Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Any Difference at All?

All right. I believe I'm satisfied with this form of the overall question:

To what degree are the young children of professing believers to be treated (on that basis alone) as members and participants in the covenant people of God?

I suppose it would make sense to begin by examining the question of fact before discussing the question of degree.

So what scriptural evidence is there that such children have any degree of membership or participation in God's covenant people? What scriptural basis is there for making any distinction in this regard between children born into believing households and those born into unbelieving households?

Come on. We're moving too slowly for Margaret.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Future of Presbyterianism in North Dayton: A New Hope

Girded for Action

Younglings in Training

The Destiny of Unbelief

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

So What About Our Children?

I'd like to start thinking through some issues about the children of believers.

Some Christian traditions baptize their children before any profession of faith; others dedicate them instead. Some traditions have been known to encourage their children to "sow their wild oats" and let them come to their own decision to follow Christ later in life; others treat them as functional believers from birth. Some traditions allow young children to partake in the Lord's supper, others adamantly forbid them. In some traditions, parents express great anxiety about their children's salvation and are only relieved when their children have made a "credible" profession of faith; in others, they are satisfied with their children's simple trust in whatever their parents tell them to believe.

There are a whole host of issues wrapped up in these different approaches to children, several foundational doctrines underlying each perspective. A Christian's view of his children will be intimately connected with his understanding of the true nature of the church, the true nature of God's covenant with his people, the relationship between the Old and New covenants, the nature of the sacraments, the nature of true faith and conversion and so on and so forth. I'm beginning to think that in many ways, one's doctrine of children can reveal almost the entirety of that person's theology.

Here's what I'm after in this initial post. I want to try and determine what the real points of difference are between these various understandings of the children of believers and their relationship to the church. How are we to frame the question? What is the crux of the matter, the point of stasis?

Is it a matter of young children being members/ non-members of the church? partakers/non-partakers of God's covenant with his people? different/no different from the children of pagans? capable/incapable of true faith? Is it a question of what the default assumption should be? out until proven to be in/in until proven to be out? Are they to be treated as Christians? pagans? some third category?

Maybe the question is as simple as this: as Christians, should we treat our young children as if they are Christians or non-Christians?

I'm not ready to start talking about the answer yet. What do you see as the question? If we had to identify one central issue, one point of disagreement upon which all of these practical differences are based, what would it be? One side says that the children of believers are X, the other side says that they are non-X. What's the variable here?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Quote from Contracts Class

"You can steal a lot more from someone with a pen than you can with a gun."

So true.