Monday, September 15, 2008

So... is it true? Fathers control their children's every choice?

Preface: this is much longer than usual. Sorry, truly. But I think Christian parents — particularly some grief-stricken, falsely guilt-ridden parents — may find it important, given some teaching that is going about.

No human being controls the will, heart, nor affections of any other human being. Only God has that kind of sovereignty (Proverbs 21:1). I thought this, surely, was one truth that all Calvinists accepted.

Boy howdy, turns out I'm wrong. Unless I'm not. It's confusing. Follow this out:

When it first was reported that Governor Sarah Palin's daughter had become pregnant, I saw various blogs instantly blaming — her father! No specific evidence whatever was cited. None. It was simply laid down as a "Duh!" dictum. You know: immoral girl = distant, unengaged, failed father. QED. Duh!

If that surprised me, I was astonished to see the frequently-brilliant though often-opaque Douglas Wilson making this argument. Wilson delivered himself of this stunning chain of indicative-moods:
The basic responsibility for this, however, lies with her father. Clearly [!] in some way she was not getting the love, protection, and accountability that she and her boyfriend needed.
I know nothing about the private life of the Palin family. And clearly neither did Wilson. But it didn't matter, to Wilson. The girl sinned, so clearly the father failed her.

In that meta, I commented
Huh? A daughter sins, and it's her father's fault? Which one are you channeling: Eliphaz, Bildad, or Zophar? Was Adam's sin his father's fault, too?
Wilson was kind enough to respond:
I don't believe fault and responsibility are the same thing. Responsibility is a function of covenant headship. It doesn't mean that the head is guilty.
But is that a distinction with a difference? Pastor Wilson said that clearly Todd Palin had not given "the love, protection, and accountability that she and her boyfriend needed." Were he Palin's pastor, I take it his word to his parishioner would be, "Todd, you are responsible for Bristol's sin. You clearly did not love Bristol as she needed, you did not protect your daughter as she needed, and you did not hold your daughter accountable as she needed."

Pause, just a moment. You're (I assume) heartbroken over your child's sin. You're already doing a Mike Tyson on yourself, and can barely look other people in the eye as it is.

Then your pastor tells you that.

I don't know how you can avoid the conclusion that Wilson is saying this: had Todd not failed to give these things, the girl would not have sinned. "Clearly."

In overall response in that meta, I was referred more than once — not primarily to the Bible, but — to two books by Wilson, and an over seventeen thousand, three hundred and thirty-seven (17,337+)-word article by one Robert Rayburn. (I've often noticed: it takes a lot of words to prove that the Bible teaches something it doesn't, or doesn't teach something it does.)

Well, if arguments are weighed by words, Rayburn certainly wins. One paragraph alone ran 974 words. I don't measure up so well, in my writing. A recent post at Pyromaniacs was only 915 words. This one isn't even 2500 words.

Indeed, one must work his way through over 1300 words before he runs into the first Scriptural citation. In all, it's over 8400 words before we reach a section whose title promises to show the doctrine from Scripture. But to be fair, the title of the whole is, "THE PRESBYTERIAN DOCTRINES OF COVENANT CHILDREN, COVENANT NURTURE AND COVENANT SUCCESSION." Not "the Biblical doctrine" (though the author does emphatically state that Scripture matters more than anything else).

Well, I labored through the article. I had to. After all, the Bible had never taught me that I, a father, could stop my children from sinning, and make them growing Christians. If that was doable, I wanted in on it.

So far from convincing me, I found it to be depressing and appalling, potentially very destructive, and a hopeless jumble of doubletalk. It depresses me to think that Christians believe along these lines.

Many Scriptures are cited, very few are dealt with at any length. Clearly, Rayburn's chief love is the citation of previous writers.

Frankly, the closest analogy that sprang to my mind as I read was Roman Catholicism, and its never-ending game of "Telephone." You know: "The Bible said 123, then A said this about the 123, and B said this about A, and C said this about B, and D said this about C, E said this about D...." Before long, you've built theory on theory on theory, you're far from the pristine revelation itself — and you're saying things like "the Bible teaches ZZ." But no, it really doesn't; the Bible teaches 123, maybe with valid inference A — but that's it.

I'd summarize Rayburn as saying that salvation is inherited by blood. It's absolutely guaranteed by God that all children of believers will themselves be believers — unless they aren't! And if they aren't, it's the parents' fault. "Faithful parenting will result, by covenanted grace, in believing children." There you go. Follow the directions, and this will be the result.

Unless it isn't.

Many readers will wonder whether Rayburn goes in the other direction. If children fall away, is it the parents' fault? Yep. Has to be. "It is no slander to acknowledge that [David] was an inattentive and ineffective father who by his instruction, to the extent he gave it, showed his children the way to heaven, but by his example too often led them by the hand to hell." Indeed, Rayburn speaks of "the accountability of parents for [not just the faithful teaching, but] the salvation of their offspring."

So see, God's grandchildren will be His children for sure... unless they aren't!

I guess he pretty much has to have some kind of escape-clause to cancel out his extended arguments that grace is generational, and children of believers are guaranteed actual salvation. Otherwise, we'd all be saved! Wouldn't we? Wasn't Adam a believer? Then all his children are guaranteed eternal life. Hey presto, universalism.

Or if you're unsure about Adam, then Abraham was surely a believer. Hey presto! all Israelites are saved! And Arabs, too! And Esau! Though God "hated" him!

So this is why so many people instantly blamed Todd Palin for his daughter's sin. She did something wrong, so he must have. If he'd done his job, she'd never have sinned. Again, QED, dust off hands, next conundrum, please?

In all this, I don't see any mention (let alone treatment) of Jeremiah 31:29-30 —

In those days they shall no longer say:
“‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
and the children's teeth are set on edge.’
30 But everyone shall die for his own sin. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.
Later, Ezekiel targeted this very same notion:
The word of the LORD came to me: 2 "What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge'? 3 As I live, declares the Lord GOD, this proverb shall no more be used by you in Israel. 4 Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die" (Ezekiel 18:1-4)
Interestingly, Rayburn does mention this passage — but then he says the parents get the rest of "that accountability." I don't think it's that easy. Read on. In verses 5-15, Ezekiel specifically follows with for-instance of a man who does everything Yahweh wants him to do, then has a worthless, reprobate, unbelieving son. Don't rush past this. According to Rayburn and his ilk, a sinning child necessarily means the parents did something wrong. Ezekiel, by contrast, specifically depicts a man who did nothing wrong, who nonetheless clearly has a child not in the family of God.

But Ezekiel isn't done. He then portrays the worthless son doing everything wrong, but having a son who sees his father's sins, and himself repents and lives (vv. 14-18). The first father did nothing wrong, yet had a reprobate son; the second father did nothing right, yet had a saved son.

Now, as a believer in God's sovereignty, I have no conceptual problem with this. I don't raise my children according to God's word because results are guaranteed. And I certainly don't hold to any fantasy that godliness is genetically transmitted, nor membership in God's family inherited.

No, I do my flawed best out of love for God, and love for my children. Then I pray that God will plow the soil and grant root and life to the seed (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:4-9).

But even more significantly, I see no allusion in Rayburn to John 1:12-13 —

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
"Not of blood," John says. "Of blood," Rayburn says — or so says his argument.

Then (stay with me, here) I see Michael Hyatt's article, "Whatever Happened to Modesty?" It's a good rant. I agree with virtually everything in the article, and it's very well-said. I only had one problem with it.

Hyatt sees seductively-clad, immodest young women on an MTV awards show (imagine that! who knew?), and instantly wonders, "Where are these girls [sic] fathers?"

Now, look. Maybe it's true. Maybe every last one of them had neglectful, absent, passive fathers. Or unsaved fathers. Or idiot fathers. God knows, there's enough of each of these to go around.

But why is it assumed that there's a necessary and direct connection to their fathers? Because we all know that daughters (or sons) always respond perfectly and predictably to paternal guidance and love? And we know that on what authority? Where was I when we had that church council meeting?

