Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"Out of the Mouth of Babes and Infants"

Listen up all you Credobaptists (those who support Believer's Baptism and think that Infant Baptism is wrong.) Prepare to have your silly human reason challenged by the testimony of a child. The very children that you deny baptism are professing the faith more clearly and boldly than most adults that I know. Surely, the least of these is greater than any of us in Christ's kingdom.

My wife and I have a dear friend who has a very young daughter; she is about three years old. One night a few months ago, I spent time with the little girl reading my copy of The Picture Bible to her. To my knowledge, that is just about the sum of her religious instruction so far.

It had been months before she was over at my house again. We had nearly a half dozen adult guests in the house at the time and they were watching her do the cute things that little kids do. She was pointing at various things in the room and telling us adults what they were.

She pointed and said, "That's the table. That's your book. That's the chair. I'm [her name]..."

She then turned around and pointed at the framed print of Bouguereau's L'Innocence on my wall. She pointed directly at the infant in the virgin's arms and stated in a matter of fact tone:

"...and that's God."

What?!? I was so proud that it made me breathless. Even the unbelievers in the room were stunned. She was done naming things. She put her hands on her hips and stared at us as she mimicked the scolding facial expression that her mother often uses. There were several moments of uncomfortable silence. Things eventually returned to normal.

Later, I wanted to find out if she was able to clarify what she had said without me asking any leading questions. I pulled her aside and asked her, "What were you trying to say when you pointed at the baby in the painting? Who were you talking about?"

"Jesus is God," she said. Her tone indicated that I was stupid to even question her on that point. The audacity of my question had clearly made her irritated.

Is this child exceptionally bright? No. She is an average kid. In fact, her language skills are a little behind her peers and she still gets mixed up when I ask her to say the colors of her markers. She has a short memory. Her favorite food changes every couple hours. She gets easily frustrated and confused if things get too complex for her to figure out. How is it that this one thing sticks and strikes such a strong chord in this fickle little girl? It defies reason, but does faith ever have anything to do with our ability to reason? Based on this toddler's public profession of faith, I would say no.

What do you think?

I am tempted to formulate a powerful theological argument here, but I am going to let her testimony stand on its own. I am going to let this little girl open your eyes to the undeniable truth of Scripture.

Think about her story as you read Matthew 18:2-6, Mark 10:15, Luke 1:39-45, Luke 10:21, Luke 18:17, John 3:3-8, Eph 6:4, Titus 3:5, and 1 Peter 3:18-22. It's time for everyone to ask themselves alot of questions. It may be time to rethink what you believe about children, baptism, and faith.

I have been humbled by her example. That day, she was the bolder Christian. The Holy Spirit is already manifest in her. She may not be out of diapers yet, but this little saint already loves Jesus and already knows that Jesus is God. Just ask her. She is not afraid to tell you what she believes.

There is so much clarity in the faith of a child. What a firm foundation! That baby is God because the baby is Jesus and Jesus is God. Jesus loves me. I love Jesus. I do bad things. I am sorry when I am bad. Jesus grew up. Jesus died on the Cross. Jesus is alive now. Mommy and Jesus love me even when I am bad. Jesus is going to take me to heaven.

Don't question this kid about the facts. She might try to kick you in the shin.

1 Corinthians 12:3-7


Christopher D. Hall said...

Yep, and her Christology is good too. Next time she refer to the Lady holding Him, "Yes, and that's the Mother of God."

I tell, you Mike, these kids get it, whereas us adults have lived far too long denying and second-guessing.

Good post.

Mike Baker said...

Thank you, Pastor Hall.

For the record, she does know that the name of the lady holding Jesus is Mother Mary. I should probably connect the dots for her on that.

I will reserve the rest of the Theotokos, the Athanasian Creed, and finer points of Substitutionary Atonement for later. That is probably still a bit much for her. What do you think... maybe wait until she gets to age five or so? =P

For now, we should probably work on being able to say the Kyrie, the common doxology, the Lord's Prayer, and do some work on the Commandments.

You are right about kids getting it. Maybe that is why they are held up as the Christian example so many times in Scripture.

Hey parents,

How much does your five year old know about such things? Do you bother to teach them anything of eternal value or are you neglecting your divinely appointed duty to train your children?

Repent. Get to work. Do not let confirmation be the first time they have heard of these things. This toddler is proof that you can start teaching solid doctrinal concepts before they can even count to 20.

Parents (and fathers in particular) should check and see what it says under each article of the Small Catechism where it says, "As the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household." If your child doesn't know the Small Catechism equal to his level of comprehension, that is primarily your failing. You are sending your child out into the sinful world unequippend, unprotected, unmotivated, and unarmed.

Does orthodox Lutheranism teach that confirmational instruction is the Pastors job? No.

Whose job is it? ...if you are a confessional Lutheran parent, it is yours. This Sunday, be sure to go thank your pastor for picking up the slack that is being left by the negligent congregation.