Thursday 26 September 2013

Why Tolerence Won't Solve Bullying

We all know that bullying continues to be a growing problem with today's young people, and it is especially evident in public (and private) schools throughout North America.  You are also probably aware that this has lead to a number of policies and legislation which are attempting to "solve" the bullying epidemic.  But there is a reason we aren't seeing the problem reversed.

See, trying to "fix" the bullying problem is, at best, putting a band-aid over a wound which is spewing blood - the band-aid isn't addressing the actual problem, and it's not even really working towards a solution.

Consider the following problems with today's young people:
  • bullying
  • sexual activity at a young age
  • disrespect for adults in position of authority (parents, teachers)
Our culture seems to be promoting a different solution for each, when they all stem from the same problem.

We shouldn't be surprised when children who grow up in a culture which teaches that morality is relative and God doesn't exist, are "given over to a debased mind" (Romans 1:18-32).  They are surrounded by people who don't know Christ and don't have the Spirit of God working in them.  Their real teachers are their peers (Luke 6:40), and so it should be no surprise when they create a youth culture which despises adult authority and has no moral compass.

Do we really want, as this ad implies, to teach children
to merely tolerate those who have a different skin colour?  

We need to recognize that tolerance is different than love, and our society even twists this. The Bible doesn't use the word "tolerance", instead God tells us we are to love our neighbours, even love our enemies, and we are to hate evil.  Hate it in ourselves, hate it in others, and hate how it ravages the world God created.  Hate is a strong word and it is used here intentionally, just like it was by Paul when he wrote: "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good."(Romans 12:9) Love - as biblically defined - is much stronger than, and quite different from, tolerance.  1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love is patient and kind, that it does not boast and is not arrogant, it is not resentful and it does not rejoice in wrongdoing.   See, if our love is to be sincere, than it must be accompanied by hate for its opposite.  If you love your husband, you hate adultery.   If you love babies, you hate abortion.  If you love good, you hate evil.

That said, the ways in which our culture is teaching children to "tolerate" evil is not helping.  Every day they are inundated by media images which say "tolerate sexuality", "tolerate senseless violence", "tolerate disrespect and rebellion".  Do we really think that hanging up a "We do not tolerate bullying" sign in the school hallway is going to undo all these other messages they get all day long?

The root of the problem isn't the bullying, the sexual promiscuity, the disrespect, etc. - the root, sin, is expressing itself in the moral breakdown of our society, and the overwhelming influence of the peer culture. I am not going to discuss in depth how we can go about preventing or reversing this trend with our own children, but I do strongly recommend  Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld, which addresses this.  It is one of the most interesting books I have read in recent years, and I highly recommend it.  

One thing you can do is fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) in your own home.  Scripture shows that parents are responsible for the spiritual upbringing of their children (Deut 6:5-9, Eph 6:4).  We need to be constantly sharing the gospel with our children, teaching them to look at themselves, their peers, and their culture through it's lens.  In this way we can provide a moral compass for navigating the deviant peer culture of aggression, sexuality and disrespect surrounding them - and a generation like that will go far in solving the bullying problem.

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Monday 23 September 2013

Should Babies Be Baptized? (Part 2 of 2)

This is the second half of a series giving a synopsis of the book by T.E. Watson.  For part 1 click here.

The antiquity of the baptism of babies (Chapter 9)

When studying the tradition of the church on this or any other subject, it is important to remember that any tradition that nullifies the commandment of God must be discarded (Mark 15:1-9).  It is important to note that, if infant baptism is inconsistent and unauthorized by scripture, as chapters 7 & 8 sought to show, then a strong tradition must be discarded.  Watson recognizes this when he quotes the Westminster Confession:
"The Supreme judge, by whom all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture."
In this chapter, a careful search is made of all references to infant baptism in early Christian writing, as contained in the Ante-Nicene Christian Library.

