15 August 2010

A Point from Bible Class

We're working our way through Proverbs, and we've been discussing the light it sheds upon familial relations.  Today Proverbs 22:6 about "training up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."  I called it a promise, and Sharon raised the question about children who are trained up, but who turn away and never come back to faith.  It gave me the opportunity to describe my understanding of how these "wisdom" books operate:  they describe the usual, but in almost any instance, you can think of examples where it doesn't universally hold.  But the balance of the time, they do hold.  These are not so much like the divine promises upon which we stake our eternal salvation; these are promises about the way things usually can be counted on to work out in life, received with the acknowledgment that there are always exceptions to the rule - but these are exceptions; they do not negate the rule.  So, in this instance, on balance, children will turn back to the way they were trained up when they are old.  That's how I've thought of these promises, but I wondered if others had any insights on the topic.  If so, feel free to share!


Rev. Eric J Brown said...

It also depends upon the what you treat as the "Way" in which a child should go. If you beat them merely with the law, they will wander. If you do not teach them how to choose the good and only forbid, you haven't really trained the child. "Do as I say" doesn't train in the proper way - it doesn't teach the kid how to think. We need to train our children to think in terms of Law and Gospel, in terms of Vocation... not just turn this into some abstract moralism.

William Weedon said...

I think, though, that a child can be trained up in the way of law and gospel, taught the joys of vocation in this world, and still end up falling away - don't you? The concern Sharon raised was the horrific guilt a parent feels when a child DOES turn away and they become convinced it was because they didn't train them up correctly.

Brian said...

Numerous times I have failed to properly "train up" my children FOR I AM A SINNER - and the answer for my failures is the blood of the Lamb. Their faith, like mine, is a gift, by grace, not a result of my works. Parents probably shouldn't take too much credit (or blame) for the faith (or lack thereof) of their children. It seems to me the answer for my guilt for my parental failings isn't 'I did my best,' or 'I tried,' but He (the Lamb) shouldered ALL my sins and buried them on the cross ... I move forward as a parent (pastor, son, husband, etc.) redeemed and loved by God, trusting that He can and will work through even me to accomplish His purposes.

Becky said...

I think Brian said it best. I once had a pastor counsel me this way: "Becky, you're done. He's grown. Pray for him." I had done all the "right" things for him when he was growing up -- Sunday School, Church, Catechism, discipline. And I had done all the wrong things too -- Lost my temper (and control), yelled, gave up, gave in, etc. Hearing the pastor's words that I was done lifted a heavy weight off of my shoulders. That's not to say that I never worry about my son. When I do, though, I think about that, and I'm reminded that I don't have to be in charge. One of my favorite stories is about Monica, the mother of St. Augustine. As good as she was, she wasn't perfect. She surely must have doubted, and she surely must have wondered from time to time where she went wrong. But it wasn't her guilt that made the difference in Augustine. God chose to reveal to her the answer to her prayers. He doesn't do that for everyone. But rather than give up hope on our wayward children because He hasn't revealed His answer (and maybe never will), we still keep praying. It's a blessing not to have to worry about what His answer will be.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I'm sorry - I sort of went tangental on you -- I was speaking more to that verse in particular rather than the thoughts Sharon brought up specifically. Too often that idea gets reduced to simple moralism, and that's not the way in question.

As to the specific topic:

1. I like to think of them as depictive - this is how things work. Do they always? No, nothing in this world always works the way it is supposed to.

2. Anyone can fall. It's a simple fact. And it's a guilt parents face, friends face, pastors face with their parishoners and colleagues. That's the way the fallen world works -- come quickly, Lord Jesus, and deliver us from this mess!

Anonymous said...

I tried to show them what they should believe.
And I amply demonstrated the way they should not behave. Mea culpa.

As did my parents....

When they grow up and go away, you can only pray for them.

But the verse says, "...when he is old he will not depart from it."
You can hope that the stray will remember!