Is Child Evangelism a Form of Child Abuse?


Is Child Evangelism

a Form of Child Abuse?

Five-year-old Jerry sits on Daddy’s lap, listening to stories about Jesus. Daddy tells him how Jesus healed sick people, and how He taught them to be good. He reads stories about how Jesus held little children in His arms and blessed them.

Then Daddy tells Jerry, “Jesus loves you and all of us, and He wants everyone to become a Christian. Would you like to become a Christian, Jerry?”

Jerry is happy at this thought. “How do I do it, Daddy?” he says.

“Just confess your sins to Jesus and ask Him to come into your heart,” Daddy replies.

So Jerry prays, “Dear Jesus, forgive me when I’m bad, and help me to be good. Come into my heart and make me a Christian so I can go to heaven to be with You some day.”

Daddy hugs Jerry as he tells him, “Now you’re Jesus’ little lamb. If you pray to Him always and obey Him, you will be a Christian from now on, and you can go to heaven some day and see Jesus and Grandma.”

The following Sunday, Jerry is baptized. He and his parents are very happy.

Years pass. They are happy years for the Davis family, as they proclaim to all the world their love for Jesus. But now Jerry is in his teens, and something is going wrong. He finds that he is doing things that he knows he should not do. He starts with a little lie, then sneaks things behind his parents’ backs. Soon he gets into deeper trouble. He hates himself, but feels powerless to change. He is crying inside for help. He wishes he could unload his struggles to his parents, but his guilt has made him afraid of them.

Jerry doesn’t know where to turn. So he becomes infatuated with sports. He becomes a star athlete as he tries to drown his troubled conscience in the game. His parents don’t suspect anything is wrong.

Why doesn’t Jerry turn to God? Because he thinks he already is a Christian. By the time Jerry is in his upper teens, he becomes disgusted with his parents’ religion, because they have not offered him any relief. He thinks to himself, “Christianity is for little children and old ladies. But I need something deeper, something more fulfilling.” So he despises his parents and their religion and turns to his peers and to the world for guidance.

Poor Jerry. His Dad has committed a great injustice against him. It would have been better for Dad to have a millstone hung around his neck and be cast into the bottom of the sea. And it would have been better for Jerry if he never were born.

Children are innocent. Jesus said that of such is the kingdom of God, and He invites us to become as little children. Child evangelism is a damnable heresy! When God calls, this misguided soul refuses to answer because he thinks he has already answered.

Parents, beware! One of the greatest injustices we can commit against our child is to make him believe he is lost before he is, and saved when he is not.

Phillip Cohen

Note: Although this is a Mennonite response to the question of childhood evangelism, we believe that it does address a serious problem that is often found in evangelical and fundamentalist homes.  Parents are rightly concerned that their children escape hell and enter heaven.  However, in their attempt to assure their child’s salvation, they fail to fully realize that one who comes to Christ must have remorse and repentance because of sin against God (and not merely sin against the parents), must have an intelligent and informed faith in Jesus Christ as well as God the Father, and must be baptized/immersed into Jesus Christ, into His death, and rise to walk a new life—as a disciple of Christ, with a serious desire to obey all of His will (see Matthew 28:18-20; John 3:14-18; 5:24; Acts 2:37-42; 17:30-31; 26:18, 20; Romans 6:1-11; Colossians 2:11-13).  While we may not know precisely the age that any one child is prepared to respond in this manner, it is safe to conclude that a five- or six-year-old child doesn’t have the ability to make this kind of weighty decision.  On the other hand, the practice of waiting until a boy or girl is in the later teens seems foolish and dangerous.  RH

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