Kathy Petersen’s Blog

What does the Bible say?

Posted in Bible, Christianity by Kathy on January 10, 2008

This past month, I’ve been amazed at how several things have come together to show how the Bible truly is “the Book of books.” One of the main things has been reading the book called The Heart of Anger, by Lou Priolo. I didn’t realize what the premise of the book was at the time I picked it up–I was just looking for something to read, and that looked like I could skim through it pretty quickly. While it is simple, it is extremely profound! Not only is it not something I could skim through, I think I’m going to have to read it several times to really be able to implement it. The best thing about it is that it is truly biblically based–I was astounded at how many references there were–it seemed like there was a Bible reference after every sentence sometimes. It really made me realize that if I knew my Bible better, I could find in it the answers to a lot of life’s disturbing questions.

Investing for the Future, by Larry Burkett, is another book–I’ve just started it, and am only a few chapters into it. But it also looks to the Bible for the basis of money management. I’ve read through the Bible more than once, so that’s not totally surprising, but still–Wow! the Bible which is so spiritual and heavenly-minded also talks about the physical realities and carnal concerns of man.

A third book that I’m almost done with is Lectures on Baptism, by William Shirreff. This man (who died during Charles Spurgeon’s lifetime–probably nearly 150 years ago now) was a Presbyterian minister who late in life became convinced that infant baptism was insupportable by the Scriptures, and left the church over whom he’d been a minister for decades, and was baptized–immersed–and became a Baptist. He wrote this series of lectures to explain to his much-loved former congregation why he left, and also hoped to convince them of their error in continuing in paedobaptism. I have found this book to be an extremely interesting read as well, also because of its strong recurring theme of “what does the Bible say?”

My husband and I are having discussions about something that is going on in our church. For most people it would be a non-issue–and it has been for me as well. However, what does the Bible say about it? Primitive Baptists have not historically had Sunday School. In general, our denomination says, if it’s in the Bible, we’d better do it; if it’s not, we’d better not. That’s why we sing a capella, have only male preachers & deacons, immerse, baptize only believers, don’t have missionary societies, etc. So we don’t have “Sunday School,” but for years on Wednesday nights, the children have come to the front and sung some Christian songs, and then had a little Bible lesson. It’s all done in the presence of the parents and the entire church, but it is “children’s church” even if we don’t call it that.

Sunday School started back before child-labor laws, when children often worked very hard all week and only had Sunday off, so some people decided to start teaching them reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic on their day off, so it was truly “school” on Sundays. Then, children were no longer employed, and most went to schools; and Sunday school evolved into teaching children on Sunday some of the “nuts and bolts” of Christianity, as well as songs, Bible stories, etc. What’s wrong with that?

Well, what’s wrong with it, is that it’s not in the Bible.

There is the concept of Christian liberty in the Bible, but before you can claim liberty in a matter, you have to determine what the Bible has to say about that matter–both by its words and its silence. What does the Bible say about the teaching of children? (This is a separate discussion from secular education.) It says that fathers and/or parents are to teach their children, to raise them in the fear of the Lord, to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Whenever the Bible talks about how children are to learn (religious/spiritual things), it is in the context of the family, and usually with the father doing the instructing, or at least superintending the education. In the Old Testament, there is the positive injunction of fathers to speak to their sons as they were working side by side in their daily work–to talk about the Law all the time–going in, coming out, walking along the road, etc. There is nothing in the New Testament that seems to change that, and certainly no hint that someone else’s father is supposed to teach that child. There is no account in the New Testament of children being separated from their parents and being taught a special sermon or a different gospel. In the descriptions of Christians meeting together, there are times when children would probably have been present (the meetings in houses, for example), but there is no hint of them being anywhere except with their own families.

“Well, how is my child supposed to learn stuff about the Bible, if he doesn’t have children’s church or Sunday school? He can’t understand what the preacher is saying to adults about the Bible–and the preacher shouldn’t have to stop and explain it to the kids the parts they can’t understand!” Very true. What does the Bible say? The Bible says that fathers are to teach and explain it to their kids. It’s the father’s job, not the preacher’s job, not the youth minister’s job.

“Well, I [or my husband] don’t know the Bible well enough for all that.” Well you should! If you’re a Christian, then you should. End of story.


9 Responses

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  1. tofollowHim said, on January 10, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    Great post! So many of my friends don’t understand our views on Sunday schools, musical instruments in worship, etc. but they don’t address the Bible to question their own reasons for supporting these man-created additions to church.

  2. Cheryl G. said, on July 15, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    This was an eyeopener for me. It is Very True!! These words force me to face the very thing thats been ringing in my spirit, but I’ve been trying to ignore!Thank you!

