"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

Reformed Theology and Child Training

There are few who believe that the current debate regarding the proper place of reformed theology within our Southern Baptist Convention reaches only to disagreements regarding predestination and other areas of sotierology. But it is interesting to note that one's belief, or lack of belief, in God's efficacious grace touches even practical issues like child rearing.

The 18th Century methodist minister John Wesley held to a non-reformed view of grace in soteriology. Stephen Finley, explains the relation between Wesley's evangelical convicton of corrupt human nature, his anti-reformed adherence to the belief in free will, and his logical conclusions regarding child training:

Wesley believed that a child was by his very nature a "mere atheist." Children were, foremost, afflicted by "natural atheism," an atheism chiefly inherent in their innate capacity to enjoy and to love nature. Thus, the "wise parent" was impelled to break their will because such will would lead them to two damning desires: the "desire of the flesh" and the "desire of the eyes." Children desired first to enjoy earthly happiness, to experience what gratified the outward senses, such as taste or touch. More inimical to their spiritual well-being was the complementary "desire of the eyes": the "propensity to seek happiness in what gratifies the internal sense, the imagination, either by things grand, or new, or beautiful." Both desires for Wesley were only incriminating evidence of a child's inclination to fatal error, that is, to be "a lover of the creature, instead of the Creator." Parents could only deepen and harden such error by ascribing "the works of creation to nature," or by praising the beauty of man or woman or the natural world. Hence children were to be brought up in extreme austerity of diet and dress and were to be taught repeatedly how they were "fallen spirits." Such instruction would help them to realize that they were "more ignorant, more foolish, and more wicked, than they could possibly conceive." From this method of education they would emerge with firmly held conviction that their natural propensities were akin on the one hand to "the devil" and on the other to "the beasts of the field."


In short, Wesley believed that unless the parent worked hard to 'break the will of the evil child,' the child would never experience salvation. Contrast Wesley's views with that of the great 17th century reformed theologian Herman Witsius. Witsius trusted soley in God's covenant of grace in the transformation of his child's pagan heart, and would gentle and sweet words urge believing parents to depend upon God's sovereign electing grace in the soul transformation of their offspring. Witsius reformed understanding of the early years of a covenant child stands in stark contrast to that of Wesley's views.

During our childhood there certainly appears the extraordinary love of our God to, in that as soon as we are born, and just as we come from our mother, he hath commanded us to be solemnly brought from her bosom as it were into his own arms, that he should bestow upon us, in the very cradle, the tokens of our dignity and future kingdom; that he should put that song into our mouth, 'Thou didst make me hope, when I was upon my mother's breast: I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother's belly,' Ps. xxii. 9, 10, that, in a word, he should join us to himself in the most solemn covenant from our most tender years: the remembrance of which, as it is glorious and full of consolation to us, so in like manner it tends to promote Christian virtues, and the strictest holiness, through the whole course of our lives. Nothing ought to be dearer to us than to keep sacred and inviolable that covenant of our youth, that first and most solemn engagement,that was made to God in our name.


Some may say the dialogue and discussion in the Southern Baptist Convention between Calvinists and anti-Calvinists is unnecessary and ultimately detrimental. I personally believe it is important because it affects even the most simplest of Christian tasks -- the rearing of a child in a Christian home.

In His Grace,

Wade

52 comments:

Bill Scott said...

Wade,
The two differing viewpoints certainly cast uneven shadows on many issues. I had not considered how this might affect the most basic and the most detrimental of all devotions - child rearing.

I believe, after pondering Saturday thread, that we must communicate carefully, prayefully and thoughtfully. I see how this thread could degenerate into another exchange of fire and counterfire if we don't communicate passion and purpose without vitriol.

TruthOfActs said...

Wade,
In the third grade, my twin brother asked what a person’s ‘will’ was. I didn’t know, but he seemed so worried, I asked him why he wanted to know.
“I was walking past the teacher’s lounge and I heard our teacher almost yelling: ‘If it’s the last thing I ever do, I’m going to break the will of that Hez Ray.’”

I heard that California passed a law that it was a crime to spank a child under 4 years old. Oh, my.

I read that some man wrote a long time ago: “Bring up a child in awe and respect of you, and you will have a friend when you’re old.”

I think today, parents try to be a pal instead of being a parent. I wrote this a while back, but it ought to fit here.

ADVICE FOR CHILDREN
1. Exodus 20: 12 “Honor your father and your mother…”
2. Romans 1:32, 31 “They were fully aware of God’s death penalty for these crimes.” “…being disobedient to their parents.”
3. Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents; this is the right thing to do because God has placed them in authority over you.”
4. Colossians 3:20 “You children must always obey your fathers and mothers, for that pleases the Lord.”
5. Proverbs 13:1 “A wise youth accepts his father’s rebuke; a young mocker doesn’t.”
6. II Timothy 2: 2, 5 “…They will sneer at God, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful to them, and thoroughly bad.” “They will go to church, but won’t believe anything they hear.”

ADVICE FOR PARENTS
1. Ephesians 6:4 “Don’t keep on scolding and nagging your children, making them angry and resentful. Rather, bring them up with the loving discipline the Lord himself approves.”
2. Colossians 3:21 “Fathers, don’t scold your children so much that they become discouraged and quit trying.”
3. Proverbs 13:24 “The one who will not use the rod hates his son, but the one who loves him disciplines him diligently.” “If you refuse to discipline your son, it proves you don’t love him; for if you love him you will be prompt to punish him.”
4. I Timothy 3:4-5 “He must have a well-behaved family, with children who obey quickly and quietly.” “For if a man can’t make his own little family behave, how can he help the whole church?”
Rex Ray

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

Good thoughts.

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

Bill,

Thoughtful and considerate words. I would encourage everyone to follow Bill's advice.

Nobody can draw hard and fast conclusions on how parents raise their children based upon their soteriology. Many Arminians can raise their children totally opposite of the manner in which Wesley raised his -- and whose to say Wesley was wrong?

The point of this post is not to shame, condemn or change people for their various practices in rearing their children. The point of this post is to encourage people to think through their beliefs.