Some say Justin Martyr's reference to old people who had been discipled to Christ from childhood is a reference to infant baptism, but this is a stretch, and hardly plausible given Justin Martyr's own description of baptism:
"As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. ... And for this [rite] we have learned from the apostles this reason. Since at our birth we were born without our own knowledge or choice, by our parents coming together, and were brought up in bad habits and wicked training; in order that we may not remain the children of necessity and of ignorance, but may become the children of choice and knowledge, and may obtain in the water the remission of sins formerly committed, there is pronounced over him who chooses to be born again, and has repented of his sins, the name of God the Father and Lord of the universe... And this washing is called illumination, because they who learn these things are illuminated in their understandings. And in the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, and in the name of the Holy Ghost, who through the prophets foretold all things about Jesus, he who is illuminated is washed." (Ante-Nicene Christian Library, vol. 2, p. 59f)
Tertullian is the first person in Christian history that discussed the age of children with regards to baptism, and is opposed to baptism before understanding.  He writes:
"And so, according to the circumstances and disposition, and even age, of each individual, the delay of baptism is preferable; principally, however, in the case of little children. ... The Lord does indeed say, “Forbid them not to come unto me.” Let them “come,” then, while they are growing up; let them “come” while they are learning, while they are learning whither to come; let them become Christians when they have become able to know Christ." (Works of Tertullian, p 253)
The Dutch theologian and historian Venema concludes that paedobaptism was not the custom or practice of the early church and writes:
"Paedobaptism cannot be certainly proved to have been practiced before the times of Tertullian ... These are the things that may be affirmed with apparent certainty, concerning the antiquity of baby baptism, after the times of the apostles; for more are maintained without foundation"
It appears that infant baptism was neither an apostolic tradition nor a general practice in the church in the first 200 years Ano Domino.

Arguments from the Old Testament (Chapter 10)

Because the baptism of babies is not authorized in the New Testament, some paedobaptist scholars, like B.B. Warfield, seek justification for it in the OT:
"The warrant for infant baptism is not to be sought in the New Testament but in the Old Testament." (Studies in Theology, B. B. Warfield, p. 399)
Watson contends that seeking justification for "what is essentially a New Testament ordinance" in the Old Testament "indicate[s] the weakness" of the argument.  Watson then lists many of the sometimes competing grounds on which infant baptism is built on Old Testament arguments and then goes on in the following two chapters to address the two most popular current arguments (as of the date of initial publication, 1962); the "Church" argument and the "Covenant" argument.

The 'Church' argument of Charles Hodge (Chapter 11)

Watson gives an overview of this argument and a step-by-step analysis of each of the eight propositions that Charles Hodge uses to show that baby baptism is proper (these can be found here.).  A short synopsis is given below:

At the outset, Hodge presents the question and how it may be answered:
"The question, Who are the proper subjects of baptism? is determined by the design of the ordinance and the practice of the Apostles." (Systematic Theology, Vol. 3 p. 540)
It is noted that he writes of the apostles:
"In every case on record of their administering the rite, it was on the condition of a profession of faith on the part of the recipient." (Systematic Theology, Vol. 3 p. 541)
Noting that 'infants cannot exercise faith, and consequently ought not to be baptized' (Vol 3. p. 546f), Hodge decides to hinge baby baptism on whether or not children of believing parents are in the Church:
"In order to justify the baptism of infants, we must attain and authenticate such an idea of the Church as that it shall include the children of believing parents." (Systematic Theology, Vol. 3 p. 547)
And because there is more than one definition of church (e.g. visible and invisible) Hodge supplies a definition for this argument:
"In the present discussion, by the Church is meant what is called the visible Church; that is, the whole body of those who profess the true religion."  (Systematic Theology, Vol. 3 p. 547)
However, Hodge's conclusion is inconsistent given the definition of 'Church' used within the propositions; babies cannot "profess" true religion.  This is fatal to the argument.

