Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Duties of Parents

To say I've been delinquent on the blog isn't at all true. I've stopped blogging altogether during the past year. Today's contribution should not be taken as any indication that I intend to begin again. However, in my reading today I came across something I just had to share (although due to my inactivity, who I am sharing it with is a valid question).

I'm currently working through a little book entitled The Duties of Parents by Jacobus Koelman. As a parent myself, I'm looking for wise counsel on how best to raise my boys up in the Lord. Koelman was a Dutch pastor of several hundred years ago, but his counsel remains sound in so many parts.

A heavy emphasis (historically) among the Presbyterian and Reformed churches has been family worship and catechizing your children. Catechism is the use of question and answers to train children in doctrine and piety. Two popular catechisms in our tradition are the Heidelberg and Westminster Shorter (the latter being a part of my denomination's confessional standards). But the practice of catechesis is broader than question and answer. It becomes a means by which we fulfill the command of Deut 6 - Always telling our children about God and his promises to his people.

While our churches have largely forgotten this discipline with regard to our children, there are those still committed to its practice. Many of them are gathered at a pastor's fraternal I attend in Jackson, MS each year. Although this subject isn't a focus of our time together, I am encouraged in personal conversations by what I hear. Not only that fathers are taking the practice seriously, but that they are also struggling in their attempts. It has so long ago ceased to be a part of our culture (as a Church) that it is foreign even to many of us who embrace it in principle.

Anyway...let's get to the quote. Koelman opens with an appeal to parents, who in his day and age were already abandoning the Christian training of their children.
The covenant whose seal they received demands faith and repentance. Should you not then nurture them in the knowledge of divine things and for faith and godliness? For you have not wished to lie before the Lord, as I may hope, and you are not sorry that you dedicated them to God in the sacrament. Then follow your conscience in this matter. Try to save them with all appropriate means prescribed by God; try to turn them away from evil and to spur them on to all good work. From you they have inherited the origin of evil, which is a thousand times worse than leprosy, gall stones, kidney stones, and similar physical ailments they might have inherited from you. It is fair, therefore, for you to do your utmost to seek their healing by trying to surrender them into the hands of the physician of souls, Jesus Christ, by making him known, recommending him, and leading them to him as it were by your hand - to him who said, "Let the little children come unto me" (Luke 18:16). He will bless and embrace them!
He continues in this vein for sometime. It is both convicting and encouraging. May our families (starting with our young pastors!) recover the practice of family worship and catechism for the health of the Body and the glory of God!

1 comment:

M. Jay Bennett said...

I'm still reading. Thanks for this quote. I started catechizing my children and leading my family in worship a couple years ago. It has been a wonderful blessing. Cole has memorized 40 Q/A's and Joanna has 4 down, using the First Catechism published by GCP. I remind Cole of the catechism as often as I can.

For instance, today Joanna was doing something she knew was wrong, so she positioned herself behind my chair out of my sight to do it. One of the Q/A's Cole has memorized is "Q. Does God know all things? A. Yes. Nothing can be hidden from God." I pointed him to this and made the connection with his little sister saying, "Sometimes we try to hide our sin from God, but he sees everything we do. That's why we need to confess our sin to him, and ask for his forgiveness. That's why we all need Jesus." It was a neat moment.

Also, I have reason to believe that Cole was born again a couple months ago (Feb. 28) while we were doing catechism and reading Scripture together on the Lord's Day.

I'm convinced that fathers and mothers are missing out on great blessings from God because they fail to worship at home and properly catechize their children. I pray he will revive the hearts of his people in this regard.