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Raising a Child in Calvinism
Note: In the following correspondence, the e-mailer's comments are in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My replies are in red.
My wife and I just had our first child, a baby girl.<
>We thank the Lord for this wonderful gift. We are both Calvinists, and attend a 5-point Calvinistic Reformed Church. My question is, how do you raise a child in Calvinism? Specifically, how do you explain to a child the concept of God's supreme sovereignty in election and predestination? We don't know whether our daughter is one of God's elect, so we can't simply teach her that God loves her and died for her sins so that she can be saved from the horrors of hell and be with him eternally, although we certainly hope that is the case.<
I'm not a parent so I really have no experience in this regard. But I will say, I really wouldn't approach the subject until she is older, grade school at least. You might want to avoid "universalism" statements like "God loves everyone" Or "Christ Died for humanities sins." Instead, tell her instead, "God loves His children" or "Christ died for the sins of His people" Leave it until later to explain that "His children" or "His people" does not include everyone.
> On the other hand, we certainly don't want to traumatize her with the fear of going to hell if she is not one of God's elect, although that may be inevitable to some degree when teaching children the true gospel. How can we instill in her a healthy fear of God and the true teachings of Sovereign Grace without scaring her more than is necessary?<
I wouldn't broach the subject of hell unless she asks about it. Tell her that God's children will spend eternity with Him. And she needs to trust in Him to be with Him. But avoid what happens if she doesn't trust Him until later. Emphasize His love at this point.
>Also, what about when she is older? When she is a teenager, should we allow her to date only Calvinist boys?<
I think it would be hard enough keeping her to dating only Christian without making it even more restrictive.
> Finally, I would like your opinion on whether a child of two parents who are saved is more likely than otherwise to be one of the elect? It seems like this may be inferred from some statements in scripture, but I cannot find a passage which clearly states one way or another.<
It would seem that it would be more likely. And historically that has probably been the case. And verses like Prov 22:6 would seem to indicate as such.
>Thank you, and Merry Christmas. God Bless.
Merry Christmas to you too!
Note: The following email was actually written in response to Human Elements in Predestination. But the e-mailer's comments seemed even more applicable to the above discussion. So I am posting it here as well.
You wrote in response to someone recently that there is little difference in human response to their children between a Calvinist and an Arminian. Perhaps this is true from the perspective of a Baptist, but this is not true for those who see Abraham as an example of the Christian and that God normally chooses His elect out of the generations of believers.
In this case, we would raise our children as if they already were believers. We would instruct our children in God's Word and pray for them but we would raise them as if they were believers unless they demonstrated otherwise and we would not evangelize our children. All the Reformed Confessions that were written for the sake of teaching the children are written from the perspective that the child is already a believer.
God saves whom He will. I have only in the past few years come to the knowledge of the truths of the Reformed teachings, but I cannot remember a time in my entire life where I did not have a desire to follow God. God can save people in infancy or even in the womb, as he did John the Baptist....
You're correct that I didn't respond from a "covenant theology" perspective. And from that perspective there would be a difference. But covenant theology is not my perspective nor the one of the person who asked the original question.
For books on Calvinism, see Reformed Theology Books: Books-A-Million Recommendations.
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