From my perspective it seems that if a person believes that the depraved nature is only overcome by an act of the human will, then great thinkers, like Wesley, are left with no logical conclusion but the one to break the will of the child.

If a person believes in sovereign grace, then the only logical conclusion of someone who is thinking through the issue, is to cast their child into the hands of a loving God, Who alone has the power to break the will of His covenant people.

Again, let's all follow Bill's advice.

TruthOfActs said...

BTW,
I don’t thing the teacher lived that long since his seventh grade teacher said, “If you saw a sign you thought was saying the wrong direction, you’d argue with that sign all day!”

He is recovering from Valley Fever that he got five months ago. The first web site is Mayo Clinic and the second tells of 40 million dollars from Congress to test for a vaccine to counter this disease. It is caused by a spore that attacks the lungs. It lives in the ground and is carried by dust. In Arizona, 5,000 cases have been reported this year.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/valley-fever/DS00695/DSECTION=3

http://www.azcentral.com/php-bin/clicktrack/print.php?referer=http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/1229fri1-29.html

If he ever learned how to turn on a computer, he’d give Gene Bridges a run for his money on length of comment, and if I was James the New Testament would be twice as thick.
Rex Ray

irreverend fox said...

amen Wade.

I've always personally believed that Arminians are bad parents as well.

They also dress funny and sing songs that are way to up beat.

TruthOfActs said...

Wade,
I told my wife we would have to get our first-born saved early in life or we wouldn’t be able to live with him.

When he was four, no amount of spankings would stop him from pulling up his aunt’s flowers, until we stuck the switch up in the flower bed.

Our next son’s taking candy got nipped at an early age as we made him apologize to the store manager. He didn’t grow up like two high school boys that got caught with a large box of candy. They broke into our neighbor’s store and the police followed candy wrappers to their front door two blocks away.

I think families would be a lot happier if they started out with grandchildren.
Rex Ray

TruthOfActs said...

P.S.
No one paid for our neighbor’s $600 window, the boys spent only one night in jail as the coach NEEDED THEM to play football and the police lost the evidence.

AND we have the best children in the world. Sorry for talking so much.
Rex

Bob Cleveland said...

Wade:

A lot of this is the same sort of stuff about us adults, and not about kids at all. We want to analyze kids and then raise them according to what we know and can figure out about children in general, a la Wesley's statements.

There's more than enough instruction in the Bible, describing our responsibilities and actions in raising our children, to get the job done. As far as I can see from our kids (46 and 43) and the way they raised our grandchildren (22 and 20), it worked, too.

Like a lot of things I'm seeing in the SBC ... I'm sure it's true elsewhere ... what the Bible says, and even what we say we believe, doesn't seem to be good enough.

Steve A said...

Herman Witsius sounds like he has been a parent. Wesley sounds like he's some poor kid's uncle that never got out of the house enough. Our children heard thousands of times how much we loved them, how pleased we were with them, etc. while they were growing up. They were the first kids in their groups to smile and the last ones to get in trouble.

Charles R. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charles R. said...

Rex,
Grandchildren are our reward for not pinching our children's heads off! :-)

I made a mess of typing that the first time so I deleted it and started all over again...I hope that's not an indication that this is really Monday!

davidinflorida said...

Pastor Wade,

Do all non-reformed Christians believe in the child raising techniques of Wesley?

Do all reformed believe in the ways of Witsius?

I think not. I believe that if you raise your children Gods way, according to the directions in Gods word, reformed or non-reformed should make no difference

Stephen Pruett said...

Wade, Couldn't it be more of a "both and" than an "either or situation"? Personally, I believe God's grace is the power of salvation, but I also believe there is a role for will. It's not that our will saves us or that we must break it to be saved, it is just that we must accept the grace that is offered. It seems to me that the views of the Reformed and those who are less than 5 pointers are usually more nuanced and actually closer to each other than those with the other view seem to think.

Mark said...

"The point of this post is to encourage people to think through their beliefs."

Why not take Wade's words as intended?

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Wade,

I trust your Lord's Day was a great experience. Thanks for the post, as always.

Though I'm quite sure Mr. Finley is a Wesleyan scholar, I do not at all understand his conclusions pertaining to Wesley.

For example, when Wesley spoke of children being "atheists" the child's "atheism" was but one of many "spiritual diseases" from which all persons are hopelessly infected as a consequence of the fall.

For Wesley, just as prominent were "pride," "love of the world," "anger," "deviation from the truth," and an innate sense "contrary to justice." The parents' role--for Wesley, particularly the mother--was to starve the diseases out and furnish life through Gospel Truth.

Wesley reasons: "Now, if these are the general diseases of human nature, is it not the grand end of [Christian] education to cure them? And is it not the part of all those to whom God has entrusted the education of children, to take all possible care, first, not to increase, not to feed, any of these diseases; (as the generality of parents constantly do;) and next, to use every possible means of healing them? "

How this approach is supposed to somehow be contrary to "reformed" methods of child-rearing totally escapes me.

Furthermore, Wade, you conclude that "Wesley believed that unless the parent worked hard to 'break the will of the evil child,' the child would never experience salvation." Yet, as far as I can tell, Wesley's parental advice does not include instructions for an "evil child."; rather for a "fallen child." I presume the "reformed" community believes no less.

But even more important is about what Wesley spoke when he spoke of "breaking the will." The child's will to which Wesley spoke that needed to be broken was "self-will."

He says: "But what can we do to cure their self-will? It is equally rooted in their nature, and is, indeed, the original idolatry, which is not confined to one age or country..." Thus, it is a part of fallenness and Wesley concludes "self-will" will be confronted by wise parents upon first sight. Why? For Wesley because "there is nothing more important than this. The will of the parent is to a little child in the place of the will of God." How this is supposed to be somehow contra-reformed seems strange to me.

In the same sermon, Wesley pleads with parents to make God all in all for their kids. I apologize for the lengthy quote:

"From the first dawn of reason continually inculcate, God is in this and every place. God made you, and me...And everything is his; heaven, and earth, and all that is therein.