"Where are the fathers?" he asks. Well, I don't know, Michael. Maybe they're home, grieved and praying with their wives for their straying daughters. Maybe they've loved, reached out, prayed, modeled, counseled — imperfectly, but to the best of their ability. Maybe the girl just didn't listen. Maybe she thought she was too smart to have to listen to old dad. Maybe she never really swallowed the Fifth Commandment all the way, whole. Maybe she rebelled. Maybe she fell in love with the wrong guy, or with the spotlights, or with the cameras. After all, these girls on MTV aren't 10 years old, they aren't 13 years old.

Look, I'm not trying to run in the other direction and absolve all fathers of all responsibility. Ask anyone who's ever heard me teach or preach on the subject.

But my hackles go up every time I see any facile blame assumed onto any person for another's sin.

Think. We don't blame children for getting molested. We don't blame rape victims for being raped. Do we? No.

But....

We do suspect that all divorced people caused their marital problems. And we do suspect that all parents with straying children must have failed their children.

From a Biblical (to say nothing of Calvinist) perspective, I don't get any of that.

I read that you can be right in line with God's will, dead-center — and still be sinned against (Matthew 5:10-12; 1 Peter 2:20b). I read that you can tell someone (anyone) the Gospel, perfectly straight-up and dead-on — and he can still reject it, flatly and finally (Matthew 10:13-15; John 17:12).

So:

Might Todd Palin be a defective father? Sure. Might the MTV nymphets have absent or neglectful fathers? Sure.

In fact, all children have defective fathers. (You mean yours don't? Oh, dude....) We strive, we try, we knock ourselves out. We mess up. We're heroes now, we're zeroes fifteen minutes later. Either way and any way, when our kids do hear and heed, we know it's by God's grace. Same as it was with us.

But if they don't hear... well look, if you need 17,000 words quoting past writers to be convinced, you've got the wrong guy. But this does come to mind:
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 18 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. 20 Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul.” (Ezekiel 3:17-21, emphases added — which, ironically, is partly cited by Rayburn)
And that really works for me.

Biblely speaking, that is.

90 comments:

Daryl said...

Well said Dan,

As a fellow dad, I fret enough about my fathering and my kids direction in life, knowing that I have a responsiblity.
But if I had a nickel for every time my 2 year old (let alone the older kids) ignored direction from me or my wife...well, I'd've retired years ago.

I get that I have a job to do. But I also see that from 1 year to 9 years (that's the top end so far), direction often equals subsequent discipline, not lock-step obedience...and so we pray and hope.

Kim said...

I've read a few books by Wilson, and I'm not surprised to hear his view on that. I do think that Fathers are often not involved enough in the life of their daughters, and I think it's the feminization of culture that has changed that. Dads are treated like jerks and dufuses, and often women lead in the home. However, I don't see how we can blame the father for every little sin, unless he was 100% negligent and never taught the daughter one thing. And even then, she is still responsible for her own sin. The dad is just guilty of not doing his duty, not the sin of the daughter.

It seems like just another typical example of the mentality that likes to blame others for sin.

DJP said...

I think you're right on both counts, and raise an excellent point, Kim.

In America, "society" says in effect, "You parents are responsible for making sure your kids are happy, educated, adjusted, and law-abiding. But no spanking. And if we don't like your discipline, we'll take them." It's nuts. Give me the responsibility? Give me the power.

Likewise fathers. You're absolutely right. Fathers/husbands are silly, contemptible idiots. Fathers/husbands are responsible for everything. Fathers/husbands must lead their wives. Fathers/husbands must become more like their wives.

Thanks, very good points.

CA RN to Honduras Missionary said...

And for those families where a father is absent? I assume then the child is doomed to instant horrific sin?! Ah well - so I pray and guide my child the best I can.

threegirldad said...

For me, the oddest comment in that entire discussion at Doug Wilson's blog was the one where "Valerie (Kyriosity)" responded to your Jeremiah 31 citation by saying, in essence, "Yeah, well, Ephesians 6:4 back at ya. And so there!"

Still scratching my head over that one, despite her explanation of how that scripture reference supposedly makes her point.

Mesa Mike said...

Well, we might have expected blame-the-dad from the irreligious side. I mean, after all, why was Todd out being mean to innocent moose with his shotgun, instead of using it to protect his daughter? (Oh wait: Bad analogy. You don't shoot moose with a shotgun. But, nevermind.)

I didn't know there was room for this within the faith, also.

Thanks for this essay, Dan. I'm beginning to comprehend the implications of Covenant Theology.

DJP said...

When an invisible concept overrides visible texts, it's a problem.

Gilbert said...

Dan,

Wow, lots to chew on. Warning: I'm a single guy, never married, so my comments hold much less water than yours or everyone above. I'll probably get clowned (or the moral equivalent on your meta), but here goes:

Your point, IMO, is generally spot on. But it is also *equally* true that if children don't grow up knowing about Jesus and who the Father is, what is the *general* (but not universal) outcome?

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. ---Proverbs 22:6, NIV

Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod, and save his soul from death. ---Proverbs 23:13-14, NIV

Of course, Ephesians 6:4 was mentioned above. Let me make it clear: you are not responsible for your child's sins...BUT, if you fail to make an attempt to discipline your children, they will have a high liklihood of sinning and heading to hell unless God rescues them.

All that to say this: This generation has failed its children, by and large, by not disciplining our children. Franklin Graham and others rebelled as opposed to not having been disciplined; I don't know what happened with Palin's daughter, and to judge that, without the facts, is unwise, as you allude to. But, in general, the massive levels of sin we see these days from kids and young adults is, IMO, in large part because parents abjucated their duties as training their children up in the Lord. MTV is merely a symptom of society at large.

Gilbert said...

And let me make one thing even clearer: Unless God rescues ANY of us, we're headed for hell. But, my point still stands: unless we are brought up in the Lord, we *generally* reject God and salvation found in Christ alone (much?) more easily than those who were.

Rileysowner said...

Mike, none of this is an implication of Covenant Theology, this is Wilson's, and others like him, twisted version of covenant theology. I hold to covenant theology, and disagree with Wilson in many areas, and strongly disagree on this one. On the other hand, I agree with Dan. Then again, maybe that is because I was raised by an unwed mother, and so was corrupted for lack of a father. Ya right. Yet again Wilson shows that he is not nearly as intelligent as he thinks he is. He is an excellent one to analyze culture and world view, but in other areas of theology he seems mighty lacking.

LeeC said...

Wow.
If I can make a plug here. I just picked up a copy of "When Good Kids Make Bad Choices
Help and Hope for Hurting Parents"
By Elyse Fitzpatrick , James Newheiser , Laura Hendrickson

http://www.harvesthousepublishers.com/books_nonfictionbook.cfm?productID=6915648

At our mens retreat last weekend.
I cannot tell you what a blessing it has been already.

Even those who would renounce "Ezzo-esque" dogma in parental advice still often take the "Raise up a child in the way that he should go" passage as a promise. And often wind up being very hurt by doing so.

DJP said...

Gilbert — I don't think "abjucated" is a word... but it sure sounds like it should be!

Well, the Bible won't change when you have kids; but (I speak from experience) the way you read it might.

Now, on Proverbs. I'm sure I wrote on this somewhere at Pyro, but Proverbs is Proverbs; they're proverbs, and need to be read as such. You have to put "ceteris paribus" (other things being equal) on them. Take Proverbs 16:7 and try to apply it to the prophets, or the apostles, or Jesus.

Plus, Proverbs 22:6 is actually a threat, not a promise. Give a child his way, and he'll expect it all his life. I mean to do an article on that at Pyro... someday.

So unless you want to take Proverbs 16:7 to mean that, if anyone's mad at us, we must be displeasing God, we take the others as principles. We raise kids right bec we love God and them, not bec we're guaranteed success.

Kind of like with other things, you know?

...like ministry?

Trinian said...

That's a scary sort of system that believes that if you can keep your children from doing scandalous evil you have then ipso facto saved their souls. It reminds me so much of the disturbing finale of the Purpose Driven Life wherein we learn that people go to hell every day who could have been saved if we had just tried a little harder. How can a person live with the burden of such a weighty responsibility that they have no possible way of fulfilling?

Gilbert said...

Dan,

Gilbert — I don't think "abjucated" is a word... but it sure sounds like it should be!
It is after a a couple of tablespoons of Dayquil. ;-) Sorry...


