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.