Perhaps most notably, in the third proposition, Hodge seeks to show that the commonwealth of Israel was the visible church, something inadmissible by the stated definition of the word church.

In fact, elsewhere Hodge vigorously denies that the commonwealth of Israel was a visible church:
"It is to be remembered that there were two covenants made with Abraham. By the one his natural descendants through Isaac, were constituted a commonwealth, an external community; by the other his spiritual descendants were constituted into a church, [invisible of course, since, at that time, the only formal organization was that of the law.] ... The conditions of the one covenant [the old] were circumcision, and obedience to the law; the conditions of the other were, and ever have been, faith in the Messiah, as the seed of the woman, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. There cannot be a greater mistake than to confound the national covenant with the covenant of grace, [that is, the old covenant with the new] and the commonwealth founded on the one, with the church founded on the other. When Christ came, the commonwealth was abolished, and there was nothing put in its place. The church [now made visible] remained." (Church Polity, Charles Hodge, (New York: Scribner, 1878), pp. 66-67, italics mine)
Interestingly, Hodge is very concerned that babies be baptized for reasons of salvation:
"Those parents sin grievously against the souls of their children ... who neglect ... baptism. Do let the little ones have their names written in the Lamb's book of
life, even if they afterwards choose to erase them." (Systematic Theology, Vol 3. p. 588)
and so it seems that Hodge ties the baptism of children to their salvation if they die in infancy.  However, he elsewhere disagrees with this:
"All who die in infancy will be saved." (Systematic Theology, Vol. 1, p. 26.)
And we can affirm with William Cunningham:
"There is a great difficulty felt, — a difficulty which Scripture does not afford us adequate materials for removing, in laying down any distinct and definite doctrine as to the bearing and efficacy of baptism in the case of infants." (The Reformers and the Theology of the Reformation, p. 246)

The "Covenant" argument of J. G. Vos (Chapter 12)

The Argument for infant baptism by Dr. Vos is:
"Infant baptism is a Scriptural practice which does not depend upon isolated proof-texts'. It follows logically from other truths of the Scriptures; the proof may be stated, essentially, in the following form:
(a) Baptism is a sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace.
(b) The children of believers are included in the Covenant of Grace.
(c) Therefore the children of believers are entitled to baptism which is a sign and seal of the Covenant of Grace." (Blue Banner Faith and Life, 1959 January-March issue)
But this very argument would also justify baby communion if the word "baptism" is replaced by "Lord's Supper".  The argument proves too much, thereby destroying itself.

Watson does look at this argument in more detail, and the entire chapter is available online here.

The evils of the baptism of babies (Chapter 14)

  • Firstly, holding to a practice that is unauthorized and inconsistent with the Bible opens protestants to a justifiable attack by Roman Catholics that we rely on tradition in addition to scripture.
  • Secondly, any time an addition is made to the commandment of God, an existing commandment must be changed or annulled, and this is the case with baptism; the plain meaning of the following statements must be confounded if applied to baby baptism: "putting on Christ" in baptism, "walking in newness of life" after baptism, "buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith", and baptism as "an appeal to God for a good conscience" (these are some of the verses considered in chapter eight)
  • Thirdly, baptism of babies confuses the understanding of both baptism and regeneration; many parents receiving a false assurance for the salvation of their children.  And well it might confuse parents if the plain understanding of the words in the Westminster Confession apply the same to infant baptism as to believer's baptism:
    "... a sign and seal of the covenant of grace, of his ingrafting into Christ, of regeneration, of remission of sins, and of his giving up unto God, through Jesus Christ, to walk in newness of life." (Westminster Confession, 28. 1.)
    or in the Articles of the Church of England:
    "a sign of regeneration or the new birth" (Article 27 of the Church of England)
  • Fourthly, Christ's name is disgraced as His visible church is filled with thousands of unregenerate who neither profess repentance nor belief in Christ's salvation.