I'm sure I wrote on this somewhere at Pyro, but Proverbs is Proverbs; they're proverbs, and need to be read as such. You have to put "ceteris paribus" (other things being equal) on them. Take Proverbs 16:7 and try to apply it to the prophets, or the apostles, or Jesus.


Of course...but at the same time, is it not true that if a parent doesn't pass on to their children Biblical values and discipline, the outcome will generally be bad for the child as he/she grows older? Ceteris Paribus (CP) applies, to be sure, but in our current generation, I fully apply those Proverbs to ours (even with CP applied). Again, full knowing well that it *never* guarantees (not even close) that a child will not rebel, or forsake our Lord.
I affirm what Leec, trinian and you said above as true.

Proverbs 22:6...Mr. Proverbs, go for it! I'd love to see you do a post on that. Please? Someday never comes...just ask Creedence Clearwater Revival. :-)

chrish said...

What I appreciated most about this article is the way in which it was unequivocally stated that fathers have a responsibility to do their absolute best in the raising and training and loving of their children, and yet the responsibility remains the child's to respond to that raising, training and loving, and to God.

Excellent post, DJP.

DJP said...

It isn't that it's necessarily a bad question, Gilbert, as that it's unanswerable.

It isn't unlike asking a pastor, "If you preach faithfully, aren't you likelier to be loved and popular?" Not necessarily.

Again, I do what I do for my kids out of love for God and them, not because I'm promised it will "work."

Here's the only absolute thing I can guarantee: if I DO NOT raise them after God's way to the best of my prayerful ability, God will deal with me for my faithlessness. If I do and they fall away, He will not.

And if I do and they come to saving faith... still no credit for me, except insofar as the Spirit produced faithfulness in me.

And even then, the credit isn't really mine, is it (Luke 17:10)?

Gilbert said...

Dan,

Let me try one more time...in a nutshell.

Individually, you cannot judge (without knowing of the facts) how an individual was raised by his/her behavior today. If you DO know, in general, how he/she was raised (parents were never seen disciplining their kids, allowed to run rampant and do whatever, etc etc), that's a different story.

BUT...

When an entire society/culture (ie, our current one) mostly has complete disdain for our Lord,
what does THAT say in how we (as a society) have raised our kids?

Gilbert said...

Hmmm, mid-air collison of comments.


It isn't unlike asking a pastor, "If you preach faithfully, aren't you likelier to be loved and popular?" Not necessarily.


Actually, those who preach Christ crucified are sure to be persecuted one way or another, but I see your analogy. Yes, I agree that "not necessarily" is the correct answer. But here's the thing: what is the point of those proverbs I listed? Not that anything is guaranteed, but if you do "this", then more often than not, "that" will happen. You and I probably can list lots of people who grew up in homes not knowing our Lord as Savior (I'm one of them, praise God!), but I know that...how do I put this...I'm not the "norm". Well, that's too strong, but...

I guess the more I think about it, I guess I am a bit too strong in how I am coming across as "if X happens, Y results". I don't mean to. I agree with your article wholeheartedly, but I'm looking for a bit of balance here. Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord in faith and repents and walks with him will be saved. Anyone. No matter their upbringing. You raise your children up the best you can in your walk with the Lord, and if the children fall away or do not walk with Him, it's not your fault. You did your duty. But for those who didn't, their kids have a better (chance and probability are two words I can come up with, and neither are what I truly mean to say, but I hope you get what I am trying to say) of not winding up on the good side of eternity, no?

DJP said...

When I was a new Christian, Gilbert, there wasn't anybody in the world I envied more than Christian-raised friends. Well, and Timothy, because he learned Hebrew and Greek before he even went to school. But I digress.

I envied Christian-raised because I wasn't raised in a Christian home. I had to learn just about everything from total scratch.

Now I'm much older, and not so sure. I've seen how many people raised by wonderful Christian parents turn out. Too many.

So if you want to press another "probably" out of me (I say in a totally friendly tone), here it is: "PROBABLY, if you raise your kids in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, they'll either walk with Him and adore you as God's gifts to them, or despise Him — and despise you as hypocritical legalists (no matter what you actually did)."

Kim K. said...

Can I just speak as a mother who experienced this with a teen daughter? A teen daughter who attended church from infancy, who went to Sunday School, AWANA, attended Christian School, who heard prayer offered over every meal, knows all the Bible stories, etc? My husband and I KNOW we've made mistakes. Every time someone (usually my mom!) says "you did the best with what you had" I want to scream. No - I know I could have done more - prayed more, loved more, spent more time, etc. But I also know that my daughter is accountable for her own actions.

The bigger question is - where do you go once something like this happens? Our situation had all the drama to completely tear our family apart. Instead, by the grace of God, it was an opportunity for us to draw much closer together and lean on God for everything. Is everything hunky-dory now? Not by a long shot, but we have a great relationship with our daughter and her husband and about the cutest granddaughter in the world. Plus, in God's infinite wisdom we have been allowed to see how this whole situation set us up to trust Him when we were hit by an even more devastating family crisis.

(And did I mention I have about the cutest granddaughter in the world?)

Stefan said...

I agree with others here that paternal absence (mentally or physically) is a huge problem in our society, but the idea of actually inheriting righteousness (or reprobation) from one's parents goes 180 degrees against God's sovereignty in election and salvation.

1 Samuel 8:1-3 seems to be a fairly clear case of a saint's having children who disobey God. It would seem that Samuel's sons would have had to take responsibility for their own waywardness, unless we want to fault Samuel for not having the discernment to see that his sons would be corrupted (which would be pure eisegesis).

"And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham." (Matthew 3:9) A little sprinkled water is not the determinant of who shall inherit eternal life and who shall not.

Pheh.

ReformedMommy said...

I was raised on the reverse side of the "rebellious child equals negligent dad" equation. Pastor's daughter of several generations + orthodox theology + dressed right + talked right + didn't get pregnant = godly daughter --> godly dad/pastor. Yes?

Not so much. Dressed right (on Sundays), talked right (on Sundays), didn't get pregnant (because when I was actually secretly considering it and asked my dad what would happen if I did, he replied "well, of course we'd have to send you away"...). The Law was not a loving tutor, it was a fascist dictator that I grew to despise until God transformed my heart, several years after I had left home swearing to never become a Christian.

My husband, OTOH, was raised in a Jesus-hating alcoholic's home whose instruction in relationships consisted of being given a Playboy subscription for his sixteenth birthday. So no, he wasn't shown things like how to lead family worship.

But want to guess who the grace-filled, sacrificially loving, kind and merciful parent and spouse is, and who is so often not?

My husband's story is the one that gives me hope when I see my failures with my kids and despair for their souls because of those failures. And my story is the one that drives me to pray daily for God's grace to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with my God as a saved sinner before my kids. They will certainly not be tropies to my efforts, but to His grace.

Gilbert said...

Dan,

Good comment, and I'm not quite old enough, nor am I expansive enough in my contacts, to have that which you have seen. I've heard people say it, but to hear it from you speaks volumes.

Call me guilty at times of playing the what if game of "gee, if I had known about Christ 30 years ago...".

Anyway, I have a terrible memory and I have trouble just with a single paragraph Bible verse to memorize. To know that the apostles pretty much had 'em all down...ALL down by 16 years old humbles me to no end. If only I could do that! But I digress...

I do, however, apppreciate your thoughts and others on this meta chiming in as well...it's an eye-opener (and a heart-opener as well). And BTW, I am tired of your apologies for writing long posts. If you wrote gibberish, that would be one thing...but at least to me, everything you say is well thought out and meant to be said. I'm tired of 30 second sound bites, 1 page blogs. I want to feast on truth, I don't want appetizers. So blog on, and blog LONG, *as necessary*, which you do skillfully, to God's glory.

DJP said...

Thanks; I'll tell my wife you said so.

(c;

Michelle said...

Dan, I agree. I've seen children raised in Christian homes who want nothing to do with Christianity as adults. I grew up in an anti-Christian, divorced, alcoholic, devoid-of-discipline-and-affection home and yet He saved me and He is my solid foundation. I pray that the Lord would save my own four children and that they would make wise choices as they grow.

