on the cross?" argument is not a reasonable or valid argument.  

Jesus is GOD!  He can do whatever He wants. 

The thief on the cross was not the first person Jesus gave salvation to during His time on earth before His death and resurrection (for salvation is the forgiveness of sins which lead to death, right?).  

You can read in Luke 5 about a paralytic whose sins Jesus forgave.  And in Luke 7: 48 and 50 Jesus tells a sinful woman, "Your sins are forgiven." and "Your faith has saved you."

Jesus has the power to forgive sins and extend salvation whenever and to whomever He wants.  He has always had that power.  And He has the right to decide how one receives salvation and told us in His Word.  


These two common arguments are both so easily disproved, and yet are still almost always the first arguments posed against homeschooling and against baptism's necessity in salvation.  

In fact, my first response to the "ludicrous" idea that baptism was necessary in salvation was: "What about the thief on the cross?"  And the answer was so obvious once explained to me.  It makes me wonder why I would have ever used the thief on the cross as my proof against the necessity of baptism.  It also makes me wonder what other "standard answers" to other questions I have about the Bible & theology I have accepted without thinking it through.  

And I still hear "What about socialization?" 14 years of homeschooling three well-socialized children.  

People are so quick to judge what they don't understand, what goes against what is the norm.  And people are so quick to defend their own understandings lest they have to admit they have been misguided.  But one should never just accept the party line without comparing how it measures up to the truth.

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