Persuasive Christian Parent: Teach Your Children Christianity is True!

Persuasive Christian Parent: Teach Your Children Christianity is True!

If you want to be a persuasive Christian parent, and you want your children’s faith to endure for their entire lives, teach them Christianity is true. It’s pretty simple, actually, but it takes work. I’ll justify that briefly below, but having written a book about being a Persuasive Christian Parent, I am convinced parents’ influence on their children is the primary influence on whether they maintain their faith throughout their lives. I know many Christians don’t buy this. They’ve seen children grow up in perfectly fine Christian homes and abandon the faith to one degree or another. They conclude, not unreasonably, that while parents certainly have a significant influence on their children, it is ultimately limited. I reject that. I go into some detail about this in the book, so I can’t do it here. You’ll just have to trust me, or read the book (you’ll be able to listen to the audio book in the not too distant future).

For mom and dad this is going to take some work. If your child came up to you and asked: “Mom, Dad, why do you believe Christianity is true?” Could you give them a credible answer? Be honest. If you stammer, or give them a half-baked answer, you need to get to work. I would like to commission a study, and I suspect I know what the conclusion would be. The study would be of all the young people, says 20s and 30s, who have gone through what we now call “deconversion.” If they grew up in a Christian household, we would ask them a simple question: “Did your parents teach you that Christianity was true, and why it is?” I am convinced the overwhelming majority would answer, no. Or if they did, it wasn’t very persuasive. The reason is that most Christian parents know what they believe, basic gospel, but have very little understanding of why they believe it, why their faith is “justified true belief.” Not teaching our Children why Christianity is the truth about the ultimate nature of things in this secular age leaves them susceptible to the lies of secularism they swim in every day.

The reason I was prompted to write this was because of an Apologetics Canada podcast I recently listened to. It confirmed exactly what I’m saying. The guest was John Marriot who has written five books on people walking away from their faith. He’s interviewed many such people and read hundreds of accounts and found that people don’t walk away because they want to sin more, etc. They say it comes down to no longer believing Christianity is the truth. He tends to believe them. When I heard that I instantly thought of my book, especially the second section on, “It’s All About Truth.” I felt so strongly about the Truth of the matter that when I first started thinking about writing the book, I decided this would be the first chapter. It turned out being chapters 3 and 4 because I felt “It’s All About Parents” was more important to establish up front. To decrease the odds that our children will experience a deconversion as they grow up in a hostile secular culture, the most important thing we can do for them, by far, is to persuade them Christianity is the truth.

Secularism Is Dead
We are living in a secular culture that daily attempts to drown us in its godless worldview. It is critical to understand this is not a threat to our children’s faith. Most Christians will not agree with that assertion. The problem seeing secularism as a threat gives it far too much credit as a credible alternative to Christianity. It is not! In fact, secularism (life without God) is a pathetically weak alternatives that gives zero answers to life’s most pressing questions. Why is it in an utterly secular culture, in the most prosperous country in the history of the world, almost 50,000 people successfully killed themselves last year? Does a God-less worldview have any answers to this beside drugs and therapy? It does not. Secularism is an almost 400 year-long experiment in futility. Once reason usurped God’s throne he was slowly set aside as necessary to a functioning society. But something ironic happened on the way to the coronation of God-lessness. It completely failed. Secularism is dead. It has been weighed on the scales and found wanting.

Therefore, there is nothing to fear from it. As I say in the book, our secular culture is the best friend of our children’s faith. I’ve used the culture all their lives, and still do as they are adults, to defend and argue for the truth of Christianity. Bottom line: If our children are to not only have their faith survive but thrive, they must be convinced with every ounce of their being that Christianity is the ultimate truth about the nature reality. How do we do that? Well, you’ll have to read the book to see how I did it, and see if you think I make my case. For a short blog post I can only do so much, but if you are one of those Christians who realize you need to work on your apologetic chops hopefully this will wet your whistle enough to check out the book.