And yet, what do we do with 1 Timothy 3:4 which clearly connects an elder's (and by extension, all Christian fathers) diligent leadership and management of and authority over his home with his children's behaviour?

I'm probably flogging a dead horse here, but I ask this as someone who is bitterly disappointed with what Vision Forum has called the "complementarian compromise" when it comes to the acceptance of Sarah Palin's feminist model of motherhood.

You said you aren't trying to absolve all fathers of all responsiblity, and so I ask another question: as the head of his home, does Mr Palin not have a responsibility to direct his wife to be the keeper AT home that Titus 2:5 commands her to be for the good of their family and as a witness to the world?

Yes, Bristol Palin is responsible for her own sin, like each of us, but surely having her mom around more these past few (very tender, impressionable) years would have made a difference in her life. If not, then I may as well pack in this stay-at-home-mom idea too and go get a real job where I can sit more, be in adult company, and earn some cash ;).

DJP said...

So, Michelle, you agree, it's not the father's fault — it's the mother's fault!

Well, that is a different take.

Again, the propriety of Palin's candidacy has been gone over and isn't the topic of this post. So I won't go there now.

You raise a good and germane question about 1 Timothy 3:4, however. You could also throw in Titus 1:6, almost more challengingly.

I'm at work and will need to get back on those later. But I do want to shake my finger and say "Let's stay on-topic." I think it's a big enough topic as-is.

Michelle said...

Neither Mr nor Mrs Palin are accountable for their daughter's sin, I understand that.

Twas just pointing out that there is a connection in scripture between a father's leadership (of his, uh, wife and his children) and the behaviour of his children, which you caught. Somehow he must bear some responsibility but I'll let you figure that out.

I won't bring up issue of you-know-who not being a you-know-what anymore :).

Michelle said...

... although it could, perhaps, possibly be a very pertinent point in this discussion.

Letting it go ...

CR said...

Frankly, I'm really baffled that Wilson would address this subject in his "politics" thread. This is a parenting issue NOT a political issue. This subject that Wilson brought out has nothing to do with politics. And like Dan says, Wilson knows very little about the Palin family life.

Here's what Christians are concerned (or should be concerned about)about in the area of politics: either Obama and McCain will be President. Whoever is President will have serious implications on important ethical principles and public policies.

Bristol's pregnancy and the success and failures of child rearing of her children has absolutely nothing nothing to do with who will be the next President and what kind of judges that President will appoint and what laws s/he will sign.

Also, Wilson's point that we ought not to defend in a conservative candidate what we would attack in a radical candidate. This election has nothing to do with attacking the failures of the candidates' family lives whether they be radical or not. And for Wilson to bring this up in his politics thread only causes confusion to what is at stake, because you have, well meaning I'm sure, concered people, like Michelle, who say, "yeah, that's it, and that's why we shouldn't vote for _____"

It just really frustates me when people throw confusion into what is at stake here.

Michelle said...

Cr said: "... because you have, well meaning I'm sure, concered people, like Michelle, who say, "yeah, that's it, and that's why we shouldn't vote for ____"."

I checked up the comment thread and I'm the only Michelle who has commented thus far, and nowhere did I say the words CR attributed to me, or anything close. In fact I won't even be voting - I live in Canada.

Alby said...

Thankyou Dan.

ReformedMommy said...

"And yet, what do we do with 1 Timothy 3:4 which clearly connects an elder's (and by extension, all Christian fathers) diligent leadership and management of and authority over his home with his children's behaviour?"

Had my other comment not been so long, I was going to raise the same passage, but with the argument that the same overreaching that is being done on the parenting side gets done on the elder qualification side. The ESV translates that verse as "...with all dignity keeping his children submissive." That seems to me to indicate an elder's Attitude, and the child's resulting Deameanor. And if that is the standard for an Elder, then would the argument from the greater to the lesser indicate that the standard for "ordinary" dads is even more basic?

I know of several godly, gifted elders / pastors who have been compelled to leave the ministry simply because their teenage child confesses to not being a believer, even though living submissively at home and demonstrating love and respect for their fathers. What motivation is there for a child temporarily (God-willing) and truthfully wrestling with the state of their soul to confess that struggle, when to do so potentially means the loss of their father's ministry and even livelihood?

Since when did Sola Gratia turn into Sola Gratia + Papa??

Fred Butler said...

Phew...so refreshing! and exactly what I needed after a conversation with someone who leaned toward this philosophy.

Now perhaps you could address the notion that Christians who are brought up in a Christian home are more godly than those saved "out of the world!"
(Fred's wife)

Michelle said...

Thanks, Reformedmommy - that perspective helps as I mull this over.

CR said...

Reformedmommy: I know of several godly, gifted elders / pastors who have been compelled to leave the ministry simply because their teenage child confesses to not being a believer, even though living submissively at home and demonstrating love and respect for their fathers.

We wouldn't be able to hear John Piper's ministry anymore because he would have had to resign when his wayward son, Abraham, (who came back to the faith), left if we put that into practice.

To answer Dan's question: Father's not only not control their children's every choice, they do not control their choice to sin. Sin is not learned, it is inbred. It is not a result of poor child rearing. They get it from their parents, who got it from their parents from who we all got it from Adam.

Matt Gumm said...

Dan: you've hit upon something that I am really struggling with right now.

I wrote a post (but couldn't bring myself to publish it) talking about my issues with a rebellious child, and my frustrations in trying to deal with the situation. In that post, I reference a sermon by John MacArthur called Crucial Lessons for a Wise Father. This sermon was played over Father's Day this year on GTY, and it has bothered me ever since.

The statement he makes that bothered me is this: "You have a task, father, to say to your son you must learn to fear your God, guard your mind and obey your parents. You must learn how to submit to authority and since we represent the authority of God and are teaching you the wisdom of God, you must obey...you must obey. I do not believe there's any excuse for a rebellious child. I believe that children can be under control if they're properly taught by their fathers to obey."(emphasis added).

That's two sentences with little context, so I wish I could get some clarification on what exactly he meant here, because I may be taking it wrongly. Nevertheless, the position seems relatively clear, and it disturbs to me. Primarily because it points out an apparent deficiency in my own parenting, and one that I don't know at the moment how to properly address.

Meanwhile, I'll say this about the Doug Wilson crowd. I can't speak to DW's specific brand of presbydoxy, but we had some friends who run in those circles. They left our church and joined a church affiliated with the OPC.

I don't think cultish is too strong a word to describe them. They practice paedocommunion, and their baby dedication ceremony basically says that if the parents do everything right, kids will be saved, and vice-versa. I'm sure that's not in Scripture. And because of their apparent affiliation with Wilson, I've made it a point not to read him.

CR said...

I agree with John MacArthur on what he said, here. Parents are responsible for training their children especially training their hearts.

Parents are held responsible for this training because the normative means (in Christian families) that the Lord uses for children is parents training them in the ways of the Lord.

But, parents are still not responsible for the sin choices their children make. When children and adults sin it is because they are enticed and lured by their own desires (James 1:14-15) not because of inadequate parenting skills or anything else external.

Daniel said...

DJP: excellent thoughts.

<snark>Clearly Joseph and Mary were horrible parents because their other sons failed to recognize immediately that their eldest Sibling was in fact, the Messiah. This rebellion in their hearts is a clear indication that Joseph was a bad father.</snark>

I think you have handled this with an even hand. We are responsible as parents to do all we can do - but this is no proof or guarantee that our children will be perpetually obedient.

There is a time, for many young adults who were brought up by faithful parents, when -their- "faith" must be challenged by its own merit; that is, when riding the coattails of their parents faith no longer is sufficient to keep them from the lure of sin - and they must begin to walk in their own faith.

There is often a disconnect, I think, between the one and the other. A time of turmoil and testing - a time when one's faith is tested and comes out the other side as either false or approved.

Yet in that time of testing - guess what happens? Rebellion and sin happen. Sometimes that rebellion and sin results in procreation.

I think it is well said, that unless we are infinitely familiar with the inner working of Palin's family, we do well to keep our traps's shut.

The father whose child is working out his or her own faith, is struggling against the world and the devil, and their own sin nature - and moving from a place of relying on their earthly father for deliverance, to relying on their heavenly father - and whatever happens in the heat of that struggle, ought not to be the gauge by which we judge the end.

