Mission Issues

Thinking and re-thinking missionary issues

Teaching children the ways of the Lord

I’ve actually been thinking about this topic for some time and was intending to post something about it today. And then my son touched on this topic on his own blog today in, what I consider to be an excellent post. You can read his post here.
I’m almost through with a book which I started reading some time ago. The title of the book is Escape and is the true story of a woman who was able to escape from a cult known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), a group which had been formed from people who had been excommunicated from the Mormon church and which proceeded to propagate polygamy after the Mormon church stopped this. It’s a tough book to read due to the extremely distressing things which is described, where women and children exist merely to obey their husbands and fathers, where children are often allowed to die merely because the father does not consider it necessary for a child to be hospitalised or where sickness or other misfortune is more often than not considered to be punishment from God because the wife or the child had not been obedient to the father.
What I started thinking as I was reading this book, is what sets the normal Christian faith apart from a cult. In this cult, the beliefs of the parents were taught to the children and they taught their children, and so on. And in a certain sense this is what we also try to do as Christian parents and as church. Well, I’ve read articles written by people who blame “normal” Christian parents of indoctrinating their children and who want to get laws in place forbidding parents or the church from teaching even their own children about Christ.
Obviously I don’t agree with this viewpoint, but it did raise certain questions, such as: How far may I go in forcing my children to believe what I believe? What is permissible as parent and as church to teach children about the doctrines we believe in? In my own mind I’m pretty clear about this, although it may not be so easy to define. But the question remains: Why do I consider groups like the FLDS as a cult when they teach their children their beliefs and when I teach my children about my beliefs I believe I’m doing what God wants me to do. Fact is, I believe I’m obedient to God and they believe the same thing.
The answer that I eventually found to be the most satisfactory, is that the main difference lies in the fact that cults keep people in line through their fear of punishment by God should they be disobedient, while we as parents and as church use the message of love to pull our children and others to God. I once heard (I’m not sure if this is scientifically proven) that fear can at most change people’s lifestyles for a period of six weeks. This makes sense, because, while reading this book, it was clear that the preaching in the church and the way in which the husbands reacted to any form of disobedience from their multiple wives or children was aimed at continuously strengthening the fear of eternal punishment by God.
In missions we all know the importance of reaching the children with the gospel of Jesus Christ at a young age, enabling them to grow up with this knowledge of His love (and to be honest, one of the reasons we need to do this, is to reach them before they’ve been indoctrinated with other beliefs, such as ancestral worship.) But this gospel must always have as its central message the love of God, compelling people to follow Him (2 Corinthians 5:14) rather than the fear of eternal punishment.
And I must say that there had been times when I heard people preaching in the mission field almost exclusively about the punishment of God. And on the long run, I don’t think that this is very effective.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008 - Posted by | Church, Mission, Swaziland, Theology |


  1. Woven.
    Christianity is woven throughout our entire nation, being the very fabric that makes up these islands. It keeps the judgement of God from falling on us that is why we have been preserved from the many wars that have buffeted our shores.

    We need never feel that the darkness that comes upon us is permanent, for the light of Christ will always prevail by dispersing it with his glory. We need not be troubled by wicked people, for our God is surely dealing with them. I am amazed when I see Christianity in all our great institutions, I cannot begin to speak of all our workforce, builders, lawyers, nurses, miners, factory workers, who make our nation so great and confess Christ Jesus as Lord, Well, the list is never ending, where God’s people can be found, Christianity is literally everywhere. It cannot and will not ever be removed from these islands.

    Do not listen to doom prophets, when you hear them say things for example, like the abortion issue, they say, “surely this will bring God’s wrath upon us all, for that wicked thing that people do to our unborn children.” Well, God’s judgement will fall on them that commit such horrific killings, but I assure you, the righteous will not be included in God’s judgement.
    We remember how God’s mercy is shown to us in Genesis 18:24-26, I quote,
    “Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked that be far from thee: Shall not the judge of all the earth do right? And the Lord said, if I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.”

    You can see from this scripture that God will surely spare our nation, because there are more than fifty righteous Christians living here. Now Jesus has told us that this world is inhabited by the children of the kingdom and the children of the wicked, and that He will not bring final judgement on the wicked until the end of the world, because He will not destroy the wicked while the righteous are here.

    At the end of the world Jesus said in St Matthew 13: 41, – 43, “The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”And so, that is how we can be confident that God will not let us be overwhelmed by these recent troubles that we face in our nation. Praise God, for every born-again believer that God has placed in our lands.



    Comment by cornishevangelist | Thursday, July 17, 2008 | Reply

  2. Which nation are you speaking about? I’m a South African.

    Comment by Arnau van Wyngaard | Thursday, July 17, 2008 | Reply

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