"God orders all things: he makes the sun shine, and the wind blow...Nothing comes by chance; that is a silly word; there is no such thing as chance. As God made the world, so he governs the world...

"Not so much as a sparrow falls to the ground without the will of God...he governs all things, so he governs all men, good and bad, little and great...

"And he over-rules all. He gives us all the goodness we have; every good thought, and word, and work, are from him. Without him we can neither think anything right, or do anything right. Thus it is, we are to inculcate upon them, that God is all in all."

What's interesting is, Wesley sounds so much like a great reformed theologian!

By the way, my Brother Wade, you conclude that the dialog about Calvinism is important. I agree. I just question whether your post shows "Calvinist" folk apparently fare better in catechizing their children than do "nonCalvinist"(for me, a better term than anti-calvinist).

I hope you have a great day. With that, I am...

Peter

p.s. source is Wesley's sermon "On The Education Of Children" (Prov.22.6)

G. Alford said...

Whenever I hear such words as “breaking the will” of a child… I know it is not of God.
In the Word of God we are instructed to “train up a child…”(Pr.22:6) but never to break the will of a child.

This difference in how to bring up our children vividly points out the difference between the Arminian World View with it’s central tenets of religious works and duty, and the Reformed World View with it’s central tenets of grace and gratitude.

What Wesley is inferring by teaching that “wise parents” should break the will of their children is that “Forced Submission” is a Christian doctrine and is acceptable unto God. Of course forced submission is not acceptable unto God... The “will of man” is most often referred to in Scripture as the “heart” and in Matthew 15 Jesus tells us that if our worship, religious works, and duty are not from our hearts they are in vain…

“7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

“Forced Submission”… is the leading tenet of another world faith, but it is not a tenet of the faith of Jesus Christ.

Grace to all,

Jeff Richard Young said...

Dear Brother Wade,

You have raised a very emotional subject. I'm interested in and sympathetic to your idea here, but not convinced. Maybe you could devote another article to this topic, developing and proving your premise more.

Love in Christ,

Jeff

Wade Burleson said...

To all,

Thanks for the comments. Mark nails my heart in this matter.

All I desire is for people to think through their beliefs, and I agree with those who say you cannot make a categorical or general statement about anyone else, but Wesley and Witsius both put their thoughts on the matter in writing.

Both were Christian men. Both have things from which we can learn.

They are just different.

peter lumpkins said...

Dear g.alford,

I hope not to presume by offering this comment toward your post. To suggest as you do, my Brother g.alford, that Arminians possess an inherent "forced submission" approach to child-rearing apparently stemming from a flawed "religious works and duty" worldview seems fantistic, at least to me. Not to mention the doubt that you can demonstrate such by offering more than a raw assertion.

If I may, I suggest you read Wesley's sermon I cited in the post above and reconsider your comments.

More importantly, when you write "The “will of man” is most often referred to in Scripture as the “heart”" you miss Wesley by a Mississippi mile. Wesley was refering to "self-will" and consequently, concluded "Indeed it may be said that every man is by nature, as it were, his own god. He worships himself. He is, in his own conception, absolute Lord of himself." This is that to which Wesley counsels parents to address.

And, "To let them [children] have their own will...To let them take their own way, is the sure method of increasing their self-will sevenfold..." Thus, he concludes: "The will of the parent is to a little child in the place of the will of God. Therefore studiously teach them to submit to this while they are children, that they may be ready to submit to his will when they are men."

How this is "forced submission," my g.alford, I simply cannot tell.

Have a great day in the Lord. With that, I am...

Peter

Wade Burleson said...

To all,

Good thoughts. Mark's comment nails my intentions. This post is simply designed to get us to think through these issues in practical terms. There can be no hard and fast general rule -- only personal and practical application for each of us. Both Wesley and Witsius were believers from whom we all can learn - but my point stands - how you view the salvation of your child affects how you raise your child.

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Mark,

One reason some may be raising questions is Wade's opening statement on the post itself: "one's belief, or lack of belief, in God's efficacious grace touches even practical issues like child rearing."

Likewise, his conclusion: "I personally believe it [dialog between Calvinists and anti-calvinists] is important because it affects even the most simplest of Christian tasks -- the rearing of a child in a Christian home."

Yet, when dialog starts, and someone desires to pull the parking brake ("Why not take Wades' words as intended?"), I suppose one should expect an iota of confusion.

Grace. With that, I am...

Peter

Wade Burleson said...

Peter,

I'm not sure I understand what you are saying. I have not drawn any conclusion regarding Wesley's views or Witsius' views on child training. Again, I am proposing that one's view on soteriology affect your views of child training. But I freely admit I may be wrong in that as well!

:)

Wade Burleson said...

To all,

I am on the road today and will post late tonight. Let's all be kind and considerate. Anonymous posting has been reenabled.

peter lumpkins said...

Wade,

I am confused (Know, however, it's hardly the first time. My wife reminds me often about this very state). If "one's belief, or lack of belief, in God's efficacious grace touches...child rearing" and "[you]personally believe it is important because it affects...rearing of a child in a Christian home," how is it that there is only "...personal and practical application for each of us. "?

For me, I fail to see the connection between the significance of the dialog on the one hand and the soft, mushy "personal application" on the other.

Grace for this afternoon. With that, I am...

Peter

peter lumpkins said...

Wade,

Did I miss something? Were you not contrasting so-called Arminian with Calvinist approaches to child-rearing? Is that not why you asserted "Witsius reformed understanding of the early years of a covenant child stands in stark contrast to that of Wesley's views."?

And did you not conclude "In short, Wesley believed that unless the parent worked hard to 'break the will of the evil child,' the child would never experience salvation."?

And did you not further conclude in the comment thread "From my perspective it seems that if a person believes that the depraved nature is only overcome by an act of the human will, then great thinkers, like Wesley, are left with no logical conclusion but the one to break the will of the child."?

Yet now you write "I have not drawn any conclusion regarding Wesley's views or Witsius' views on child training."

I know one thing: when my wife gets home I'm going to give her a piece of my mind. I am definitively NOT the only one who can so quickly get confused!