I prefer to wait and see rather than judge up front.

ReformedMommy said...

Matt Gumm - I sympathize entirely with you. Three times in two sentences it's "you must..." And that is indeed the very definition of the law. And yet, what does Paul remind us in Romans 8:7?
"For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it CANNOT."

Take John's idea as stated and you create fathers who fear for their reputations if their children rebel, and thus attempt to hide or deny it, and children who outwardly comply while they inwardly rebel, or who actually equate compliance with true salvation.

Carlos, I would respectfully disagree that parents can train a child's HEART. I can discipline my beloved daughter for her presumptious, prideful words; I can even (as I have been tempted more than once) tape her mouth so they don't actually come out. But I can't change the heart that wants to produce more, even as she's being physically restrained. My goal in disciplining her is to show her that she MUST obey (like John says), but that she CANNOT obey (like Paul says), and point her to the One who so graciously both paid for her disobedience and DID obey perfectly, on her behalf. Until the Holy Spirit gives her eyes to see, no amount of saying "you must" will help. And I'm with Dan, if there's some magic formula, I want the Costco sized bottle.

Michelle said...

ReformedMommy, you are right. I prefer to say "shepherding" my children's hearts, but I know that what they ultimately need is a heart transplant.

Stefan said...

Thanks, Michelle, for steering the topic onto this germane question, and thanks for everyone's replies.

I look at Joel's and Abijah's waywardness in 1 Samuel 8:1-3. The Divine Author and human authors of the various books of the Old Testament are very careful to point out anywhere where the Old Testament saints were out of line (Moses at Meribah; Gideon and the fleece; David with Bathsheba and Uriah; and so on), but there is no indication in the vicinity of 1 Samuel 8 that Samuel himself had done anything wrong in his raising of his two sons...and "yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain" (verse 3).

(Even in 1 Samuel 2, we get hints that Eli was at least partly responsible for his sons' abominations, since the text suggests that Eli was negligent in supervising their conduct. But Samuel seems to be a different kettle of fish.)

And again (to continue from my comment from yesterday), we can teach our children to fear the Lord and walk in His ways, but ultimately, it's a question of whether the Holy Spirit will quicken their hearts and make believers out of them. Indeed, if they attempt to walk in the ways of the Lord without having been born again, then they are trying to be saved by their own works.

Just as God can call a believer out of a non-believing household (and He can), who's to say that he can't not extend His grace to someone who grew up in a believer's household? Only the Lord knows why He would do such a thing, but if one situation is possible (and happens), why not the other?

...Or perhaps, appear for a time as if He is not regenerating a rebellious son or daughter of believers, only to regenerate them later in life, in order to more greatly glorify His holy Name?

mikepettengill said...

Dan....this post is EXACTLY the topic book I am currently reading...Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp.

After 6 chapters, the book is a little light, but, getting better. I will tell you what I think when I finish.

icthys said...

Interesting post but I think you missed Mr. Wilson's point by exaggerating his position. As a father myself I know how difficult raising a child can be and I know they rarely do what they are told. Nevertheless, fathers are responsible for the conduct of their children, though as Douglas says, the guilt of their sins lies with the child. If this were not the case our Lord would not require that deacons, elders, pastors, etc..., be men who have obedient children. One point I think must be made and that relates to the pattern of conduct. If it is the case that Bristol Palin's pattern of conduct has been constant disobedience then I would lean more heavily on Doug's conclusion that somehow Todd Palin is to blame. If, however, the pregnancy resulted from a lapse in judgment on Bristol's part, I would lean more toward Dan's conclusion. Also, I think it important to know what values the Palin's taught their children regarding sexual conduct? Lacking this information it is impossible to discern whether Todd Palin is truly responsible for Bristol's moral failure.

Regarding the confusion of what is at stake, I think raised by CR, I believe what is at stake is the conflation of biblical theology (which is by definition conservative) with political ideology (which may be either conservative or liberal or something in between). At best, those who vote Republican in this election are selecting the lesser of two evils. The choice is not between a candidate who seeks to honor God and one who does not. Rather, it is between two major party tickets who will lie, distort, and use those of us who seek to honor God with all of our lives through obedience to His word and then toss us and our concerns aside once they have achieved their personal goals. We would do well to always remember that when allowing our theology and our ideology to become too closely related.

DJP said...

1. You've given no evidence that I misunderstood nor exaggerated. Therefore, what I said stands.

2. You say "If... if... if." Wilson said "Clearly...she WAS NOT GETTING." This is what I discussed, and at GREAT length. Did you actually read my post? All of it?

The rest is simply off-base. As we've discussed here over and over, EVERY ELECTION is the choice of the lesser of two evils. No exceptions.

3. In this election, it is particularly clear which is the lesser of two evils.

4. You're far off-topic. Get back on, or wait for something that interests you.

Dan said...

I'm just going to say Amen!

Matt Gumm said...

At best, those who vote Republican in this election are selecting the lesser of two evils.

And what about those who vote Democrat?

Mesa Mike said...

The lesser of two goods, I guess. :-)

icthys said...

And what about those who vote Democrat?

My point was to say that, as Christians, we SHOULD NOT cast our votes for either of the candidates if the choice is between two evils. Rather, we should, and I do think this is a moral issue, vote for a candidate whom we are convinced will seek to honor God as best as he or she can given the limitations of human sin. To knowingly condone voting for what we know to be an evil, even if the lesser of two, is to condone the evil itself. As Christians, we cannot, no, must not, simply hold our noses and cast a vote for evil and then disassociate ourselves from the consequences of our vote. As voters we are responsible for the consequences of our votes, whether good or bad. One moral victory does not offset a moral defeat in another area. Our votes must be pure and intended to glorify God in ALL areas, not just the ones we care most about.

Michelle said...

From Spurgeon's Morning & Evening for September 17:

"Bring him unto me." - Mark 9:19

Despairingly the poor disappointed father turned away from the disciples to their Master. His son was in the worst possible condition, and all means had failed, but the miserable child was soon delivered from the evil one when the parent in faith obeyed the Lord Jesus' word, "Bring him unto me." Children are a precious gift from God, but much anxiety comes with them. They may be a great joy or a great bitterness to their parents; they may be filled with the Spirit of God, or possessed with the spirit of evil. In all cases, the Word of God gives us one receipt for the curing of all their ills, "Bring him unto me." O for more agonizing prayer on their behalf while they are yet babes! Sin is there, let our prayers begin to attack it. Our cries for our offspring should precede those cries which betoken their actual advent into a world of sin. In the days of their youth we shall see sad tokens of that dumb and deaf spirit which will neither pray aright, nor hear the voice of God in the soul, but Jesus still commands, "Bring them unto me." When they are grown up they may wallow in sin and foam with enmity against God; then when our hearts are breaking we should remember the great Physician's words, "Bring them unto me." Never must we cease to pray until they cease to breathe. No case is hopeless while Jesus lives.
The Lord sometimes suffers His people to be driven into a corner that they may experimentally know how necessary He is to them. Ungodly children, when they show us our own powerlessness against the depravity of their hearts, drive us to flee to the strong for strength, and this is a great blessing to us. Whatever our morning's need may be, let it like a strong current bear us to the ocean of divine love. Jesus can soon remove our sorrow, He delights to comfort us. Let us hasten to Him while He waits to meet us.

Stefan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stefan said...

Ichthys:

I'm a Canadian, and so in that sense, don't have a dog in this fight. Please take my comments as those of an interested but uninvolved outsider.

Should you abrogate your right to choose which civil magistrates will hold office in your country? Nay, it may even be considered a responsibility, since your forebears 200 years ago fought and died for a democratic, republican government (pun not really intended). And not only they, but then many others struggled to extend the right to adult men and women of all ethnicities.

The first-century Christians didn't even have that right, and had to endure persecution and suffering as their only option. Should you so easily wave off what God in His providence has provided to you?

...And the ungodly are not necessarily going to be bad stewards of government, simply by their virtue of being ungodly. Consider Cyrus, who does not appear to number among the Old Testament saints, and yet facilitated the return of a remnant to Judah.

