A while back, my little Facebook page was all aflutter with a blog post. “This is brilliant,” said one “friend.” Another said, “This should be required reading for all Christian families.”
Me? I couldn’t help but click the link.
Now… I should probably mention I don’t often comment on blog posts. After all, blogging is all about expressing one’s opinion and you’re certainly entitled to do so in your own space. But this post irked me so I figured I’d share it. Let’s start with the title:
How to Raise a Pagan Kid in a Christian Home
I read that and immediately wondered, “What’s his definition of “pagan.” Wikipedia tells me:
Contemporary Paganism has been characterised by Dennis Carpenter as “a synthesis of historical inspiration and present-day creativity”, in this manner drawing influences from pre-Christian, folkloric and ethnographic sources in order to fashion new religious movements. The extent to which contemporary Pagans use these sources differs; many follow a spirituality which they accept is entirely modern, whilst others attempt to reconstruct or revive indigenous, ethnic religions as found in historical and folkloric sources as accurately as possible. Polytheism, animism, and pantheism are common features in Pagan theology. Of the various days for celebration among Pagans, the most common are seasonally based festivals of the Wheel of the Year.
Huh. I was unaware that Christian children were into polytheism, animism, and pantheism. Oh well. My child is grown. I’m out of the loop. What do I know? I’ll read on.
Too many times, (Christian) parents have it as their goal to make their kids good and moral.
OK. Not too bad. I can agree with this. I don’t know of any parent who doesn’t want a “good and moral” child.
It is as if the entire purpose of their family’s spiritual life is to shape their children into law-abiding citizens who stay out of trouble.
We’re getting a little murky. Aren’t there other reasons, besides “spiritual life,” to become a law abiding citizen? If this were true, the least religious countries in the world would have sky-high crime rates. But they evidently don’t.
The only problem with this goal is that it runs in stark contrast to what the Bible teaches. The gospel is not about making bad people moral, but about making dead people alive. If we teach morality without the transforming power of the gospel and the necessity of a life fully surrendered to God’s will, then we are raising moral pagans.
Huh? That’s quite a word salad, there. First, I’m not clear on the “making dead people alive” thing. I’m not dead. The author doesn’t appear to be dead either. If he’s talking about spiritual death he should state this. He’s evidently talking about concepts that are pretty hard to pin down. Good writers strive for clarity. This paragraph is anything but. He continues:
Do you teach your kids “be good because the Bible tells you to” or do you teach your kids that they will never be good without Christ’s offer of grace? There is a huge difference. One leads to moralism; the other leads to brokenness. One leads to self-righteousness; the other leads to a life that realizes that Christ is everything and that nothing else matters.
I suppose the author is trying to convey the difference between doing something because you’re told to do so versus doing something because it’s right. However, doing something because it’s right doesn’t lead to a breaking point and/or brokenness… it leads to feeling good. It’s gratifying to help another. It makes this world a bit softer, more enjoyable. These are all very good reasons that have nothing to do with spirituality.
And to state that “Christ is everything and nothing else matters” clearly hasn’t lived through difficult situations. If you’re hungry, food matters. If you need health care, health care matters. If you’re cold, finding a warm spot is high on the priority list.
I want my kids to be good. We all do. But as our kids grow up, the truth of the gospel can easily get lost somewhere between salvation (where we know we need Jesus) and living life (where we tend to say “I’ve got this”). My experience is that the vast majority of parents are encouraging moral behavior in their kids so that God will bless their (usually self-centered) pursuits. It’s the American Dream plus Jesus. And it produces good, moral pagans.
Ha. Those last few sentences amused me. I’ve always found the American version of Christianity to be very interesting. Some of his commenters seem to agree:
I prefer a moral pagan person with a kind heart, than an immoral christian with a cold heart who knows how to quote the bible.
Despite the continual misuse of the word “pagan” throughout this piece, this person has a valid point.
Using the author’s reasoning, the only moral people on this planet are American Christians. Muslums? Forget it. Hindu? Nope. Sikh. Uh uh. New Ager? You’re immoral, too. And what if you are an actual Pagan? Ha. You’re definitely unable to be truly moral.
It’s amazing how, even when engaging in so-called “deep” discussions, I could find so little useful information. Case in point:
Because the world has enough pagans. Even plenty of really nice ones. What we need is kids who fully grasp the reality that they have nothing to offer, but who intimately know a God who has everything they need.
We’ve got a nice circular deepity that leaves the reader feeling refreshed, as though they’ve just read something awesome. However the paragraph is wide open to any interpretation and answers as many life questions as a typical horoscope.
In retrospect, I still don’t know what the author means by “pagans,” but I have a hunch he’s probably talking about many of my friends, colleagues, and family members. Heck, he’s probably talking about me. And that’s really too bad, because if Christian leaders (especially those who are selling a new book in 2014) wants to grow their ranks, they really ought to quit insulting their so-called target audience.
Ah, but that’s the rub, eh? They spend most their time preaching to the choir, spouting deepities, creating evil straw man adversaries, and pontificating about subjects that either don’t make sense or doesn’t really matter in the real world. After all, that’s what sells books.
But that’s just my humble opinion.