I hope your trip graced with travelling mercies, my Brother Wade. With that, I am...

Peter

Alycelee said...

Wade, interesting.
I have been asking your dad for some time to teach and let me hear about Covenant Theology.
Perhaps you have teaching on just that. If so, direct me to it please. We would like to study that in greater depth.
Thanks
Alyce

G said...

Wade,

I submit that the vast majority of the people in our pews have no idea where they "fall out" along this theological continuum. So, in my opinion, the odds of one's reformed/non-reformed stance would have little impact on the overall child rearing practics in our homes or in our culture.

I know that it has not affected mine. I've spent too much time on my knees over these kids ... listening to what God has to say ... to worry about Calvin or Arminius.
Geoff

Geoff Baggett said...

Sorry, don't know how I managed to post as "g"!

Alycelee said...

I know what you are saying Geoff, having 4 children and 5 grand's. However I listening to a teaching some years ago titled 'the incorruptable seed.' While this brother wasn't teaching from the standpoint of reformation, I couldn't help but find great confidence in the sovereignty of God throughout those years (especially then teens) with my children and now find myself resting in that much more than I ever did before. It does not excuse me to not follow the precepts of God as a parent or grandparent-but it sure does give me Rest!

G. Alford said...
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G. Alford said...
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G. Alford said...
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G. Alford said...

Peter,

You write:

More importantly, when you write "The “will of man” is most often referred to in Scripture as the “heart”" you miss Wesley by a Mississippi mile. Wesley was refering to "self-will" and consequently, concluded "Indeed it may be said that every man is by nature, as it were, his own god. He worships himself. He is, in his own conception, absolute Lord of himself." This is that to which Wesley counsels parents to address.

And, "To let them [children] have their own will...To let them take their own way, is the sure method of increasing their self-will sevenfold..." Thus, he concludes: "The will of the parent is to a little child in the place of the will of God. Therefore studiously teach them to submit to this while they are children, that they may be ready to submit to his will when they are men."


I am so sorry I missed “Wesley by a Mississippi mile.”… Mississippi is big state, but I will see if I can find a place to turn around and go back and find him :-)

Let’s go slow this time… (#1) Wesley was addressing the “will” of a child, right? (#2) My comment was [the “will of man” is most often referred to in Scripture as the “heart”], right? So my comment was intended to communicate that when Wesley refers to “the will” and Scripture refer to “the heart” they are both discussing the same thing.

Peter, I am a just a little bit familiar with Brother Wesley’s writings and thought… have you studied the Arminian doctrine of Prevenient grace?

The link between what Wesley taught concerning the need for the parent to “break or prepare” the will of the child and Prevenient Grace is clear, is it not?

Peter, for Wesley to infer that "The will of the parent is to a little child in the place of the will of God…” is to place upon the parent the full responsibility of the work of the Holy Spirit. What Wesley is suggesting is that, by faithful instruction of the parent, salvation is all but assured when it comes time for the child to make the right decision (during the time of Prevenient Grace in their life).

Most interesting… yes? And by the same logic I suppose a parent would be condemning his child to hell who neglected this duty?

Peter, am I still missing Wesley?

Grace to all,

Roger Simpson said...

I agree with Stephen Pruitt:

I think both "Calvinism" and
"Arminianism" are both simultaneously true even though many think that these doctrines are logically opposite and mutually exclusive.

The idea of "predestination" is an attribute of God. The idea of "free will" is an attribute of mankind. [or at least an imputed attribute of man given by God]

For want of a better term God has more "degrees of freedom" than mankind so he reserves the right to operate in ways that are "behind the scenes" as observed by us. Put in very simple terms we can still have total "freedom" even if God knows what is going to happen at each instant in the future.

To me I don't think any of this has much to do with raising kids. Our three kids -- now in their late 30s and early 40s -- were not raised through the lens of a
Calvin / Arminius grid.

Roger Simpson
Oklahoma City OK

peter lumpkins said...

Dear g.alford,

Thanks for the rejoinder, my brother. And, unfortunately for your postion, yes, you seem still, at least in my view, to miss Wesley by a Mississippi mile and then some.

Did you happen to read the sermon to which Mr. Finley presumably referred entitled "On the Education of Children" (Prov. 22.6)? I referenced it.

As I said before, when Wesley referred to the "will" and encouraging the "breaking" of it by parents, he was definitively not speaking about "forced submission." If he says such, my Brother, I'd like some documentation, please.

Rather, Wesley was refering to "self-will," what he calls the "original idolatry." He says: "It [self-will] is equally rooted in their nature, and is, indeed, the original idolatry, which is not confined to one age or country, but is common to all the nations under heaven." If you want Scripture to which Wesley alludes here, g.alford, a much better fit seems to me to be Romans 1 rather than Matthew 15: "Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man...because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator...God gave them up... They were filled with...evil...haters of God...dissobedient to parents..." (22-32). Wesley here refers to universal fallenness, of which a number of malaises were the result, including sinful, idolatrous self-will. To miss this, g.alford, seems rather odd to me.

Finally, you conclude: "What Wesley is suggesting is that, by faithful instruction of the parent, salvation is all but assured when it comes time for the child to make the right decision."

Again, I must ask you, g.alford, did you bother to read Wesley's sermon? interestingly, he concludes just the opposite as you seem to suggest. Wesley says:

"We must not imagine that these words [That is, the text in question, Proverbs 22.6] are to be understood in an absolute sense, as if no child that had been trained up in the way wherein he should go had ever departed from it. Matter of fact will by not means agree with this: So far from it...But it must be acknowledged, some have been trained therein with all possible care and diligence; and yet before they were old, yea, in the strength of their years, they did utterly depart from it...The words, then, must be understood with some limitation, and then they contain an unquestionable truth. It is a general, though not an universal, promise."

I fear that hardly calls for your conclusion of Wesley, g. alford: "salvation is all but assured when it comes time for the child to make the right decision." Wesley did not say this, at least as I can find.

Sorry, g alford. You still may need a new map.

Our Lord's presence. With that, I am...