And if you're concerned about holding one's nose, voting for the lesser of two evils, then washing one's hands of the consequences, how much more hand-washing are you doing if you choose to let others have all the say in who will govern your country—including yourself, your family, and your church—and deny yourself that same obligation?

Stefan said...

Sorry, Dan: Now I see why this is off-topic. This is the thread on fatherhood!. With your forbearance, I'll leave my comment up here.

icthys said...

Stefan,

I have not abdicated the right won for me by so many who have bled and died, rather, I have chosen to make that vote count all the more by voting for a godly man to hold office. I have never advocated surrendering one's right to vote, only exercising that right in a godly manner. It just so happens that in America our leaders have manipulated the system so that those of us who prefer Godly leaders have little hope of actually getting them because the vast majority of people will do as lemmings usually do and vote Democrat or Republican, neither of whom will bring us the God honoring society we desire. God does give us want we want according to our actions and when we choose to vote for ungodly men and women because of our political ideology we have received our just desserts.

icthys said...

Dan,

My apologies as well for going off-topic. I was responding to an off topic comment made by CR? Others then seized upon that and I chose to respond. I shall henceforth cease and desist.

Stefan said...

Icthys:

If you mean voting for a third-party candidate for whom you can vote in good conscience, so be it.

I may have misconstrued your previous comment, but it seemed as if you were saying that it would be better to vote for no one at all than to choose between two candidates neither of whom you could support.

Stefan said...

We should end the discussion here, since this is totally off-topic.

ReformedMommy said...

Michelle,

Well! On this, the fifth of six mornings when my children are without their father as he toils away at a conference and they are increasingly exploiting his absence and my subequent spiritual frailty by exuberantly sinning all over the place...

That was a hundred times more nourishing to my soul than the banana chocolate chip muffin I had for breakfast. I will now go back to cleaning up the disaster that is their room and redeem the time by bringing them to Jesus.

And then will spend naptime reading Ezekiel...

Michelle said...

I'm glad that it was an encouragement, Reformedmommy. That's my man Charles who, though dead, yet speaketh (and boy, doth he speaketh!)

We are to faithfully and obediently bring up our children in the training and admonition of the Lord, and all the while bring them constantly to the Throne of Grace, knowing that He alone can heal their "dumb and deaf spirit" and exchange their heart of stone for a heart of flesh.

What a responsibility, what a challenge, what a privilege.

Stefan said...

"Exuberantly sinning all over the place"

That's a gem of a phrase!

Michelle, thanks for that. Some of Spurgeon's most beautiful sermons are on short, simple expressions from Scripture like that: "Lord, save me" (Mt 14:30); "Lord, help me" (Mt 15:25); "God be merciful to me a sinner" (Lk 18:13).

He had a knack for repeating the same thing over and over again in different ways, so as to drive home some fundamental truth (like needing to surrender everything to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ).

Michelle said...

Thank you for the links, Stefan - I look forward to reading those. He had a knack indeed. You're right, he could take a short phrase from the Word and mine so many beautiful, edifying, challenging truths out of it. He always pointed to Christ and leaned heavily on the Word.

RT Solo said...

Very interesting post, I especially liked the part about building a "theory on a theory on a theory". Nicely done. :-)

CR said...

Nice try Ichthys for blaming me for off-topic so you can go off the road!

The fact of the matter is the sort of general observation of Proverbs 22:6 is that you "train your child in the ways of the Lord and when he is old he will not run from it."

Things to keep in mind, Proverbs are not laws, they are not promises, but they are general observations learned from a wise and careful look at life, but observing life in the light of divine revelation. We have to understand there is the general nature of proverbs which means the present possibility of exceptions.

The fact that godly parents train their children in the way they should go but at times have ungodly children do not refute the proverb.

Prov22:6 while it can't be absoltuized into a universal law, it nevertheless should encourage Christians to rear their children in the fear and the admonition of the Lord because children more often than not tend to walk in their parents' footsteps.

Conclusion: We do not know whether Todd and Sarah Palin reared their children in the fear and the admonition of the Lord. I came across an interesting study of what it means to be filled by the Holy Spirit. Is the family spirit filled - does the husband love the wife as the church, does the wife submit to the husband as unto the Lord, do the children obey their parents, does the father not provoke their children, do Sarah and Todd in their respective careers or in Sarah's case exercise her authority fairly and just (Eph 5:17-6:9)

A spirit filled family (which the Lord commands us to be) is going to be a family that manifests the above things and they are going to train the child in the ways of the Lord. I have not studied in great detail of the Palin family. But one fornication in the family of 5 kids does not mean the parents did not train their children right.

I say again, look at Abraham Piper. He left the faith serveral years ago and came back. Some families by the Grace of God have stayed in the faith. All of John MacArthur's children. I only share this because they are public stories. But I'm sure parents can find in the relationships and acquaintances instances of more than not that the general truth of the proverb becomes a reality.

Andrew said...

Gilbert,

You said you had trouble memorizing Scripture. I too have a weak memory, and I found a method that works every time!

1) Write down the verse/passage you wish to memorize in PENCIL
2) READ the verse/passage out loud (reference included!)
3) Erase THREE words. ANY THREE, it doesn't matter.
4) Now read the verse out loud. You should be able to do it no problem.
5) Erase three more words
6) Read the verse out loud again (now with 6 words missing)

Just keep going until you've erased the entire thing.
Be sure to say the verse OUT LOUD. This reinforces it into your brain!

My 8 year old daughter was getting easily frustrated with memorizing Scripture until she learned to do it this way. She memorized Genesis 1:27-28 in about 10 minutes. A month later she can still rattle it off.


DJP, sorry about getting off topic.
Great post! Very helpful to me as a young dad.

Carl said...

Andrew, that's a very cool method. Thanks for sharing.

Carl said...

Andrew, that's a very cool method. Thanks for sharing.

Eloquorius said...

*Whee.... blow past 65 comments and start typing*

OK, first time visitor, first time commenter: WELL SAID! I about came unglued and out of my chair when I read Doug Wilson's quick-draw-from-the-hip slander against a brother in Christ. And I vaguely remember the "which one are you channeling?" reply in his comments and got a hearty laugh from it. Personally, I thought I was reading some liberal feminist who'd just got an A+ in "Blaming Men 101" or something; but no, it really was Doug. Once my blood pressure returned from the stratosphere, I, too, remembered the Ezekiel and Jeremiah verses. This whole "covenant blame" theology seem like "convenient blame" to me.... know-it-all without knowin' nuthin'. At church, pastors identify Eliphaz/Bildad/Zophar characters like this and make darn sure to intervene when they see said wolves stalking troubled sheep.

Also, love this: "it takes a lot of words to prove that the Bible teaches something it doesn't, or doesn't teach something it does." Perhaps, excepting eschatology (think MacArthur vs. Riddlebarger) this is SO true.

Lisa Nunley said...

Very interesting and excellent. I wrote a post called Generational Curse: Is this belief Biblical? that I need to add a link of your post to.

Andy Dollahite said...

Late to the party having come here from your link in the 5/19/09 post on fathers.

Reading through the comments I don't quite see the fundamental difference between what John MacArthur says: "You have a task, father, to say to your son you must learn to fear your God, guard your mind and obey your parents. You must learn how to submit to authority and since we represent the authority of God and are teaching you the wisdom of God, you must obey...you must obey. I do not believe there's any excuse for a rebellious child. I believe that children can be under control if they're properly taught by their fathers to obey."

...and what Wilson was essentially saying about the federal headship of fathers.

Also, I'm a huge fan of John Piper, so I don't say this as a slander, but he has commented a few times publicly that he acknowledges failing to lead well at home during the early parts of his ministry. He seems comfortable with the idea that Abraham's temporary waywardness (?) was connected to his failures as a father. Or am I off?

DJP said...

Okey doke.

So... why are you asking me to explain John MacArthur?

Andy Dollahite said...

Not you necessarily - I enjoy hearing from the other folks, too. You are free to ignore my comment, but I didn't expect you to shy from an opinion either. Am I wrong to assume that you would object to MacArthur's statement?

Andrew said...

I will take a gander at explaining the MacArthur quote even though DJP never introduced his views here...