The Who Can Stand summary of Chapters 9-14

The antiquity of baptism is lacking in support for infant baptism.  The "Church" argument of Hodge breaks down using his own definition of church, and the "Covenant" argument of J.G. Vos seems to prove too much.  Finally, Watson concludes in chapter 13 that infant baptism is retrogression, and lists some of the evils associated with infant baptism in chapter 14.

The Who Can Stand Conclusion

Our hope is that this book will help provide clarity of thinking for those considering the issue of the proper modes of baptism.  The book is both tough minded and very readable.

Semper Reformanda!
We highly recommend you buy the book (there are a number of used copies for less than $2 on Amazon).

If this synopsis has piqued your interest, you can also read a good review of the book by Fred Malone here

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Tuesday 17 September 2013

Should Babies be Baptized? (Part 1 of 2)

I was recently questioned as to why I believe that believer's baptism is scriptural, as opposed to infant baptism.  Having done some study on the topic roughly 10 years ago, but being quite rusty, I asked the pastor of our church if he had any good resources.  He did.

In the book Should Babies be Baptized? T.E. Watson examines the lines of evidence used for and against infant baptism.  His book is eminently readable, and highly recommended by both myself and Stephanie (we commonly found ourselves trying to read it at the same time!)

Throughout the book, the author exclusively quotes those who support infant baptism in refuting its validity.  It is interesting that many of the following arguments are affirmed by some to support infant baptism, while other staunch paedo-baptists utterly reject many of these same lines of reasoning, requiring other "better" reasons must be used.   

Below is a synopsis of the first half of the book.

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Did the Jews baptize babies? (Chapter 1)

Some affirm that the Jews baptized infants of proselytes, and therefore it is natural that Christians would do the same.

It is sufficient here to say with T.M Lindsay:
“But the subject of the baptism of proselytes is one of the most hopelessly obscure in the whole round of Jewish antiquities, and can never be safely assumed in any argument, and the general results of investigation seem to prove that the baptism was not one of the Jewish ceremonies until long after the coming of Christ, while there is much to suggest that the Jewish rite owes its origin to Christian baptism.” (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 9th Edition)
and to affirm with Pierre Marcel that:
"... as good Reformed Christians it is impossible for us to found infant baptism on extra-canonical texts, no matter how compelling their authority may be. In the Christian Reformed Church the baptism of infants must be established and justified biblically." (The Biblical Doctrine of Infant Baptism, p. 21.)

Did John baptize babies? (Chapter 2)

A review of John's ministry shows that he only baptized those who confessed their sins, thus excluding babies.

Thomas Scott writes:
"It does not appear that any but adults were baptized by him." (Commentary on Matthew 3:5,6)
And Francis Turretine writes:
 "John admitted none to baptism but those who confessed their sins; because his business was to baptize adults." (Francis Turretin, Institutes of Thelogy, Section IV, question 22)

Did Christ baptize babies? (Chapter 3)

Given John 4:1,2, this might be better stated, "Did Christ or the disciples baptize babies during Christ's earthly ministry?"

It is important to note that Christ made and then baptized disciples. 
Some affirm that Christ condoned baptizing of infants based on his blessing of the little children in Matthew 19:13-15 and related texts.

However, we agree with Jeremy Taylor:
"From the action of Christ's blessing infants, to infer that they were baptized, proves nothing so much as that there is want of better argument; for the conclusion would with more probability be derived thus: Christ blessed children and so dismissed them, but baptized them not, therefore infants are not to be baptized." (Liberty of Prophesying, p 327, Jeremy Taylor)
And concur with John Murray:
"To conclude: these two assertions: (1) that little children belong to the kingdom of God; (2) that they are to be received in Christ's name do not offer stringent proof of infant baptism and they do not provide us with an express command to baptize infants." (John Murray, Christian Baptism, (Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Company: 1970), pp. 55, 65.)

Did Christ Order the Baptism of Babies? (Chapter 4)

In the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:14-18) Christ commanded baptism.  The proper subjects of this command are considered in this chapter.