Peter

Anonymous said...

This whole discussion is a mute point as far as a layperson is concerned - most don't know what an Arminian or a Calvinist is. They raise their children by the Book - that is the Holy Bible.

CB Scott said...

I have found that a great problem with many children's "troubled" ways is the fact that they are so bored.

A bored and unchallenged child is a child on the way to trouble.

Teach children the Word and the doctrines of the faith.

Pray with them and for them. Pray in their presence. Do not be phoney in your prayer time with them.

Give them real responsibility and help them "hands on" in responsibility. (work together, don't just bark orders)

Challenge them physically and be physically active with them.

Play with them and actually enjoy it.

Discipline but never punish. Punishment is what prisons are for. Discipline is what goes on at home so children will stay out of prison and need no punishment.

Talk about faith and Jesus as if He is Lord of your life and you love Him. Do not make him a weekend visitor to be tolerated until His visit is over. In order to do that He has to be Lord of your life, home, and family.

Love their Momma.Treat her like a lady always.

Pray for them in private about things that you cannot pray for them when you pray with them.

Pray for them some more.

Boys become men of God and useful if we teach them to be spiritually strong, mentally strong, emotionally strong, and physically strong and then teach them, by example, to put it all under submission to Christ.

This works with boys. I am just now learning about little girls. I must confess I am more at ease with football, weights, and martial arts with the boys than I am with letting little girls paint my fingernails and playing like I am drinking fake tea and playing Wall-Mart Cashier.

I am learning, but I will never remove nail polish with lighter fluid again:-)

This will work for Calvinists, Arminians and various positions in between:-)

Anonymous said...

Has not anybody noticed that Witsius was arguing for baby baptism here?

To quote Witsius again, "Nothing ought to be dearer to us than to keep sacred and inviolable that covenant of our youth, that first and most solemn engagement, that was made to God in our name."

This is obviously a reference to the Reformed belief that parents baptize their children, thus bringing them into the sacred covenant. The child does not submit in his own; the parents submit the child to God in the child's name.

If there is a "forced submission" in play, it is the Reformed belief that the human action of baptism somehow forces God to admit a child into the eternal covenant.

An SBC Seminary Professor

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Anonymous

How delightful to experience, in a desert terrain, a cup of cool, refreshing reason. I shall drink it slowly and savour every drop, my Kin in Christ.

Please, please return. With that, I am...

Peter

Bob Cleveland said...

CB:

For what it's worth, most of the paragraphs of your last comment apply in my relationship with the "children" who make up the Couples for Christ class I'm privileged to teach. Boring Sunday School is a killer and interesting Sunday School isn't much better.

Challenging is where it's at.

Glen Woods said...

Hi Wade, two thoughts here, if I may:

1. Suggested reading pertaining to the differences in perspectives and how we engage each other in dialogue- Paul G. Hiebert's Missiological Implications of Epistemological Shifts: Affirming Truth in a Modern/Postmodern World. Page 103 is particularly relevant, in my estimation, to your blog and the discussion in SBC as a whole as it pertains to how Christians handle disagreement based on their worldviews and epistemologies. I commend it highly if you can find it in a local theological library. It is readily available on Amazon as well for a reasonable price.

2. Given that I have devoted my life to children's and family ministry in the local church, I naturally perked up when I saw this post. I just want to thank you and those commenting for sharing your thoughts. The issues we wrestle through philosophically and theologically have, as you well know, enormous practical consequence in the homes of those we influence. As R.C. Sproul famously says, "Ideas have consequences."

I am one of those who is not married and has never had children, so I value the interaction among those of you who wrestle with the issues from the insider's perspective of ongoing parenthood.

Blessings,

Glen Woods

Wade Burleson said...

Dear SBC Seminary Professor,

You, above all, should know one may reject infant baptism and still accept the doctrine of God's efficacious toward His people through sovereign grace as great Baptists such Gill, Spurgeon, Keach, Carey and others held. They would have disagreed with Witsius on infant baptism, but firmly agreed with him on his soteriology. One does not necessarily lead to the other.

farmboy said...

"Has not anybody noticed that Witsius was arguing for baby baptism here?"

It's probably less a stretch of the evidence to suggest that Witsius offers points consistent with his belief in infant baptism. Witsius was a Reformed theologian, so of course he embraced infant baptism.

Reformed theology also embraces the doctrine of God's meticulous sovereignty: All things, even the smallest of things, happen according to God's sovereign plan. This doctrinal presupposition is probably more helpful for understanding the perspective Witsius offers on child rearing.

A parent who embraces God's sovereignty can come to child rearing with a quiet, unshakable confidence. God ordains all things that transpire in the rearing of a child. Provided that the child is one of God's elect, God will not be thwarted in reconciling that child to Himself. There need be no sense that a child's will must be broken. Instead, the parent does the best as he/she can with the wisdom and other attributes that God has provided. Ultimately, in the end, the fate of the child rests in God's infinitely capable hands.

In contrast, Wesleyan theology (and Arminian theology) does not hold to the doctrine of God's meticulous sovereignty. In Wesleyan theology there is one decision over which the child is sovereign: The decision to accept or reject the offer of salvation that is the gospel. God can act in such a way that the probability that a child will accept the offer is maximized, but this probability remains below 100%. When it comes to this decision, then, the parent can't come to child rearing with a quiet, unshakable confidence in God. From the perspective of Wesleyan theology, this critical decision is not God's decision to make. Hence, it's understandable that the parent would have greater angst and would come to child rearing differently.

I fear that focusing excessively on the minute details of one particular sermon that Wesley delivered misses the forest for the trees. In the end, how a Christian understands God's sovereignty effects how a Christian understands and approaches the whole of life.

Note carefully that I use "Christian" to describe both those who hold to Reformed theology and those who hold to Wesleyan (or Arminian) theology. However, note also that Reformed Christians and Wesleyan (or Arminian) Christians understand God's sovereignty in critically different ways.

G. Alford said...

It seems I need to explain what I mean by the term “Forced Submission” in reference to Wesley’s views on “breaking the will of the Child”.

