It resonated with a lot of people. Other people absolutely hated it. Had I known that more than half a million people would be reading it, you can be sure I would have chosen my words more carefully. Phil Robertson can probably relate.
The most common response I have heard from people who were intrigued by the post has been “What do I do now? What does it look like to parent with a gospel focus? How does an Imperfect and Normal Family like mine raise my kids to have a faith that lasts once they leave home?”
The bad news is that there are no formulas. As I have posted before, there is no secret recipe that will guarantee that your kids will develop a sincere personal faith. Everybody makes their own spiritual choices. Forcing your faith on your kids will probably not end well. But there are some things that parents can do that can create an environment where God can get to work in our homes.
Put another way, how are we to ensure our children grow up embracing the Christian faith with a Christian worldview? This seems to be what Mr. Johnson is addressing. He goes on to state his five keys. This is the place at which I believed someone needed to step in and shift the ground a bit underneath Mr. Johnson’s feet.
The question must be asked, what was the status of the children in question prior to embracing or not embracing the Christian faith? We can all agree on the end and its importance. We want our children embracing the Christian faith and worldview. That said, what about where they begin? I understand that the author’s intention was not to highlight the pagan status of young children in Christian homes. I am submitting however that practically, this is exactly the underlying presupposition in the article. The article presupposes that our children are not God’s or are suspended in some sort of neutral category in need of evangelizing prior to discipling them. For the half-million people interested enough to read his first article, I want to state that it is of utmost importance that we begin at a different starting point with our children. It is the following:
We are not “evangelizing our pagan children”. If we profess faith in Christ then our children are His. We have often heard it said that “ideas have consequences”. Certainly the idea that our child is a pagan living in a Christian household has drastic consequences. There are consequences to relegating our children to toddler purgatory until they are smart enough to articulate their faith or can recount an acceptable conversion experience.
We are in fact representatives raising God’s children. They are de facto under His authority given that we are under His authority as confessing Christians. He delegates His authority to us as parents and charges us with raising His children. Baptism acknowledges publically that they are under the terms of God’s peace treaty extended to rebellious man. This is done based on our confession as their lawful authority on earth and as those called to represent them to Christ and Christ to them.
Surely there are many keys to “guiding your kid to a faith that lasts”. First and foremost would be relating to them as having their identity in Christ which was witnessed in their baptism as an infant. It is time we choose: Either we are raising God’s children or we are desperately working to evangelize Satan’s children running around our partially Christian household.