Think about it. If your children are convinced Christianity is true, could anything make them walk away from it? Most if not all those who walk away from the faith never study apologetics, history, philosophy, or theology in any depth. They don’t come to their rejection after a thorough examination of the evidence. I’m sure after whatever input they’ve received, Christianity is no longer plausible to them, it no longer seems true, or seems real. This brings up a concept called plausibility structures, or the framework in our minds that makes certain things seem true to us and other things not true. It isn’t that they are true or not true, but that they seem so. I address this in a couple chapters of the book, but for those who reject the Christianity they once believed in, it simply no longer seems true to them, is no longer plausible. They’ve lived in a secular plausibility structure for so long with no counter narrative that Christianity doesn’t really have a chance.

There is No Such Thing as an Unbeliever
(This is going to be the title of a book I want to write in the not too distant future, God willing. That’s how important this is.)

One the most pernicious of the many lies of secularism is that if you’re not a Christian or “religious” then you don’t need faith. The uncritically accepted assumption of almost all people in the West is that if you’re not “religious” then you don’t need to believe things. Only “religious” people believe things, only “religious” people need faith. So the person who decides to reject the Christianity they once believed in thinks they are going from faith to not-faith, from belief to-not belief. What they fail to realize, and what is likely never pointed out to them, is that they are going from one faith to another. After they no longer embrace Christianity they are every bit the “religious” believer as they were before. Only there is far less evidence and plausibility for the veracity of their new faith than Christianity—and it’s not even close!

The question is always what we believe or have faith in, and why we believe it, not whether or not we have faith. The people who turn away from Christianity can tell you plenty of reasons why they no longer believe in it, but zero reasons for their newfound faith. They are under impression they gave up “faith” when they gave up Christianity. In defending Christianity to such people, in what we call apologetics (see I Peter 3:15), they are very easy to deal with. Probably one in a million can give a coherent defense of their new worldview, their new faith. Just asking the rest what they now believe in and why they believe it will leave them dumbfounded. They’ll likely think it’s a meaningless question because they’re no longer “religious.” I’m confident you’ll get a strange look, but it’s a wonderful question to begin a conversation if they’re open to it. If this happens to be one of your children, it’s a good question to get them thinking they don’t exist in some faith-neutral place where they don’t have to make decisions about what they believe and why.

A great phrase to keep in mind when grappling with such things is “the consideration of the alternative.” If we don’t believe in one thing then we are forced to believe in the alternative. Agnosticism is not an alternative but a copout for not thinking seriously about serious things. We may encounter people who just have no desire to think about or discuss serious things, and we just love them and pray. It is all, of course, up to the Holy Spirit, so we pray. However, and this gets us to the work part, we work like it depends on us. The saying goes, we work like it depends on us, and pray because it depends on God. What work am I talking about? Our apologetics chops. Each of us must ask ourselves, how good are we are defending the veracity Christianity. If most Christians are honest, they will have to say . . . . terrible.

Get to Work
That was the word I used about myself back in 2009 (along with horrible and pathetic). I had an encounter with a co-worker and it was embarrassing. He wouldn’t have noticed, but I sure did. After that I committed myself to put in the work. I got a little MP3 player (I still use one!) and listened to everything I could find. I also read everything I could get my hands on. I was determined in Paul’s words to Timothy, to study to show myself to God as one approved (2 Tim. 2:15). The word study (KJV) or do your best in Greek means “(figuratively) to move speedily by showing full diligence (fully applying oneself).” This is not just for professional ministers as was Timothy, but to every single Christian. If we’re honest most of us are lazy. There are many things in life more important to us than our Christianity. This is, I know, tough love. Most Christians know far more about their careers or hobbies than they know about their Christianity, and that ought not to be.

Just going to church on Sunday and reading our Bibles is not enough. Per Peter’s command, if we’re always to be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope that that have, that is going to take time and effort. There really is no excuse nowadays with the Internet to not show ourselves as one approved when it comes to defending our faith, and that is first to ourselves. Once we are fully convinced and know why, we can share that with others. If we have children, we too can become persuasive Christian parents and have confidence our children will have a faith that endures for life. What we will realize the longer we study and the more we teach is what C.S. Lewis said was the reason he believed in Christianity:

 I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen, not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.

