Wednesday, July 25, 2012

doctrine cannot wait

The following paragraphs are excerpts from the book we'll begin this September by Starr Meade called Training Hearts, Teaching Minds: Family Devotions Based on the Shorter Catechism.  Having completed the children's catechism, I thought we should go and expand on those ideas and work on the more meatier version of the catechism.  Mrs. Meade's book is similar in format to the children's book, in that you work on a question for a whole week, reading a passage that relates or explains the idea presented in the question and answer each day.  That format worked very well for us so I am glad to have this next resource to use.  Here is what she writes in part, in the introduction to the book:
The Church's Failure:
Even where teaching the Bible to children is a priority, teaching Bible doctrine seldom is. Children hear the same Bible stories repeatedly, almost always as moral lessons on how to behave. Typical Sunday school lessons reduce Bible stories to moral tales much like Aesop's fables. The focus is on the human being in the story, who becomes its main character. So the teacher comes to the end and concluded, "And you must be like David and God will bless you" or "You must not act as Ahab did or you will find trouble."
When Bible stories are used in this way, God sits on the periphery of the narrative, like the genie in a fairy tale, blessing human actors for good behavior or cursing them for failures. Children seldom learn to see that God Himself is the main character of every Bible story. They do not learn to ask about each account they read, "What does this story tell me about God?" They never learn to read all the biblical narratives in the light of God's overall purpose to redeem a people for Himself. All they learn is: Be good and God blesses; be bad, and He does not. Not only is this a faulty representation of the gospel, it is not the gospel at all! What a tragedy! 
God in His grace and condescension loaded Scripture with stories, concrete illustrations of abstract truth. But we must use the Bible stories as God intended them to be used. He gave them to use for the same reason He gave us all of Scripture--that we might know what He, the only true God, is like, and that we might understand the salvation He has provided for His people through His Son. Bible stories illustrate Bible doctrines. We who work with children should be grateful for that and should use the Bible narratives to help our children understand the doctrines of our faith.
The Proposed Solution: 
Those of us who care about passing on the baton of historic Christian truth must awaken to the importance of faithfully imparting its doctrines to our children. We cannot depend on haphazard, hit-or-miss Bible stories and memory verses, hoping that somehow our children will distill from them Christianity's important teachings. Rather, we must provide careful, systematic instruction in doctrine. Children need a grid through which to sift all that they see and hear. We must provide this for our children while they are still young. Doctrine cannot wait until children are teens, because adolescents are making major life decisions. The theological framework on which to base those decisions, the biblical worldview, must already be in place.

I have written before how thankful I am that the children's story book we use by Catherine Vos makes a point to emphasize God's role and purposes in the narratives, especially in the Old Testament passages.  I highly recommend her Bible story book as it does exactly what Starr Meade is advocating needs to be done as the solution to the church's failure. It teaches doctrinal truths about God from the stories He has given us in His Word.
You can read a short bio about Starr Meade on her site and also see her other published books, of which we currently own three.

1 comment:

  1. Indeed!

    Thanks for posting this -- I was curiosu about this after we spoke about it.

    I am so thankful for you friend! I hope you survived today without the overtired cranky mama/wife erupting :) hehe



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