Salvation To A Child – Introduction

A question was asked me recently. “How would you explain salvation to a child?”

Tough question. My answer: Uh… I don’t know…

I decided I have to remedy that answer. So, I’m going to write a series of posts answering this question. Hopefully they’ll be shorter posts. In this post I want to make a few introductory observations.

First, Dallas Willard (as Sam pointed out to me the other day) says that the best way to teach children is through stories. Somehow stories speak to children. They speak to all ages, of course, and they are perhaps the best way of teaching in general, but I think they are one of the only ways to communicate effectively to a child. So, I will try to teach by telling stories.

Someone might say at this point “Oh, it’s easy, I could explain salvation to a child! I’d just tell them that Jesus died and rose again for their sins so that they could have a relationship with God, and then I’d say the way to accept God’s free gift is to ask Jesus into your heart.”

I believe that is a very distorted gospel, and not a hint of it is found within the teachings of the Church or the Holy Scriptures. That was what was explained to me as a child in Sunday School, and I think it is a very bad way of going about explaining things to a child. Looking back at that gospel’s effect on me, there were many negative consequences that resulted in my indoctrination. Working in Sunday school, I have also witnessed some of the very negative effects such a gospel has on children, who are worried to tears about whether they are saved or not. Hopefully how my view of salvation differs from this view will become clear as I proceed. Perhaps after I complete the several posts addressed to a child, I will wrap up with some more detailed commentary.

With those introductory notes, let us move on the gospel.

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6 thoughts on “Salvation To A Child – Introduction

  1. I have two comments. First, referring to stories, I was waiting for you to mention the fact that Jesus taught through parables for this reason. However, I’ll let it slide with the assumption that you thought it was just too cliche to mention.

    Second, although I recognize the allure of assertive language, to say that “not a hint of it is found within the teachings of the Church or the Holy Scriptures”, is too conclusive. The standard passages like John 3:16 and Romans 6:23 give more than just a “hint” of that. I would agree that there’s more too the Gospel, but at the same time, I can understand why people would see it that way.

  2. Josh, to your first statement, yes, I thought about it but thought it was too obvious to mention. lol.

    To your second statement, no, John 3:16 talks about the world. Not the individual. That’s a major major difference. God did not want to save *you*, he wanted to save the *world*. And I’m not quite sure how Romans 6:23 has anything to do with the above stated view. But all to come. πŸ˜›

    And to you, Mr. Wilson, why thank you. I’ve missed my blog.

  3. I agree that the simple explanation you gave in your intro is missing the most important things that a child needs to know. Another question to consider is how does a child think? What kind of thinking (abstract, concrete, deductive, etc.) is a child capable of, and at what age? For that matter, you can ask the same questions of any person with whom you share the gospel, since these abilities change over time — us older folks lose some of these abilities as we get older, too. πŸ™‚

  4. First, welcome back, I missed disagreeing with you.

    Okay, I’ll be nitpicky and ask, what do you mean when you say child? Because a child’s grasp can change significantly over just a short couple years.

    And, are you referring to children raised in a Christian family? Because if so they’re taught Christ and him crucified from their earliest hour and their learning is not from a short couple sentences that they’re taught but rather through constant teaching and example.

    But then, I object to Sunday School for anyone under junior high, so feel free to ignore me. πŸ™‚

  5. By a child I mean a little one somewhere between grades 1-5. lol. I’m not sure what age range that is.

    Raised in a Christian family… not necessarily. But I also think that many children raised in Christian families do not know the gosepl, at least not truly or clearly. So this explanation seeks to explain to both those who are misinformed and those who are uninformed.

    And this is not in reference to Sunday School specifically, but just in general. And I agree with you about Sunday School. Kind of. I think. Theoretically anyways. Idk. I’m kind of torn on the matter.

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