This is what we have to pass on to our children! Christianity, God in Christ, makes sense of literally every single thing of existence. When they are convinced of this any kind of secular alternative to Christianity will appear to them as the phony worthless alternative it is. God has seen to it by providing for us everything we need for building an enduring faith in both us and our children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Education and the Myth of Neutrality

Education and the Myth of Neutrality

I use the phrase, “the myth of neutrality” here from time to time when addressing issues related to culture and politics. It also very much has to do with how we educate our children in America. This myth is the fruit of the secularism bequeathed to us by the Enlightenment, and which completely smothered the Christian West in the latter half of the 20th century. This mythical idea is as simple as it is deceptive: public life in a pluralistic society where there are many different religions and beliefs must be neutral with regard to ultimate questions, e.g., the meaning of life and death, sin and salvation, God, heaven and hell, the basis of morality, etc. The problem is that we can’t, not a single one of us, be neutral regarding these questions, ever. This applies both to our personal lives and our lives lived in society with other people, including government. Yet this myth has been accepted for a hundred years or more by most Americans, and sadly most Christians as well.

The opportunity to discuss this comes from the approval for a Catholic charter school in Oklahoma in June. Immediately we saw headlines like this: “Oklahoma’s Religious Charter School Aims to Break Church-State Separation.” Oh the horror! It isn’t just liberals, leftists, and libertarians who oppose such a thing, but many conservatives as well. This piece at Current addresses the intrepid David French who thinks the Oklahoma ruling is a threat to religious freedom. It’s shocking that someone who claims to be a conservative (although a Trump-MAGA hating one) and a Christian could be so historically ignorant, but French fits the bill. Everyone knows Thomas Jefferson came up with the phrase “a wall of separation between church and state” in a letter to Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut, which has come to mean the separation of religion or Christianity from the state.

Regardless of what the secular Jefferson thought it meant, life in America never reflected an impenetrable wall of separation until the mid-20th century. As examples, for most of American history there were sabbath laws, and sodomy was a felony in all 50 states as recently as 1962. The foundation of law in America had always been the Bible and the Christian worldview, but after World War II cultural elites were intent on replacing Christianity with secularism. A significant part of that mission was the Supreme Court  Emerson v. Board of Education decision in 1947 which effectively made secularism the established religion of the United State of America. Christianity and the Bible would no longer be allowed in American “public” schools. In 1962 it was made “official” when the Supreme Court struck down the right for children to pray in schools. Now all would be made to worship at the altar of secularism, and religion’s influence would be confined to the home and church.

In spite of Jefferson’s predilections, America’s founders believed deeply in the importance of religion and education, and to that end the Continental Congress in July 1787 passed The Northwest Ordinance in which they stated:

Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.

Religion to the Founders meant Christianity, and its morality and knowledge was necessary to good government and a happy populace. In other words, civilization and the success of American government depended on education and the influence of Christianity. It didn’t follow, however, that encouragement meant government control of education given the Founders’ deep suspicion of human nature and government power. Yet, over time “public” education came to mean government education subsidized by taxpayers controlled by the government. From a Christian perspective there should be no such thing as “public” education let alone government education. J. Gresham Machen put this presciently in his 1934 Education, Christianity and the State:

Every lover of human freedom ought to oppose with all his might the giving of federal aid to the schools of this country; for federal aid in the long run inevitably means federal control, and federal control means control by a centralized and irresponsible bureaucracy, and control by such a bureaucracy means the death of everything that might make this country great.

Who can argue with this after 89 years of hindsight. And it looks like Machen might be encouraged by a political and cultural movement to Make America Great Again.

R.J. Rushdoony in his 1961 book, Intellectual Schizophrenia: Culture, Crisis and Education further makes the point:

The public school is now unmistakably a state school, and its concept of education is inevitably statist. This is apparent in various ways. First of all, education has ceased to be a responsibility of the home and has become a responsibility of the state. . . . the state still claims sole right to determine the nature, extent, and time of education. Thus, a basic family right has been destroyed and the state’s control over the child asserted.

It cannot be both state and family, only either/or. And this is not just an argument for liberty over against government tyranny, but a fundamentally religious question. American public schools are the establishment of a secular religion in the guise of religious neutrality. Joe Boot in The Mission of God explains:

We can clearly see . . . that neither the structure within which we educate, nor the purpose for which we educate, nor the content by which we educate, can be neutral.