It is clear from Wesley’s own words that in his opinion the will of the child is to be made to conform to the Parents will. Wesley goes as far as to actually say that the Parent’s will is to be considered the will of God for the child. One must pray that every child has godly Parents I suppose, but that’s another matter…

Wesley is clearly teaching that children can by the externals of religion (works and duty) be prepared for “the day of their visitation”. (see the Arminian doctrine of “Prevenient Grace”) As Farmboy has pointed out in his excellent post “In Wesleyan theology there is one decision over which the child is sovereign: The decision to accept or reject the offer of salvation that is the gospel.” This is the doctrine that is behind Wesley’s insistence that a child’s will must be broken in order that the Parent may establish a pattern of behavior that is conducive to a proper decision. This is “Forced Submission”.

Submission to a certain set of external behaviors as an adult does not make one a Christian (it might make one Catholic or Religious)… just as forced submission of children to a certain set of external behaviors will not insure (or increase the odds of) their salvation.

Sadly, Brother Wesley wholeheartedly embraced the false doctrine of “Decisional Regeneration”

Christianity can never be reduced to the mere Externals of Religion… (see Luke 18:18-23)

Grace to all,

To Peter :-)

peter lumpkins said...

Dear g.alford,

Frankly, my brother I'm not at all getting your posts. While Wesley makes clear references to what he suggests pertaining to discipling children in his sermon I've referenced thrice now, you appear only to offer theories about what you insist he must mean, all of course, tainted by his hopeless heresy of "decisional regeneration" or the alleged warped doctrine of "prevenient grace."

Personally, I think it best--and, this is only my opinion, my Brother, but it is my opinion--to actually engage a person for what they are saying, not what one thinks they must believe.

Thus, my g.alford, believe as you wish about what Wesley must believe. You possess my express permission.

Peace. With that, I am...

Peter

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Farmboy,

Thank you for your words. Two notations in response, if I may. First, you write: "...focusing excessively on the minute details of one particular sermon that Wesley delivered misses the forest for the trees." I do not grant anyone was focusing excessivly on Wesley's sermon. That was the point of Wade's post, if you recall--a quote/interpretation from Wesley's sermon.

However, your blade cuts both ways. To simply ignore what Wesley explicitly says about child rearing and focus instead on your understanding of how Wesley is SUPPOSED to believe (because he is an Arminian) is ignoring empirical data while embracing a preconceived theory. It is possible, after all, that Wesley was being inconsistent and, thus, not at all following his presupposed Arminianism to its logical conclusion.

Second, you conclude: "From the perspective of Wesleyan theology, this critical decision is not God's decision to make. Hence, it's understandable that the parent would have greater angst and would come to child rearing differently."

From my perspective, assertions such as these stand as part of the reason there exists tremendous tension when Calvinists and nonCalvinists attempt to honestly dialog. Moreover, my Brother Farmboy, assertions like this lend greater credence to the charge that "Calvinists are arrogant."
In one sweeping stroke of the keyboard, the implication seems to be nonCalvinists are inferior in rearing their children than Calvinists. An interesting assertion; no proof, but interesting, nevertheless.

I would ask you, Farmboy, as I asked our Brother g.alford: did you happen to read Wesley's sermon from which Mr. Finley presumably was alluding--"On the Education of Children"? Unfortunately, I still do not know if g.alford read it; as I recall, he did not answer. Did you?

What's enlightening is, virtually every charge that either you or g.alford make here contra "arminianism" Wesley alluded to in the sermon.

For example, you appear to make much ado about Wesleyan thought not embracing a high enough view of God's sovereignity. Yet, Wesley says:

"From the first dawn of reason [in your children] continually inculcate, God is in this and every place. God made you, and me, and the earth, and the sun, and the moon, and everything. And everything is his; heaven, and earth, and all that is therein. God orders all things: he makes the sun shine, and the wind blow, and the trees bear fruit. Nothing comes by chance; that is a silly word; there is no such thing as chance. As God made the world, so he governs the world, and everything that is in it. Not so much as a sparrow falls to the ground without the will of God. And as he governs all things, so he governs all men, good and bad, little and great. He is gives them all the power and wisdom they have. And he over-rules all. He gives us all the goodness we have; every good thought, and word, and work, are from him. Without him we can neither think anything right, or do anything right. Thus it is, we are to inculcate upon them, that God is all in all."

Is this a low view of God's Sovereignity?

In addition, you express this concern: "When it comes to this decision, then, the parent can't come to child rearing with a quiet, unshakable confidence in God. From the perspective of Wesleyan theology, this critical decision is not God's decision to make."

Yet, Wesley says something quite different. He places the salvation of the child in the hands of God: "Let it be carefully remembered all this time, that God, not man, is the physician of souls; that it is He, and none else, who giveth medicine to heal our natural sickness; that all "the help which is done upon earth, he doeth it himself;" that none of all the children of men is able to "bring a clean thing our of an unclean;" and, in a word, that "it is God who worketh in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure."

From my view, I think the better approach when we're discussing an issue and/or view--particularly of a celebrated theologian like Wesley--is to allow, if possible, the person to speak for himself/herself rather than impose preconceived notions we may have gleaned from secondary sources.

Grace. With that, I am...

Peter

farmboy said...

While most everyone has moved on to other posts, I must pay attention to a few housekeeping details:

Mr. Lumpkins offers: "To simply ignore what Wesley explicitly says about child rearing and focus instead on your understanding of how Wesley is SUPPOSED to believe (because he is an Arminian) is ignoring empirical data while embracing a preconceived theory."

Nowhere in my previous post did I refer to Mr. Wesley as an Arminian. On the contrary, I went to great care to refer to Wesleyan theology. You take me to task for ignoring what Wesley explicitly says (in one sermon when his collected works take several feet of space on my bookshelves), yet you ignore what I explicitly write. I trust that you paid greater attention to the details of Mr. Wesley’s sermon than you did to the details of my post.

Mr. Lumpkins offers: "Second, you conclude: 'From the perspective of Wesleyan theology, this critical decision is not God's decision to make. Hence, it's understandable that the parent would have greater angst and would come to child rearing differently.'"

