Family-Integrated Church 17: Samuel, Jesus, and Paul (Part 1)

by | Jun 15, 2011 | Family-Integrated Church

The Family-Integrated Church movement condemns the idea of age-segregated Sunday School classes. They do this in the context usually of a strong commitment to home-schooling. This raises the suspicion that they are against anyone teaching children except their parents or at least with their parents present.

To be fair I do not think this is the position of the more moderate. A Weed in the Church actually admits that parents may delegate the actual teaching of children to others, though not the primary responsibility for it. (61-65) This is true according to the same source both as to the religious instruction and general education of children and true even when their parents are not present. I have pointed out that this does not seem altogether consistent or coherent with the rejection of age-segregated Sunday Schools or youth meetings.

There is some reason, of course, to think that these concessions by the more moderate family-integrated folks to some kind of parentally delegated and age-appropriate instruction in the absence of parents is either highly qualified or somewhat reluctant. It seems good, therefore, to bring up and consider the instances of Samuel (1 Samuel 1-12), Jesus (Luke 2), and Paul (Acts 22). Each is a biblical example of a child who was instructed by religious teachers other than and in the absence of their parents.

With regard to these examples I think we must both remember and grant that they are descriptive passages and not necessarily normative in force. That is, they simply record what happened without passing judgment on what happened and without overtly presenting what happened as normative. The fact that some act is recorded in the Bible does not mean necessarily that is presented to us as a model for how we should act. The whole Book of Judges, for instance, is full of descriptions of God’s people doing things that should not be normative for us.

But while granting that the passages in question are generally descriptive in character and that we must be really careful about deducing our duty from such passages, I believe there are things to be learned relative to the claims of the Family-Integrated Church movement. I want to show why this is the case in my next post.

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