This will be my final word in writing about the issues introduced on my book page, and discussed on Take 1, and Take 2. I’m kind of proud that I’ve been able to get Calvinists and Arminians to agree about something regarding salvation. In my experience discussing these issues, everyone regardless of their theology agrees with my current critic:

Only the Lord’s work prevails. . . . The Holy Spirit is God.  He alone can regenerate hearts. . . . The means of grace are the means of grace, but the Spirit works through them when and where he pleases.

Good Calvinist that I am, I absolutely agree with this. The problem is the implication of the author’s assertion: when and where he pleases. If these words, all of them, were said outside of the current discussion, I wouldn’t even bother commenting on them because I believe they are biblical truth. The problem stems from what came previously, the assertion that nothing we can do in the raising of our children really matters, not ultimately anyway. I dealt with that as the straw man it is, playing God’s sovereignty off of human responsibility as if they are somehow, some way mutually exclusive. They are not, as even a cursory read through the Bible makes clear.

My concern with their concern is that it gets uncomfortably close to a view of God Islam would be comfortable with, making him arbitrary, pure will, a God who chooses for no apparent reason to ignore what people do. All Christians should reject such a view of God. When the Apostle Paul says that “a man reaps what he sows,” is he at the same time saying that because the man is not “ultimately” responsible that sowing has no bearing on what we reap? Of course not, and every Christian would agree, which brings me to the crux of the issue.

What my critics are uncomfortable with is the claim that we can have confidence that what we do with our children can actually work to keep them in the faith. That expectation seems to not be allowed. As I argued in the previous post, results are a reasonable expectation of living in a cause and effect, sowing and reaping world. If we input X, we have every right to expect output Y. Whether Y turns out exactly like we expected or hoped it would (does it ever?), is not our concern. Are we responsible for Y? This is where things get uncomfortable. Here in the words of my critic is their concern:

 I fear that your approach, makes parental guilt a more oppressive burden. . . . I fear that’s more harm than help—for parents and children.

Actually, none of my critics have any idea what “my approach” is because they never read the book. If any one of them wants to actually read the book, and do a review, and engage the actual arguments, then we can talk. We won’t have to deal with vague notions of “parental guilt,” and claims that my “approach” does more harm than help. They might find within its pages things that can help parents be more effective in helping establish their children’s faith in a hostile secular world that daily seeks to undermine and destroy it. They might have to admit that the ideas and arguments I make might really be persuasive to our kids, instead of saying or implying the unbiblical notion that what we do doesn’t really matter in the long run because we’re not ultimately responsible.

Here, I will say it: We most definitely are responsible for our children, and how they turn out. Whether guilt is the appropriate response when they don’t turn out like we hoped is debatable. I would say Jesus died for our guilt, so guilt is useless, worthless, unnecessary, and counter productive. A much better, more responsible response is to find out why our children decided to reject what we raised them to be. Ask them. Then challenge them to defend their new worldview, their new faith, their new convictions, and why they believe those are true, and Christianity is not. This may mean as parents we have to do our homework, and become more familiar with apologetics and history and philosophy. I believe this is especially the responsibility of dads, the man and leader of the household. Then we can engage our children, if they are willing, and help lead them back to the faith of their fathers. And yes, I know what you’re thinking, pray, pray, pray!

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Something came up this week with a co-worker of mine the timing of which could not be more relevant to this discussion, and that will be the subject of my next post. I had made some reference to Christianity in an e-mail, and she replied that just four years ago she was a dedicated Christian, and then the Internet got to her and she abandoned her faith. We had some e-mail interaction that allows me to address a critical point in the discussion about children who grow up and leave Christianity.

 

 

 

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