John Calvin writes:
“As Christ enjoins them to teach before baptizing, and desires that none but believers be admitted to baptism, it would appear that baptism is not properly administered unless when preceded by faith.” (Harmony of the Evangelist, Vol. 3, page 386)
John Calvin again:
“Baptism is, as it were, an appurtenance of faith, and therefore it is later in order; secondly, if it be given without faith whose seal it is, it is both a wicked and also a too gross a profaning,” (Commentary on Acts, Vol. 1, p. 362.)
And A. Plummer:
"Make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19) implies those who are old enough to receive instruction." (Hastings Bible Dictionary)
Finally, Dr. Wall states:
"The commission given by our Saviour to his disciples in the time of his mortal life, to baptize in the country of Judaea, is not at all set down in Scripture; only it is said that they baptized a great many.  And the enlargement of that commission among all the heathen nations, is set down in such brief words, that there is no particular direction given what they were to do in reference to the children of those that received the faith." (History of Infant Baptism, vol. 1, p.5)

Did the apostles Baptize Children? (Chapter 5)

This chapter undertakes to study nine mentions of baptism (Acts 2:38-41, Acts 8:12, Acts 8:36,38, Acts 22:16, Acts 10:44-48, Acts 16:15, Acts 16:33, Acts 18:8, Acts 19:1-7) in Scripture in apostolic times.

It is noteworthy that Thomas Boston affirms:
"There is no example of baptism recorded in the Scriptures, where any were baptized, but such as appeared to have a saving interest in Christ.' (Works, p. 384)
And Richard Baxter states boldly:
“I conclude, that all examples of baptism in Scripture do mention only the administration of it to the professors of saving faith; and the precepts give us no other direction. And I provoke Mr. Blake, as far as is seemly for me to do, to name one precept or example for baptizing any other, and make it good if he can.” (Disput. of Right to Sacrem. Paed. Exam. Vol. II, p. 29.)

Indirect evidence in the New Testament (Chapter 6)

A study of the texts that are sometimes said to infer the existence of baptism in the apostolic church are undertaken in chapter six.

The first verse commonly used is 1 Corinthians 7:14
"For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy."
While there is much that could be said about the use of this passage, it is sufficient here to agree with the second of Albert Barnes' assertions here quoted, while not agreeing with the first:
"I believe infant baptism to be proper and right, and an inestimable privilege to parents and to children. But a good cause should not be made to rest on feeble supports, nor on forced and unnatural interpretations of the Scriptures. And such I regard the usual interpretation
placed on this passage." (Notes, explanatory and practical, on the First epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, p.134, Albert Barnes)
Colossians 2:11,12 is the second passage discussed in this chapter, and is commonly used to link physical infant circumcision in the OT to infant baptism in the NT.  These verses run:
"In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead."
As Watson points out (p.47), the reference to circumcision is to a spiritual circumcision, made without hands, and baptism is a sign of this spiritual circumcision; it is not mentioned as a replacement to physical circumcision.

We can conclude with A. Plummer that:
"Not only is there no mention of the baptism of infants, but there is no text from which such baptism can be securely inferred" (Hastings Dictionary of the Bible)

Baptism of babies unauthorized by the New Testament (Chapter 7)

This chapter discusses the conclusion drawn out of the first six chapters, that there is neither precept nor precedent (example) in the New Testament for infant baptism.  This conclusion is well stated by B.B. Warfield:
“It is true that there is no express command to baptize infants in the New Testament, no express record of the baptism of infants and no passages so stringently implying it that we must infer from them that infants were baptized. ...The warrant for infant baptism is not to be sought in the New Testament , but in the Old Testament.” (Studies in Theology, p. 399)
But, as Watson says:
" is the custom of Reformed Paedobaptists to demand either a precept or a precedent to prove a matter Scriptural." (p. 52)
And Mathew Poole is of this mind when arguing against indiscriminate baptism of adults:
"I cannot be of their mind who think that persons may be baptized before they be taught: we want precedents of any such baptisms in Scripture." (Annotations. on Matthew 28:19)
Watson addresses the common challenge from paedo-baptists that female communion lacks precept or precedent as well on pp. 54,55.