Doug Wilson states why this an indisputable fact in The Case for Classical Christian Education:

Education is fundamentally religious. Consequently, there is no question about whether a morality will be imposed in that education, but rather which morality will be imposed. Christians and assorted traditionalists who want a secular school system to instill anything other than secular ethics are wanting something that has never happened and can never happen.

He further asserts that public or “common schools were going to be the means by which the entire progressive agenda was ushered in.” Progressive in the twenty-first century is nothing like the early progressives imagined, but in hindsight it’s easy to see how secular progressive education paved the way for the current takeover of education by cultural Marxists.

Does this mean that what we know as “public education” needs to be “abolished,” to borrow from Marx? Yes! School choice may be a good stopgap measure to take away some of the monopoly power of the government, but it is only temporary. It follows from the biblical imperative of the familial responsibility of educating our children, that it must be completely private and divorced from government at any level. Government money always brings with it government influence. Education is a worldview enterprise, and in America parents should be free to decide in what worldview they want their children educated. Parents should pay for their own children’s education and not forced via taxes to pay for others.                                                                 

What that looks like and how we get there I don’t know. I only know this should be the objective of any Christian who understands the incompatibility of Christianity with any other worldview in the educating of children. In the meantime as we work toward this, I believe that charter classical schools are a critical means to challenging the secular progressive monopoly on education. The ideal is classical and Christian, but even charter “public” classical schools are a powerful weapon against secularism. They reject the postmodern relativism of secularism, and teach that there is objective goodness, beauty, and truth rooted in history and the classical and biblical texts of the Western tradition. The ultimate responsibility for the children’s faith and worldview is the parents, but a classical education will at least not indoctrinate them into the dogmatic secularism of the current cultural and government American elite.

 

 

 

Wisdom on Marriage from Luther and Mangalwadi

Wisdom on Marriage from Luther and Mangalwadi

Having officially been married to my wife Sarah for 36 years on August 15, I think I know a thing or two about the institution, and when I read the thoughts on marriage by these two men of God they instantly become fodder for a blog post. It so happens when I went to Seminary at Westminster in Philadelphia, having driven all the way from my home in southern California, the last thing I expected to find, to say the least, was a wife. But there she was! We got engaged, and it so happens that our pre-marital counselor was the late Tim Keller, a professor there at the time before he moved to New York City to found Redeemer Presbyterian Church and become, well, Tim Keller. I’ll never forget two things he said among many, but these two stand out as especially true in our experience. We sat down in his office in chairs in front of his desk and after some initial niceties he got right to the point:

The only sinner worse than the one you’re marrying is you.

Well, ok. That took a while to sink in, but I can report after all these years . . . . it is absolutely true! Sometimes we argue about who the worse sinner is, but I always win. It’s too obvious! The other thing is related, flowing out of the depth of our sin. I guess we did a personality test and he got to know us a bit, then said this:

You guys are so different you can either destroy one another or sanctify one another.

Keller was not the kind of guy to pull his punches; he was a straight shooter, and this truth was sobering. I believe it’s true in any marriage even if the spouses are more similar in personality. Two self-centered sinners living in such close proximity 24/7/365 is a recipe for conflict, but in understanding and accepting that we are self-centered sinners allows the promise of sanctification and reveals the genius of marriage. It’s not only God’s chosen instrument to sanctify His people and build his kingdom on earth, but also the ultimate redemptive biblical metaphor for the salvation of His people. The significance and profundity of marriage is beyond the ability of mere words to convey, but that’s all we have. It is the most important God ordained institution for extending Christ’s reign on earth, advancing His kingdom, and building His Church, and in that I do not exaggerate. I will explain below.

