Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Bedtime and the bible

I have been dealing with how to argue that the bible is not just a set of fairy tales or funny stories. The main problem is Sunday school and it mostly comes from the beginning of the bible.

If you walked out of Sunday school not convinced I am not surprised and I am one of you. Here are some really huge problems with the average Sunday school:

  • The pictures, oh the pictures!

    Teaching kids that there was only one tree in the center of the garden when there were two. (Genesis 2:9)

    Teaching that the fruit of the tree was an apple

    Not teaching that they got kicked out of Eden because of the second tree in the midst of the garden. (Genesis 3:22)

    Teaching kids that Noah's ark was so full the animals had to hang over the edge.

  • Missing elements of the story

    This is not just with kids, I suffered this at a bible study recently. I read Genesis last night (God is using my singleness) and I learned things I never knew were there. This should come as a surprise in that I have been a 'church-goer' since the age of four.

    Did anyone tell you that Esau made his parents' lives difficult? (Genesis 26:34,35) You can now understand why Jacob was willing to lie to get the blessing over Esau and why his mother loved Jacob more

  • Teaching it like it's a myth

    Surprise, surprise. If you teach it like you don't believe it, no one, not even little kids, is going to listen to you. Be honest: would you believe you?

    I would like one reason why Genesis 1-11 should be taken allegorically, from the basis of the text. You can give me all the evolution you like, but has anyone bothered to read how specific the genealogy from Adam to Abraham is? Creation is as real as Abraham. Show me the transitional form between a metaphor and a real person.

  • Bad song selection

    If you are not singing about how great God is, as described in the bible, or what he has done, stop the music. You cannot tickle your flesh with worship and you should not encourage kids to do it. This is not saying worship should not be enjoyable, but God must be first.

  • Lack of discipline

    Do not hit someone else's kids. However a strong word sets them like glue. I honestly had kids last Sunday who tried to disturb a child who was listening. The principle of election hit them so hard that they shut up like nothing else. I simply said: "I cannot make you believe, but you will not disturb someone who is trying to hear." Ironically the memory verse was all about faith coming from hearing. Simultaneous first and second causes.

There are many other general problems, but they are problems that propagate throughout the church. "Seeker-sensitive" children's church, irresponsible use of scripture and even mysticism runs rampant in both the children's church and adult's church.

But what can be done? First we have to get right. If you think the bible is a set of stories, you are plain dead wrong. It is only one story and it is the truth. The good folks over at the way of the master put it nicely:

"What if someone claims to have read the Bible and says it’s just a book of fairy tales?

Call his bluff. Gently ask, 'What is the thread of continuity that runs through the Bible—the consistent theme from the Old Testament through the New Testament?' More than likely he won’t know. So say, 'The Old Testament was God’s promise that He would destroy death. The New Testament tells how He did it.' Then appeal directly to the conscience by asking if he has kept the Ten Commandments..."

So, now there is no excuse for bad teaching, not that there ever was. You know the truth. What you do with it is not up to me. One thing that must be stated: You cannot blame your teachers. Just because someone tells you something does not mean you have to believe it, regardless of who that person is. If you do not investigate it yourself in scripture - you are the one to blame. The other end of the scale is identifying teachers that you agree with on most cases and doctrine but remaining vigilant.

This is why expository preaching is so important. The preacher must not preach his ideas, but those of the bible. Why should children's church be any different?

Nehemiah 9:18 clearly shows that God is specific about what you believe in Him, so you better make sure that you are right with God.

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