In context, MacArthur was speaking about young children. The high-handed temper-tantrum rebellion that is typical of toddlers years should not be continuing in older children. This is a simple battle of authority beginning when they are 2 yrs old, and it is every Christian parent's responsibility to win that battle decisively with instruction and discipline (you know, like the Bible says).

This is why MacArthur refers to children being "under control". In the context he is referring to young children refusing to submit to authority. He is not speaking about wayward teens being influenced by the world to be promiscuous, etc.

I believe that Wilson and Mac have different views on this issue.

DJP said...

I know very little about John MacArthur's detailed positions on everything. I've read a few of his books in the last 30+ years, heard maybe a dozen or so sermons, been to his church either once or twice (unsure).

As you excerpt it, my first response is a strong disagreement. But then when Andrew E3 EMD Refresh request and DBA support another context, that's a more reasonable possibility.

Bottom line: there is no technique or method by which any human being can effect a spiritual reality in another human being. Period.

Andy Dollahite said...

Andrew,

Where does the bible make a distinction between the rebelliousness of a toddler and a teenager? Are you suggesting that there is an "age of accountability" where the parent no longer bears responsibility for a rebellious child?

Andy Dollahite said...

Dan,

It's fine that you want to distance yourself from MacArthur - you're not his personal defender. Of course I'm assuming you'd say similar things about your familiarity with Doug Wilson's positions.

As to your response, it sounds like you accept there's a context in which it would be fine to say what MacArthur has said. What would that context look like? Personally, I don't see how allowing MacArthur liberty to say what he said is consistent with your objections to Wilson's position.

Also, I'm not sure what you're driving at with your bottom line. "There is no technique or method by which any human being can effect a spiritual reality in another human being. Period." If your argument is that it is God who is the effective cause of all spiritual change, who wouldn't agree? Has Wilson, or proponents of federal headship, suggested otherwise? You aren't saying that God doesn't use parents as instruments in achieving these spiritual changes, are you?

You seem pretty critical of Wilson's theology of parenting, as are many of the comments in the meta. Yet, what I observe about the community who practices what he preaches is that they have joyful and God-fearing families. People are sure to abuse what Doug has been teaching, but where faithfully practiced it seems to bear top quality fruit - or is that a gloss like Mormons?

Andrew said...

Where does the bible make a distinction between the rebelliousness of a toddler and a teenager?There is no “teenager” designation the Bible. A "teenager" in the Bible is identified as either a “man” or a “woman”. A toddler is a “child”. So I think the Bible makes a clearer distinction than we Chrstians do today (as we are influenced by the culture around us)

I did not claim Biblical authority that there is no excuse for a child that is out of control. I can only claim the lowly authority of personal experience and empirical observation. And I claim the human authority of Ted Tripp! With godly parenting, kids CAN be brought into submission when they are young (NOTE: that is submission, not perfection).

I have not met an out-of-control child that is faithfully instructed and disciplined. It just plain works. Maybe it is because children are so dependent on their parents. Later when they become less dependent on parents they understand that rebellion is a realistic option.

If you want to believe that it is possible for a little kid to carry on a rebellion against the instruction and discipline of her parents whom she is completely dependent upon, go right ahead. I think your opinion flies in the face of universal experience and the wisdom of Christians who have earnest studied children’s behavior. But I do not know of any Scripture which you would be contradicting.

Are you suggesting that there is an "age of accountability" where the parent no longer bears responsibility for a rebellious child? An “age of accountability” would not be relevant to this discussion since we are talking about open rebellion, not a full comprehension and embracing of the gospel. Any child who is old enough to engage in open rebellion is old enough to know it is wrong (even a 2 year old).

Andy Dollahite said...

Andrew,

I think we agree on just about everything. The point I was raising is that if MacArthur says that there is no excuse for a rebellious child, then he is much closer to Wilson than Dan.

You said, "I have not met an out-of-control child that is faithfully instructed and disciplined. It just plain works." That is essentially Wilson's position, but that does not seem to be Dan's position, unless I am misreading him. Please correct me if Ive misunderstood.

Andrew said...

Sounds good as long as don't judge Christian fathers such as Todd Palin for *presumed* sin. What his daughter did does not necessarily indicate anything about what kind of father he is. He might be the greatest human father alive. Or he could be terrible. Or somewhere in between. The point is that we (including Wilson) do not know enough to comment. The poor decisions of his grown daughter do not necessarily reflect his parenting.

I am not sure if you agree with that. And I am pretty sure that Wilson does not agree.

As for MacArthur I think it’s best to leave him out of the discussion since he is out of scope for this blog post (and it would not be fair since he has written many volumes on parenting).

Andy Dollahite said...

Andrew,

Wilson has written as many, if not more, volumes on parenting and family life as MacArthur. I'm not sure why that means we should exclude someone. JM's statement, which was raise by someone other than me, is directly related to the subject of this post. It seems to me that he and Wilson are saying almost the same thing. If you don't think so, then explain specifically how his application is different than Wilson's.

I'm not advocating that we judge one another as though we aren't likewise sinners. But, kids don't transition from obedient to pregnant in a twinkle of an eye. If my daughter was to become pregnant I can guarantee I'd be giving great thought to where I as her father missed the boat.

DJP said...

Just about all the questions you're asking me, Andy, as well as the scope of discussion, are dealt with in the post. I commend it to you. I don't think it's that unclear or complex.

Andrew said...

I'm not sure why that means we should exclude someone. JM's statement is directly related to the subject of this post.Because DJP wrote a very thoughtful post analyzing a complete essay by Wilson? And he read several sources Wilson drew from?
From JM we have the brief statement you provided 2nd hand with no context. Confusing and incomplete. You would not want your own views presented that haphazardly.

...explain specifically how his application is different than Wilson's.Already did that.
For some strange reason you responded by asking about the age of accountability and whether the Bible makes a distinction between toddlers/teenagers.

I'm not advocating that we judge one another as though we aren't likewise sinners.Okay but that is obviously not the kind of judgment I meant.

Do we presume Todd Palin "missed the boat" as a father, or not? It appears you are willing to assign guilt to this man because of what his daughter has done. Please identify from Scripture how you are able to draw this conclusion about his *failed* fatherhood, since Wilson was not able to do so (he referred to his own books and an article by Rayburn).

Sorry to be so blunt but the evasive responses are like nailing jello to the wall. You can't keep *hinting* at blaming this man without coming forward with some kind of explanation.

Andy Dollahite said...

Andrew,

A complete essay by Wilson? Seriously? Did you read the original Blog and Mablog post? Dan responded to a few sentences in a short paragraph post.

Go here and read it. Hardly what I'd call a complete essay.

http://www.dougwils.com/index.asp?Action=Anchor&CategoryID=1&BlogID=5827&Data=3003#posts

Several sources Wilson drew from? Please name the several sources Dan analyzes in this post that Wilson drew from. It was Dan who introduced the Rayburn essay in the B&M meta, not Doug Wilson. It was Dan who introduced the MTV commentary, not Doug Wilson.

As for JM's statement, you described the context as being a contrast between young children and wayward teens. I asked you where such a distinction could be found since I don't see one in scripture.

As for judging Todd Palin, I'm not saying much more than you've already said..."If you want to believe that it is possible for a little kid to carry on a rebellion against the instruction and discipline of her parents whom she is completely dependent upon, go right ahead. I think your opinion flies in the face of universal experience and the wisdom of Christians who have earnest studied children’s behavior. But I do not know of any Scripture which you would be contradicting." Or, "I have not met an out-of-control child that is faithfully instructed and disciplined." Bristol Palin isn't a little kid, but she didn't get to be a pregnant teenager two minutes after being an obedient child. That path takes time. And any father who would say he bears no part in preventing her from taking that path, as a child under his roof, is lying to himself.

Stan McCullars said...

I guess since Christians have thrown out the excuse of The devil made me do it we had to come up with a new one: My daddy made me do it.

Give me a break.

Mesa Mike said...

Sure, Stan.
Down to the third and fourth generation.

DJP said...

Andy — either your post is a continuing rule 1 violation, or you're just a really poor reader.

With an air of "Aha!" you link to the Wilson essay — to which I link in the post. Had you read it, you'd know that.

Then you say I introduced Rayburn in the B+M meta... suggesting you didn't read that, either.

