Telling a Child They are a Sinner



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  • Telling a Child They are a Sinner

    Reading this article made me realize how persecution takes different forms, and how we must be ready to face it sooner or later. So eye-opening and a good reminder to stick to the Word! The article reads:

    Portland Child Evangelism Fellowship Under Fire for Preaching to Kids About Sin

    By Heather Clark |

    PPC-298x300PORTLAND, Ore. -- A chapter of a nationally-recognized Christian group that seeks to reach children with the gospel of Jesus Christ is under fire for teaching kids the biblical doctrine of sin and eternal judgment, in addition to sharing about the love and mercy of God.

    The Portland chapter of Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) is facing resistance from some area residents as they conduct voluntary summer camps in the area and plan on hosting after-school Bible studies in local public schools. The problem? CEF teaches children that each person is a sinner in need of the Savior.

    Those who oppose the group assert that because of this, CEF does not present “Jesus loves you” mainstream Christianity, and claim that the organization is “hardcore evangelical fundamental.”

    “They pretend to be a mainstream Christian Bible study when in fact they’re a very old school fundamentalist sect,” resident Kaye Schmitt told local television station KATU.

    Robert Aughenbaugh also told reporters this week that preaching to children about sin might give them feelings of fear and shame.

    Aughenbaugh, Schmitt and others have organized a group called Protect Portland Children, which seeks to speak out against CEF’s message and influence parents not to allow their children to attend its events. It has set up a Facebook page that has so far generated over 800 likes. It’s profile photograph is of a child holding a sign that reads “I am not a sinner.”

    “[The] curriculum teaches young children that they’re born sinners, bound for eternity in hell unless they obey the club’s teachings,” the group asserts.

    “Before the Portland public schools allow ‘The Good News Club’ to use school facilities or to promote their activities on campus it would seem appropriate to allow mental health professionals to further investigate the activities of this group,” wrote Chuck Currie of the United Church of Christ in a recent blog post about the matter.

    But CEF says that it is not teaching anything outside of the basic and fundamental truths of the gospel—and that mankind must understand the bad news to know why the good news is so good.

    “Listen, the message of the gospel the teaching of the core Christian tenets of the Christian faith that have been taught for 2,000 years in the Bible is what we’re teaching,” CEF Vice President of Ministries Moises Esteves told local television station KOIN. “There’s nothing new here.”

    The group has partnered with over 30 area churches to present its evangelical outreach to youth in Portland.

    “We do teach about sin,” Esteves stated, “[But] we’re not nasty. We’re not high pressure. We’re not negative, but we teach what the Bible teaches that every human being is a sinner in need of a savior.”

    Reporters observed the group in action on Wednesday, singing John 3:16 with the children in attendance, which reads, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

    Child Evangelism Fellowship, founded in 1937, is headquartered in Warrenton, Missouri, and has approximately 400 offices nationwide. It offers several Bible-based clubs for children, which according the ministry website, are “fast-paced, one-hour programs [that] are designed to bring the gospel of Christ to children on their level in their environment.”

  • #2
    Without going into a long discussion (oh, I guess I did anyway...), telling a child before the age of accountability that they are a "sinner" is the same as telling them that they are "bad". They cannot delineate, it is what their minds process. They have no ability to distinguish the difference. Attaching negative titles on a developing child will damage their fragile self-image. How many pastor kids have you met who have damaged self-concepts? In my lifetime--many. They were constantly reminded of their sinful nature, and reprimanded in an attempt to subdue it. Some eventually rebelled with all the fury and force within their ability.

    The age of accountability varies, but it typically falls between 10 and 13 years of age, based on Jewish customs when a child becomes an adult at age 13. It is around this age that a child can understand that their actions are due to a deeper soul issue. It is also at this age that a child is capable of understanding the meaning of salvation in a "saving" sense. It is true that children, no matter how young, are not “innocent” in the sense of being sinless, because they inherited the sin nature of their parents (cf Psalm 51:5). Previous of that age of awareness, Scripture implies a young child would enter into the presence of God due to their innocence (cf Mark 10:13-16). Because of this, we don't accept that child baptism as wise, where a child is not able to comprehend their fallen nature, even if they say they understand. Paedobaptism instead provides them a historical marker to believe they are okay when in fact they may not have the Lord’s seal upon their hearts at all. It is a grave and eternal matter to trifle with another person’s very soul. I was baptized at 13, and clearly had no idea what I was doing despite some efforts at examination. I was not genuinely transformed unto salvation until I was 23.

    Early Church Fathers like Irenaeus, Hipplytus, and Origen all held to infant baptism. Origen for one took scripture out of context to justify his position. Origen’s homily on Luke, he said “For this reason infants are baptized. For "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven." Which presents the ancient “opus operatura” of baptism. Yes, even the old timers got it wrong. "birth of water and of the Spirit" conveyed a deeper meaning to Nicodemus. As a priest of 35 years, he knew that the "Birth of water" points at once to the method so frequently adopted in Jewish ceremonies, the rite of purification. But seasoned theologians will stare at such phrases, interpret allegorically and go off the deep end :P If a person doesn’t have a good sense of period colloquialisms and Jewish tradition, they can misinterpret Scripture, sometime unto heresy. This is an epidemic issue today, Scriptural illiteracy among even studied believers.

    In Scripture we read the saved adult covers the household. In Acts 11:14 we can read, “He will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household.” Another passage reads, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household." (Acts 16:31) We also know that the command to believe is directed to individuals and the act of believing is an individual action. Understanding this is important when it comes to correctly understanding the concept of household salvation because it helps us focus on the fact that salvation can only come through an individual believing in Christ. And again we can read in 1 Corinthians 7:14: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.” Household salvation is then an intermediate covering, but not sufficient for personal salvation when presented the gospel to choose or perish.

    Another scripture that come to mind is when Peter said, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself” (Acts 2:38–39, NAS).

    Christ’s death is presented as sufficient for all of mankind. First John 2:2 says Jesus is “the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” This verse is clear that Jesus’ death was sufficient for all sins, not just the sins of those who specifically have come to Him in faith. The fact that Christ’s death was sufficient for all sin would allow the possibility of God’s applying that payment to those who were never capable of believing.

    I had to go a little off topic to swing back around and point at the conclusion. That a child is covered by a saved father and/or mother until such time they have the ability to comprehend their own need of a Savior. If the child perishes, they are counted innocent and are ushered into heaven. David seemed to know with certainty where the baby would go because he said in 2 Samuel 12:23 that “now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” Why, because the Lord promised him, as reflected in a David’s Psalm 132:11 which says, “The LORD has sworn to David, A truth from which He will not turn back; ‘Of the fruit of your body I will set upon your throne.” While some theologians will debate this conclusion, it is the predominant and largely accepted view regarding the faith and a child.


    • #3
      That makes so much sense now. I do remember growing up knowing I was "a child of promise"--as they in my church call the children of a believing parent, until the children receive Christ. I didn't ever felt put down by the fact that I didn't know the Lord because I guess I never felt attacked when they mentioned sin, they didn't call me a sinner for starters. I just heard the gospel in a general way, and it was the need to make peace with God what stuck most in my mind. Praise the Lord that He reached me!
      On another note, I also remember testimonies of adults who received the Lord as young as 8 years old, and that changed their lives forever. It wasn't merely an intellectual understanding or complying with outward commands but a heart-transforming event that kept them going until they were old.


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