  3. caleb m said, on October 18, 2009 at 11:30 am

    i disagree. the psalms are full of references to praising the Lord with musical instruments. the philosophy that just because the bible doesn’t say it, we shouldn’t do it is a stretch. do you drive a car? do you use your computer? the bible says nothing about either of these, yet we do it on a daily basis.

    Proverbs tells us to train up A child in the way he should go, it doesn’t say train up YOUR child. I believe every parent has a responsibility to their children, but to tell them that we are the only ones who can teach them is farce. that means, if your children attend school, you are disobeying the word.

    get grace people, and get free.

  4. CHARSLINE said, on November 25, 2009 at 9:48 am

    when the bible doesn’t mention children does it mean there were no children then or that the people who gathered did not have children. When the people were baptized with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost were they only adults. If children were there would the Spirit have segregated them.

    The only time Jesus broke a rule in the bible by healing someone on the Sabbath was for the good of mankind. I sincerely believe baptising children is for their own good also. We want to teach them and let them grow in the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ. Are as christians saying like the Pharisees He should not have healed on the Sabbath

    • Kathy said, on November 25, 2009 at 3:50 pm

      Jesus did not break one of God’s rules by healing on the Sabbath — he broke one of the Pharisees’ man-made rules, and he did that with great regularity, actually! As He said, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath?” and the answer to that is, yes.

      How is good for non-believing children to be baptized? We are definitely to teach our children and to grow in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord” — but does that mean we are to baptize non-believers?

  5. Nadia said, on December 31, 2009 at 1:38 pm


    I have a question to ask, does the bible say/mention anything about child labor?

    • Kathy said, on December 31, 2009 at 3:24 pm

      Child labor is mentioned tangentially — there are mentions of men, women, and children being sold into slavery; Naaman had a Jewish slave girl; Joseph and his brothers are mentioned as working with their parents harvesting grain; Joseph was sent at the age of 17 to check on his older brothers who were tending their flocks and herds in a distant land; David was a “lad” when he tended his father’s flocks. It is taken as axiomatic that children will work alongside their parents in the family “business,” whether that is carpentry like Jesus’ earthly father Joseph, or more agrarian employment like farming or shepherding. Samuel, the last judge of Israel, was taken as a weaned child (probably 3-4 years old) to the tabernacle to be a dedicated servant to the high priest Eli; he spent his entire childhood there, working around the holy things of God, doing whatever Eli wanted or needed him to do.

      There are no specific prohibitions against “child labor,” but there are general rules and principles dealing with the subject. In the Old Testament, God commanded the Israelites not to be harsh slave-owners because they had been slaves of harsh taskmasters in Egypt; in the New Testament, Christian slave-owners and employers are commanded to be good and gentle to their slaves and employees, knowing that they have a Master in heaven — those in command (whether slave-owners, employers, parents, etc.) are to treat those under their command the way they want their Master (God) to treat them. Fathers are to train and protect and nourish their children, in both natural and spiritual ways. “Those who are strong are to bear the infirmity of those who are weak” is one of many verses which speak of the way that the strong are to protect and be kind to those who are weaker (whether weaker physically, mentally, or spiritually).

      Cruelty is warned against, and mentioned negatively, in most if not all forms; but children working is not specifically forbidden, and may even be laudable — teaching responsibility, and work ethic, as well as the “nuts and bolts” of the family business. Being cruel to children would seem to be particularly prohibited, as being weaker than adults; but children working according to their ability, under the care of kind and gracious parents or employers is not.

  6. Shannon said, on February 22, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    What about children that don’t have Christian parents, what are these children suppose to do, do we not reach them and tell them of God’s word, just because the parents don’t believe in him? This is where I have a problem with this kind of thinking…The bible does clearly state to take care of the orphan and widowed… Would like some insight please….

    • Kathy said, on February 23, 2010 at 2:40 pm

      I’m unclear why you’re bringing up the verse which teaches charity towards those in need (in Bible times, and indeed throughout almost all of human history, widows and orphans were without the main provider of food, shelter, and clothing, so were typically destitute without a husband/father) as a support for preaching the gospel to non-orphan children of unbelieving parents.

      It seems that the Biblical pattern is to spread the gospel to adults. Forgive me if I’ve misinterpreted, but your tone implies an undermining of parental authority, which was set up by God. I’m not totally sure where to draw the line between “preaching the gospel to all creatures,” and accepting the line of authority that God set up with parents over their children.

      I have nothing against Christian adults gathering children together and taking them to church (unless their parents object), teaching them Biblical truths, morality, right ways of living, etc. It would be better if their parents initiated it and became believers, so perhaps the time and energy would be better spent in proselytizing the parents than the children. If the parents persist in unbelief, but don’t object to their children being taught Christian principles, then that’s fine. But how much better would it be for the parents to believe — then the children would get Christian principles at home and at church!

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