When I read these two quotes in Vishal Mangalwadi’s book, The Book that Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization, I knew I had to share them here. First from the great Reformer, Martin Luther, who is a more pessimistic than I am, but the point is well taken: 

There is no estate the Devil is so opposed to as marriage. The clergy have not wanted to be bothered with work and worry. They have been afraid of a nagging wife, disobedient children, difficult relatives, or the dying pig or a cow. They want to lie abed until the sun shines through the window. Our ancestors knew this and would say, “Dear child, be a priest or a nun and have a good time.” I have heard married people say to monks, “You have it easy, but when we get up we do not know where to find our bread.” Marriage is a heavy cross because so many couples quarrel. It is the grace of God when they agree. The Holy Spirit declares there are three wonders: when brothers agree, when neighbors love each other, and when a man and a wife are at one. When I see a pair like that, I am glad as if I were in a garden of roses. It is rare.

Mangalwadi adds perspective as to why marriage is so great and essential to life in a fallen world:

Marriage brings out the worst in both husbands and wives. They must choose whether to stay in that school of character, or to drop out. The Bible made divorce difficult because one does not learn much by quitting a challenging school. The only way to make monogamy work is to value love above pleasure, to pursue holiness and humility rather than power and personal fulfillment, to find grace to repent rather than to condemn, to learn sacrifice and patience in place of indulgence and gratification. The modern world was created by countless couples who did just that. In working to preserve their marriages and provide for their children, they invested in the future of civilization itself.

I’ll never forget before we got married telling other young people we were getting married, and watching the disapproval on their faces while disparaging marriage. Phrases like, “Poor guy” were common. Given my nature, I would get right back in their face telling them how great marriage is, how important, how I can’t wait, and that they should get married too! I was basically telling them how wrong they were. I remember several, specifically the young women, get kind of a quizzical look on their face seeming to say, that’s refreshing to hear! I think some even said that.

And the reason these people all felt that way? Marriage is hard! But I must cut them some slack because examples of successful marriages are not bountiful, nor were they in the mid-80s. When California, no surprise, got the no-fault divorce laws-band wagon rolling in 1969, divorce became common in America; when the going got tough, as it will in every marriage, this gave people the idea, and the legal right, to think they could easily get out of a marriage, and that unilaterally. They think, why be miserable if I can just be rid of it, and the problem, as if the problem was the other person. Yes they can be, but as we say, it takes two to tango. In fact, second marriages fail at a higher rate than first marriages because the person who failed at the first one is the same person in the second, and bring all their problems, and sin, with them.

The other reason is the secular culture that bought into the arguments of feminism, among the many other evils of secularism. However, feminism all along its historical development from the 19th century on had a point. Because of the fall, the relationship between men and women was distorted. After telling Eve her pain will increase in childbirth, the Lord tells her, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Gen. 3:16, and here is an excellent explanation of this from the ESV study Bible). Men and women were created different, shocking I know, with different roles and responsibilities within a marriage. All of that become complicated by the fall, and thus the thoughts on marriage of Luther and Mangalwadi about how difficult marriage is. I was going to write, “can be,” but that would not be right. The very nature of the unique consequences of the fall for specifically men and women make every marriage, every single one of them, hard by definition.

The fundamental distortion is what this verse describes, and what makes marriage so difficult. Women will seek to usurp the man’s rightful role as the leader and ultimate authority in the family, and the woman is rightfully commanded to submit to her husband in this, but the man will overplay his role as leader and become a domineering authoritarian. This plays out in every marriage over a continuum, but the dynamic in every marriage is the same. How do marriages not only survive but also thrive in the face of such relentless headwinds? Jesus! God has revealed “the secret” in Ephesians 5:21-33. The analogy Paul uses is Christ and the Church, and the good news is it’s not a secret!

 

Three Cheers for Patriarchy! And “Why Sally Can’t Preach”

Three Cheers for Patriarchy! And “Why Sally Can’t Preach”

Since my last post was on the hot topic of Christian nationalism, I figured I’d follow it up with something about another “controversial” topic, patriarchy. I love thinking about the heads exploding at that title! It’s like throwing holy water on a vampire to some lefties, and many who embrace Christianity too. I will let the video do the heavy lifting, but I will say the same God-ordained roll dynamics in marriage apply in some measure in the church, thus the title of a book in the quotes. The author in the video is being interviewed, and I find his thinking helpful in what in our “enlightened” times is considered “controversial,” i.e., patriarchy. That word comes from the Latin for father, and has come to mean male headship and authority in certain contexts like the family and the church. I would love to hear your thoughts.

