Thursday, August 24, 2006

I'm working something out here, so please be kind if your views oppose mine for now.

In my work with children, I have established a theological view which my own church does not embrace. And I believe it's probably a matter of ignorance. I believe the very best way to go in the spiritual formation of the young child is to introduce Jesus and have them fall in love with Him before bringing up the concept of sin. In fact, six is the age I'd begin to introduce moral formation and not before. Does anyone out there believe a child under the age of six would go to hell if he hasn't confessed his sins and himself as a sinner before dying? If you do, why would you serve a god like that?

My belief is based on observations of the developmental stages of the child in that he or she cannot grasp and hold onto the idea of sin until he grows old enough to recognize it more fully for himself. And it's not the I believe young children are sinless. I personally spent countless hours redirecting and training my young children through "use the drum stick to hit the drum and not the kitty", "pulling hair hurts", "we use words when we are angry". I've observed children growing in their understanding of sin, and it hasn't been until six or older that I think they "get it". While a young child can parrot back a definition of and actions of sin, a six, seven or eight year old may burn red-faced with guilt in recognition of hurting someone or something. So, why not wait, let the child know Jesus as their friend first, and when the child is ready and searching personally to remove blocks sin has put in the way, help the child through the process of reconciliation for his or herself? It makes sense to me this way, and not the other way around.

So, I mentioned these ideas to Claire to ponder years ago. As far as I could tell, she was not sold until a few weeks ago. She called me and announced, "I think I've got it." She went on to explain she felt our Protestant Evangelical community is deeply entrenched and centered around 'man as sinner'. It's not God centered at all. We need Jesus to clean us in order to approach God. Yes, I agree, we do need Jesus in this way, but it's the non-God centered thing by which we've both been struck.

It occured to me that the 4 spiritual laws man had to rewrite and add the "God loves you and has a plan for your life", because of this very principle teaching of the Protestant Evangelical church.

The whole "Sinners at the Hands of an Angry God" has never sat well with me. God is my Dad who longs for an intimate relationship with me. He made me, and better still, He loves me better than I love myself. Better than I love anything. He's not on high crossing His huge arms, rolling His eyes, muttering, "Tsk, tsk, tsk" everytime I blow it. And I blow it quite a lot. He's the father standing at the window day in and day out, silently hoping, watching, waiting for his wayward son or daughter to return.

If I teach a 3 year old about angry-god-because-we-have-sin first, isn't there a strong likelihood the child will have to heal his or her relationship with angry god before wanting to approach God the Father later?

Have we Protestant Evangelicals missed the boat in how we approach and introduce God? Especially to the child?

On to more of Claire's ideas. She see the Catholic faith as a covenant centered faith, and therefore God-centered. God orchestrates relationship with us through covenants. He showed Himself to Abraham and the covenant between God and His people still exists today. Jesus came in order to fulfill God's covenant. Catholics offer the amazing way to be with intimately close with Jesus in the Eucharist, an expression in remembering our covenant. Jesus enters and heals us through the bread and wine.

I have not had a conversion experience to Catholicism, and my Protestant Evangelical faith is where I stand. However, I find I'm drawn to learn from the saints before me no matter the denomination. Heretical?


Blogger tonia/sparrow said...

Do some denominations believe children will go to hell if they die without accepting christ? (I'm talking about the young uns.)

That seems amazing to me. Surely God provides for the littlest ones...and if *they* go to hell...what about my mentally handicapped brother who is 28, but mentally a 4 year old? I couldn't live with myself if I thought God would toss him away...

I think I agree with you, TV. Love those kids into Jesus' arms - then they won't want to sin...they will love Him too much.

6:51 PM  
Blogger truevyne said...

It's old school theology, but some believe unless a person is baptized, they go to hell, including babies.
Yes, and what about handicapped people?
Man makes rules, but thankfully God loves.

6:42 AM  

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