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Posts Tagged ‘Parenting’

Talk about a problem with getting to the point…this started as only one point. I promise to write more and say less…err..I think I meant that the other way around.

So where we left off, I was observing that Kierkegaard saw Abraham’s faith as irrational. for him, this saved Christianity from his modernistic philosophy. When he missed was that Abraham’s faith was well founded on God’s past promises and delivery. So what does that have to do with parenting?

If you have kids, you no doubt found yourself saying one (or all) of the following:

“Because I said so.”

“Because I’m your father/mother.”

“I shouldn’t have to explain why.”

“Don’t ask questions, just do it.”

Inevitably, children ask “why” or challenge our reasons for directing them. I think it’s important to answer that questions for ourselves as parents. recently I found myself trying to give a more meaningful answer to my 3 1/2 year old daughter who was asking my why she had to comply with something I’d told her to do. I explained that “the Bible says that God put mommies and daddies in charge of little boys and girls.” But this answer wasn’t entirely satisfying to me.

Madison couldn’t have cared less, she was focusing on the order of things and struggling to accept her place at the bottom. For me, I knew that this explanation was true but it seemed like the Biblical equivalent of “because I told you to.”.

I considered the fact that Scripture says “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. the rod of discipline will remove it far from him (Prov 22;15).” I believe that discipline, especially corporal discipline is necessary because the child’s instinct is not just uninformed but foolish and ultimately destructive. if you let a child choose what they eat, it would be ice cream three times a day, you know?

So given that a child depends on you to make decisions for their own good, and that you will be resisted because of their foolishness, the Christian parent must make a resolution which will build their ability to train their child: establish yourself as a worthy object of trust.

This is what Soren Kierkegaard missed. Abraham was willing to obey what would otherwise have seemed like a bizarre and extreme request because God had established Himself as trustworthy, a valid object of faith.

Children, over time, want to see that we consistently make decisions that are in their best interest. If we don’t commit to proving ourselves in this we, we will rightfully fail to gain their trust, and therefore fail to secure their obedience. We must show ourselves to be not only trustworthy in making decisions about our children, but in our own lives as well. Authority is not enough for obedience; that kind of faith IS blind. Wisdom and selflessness make not for lemmings, but for disciples.

Granted because of the authority vested in us by God, we are not required to earn obedience. But trust, even faith is something different. Without a worthy object, faith is irrational, foolish, shall we say even childish.

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Soren Kierkegaard is sometimes referred to as the father of modern existentialism. A professing Christian, Kierkegaard was troubled by the difficulties that modernistic thought posed to his Christianity. Modern thought, in a nutshell, begins with self as the means of discovering truth. It holds that truth can be discovered by observation, testing, and so on. Since modernism is foolishly optimistic about the ability of the human mind it therefore denies the supernatural and views the universe as a closed system. The conclusion of this line of thinking is that man is a sort of glorified animal, a biological machine; feelings are an illusion and meaning is destroyed. As Francis Schaeffer points out, the ultimate conclusion is despair.

Kierkegaard bucked this conclusion. Seeing that faith transcends this present world, he sought to make the jump to the “upstairs” as Schaeffer dubs it. His desire was good. He wanted to escape the conclusion of despair. But he made a major mistake in that he preceded from modernistic assumptions. Modernism assumes that only the human mind is rational, and that belief in something you can’t see is irrational. This is partially why modernism rejects God as an external revealer of truth. Kierkegard therefore argued for an irrational model of faith.

Here is a chief case in point for Kierkegaard: When reading Genesis 22, in which God instructs Abraham to sacrifice Isaac the son of the Promise, Kierkegaard was troubled by Abraham’s willingness to obey. To reconcile Abraham’s willingness, Kierkegaard decided to view Abraham’s faith as blind. This was a kind of “Ah-ha!” moment for Kierkegaard; he had found and escape from the cold rationality of modernism. In his mind, he was rescuing Christianity. By divorcing faith from reason, he was saving faith and restoring meaning to the universe. We were no longer glorified animals, but humans made in the image of God for eternal purpose.

But there was one problem.

In the relationship between faith and reason, there was no need for a divorce. Kierkegaard failed to see that Abraham’s faith was not groundless, or blind. Abraham’s faith was well grounded and, well…reasonable.

God had repeatedly made good on the prophecy He made to Abram in Genesis 12. As “Abram”, God had brought Abraham to the land, made a unilateral blood covenant with him, brought Him back to the land from Egypt, negotiated his troubles with Lot, protected him in battle against a group of kings. As Abraham god made him a unilateral covenant, delivered on a promise to give him a son, and interacted with him regarding the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Abraham had every reason to regard God as as worthy object of trust. In addition to god’s faithfulness, His many acts of power were more than enough to convince anyone of His ability to do His own will. Kierkegaard saw Abraham’s faith as blind. We see that Abraham was well informed.

So what does this have to do with parenting. Tune is again, soon, for the second part of this discussion.

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