To say nothing else — such as how it wastes the time of folks who are seriously interacting — it's incredibly rude not to give a serious read to a post, yet nonetheless to strike the pose of poking holes in it.

Bring up your game, or please take it elsewhere.

Andrew said...

Andy,
I will respond, but not to your twisting of my words. It is wearisome to correct so many misrepresentations. When I say "Dan read sources" you respond asking me to "name the several sources Dan analyzes in this post that Wilson drew from". I don't have the grace, time or energy to untwist that. You seem unwilling to respond in a way that is straightforward.

Moreover you missed the point again. Whether it was IN Wilson's post or in his meta, Dan was referred to several sources where Wilson drew his ideas or fleshed out his views or found support for his views or WHATEVER. Don't miss the point and twist it please. The point is that careful THOUGHT and INTERACTION and UNDERSTANDING took place between DJP and Wilson. None of this took place with the interjection of your MacArthur quote. The quote is too short, out of context, and was selectively chosen by another source to make that person's point.

If you don't see the difference between your casual unsubstantiated interpretation of MacArthur's teaching on this subject and Dan's careful and thoughtful interaction with Wilson, then I guess we just disagree. Any selectively chosen excerpt and shoot-from-the-hip comment is as valid as any thoughtful essay laden with Scripture.

??????


HERE is the distinction that I have been carefully making and that your are blurring (because it is indefensible from Scripture):

Bristol Palin isn't a little kid, but she didn't get to
be a pregnant teenager two minutes after being an obedient child. That
path takes time. And any father who would say he bears no part in
preventing her from taking that path, as a child under his roof, is
lying to himself.
Bristol isn't a little kid. Her father cannot effect obedience in her. "There is no technique or method by which any human being can effect a spiritual reality in another human being."

You haven't yet explained where your view is found in Scripture.

Nor have you demonstrated that Todd Palin did not take any steps to "prevent his daughter from taking that path". And that is the danger of this unbiblical view. It allows for a slanderous violation of Jesus' words in John 7:24 "Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment."

Andrew said...

Example of really poor reading that makes dialog very difficult:

Me: "In context, MacArthur was speaking about young children."

Andy: "As for JM's statement, you described the context as being a contrast between young children and wayward teens."

Andy Dollahite said...

Dan,

You've accused me of being a poor reader, among other things. It's certainly possible I've jumbled up stuff badly, but let's start with one claim that should be easy to verify.

Yes, I said you introduced the Rayburn essay in the B&M meta, because contextually I was referring to the one I had just linked to. It does appear that it was brought up in some other meta by Bret McAtee, but I was only talking about the linked post's meta. It goes as follows:

Huh? A daughter sins, and it's her father's fault? Which one are you channeling: Eliphaz, Bildad, or Zophar? Was Adam's sin his father's fault, too?

Dan Phillips (Pyromaniacs) - 9/1/2008 8:21:33 PM | Report Comment

Responsibility, not fault. Go read Federal Husband and Reforming Marriage, Dan. Good stuff.

Terry Stauffer - 9/1/2008 8:38:06 PM | Report Comment

Dan, Terry got it. I don't believe fault and responsibility are the same thing. Responsibility is a function of covenant headship. It doesn't mean that the head is guilty.

Douglas Wilson - 9/1/2008 8:53:31 PM | Report Comment

I am radically anti-Obama but I can honestly say that I would not attack him if his 17 yr old daughter were pregnant. Actually, I would be impressed that they didn't get an abortion (he basically said they would).

Will S - 9/1/2008 9:20:22 PM | Report Comment

McCain certainly knew about this pregnancy before he made Palin his VP pick. I think the pregnancy will be used in away as a plus against the Obama radical abortion stance. This will also make her and her family more relateble to real world every day American family problems. It will be hard for the Dems to attack Palin on this and look like nothing more than dirty politicians.

Terry W. West - 9/1/2008 10:16:05 PM | Report Comment

I concur that fault and responsibility are two separate things but there is no denying the overlap. And the differance of moral blameworthiness differs only in degree. Even if one grants that Rev Wilson's Federal Vision theology (and there is so much good stuff there)as fully accurate, the problem is that his statement is non-falsifiable. No Calvinist would grant that any earthly father is capable of perfectly loving, protecting, and holding all family members accountable. Thus there will never be an example of an out of wedlock child to a daughter of such a man. He does not exist.

Chris Maluta - 9/2/2008 1:08:23 AM | Report Comment

"the problem is that his statement is non-falsifiable."

Chris, I see what you mean, but I don't see that as a problem. Theology is not physics. Some things in theology are not falsifiable. So what?

Gianni - 9/2/2008 1:24:12 AM | Report Comment

The refrain is, "Read [not the Bible, but] this essay by Reymond."

Evidently I'm going to have to, since that isn't what I've gotten out of the Bible. What I get there is

"In those days they shall no longer say: "'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge.' 30 But everyone shall die for his own sin. Each man who eats sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge" (Jeremiah 31:29-30)

I do respect Reymond; if he shows me I've missed something in the Word, it's a win/win. But I surely haven't seen any such notion, but rather its contrary.

Dan Phillips (Pyromaniacs) - 9/2/2008 6:07:03 AM | Report Comment


Maybe I've missed it, but it certainly looks to me that you introduced the Rayburn (you called it Reymond's work accidentally) essay in THAT meta. From that perspective can you see that I wasn't trying to violate RULE 1?

Andy Dollahite said...

Andrew,

You accuse me of not reading you carefully. Specifically you cite this:

Andy - "As for JM's statement, you described the context as being a contrast between young children and wayward teens."

I was simply synthesizing what you said in your first comment today:

Andrew - "In the context he is referring to young children refusing to submit to authority. He is not speaking about wayward teens being influenced by the world to be promiscuous, etc."

If you were not establishing a contrast in JM's context between young children and wayward teens, I'm not sure what you were doing. Also, this canard about JM's quote not having sufficient context is silly. You claim, "The quote is too short, out of context, and was selectively chosen by another source to make that person's point." Baloney. Matt Grumm already provided a link to the full sermon, and anyone looking for the fuller text can access it. In fact, I think there are other items in that message that confirm my original assertion that JM and Doug Wilson are saying very similar things about the responsibility fathers have wrt their children's behavior.

Also, you have tried to say that DJP gives careful thought, interaction, analysis, etc. to Wilson's work and the sources he may have drawn upon. Fine by me. But then you seem to indicate that I'm not interested in doing the same thing with JM's quote. This is simply not true. That's exactly what I've been trying to analyze and draw out. Understanding exactly what JM meant by "I do not believe there's any excuse for a rebellious child. I believe that children can be under control if they're properly taught by their fathers to obey" has been in my comments since the beginning. I've been attempting to engage others in dialogue about how this statement might support or differ from Wilson's view of federal headship.

Andrew said...

I was simply synthesizing what you said in your first comment today:Andy, I hate to break this to you but MY thoughts are not the same thing as the context of the MacArthur quote. I don't know the man personally and he didn't consult me before preaching the sermon.

MacArthur was talking about young children. I, Andrew Disque (not John MacArthur), contrasted that with Bristol Palin who is obviously not a young child.

Have I spelled it out clear enough? I'm not trying to mock you but you are obviously an intelligent person. What else can I assume but that you want to split hairs and misdirect from your error?

If someone wants to claim that MacArthur has the Wilsonian view that parents bear responibility for their childrens' sin then they (or you) will need to demonstrate this. Since I have read a coule of his books on parenting and the family I know he doesn't share Wilson's position on this. I'm not going to take your context-less quote and pit it against everything else the man has preached and written to the contrary.

You claim, "The quote is too short, out of context, and was selectively chosen by another source to make that person's point." Baloney. If it's a canard then how come you misinterpreted his position? Your error proves the point. Mac does not teach what Wilson teaches on this subject.

The fact is that JM's quote, when understood in context, is not relevant to this discussion because Bristol Palin is not a child.

So far I have not seen any willingness on your part to interact seriously with the issue. You are content to place a black cloud over Christian fathers like Todd (who have wayward teenage daughters) without explaining why, on a Scriptural basis, this black cloud is warranted.

Stan McCullars said...

Andy, Do yourself a favor and give it a rest.