"From my perspective, assertions such as these stand as part of the reason there exists tremendous tension when Calvinists and nonCalvinists attempt to honestly dialog. Moreover, my Brother Farmboy, assertions like this lend greater credence to the charge that ‘Calvinists are arrogant.’"

I stand by my words. According to Mr. Wesley and the theological system that bears his name, the decision to accept the offer of salvation that is the gospel is the child’s decision to make. It is not God’s decision. This is a critical limit on God’s sovereignty. The conclusion I offer is a logical, rational, reasonable one, a conclusion consistent with a Wesleyan understanding of God’s sovereignty. A parent who believes that his/her child’s eternal destiny lies finally in the hands of the child has reason for angst when it comes to child rearing. In contrast, a parent who believes that his/her child’s eternal destiny lies finally in God’s infinitely capable hands has reason for quiet confidence when it comes to child rearing. The ideas I offer for consideration are consistent with the evidence and logically flow from the evidence. I offer these ideas in a dispassionate, detached fashion. By any reasonable definition my words are hardly inflammatory or arrogant. You level charges of creating tension and being arrogant, charges that are not supported by the evidence. But I suppose your use of "my Brother" makes that all right.

Mr. Lumpkins offers: "[Y]ou appear to make much ado about Wesleyan thought not embracing a high enough view of God's sovereignty."

I did not use the metric of a high or low view of God’s sovereignty. To use such a metric obscures the key question: Is God sovereign or not? Reformed theology answers that God is sovereign, sovereign over even the smallest things. In contrast, Wesleyan theology must answer that God is not sovereign, as there is at least one decision – the decision to accept or reject the offer of salvation that is the gospel – that is beyond God’s reach. I suppose, one can have a high view of God’s sovereignty yet deny that God is sovereign over a child’s eternal destiny. Given the importance of each person’s eternal destiny, of what value is a "sovereignty" that does not extend to such a decision? Pleading that one has a high view of God’s sovereignty while also believing – but downplaying - that such sovereignty does not extend to a person’s eternal destiny is a shell game similar to pleading that one has a high view of Scripture while also believing – but downplaying – that such Scripture is not inerrant.

Your belief is that Mr. Burleson’s post was all about motivating people to focus on the minute details of one of Mr. Wesley’s sermons and the general tenor of Mr. Witsius’ "The Economy of the Covenants between God and Man." First off, there is a mismatch here: the details of a single sermon versus the general tenor of a two volume theological work. Second, my belief is that Mr. Burleson’s post was all about motivating people to think in big picture theological terms: Wesleyan (and Arminian) theology understands God’s sovereignty in a way that differs critically from how Reformed theology understands God’s sovereignty. My original post was written in a manner consistent with my understanding of the intent of Mr. Burleson’s post. At the end of the day, this conclusion remains: How one understands God’s sovereignty has real consequences for how one deals with all that life brings. More specifically, how parents understand God’s sovereignty has real consequences for how they deal with child rearing. Now, what is controversial about that?

Mr. Lumpkins, if you are convinced that the Wesleyan theological system best matches the teachings of Scripture, then by all means embrace the Wesleyan system, but embrace all of it and embrace it honestly and openly. I have no problem with someone embracing Wesleyan (or Arminian) theology, provided that they understand what they are embracing and are willing to honestly and unashamedly present the theological system they embrace. The same goes for those who embrace Reformed theology. You are quick to cry foul, playing cards like the tension or arrogance cards, whenever some of the more, how shall I say, inconvenient portions of Wesleyan (or Arminian) theology are accurately presented by others. As someone who protests too much, could it be that you are not entirely comfortable with the whole of the theological system that you embrace?

peter lumpkins said...

Dear FarmBoy,

I suppose I could just let this go. Personally, I'm trying to be more cautious in insisting I get the last word. Yet, I do desire to make a few things clear, if you don't mind.

First, you seem troubled that since you did not mention "Wesley as an Arminian," I apparently missed your details. I do not at all get the point unless you think he wasn't Arminian. Nor do I quite understand, my Brother Farmboy, what "Wesleyan theology (and Arminian theology)" mean in a post about Wesley if they do not describe his position.

Secondly, if you do not accept that assertions such as I cited from your post subtly suggest "Calvinists make for better parents than nonCalvinists" and even more, create needless tension in dialog and lends to the common charge that "calvinists are arrogant," that's perfectly fine with me. You do not have to accept it. Of course, that does not mean it is nevertheless true.

Thirdly, you write: "I did not use the metric of a high or low view of God’s sovereignty. To use such a metric obscures the key question: Is God sovereign or not?"

True, you did not use 'high/low' view of God's sovereignty. How stupid of me. You used "meticulous sovereignty."

The point you make, however, is totally disingenious unless you were not attempting to distinguish between Wesleyan and Calvinist views of Sovereignty--which, of course, you go on to do and, by the way, is the sum total of my point between "high" and "low."

In addition, how your distinction "meticulous" escapes your own criticism of my distinctions-- "high/low"--I fear I possess no clue. You write: "To use such a metric obscures the key question: Is God sovereign or not?"

As for whether the quotes are mismatched, you need to take that up with the bloghost. I did not create the post.

And, since you apparently have several feet of Mr. Wesley nicely stacked on your shelves, I assume you read the sermon to which Mr. Finley alluded. Consequently, it stands clear, at least to me, Wesley was much more concerned about practical matters in offering advice to parents, rather than abstract theology--which he addressed elsewhere--theology with which you appear much too poised. That's only my opinion, Farmboy; but it is my opinion.

Thus, my assertion--which I feel still stands--that you bring preconcieved assumptions about what Wesley must believe, given his theology, and overlook what he says he about a specific subject. This is wrong-headed in my view.

Finally, I am not Wesleyan. Nevertheless, I respect Mr. Wesley no less than Mr. Calvin and would defend either if I preceived they were receiving an empty wrapper. Unfortunately, for Mr. Wesley, more times than not on Baptist blogs, Wesley ends up without candy.