My Post-Mill Conference Experience and the Children

My Post-Mill Conference Experience and the Children

If you had told me a year ago that I would be attending a conference on Theonomy & Postmillennialism I would have told you to say no to drugs. But there I was in Georgetown, Texas last weekend with about 500 other people who seem to also have drunk the post-mill Kool Aid as if it was a real, biblical eschatological option. Prior to my “conversion” I didn’t think there were 500 post-mill people in the world let alone that many of them would find their way to a conference in Texas, but there they were. And the vibe was electric. I’m going to do two posts on the conference. While this first one will be primarily about children, and you’ll see why, the next one will be more meat and potatoes eschatology. The two are connected as I hope to convey.

I thought like a death metal concert, most of the audience would be dudes, and especially dudes with beards. Strange how beards have made a come back in America, and we’re talking long, nineteenth century type beards. There were definitely those, but what I didn’t expect was all the children and families. When the speakers were talking there was always the sounds of babies. I was sitting toward the front initially, and had no idea just how many children parents brought to this conference. After initially being annoyed by the disruption, I started to appreciate it, the young, new life, the indication of the blessing of God a la Psalm 127. As Solomon says, “Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” It’s unfortunate how man Christians in our day want fewer blessings rather than more, that’s how infected we’ve become with secularism.

Before I address that, on Saturday morning I was sitting in the midst of these families amazed at how well behaved all the children were. I thought, don’t all families bring their children to a conference on post millennialism on a beautiful spring Saturday? Of course they do! After the session, I asked the gentlemen sitting in front of me with all these kids how many children they have, and he said . . . . ten! Be honest, your first reaction to reading or hearing that is a kind of revulsion, right? Don’t lie to me. In the modern secular post-Christian West having ten children is looked at as at least strange. It almost seems wrong. You think of the poor woman who bore all those children. That’s a lot of work! And raising them is ten full-time jobs. I would contend our initial reaction, while understandable given how programmed we’ve become by secularism, is sin. God tells us children are a blessing, full stop. I found out the man with these ten blessings is Phil George, the pastor of Grace Life Church in Dallas. May he and his wife, and their tribe, increase, and that tribe doesn’t have to have that many children.

Which brings me to an article I providentially read after my profound children post-mill conference experience: Western culture is at fault for dwindling birth rates: We are witnessing the process of demographic crisis in its early stages. The author, Louise perry, starts the piece with a wonderful analogy of the Cassava plant that was made safe to eat by South Americans hundreds of years ago. Without that process, unbeknownst to them, the people eating it would be slowly poisoned to death by cyanide. Though the people didn’t realize the traditions of cleaning and processing the plant was saving lives, they did it anyway. She compares that to the tradition around a fertility culture where extended families and societies made it easier for women to bear the burden of having and raising children. The analogy is powerful. People in the Western world, which is most of the world today, don’t realize we are as a civilization slowly being poisoned to death by what she calls “the sterility meme.”

The word crisis in her title is more appropriate than anyone knows or will admit. Like being slowly poisoned by eating unprocessed Casava plants, civilization is slowly being poisoned by not enough children being born:

The effects of fertility decline will not become evident until the last above-replacement generation dies. In Britain, that tipping point is likely to come in the 2040s, when most of the baby boomers have passed away. Right now, we are witnessing the process of demographic crisis in its early stages, and most people do not recognize it as such. If modernity is cassava, then this is the cyanide.

She states the problem with modernity such:

But what we are now discovering is that, at the population level, modernity selects systematically against itself. The key features of modernity — urbanism, affluence, secularism, the blurring of gender distinctions, more time spent with strangers than with kin — all of these factors in combination shred fertility. Which means that progressivism, the political ideology that urges on the acceleration of modernization, can best be understood as a sterility meme. When people first become modern, they have fewer children; when they adopt progressive ideology, they accelerate the process of modernization and so have even fewer.

These are all complex sociological and psychological phenomena, but Christians are not immune. If you go to many churches today you’ll see that most families have two children. We must ask ourselves as Christians, is having only two children on purpose biblical? Is it living in obedience to God? Or is it succumbing to the “spirit of the age”? I would argue it is the latter.