Infant baptism inconsistent with New Testament teaching (Chapter 8)

In this chapter Watson endeavours to show that infant baptism is inconsistent with NT teaching in 5 specific texts:

Romans 6:2-4
1 Cor 1:13
Galatians 3:27
Colossions 2:12
1 Peter 3:20,21

The plain understanding of "walking in newness of life" after baptism, "putting on Christ" in baptism, "buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith", and baptism as "an appeal to God for a good conscience" is confounded when applied to baby baptism.

Watson spends some time on each passage and comes to the conclusion that these texts teach either believer's baptism or baptismal regeneration.  The answer seems clear.  

It is sufficient for us to here affirm with J. V. Bartlett and A.C. McGiffert:
"Infant baptism is not an Apostolic usage. It is not only that there is no trace of it in the first century: but the very idea of baptism then universal, namely as a rite of faith's self-consecration (often outwardly ratified by manifestations of the Spirit) is inconsistent therewith. (The Apostolic Age, p. 472, J.V. Bartlett)
"Where the original idea of baptism as a baptism of repentance, or where Paul's profound conception of it as a symbol of the death and resurrection of the believer with Christ prevailed, the practice would not be likely to arise. But where the rite was regarded as a mere sign of one's reception into the Christian circle, it would be possible for the custom to grow up under the influence of the ancient idea of the family as a unit in religion as well as in all other matters." (A History of Christianity in the Apostolic Age, p. 543, A.C. McGiffert)

The Who Can Stand summary of the first eight chapters

It has been shown that there is neither precept nor precedent (example) in the New Testament for infant baptism.  It has also been shown that the teaching of infant baptism is inconsistent with the doctrine of baptism as expounded in several New Testament texts.  

We will discuss the final six chapters later in the week.  In the meantime, we highly recommend you buy the book (there are a number of used copies for less than $2 on Amazon).

If this synopsis has piqued your interest, you can also read a good review of the book by Fred Malone here.

What about you?  Do you have a favourite argument or book regarding infant baptism?

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Monday 9 September 2013

The Danger in Reading Good Biographies

Heroes inspire us.  Stories and experiences are captivating.  The Old and New Testaments are chock full of inspiring stories, and they are there for us to learn from.  While our family loves reading biographies, and have recently been reading some good ones, here are some things to keep in mind while reading a good biography.

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Danger #1 - Using the historical account as the measuring line for truth or practice

We should not formulate our theology or philosophy based on stories or experiences of famous or godly people.  Some in the modern Christian church have based new methods and new theology on experience or expedience; possibly best illustrated by the "New Methods" of C.G. Finney (1) that have almost universally influenced the western church today.  We, however, must always turn to the principles and precepts in Scripture to measure the truth in what we have read.  Relying on our own (or others') interpretation of the experiences of famous people in order to determine what is right vs. wrong and how we should live will almost always lead to error.  We are fallible, and we cannot even rely on our interpretation of our own experience.

Danger #2 - Comparing ourselves with the subject 

Secondly, if biographies or records of experience become our measuring line, we are in danger of despondency.  Henry Venn warns against using others as models:

'Again: in reading the life of a Christian, when his spirit and manner of life are highly to be admired, we are often tempted to despond. We compare ourselves with his shining attainments; and feeling at so great a distance, we grow dissatisfied, and can scarcely think that what God has done for us deserves any consideration, or believe that we are in a state of grace and salvation. Our pride (though we do not perceive it) is hurt, and self love is mortified, to see we are so outdone. The good hope we were willing to entertain of our faith in Christ, and union with Him, is ready to fail, because we are no better. The spiritual riches, in which the saint seems so to abound, makes our own poverty apparent and undeniable. Consequently, we feel much uneasiness and vexation; and are apt to conclude we are unfit to die, and ought not even to be called Christians, till we are exactly or nearly, such as the blessed saint whose history is before us.  ... Yet why should this disquiet our souls? We are not accepted or beloved for our own excellencies, but for Christ's sake, from the goodness of God; and two no less than ten talents may be used, and will be most amply and gloriously rewarded. We ought to be comforted and animated from the consideration, that whatever the most eminent saints possess, it is received from the same inexhaustible Fountain, of which all the Children of God partake; and that there is in reality, though in miniature, every feature in the least and lowest Child of God, which is so prominent and beautiful in the fairest of the saints.' (2)

Danger #3 - Forgetting reality

How we discharge our daily duties is more important than being fixated on a great hero.  This principle is stated well in the introduction to the book Great Achievements of Military Men, Statesmen, and Others:
'It is probably allotted to few to achieve great things in an average lifetime; the common duties of every day bounding and filling up the horizon, and giving no opportunity for the performance of any great deeds, or any displays of talent or heroism, which might challenge the admiration of the world. Perhaps the best kind of heroism is that which displays itself in the cheerful and right performance of daily duty, of which the world shall hear little or nothing.  Doing right and guiding one's own life wisely and prudently may be considered as no mean performance, and a task in which some of those blessed with great talent and genius have not always succeeded. ... It is nonetheless interesting and important, however, to keep great examples and the heroic deeds of of the world's greatest ones before the mind.  These examples have a stimulating and invigorating effect on character.' (3)

In conclusion...

We love a good biography and are so thankful for the Christians and other men and women who have set an example before us, and the care others have taken in chronicling their lives, complete with achievements and struggles.  However, it is important to remember when reading biographies on your own, or with your children, that the subjects of these books were sinners too, who should serve as encouragements to live our days with fortitude and joy, always looking to God's Word as the measure for how we should live.

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1. The "New Methods" of C.G. Finny will be discussed in a future post.
2. The Life and a Selection of Letters of Henry Venn (1835, repr. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1993), p. 581. Iain H. Murray also quotes material from the same section in Pentacost Today? The Biblical Basis for Understanding Revival (The Banner of Truth Trust, 1998), pp 126-7.  Murray's book is an exceptional read.
3. Great Achievements of Military Men, Statesmen, and Others, Edinburgh, W.P. Nimmo, Hay, and Mitchell.  No date. We picked our copy up at an antique shop.

Tuesday 3 September 2013

German Family's Children Seized - What You (and your kids!) Can Do!

You may have already heard about the recent violent seizure of the children of a German family purely on the basis that they had chosen to homeschool their children.  You can find details about the event in this article by the HSLDA.
It is easy to take for granted the freedoms we have here in North America, to select the educational methods we feel are best for our children.  As parents who exercise your legal right to homeschool, I hope that you desire to do what you can to help this family as well. 
This is a wonderful opportunity to talk to your children about the blessings we have here, and share with them the lack of freedoms in other areas of the world.  You can share with them what happened to the Wunderlich children, and have them consider how they would feel if that happened today in your home.   This can also be a time to show them that they don't just have to sit back in the face of these (and other) injustices, but can be active even at their young age.

And so we'd like to encourage you to write to one of the organizations provided in the HSLDA article, and have your children do the same.  They have made it very simple, even providing points on what you could say, which you can include in your letter.

For Canadians, you can also find a form to contact the German Embassy in Toronto here.

The Wunderlich family with HSLDA Founder Mike Farris in 2012.
(Photo from HSLDA article)
Please feel free to forward this message on to others who you believe may be interested in helping.
"This is what the Lord says: Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place." (Jeremiah 22:3)

(If you don't homeschool, but you still care about working towards justice in general, your help would most certainly be appreciated.)

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