And, as for whether on not you think I protest too much, you have that perfect right, my Brother (if it's o.k. to call you such). Think as you wish.

Humorously, Wade's community thrives on protest. Frankly, I did not I stood out so much but just blended in with all the other protestors. Many thanks for the heads up.

I trust you weekend well, FarmBoy. With that, I am...

Peter

farmboy said...

Mr. Lumpkins, I offer dispassionate, detached, rational, logical arguments supported by and based on evidence. In response you provide emotive, feeling based responses where it is easy to see your anger and rage that lies just below the surface. For this, I am embarrassed for you. You are capable of better.

There is one important fact that, try though you may, you cannot ignore: Reformed theology teaches that God is sovereign, sovereign over even the smallest of decisions, hence the use of the phrase “meticulous sovereignty” in Reformed theology. In contrast, Wesleyan (or Arminian) theology teaches that God is not sovereign over all. Reformed theology teaches that a person’s eternal destiny ultimately lies in God’s infinitely capable hands. In contrast, Wesleyan (or Arminian) theology teaches that a person’s eternal destiny ultimately lies in the person’s hands. This is a fact, maybe an inconvenient fact from your perspective, but a fact none the less. (Or, to take a phrase from my formative days on the farm: No matter how you dress it up, a pig is still a pig.)

How does the above fact influence a parent’s approach to child rearing? First, this is an entirely reasonable question to examine. Second, examining this question is not the same thing as saying that parents who subscribe to Reformed theology make better parents than those who subscribe to Wesleyan (or Arminian) theology. No where do I make the claim that parents who subscribe to Reformed theology make better parents. I do make, and continue to make, the claim that how a parent understands God’s sovereignty will influence how that parent approaches child rearing. This is reasonable, proper and appropriate, as how a person understands God’s sovereignty influences how that person approaches the entirety of life.

What could be of greater concern to a parent than his/her child’s eternal destiny? When it comes to our son, his eternal destiny is the chief concern of my wife and me. I argue that this is or should be the chief concern of all parents. Now, a parent who subscribes to Wesleyan (or Arminian) theology has reason for angst when it comes to his/her child’s eternal destiny. Why? Because the parents believe that child’s eternal destiny ultimately lies in that child’s hands. The parents can be the greatest parents God ever created, yet their child may still choose to reject the free offer of salvation that is the gospel. In contrast, a parent who subscribes to Reformed theology has reason for quiet confidence when it comes to his/her child’s eternal destiny. Why? Because the parents believe that child’s eternal destiny ultimately lies in God’s infinitely capable hands. The parents can make all the mistakes that parents typically make without worry that those mistakes will somehow cause their child to reject the free offer of salvation that is the gospel. Why? Because God’s purposes cannot be thwarted. Provided that the child is one of God’s elect, God will be successful in redeeming and reconciling that child. How is this not confidence building and liberating?

Whether Mr. Wesley or Mr. Witsius were good parents is immaterial. How Mr. Wesley or Mr. Witsius raised children is immaterial. They are both dead. Their child raising days are over. Yet, the Wesleyan theological system lives on after Mr. Wesley’s death. Similarly, the Reformed theological system lives on after the deaths of Mr. Witsius, Mr. Calvin and Mr. Turretin (to name but a few founders of the Reformed theological system). What matters in the present is how parents in the present go about raising their children. Based on the above argument, parents who subscribe to the Wesleyan (or Arminian) theological system approach child rearing differently from parents who subscribe to the Reformed theological system. Now, this is a different topic for a different day, but I also argue that parents who take theology seriously approach child rearing differently from those who do not. I would much prefer that a child be raised by parents who take the Wesleyan theological system seriously as opposed to parents who could care less about theology. Again, this is a different topic for a different day.

As for your wishing me the best on my weekend, I wish I could believe that this was an honest, sincere gesture. The tenor of your posts, however, suggests otherwise. Remember, in the end, ideas are more important than either you or me. Whether either of our weekends is good or bad is ultimately immaterial. Whether you think well of me or not is ultimately immaterial. In the arena of ideas personal items only provide clutter. I find this to be a virtue of weblogs: The anonymity of weblogs serves to remove the personal element leaving the idea. Similarly, in the arena of ideas, the emphasis should be on dispassionate, detached, rational, logical argumentation. Emotive and feeling based responses only provide clutter.

peter lumpkins said...

Dear Farmboy,

Of course, my Farmboy, how the subject left Mr. Wesley and ended up peeling back my skin and peering underneath at my allegedly messed up emotions, I do not know. And, while flattered you would want to talk about me, I resist the temptation.

Nonetheless, I do understand. I offered Wesley's words he himself spoke, what he specifically believed to be good advice about child-rearing and you desire to talk about abstract views of sovereignty to which you insist he allegedly did not adhere, a --let me get this perfectly accurate--"meticulous sovereignty." For me, I say that's wonderful. Believe as you so wish.

As for my cluttering up the thread, Farmboy, I do have a suggestion: ignore my clutter. I do not recall complaining that you were not answering my questions or being discourteous by shunning a post I might have addressed to you.

From my perspective, ignoring is a much better approach, not to mention a more honorable and godly one, than to trek down the path of personal accusation--"it is easy to see your anger and rage that lies just below the surface" and questioning sincerity--"As for your wishing me the best on my weekend, I wish I could believe that this was an honest, sincere gesture. The tenor of your posts, however, suggests otherwise."

Oh yes, Farmboy. You write: "Reformed theology teaches that God is sovereign, sovereign over even the smallest of decisions... Wesleyan...theology teaches that God is not sovereign over all."

From my view, you are mistaken. Classic Arminianism has never made it a point to question God's sovereignty. They have, however, consistently denied philosophical determinism, which, from the way I read your posts, Farmboy, may be precisely what you mean by "meticulous sovereignty."

And, whether or not you accept this, is irrelevant to me: I wish for you a blessed weekend and especially a grace-filled Lord's Day.

With that, I am...

Peter

farmboy said...

At Pyromaniacs there is an admonition to "not feed the trolls." I had always wondered what that meant. I now know.