Having said this, I understand why so many Christian families succumb to it. It’s been pounded into our heads almost as long as I’ve been alive, that there are “too many people” on earth, it’s unsustainable. The word “overpopulation” is an axiom, unquestioned as if it were obviously true. Then there is the little issue of children being expensive, and putting a real crimp in your lifestyle. I laughed out loud, literally, when I read this in the piece:

As one of my friends observed soon after having her first baby, “the only thing that limits your freedom more than having a newborn is going to prison.” She’s right.

Raising children is hard! All consuming. If freedom is a priority in our lives, we will have fewer children, and sadly these impediments to having more children keep too many Christian families from having more children.

I once told an Italian couple at a church we attended some years ago that we need to out breed the enemy, speaking of the secularists. Their look told me they weren’t quite sure what to make of that statement. They now have two children, and it looks like they’re stopping there, unfortunately. If I knew thirty years ago what I know now, as the saying goes, I would have tried for more than three children. Three has been an incredible blessing, so I can only imagine the blessings of more. Christians, and religious people in general, do have more children than secular people, but I pray in due course it would become many more.

 

 

Our Granddaughter Eleanor Geline Lewis Was Baptized Today!

Our Granddaughter Eleanor Geline Lewis Was Baptized Today!

When I was born-again a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, by default I became a baptist. I was born and raised a Catholic and so baptized as an infant, but born-agains don’t do infant baptism, so I got re-baptized. It made sense to me at the time because in this new form of Christianity I had embraced, the way you became a Christian was by making a personal decision for Jesus. Only then could you be baptized. Infants can’t make such a decision, so I reasoned they should not be baptized. I remained a baptist until I was introduced to Reformed theology when I was 24.

There are Reformed baptists, and that’s what I guess I was initially, until I went to a Reformed baptist church service. The gentlemen who introduced me to this strange new theology was a paedobaptist, so he had his children baptized. This new theology seemed upside down enough without me having to change that too, so I resisted it initially. Then I went to that service.

It so happens that Sunday morning they had an infant dedication. I had seen plenty of those in my five and a half years of being a Christian, so didn’t think anything of it. Then when they called up the parents with their children, a phrase snuck its way into my brain, I know not how, but it was disturbing to me. I thought, these children are strangers to the covenant! That didn’t sit well with me. I had been learning how important the covenant was in this new theology, and this dedication process was telling me the children had nothing to do with it. I became a paedobaptist on the spot!

The reason why is as simple as it is difficult for most Evangelical Christians to accept. Most don’t embrace it not because they’ve grappled with the texts and the theology, but because it’s so common to be a baptist that it just seems right. It could be right because my being wrong about something wouldn’t surprise me in the least, but for now I’m convinced baptizing our infant children is what we should do. I’ll give a very brief and probably not very persuasive case for why I believe this.

When I was praying this morning before we left for church, I was marveling that little Eleanor was part of God’s covenant promises to Abraham. She, literally this beautiful energetic little 9 month-old baby was in God’s mind when he said that Abraham’s offspring would be like the sand on the seashore and the stars in the sky. She is one of those! Then I thought, well, she’s really part of God’s covenant promise to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 when he said to the serpent:

15 And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.

Then I realized, she was actually part of God’s covenant promise to himself, which is known in Reformed theology as the covenant of redemption. In the words of RC Sproul:

The covenant of redemption is intimately concerned with God’s eternal plan. It is called a “covenant” inasmuch as the plan involves two or more parties. This is not a covenant between God and humans. It is a covenant among the persons of the Godhead, specifically between the Father and the Son.

That this eternal covenant is revealed and fulfilled in redemptive history is strongly implied by Jesus in John 6:37:

All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.

We believe as Peter preached in the first Christian sermon in Acts 2, that the promise is for us and our children. Not just when they grow older and put their trust in Christ as their Lord and Savior, but now when they pretty much can’t do anything at all. I love the way Moses puts it in Deuteronomy 29:

29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

. . . . and to our children forever . . . . Our children are part of the covenant! And praise our Almighty God and Savior for it.