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Augustine taught that all humans born since the Fall possessed sinful natures (original sin) from birth. Pelagius on the other hand believed that all humans were born innocent, only gaining sinful natures eventually based on free choices made due to the sinful examples of other humans.
Often in ministry I have observed evangelicals that claim to believe that all humans are born sinners (Augustine), live as if their children will be corrupted by outside influences (Pelagius). Parents may profess to believe that their children are sinners, but they seek to protect them from a sinful world as if the world is the problem. The problem with our children is not outside influences, but is instead their inside influences. If you and I protect our children from sin, we still cannot protect them from their sinful selves. Our children are what is wrong with the world; the world is not what is wrong with our children.
Instead of living as if your children “will be” corrupted by the world, you should instead teach them to handle their own sinful natures in a wicked world. In order to communicate this, you must tell your children that they are what is wrong with the world. You must teach them that they are sinners (Rom. 3:23) in desperate need of a Savior (John 14:6). Apart from His life, death, burial, and resurrection in their stead, there is no hope for them (Rom. 6:23). Christ’s finished work is their only hope for being reconciled to God the Father (Rom. 10:9-11).
By the time your children are 18 years of age, they should be prepared to live in a wicked world in which they are part of the wickedness. Thus, having run to Christ, they must be prepared to face temptation. You must thoroughly teach them the Scriptures, and how to discern the difference between truth and lies in their surrounding culture. If you believe that the world is the problem, you will try to shield them from the world; however, if you believe they are the problem, you will instead teach them how to hide the Word of God in their hearts so that they might not sin against God (Psalm 119:11).
Because you cannot separate your children from their sin-natures (Augustine), you must prepare them to handle their sin-natures. We must cultivate the fruit of the Spirit in our children, realizing that they will always desire wickedness on earth; yet, they must learn to appropriate and cultivate the self-control of God the Holy Spirit, His fruit in their lives. One of the biggest problems of children raised by evangelicals is that they are not prepared to live in this world because Augustinian parents are practicing the methodology of Pelagians. Our children do not know how to handle temptation whenever they cannot escape it because we have falsely deified our protecting ability to the point of hindering the cultivation of self-control in their lives (Pelagian). In other words, in trying to protect our children through legalistic boundaries, we have not prepared them to live in this wicked world. Sooner or later temptation will knock on the door; and no amount of legalism can stop it. If you have not taught your children how to respond to temptation through teaching them how to be discerning (Augustine), then you are dooming them for eventual failure.
One way to help your children cultivate discernment in this wicked world is to participate in ungodly media with them. Let me qualify the term “ungodly.” I’m not saying that children must be shown immorality so they will know what is immoral (You do not want to tempt your children to sin); I am merely saying that a child must be thoroughly taught the Scriptures, and then he or she must be shown how to discern the difference between truth and lies. One way to do this is if you show your children how to use discernment as they participate in media. In our world, your children will participate in media; and they will either participate like Christians or like non-Christians. You must understand that even Disney’s The Princess and the Frog is full of paganism and false gospels:
Furthermore, in God’s world, all that is true, is true because God created it true. Truth thus is found all around us in every form of media. The problem is that this truth is laced with lies or it is divorced from Christ’s finished work, which always equals a false gospel. You must teach your children to recogize all lies that are presented by all media that they choose to participate in: The nightly news, books, newspapers, movies, TV shows, songs, etc.. You must help them filter everything they hear and see so that they will possess a consistent Christian worldview.
If you want to be a practicing Augustinian parent, you should participate in ungodly media with your children so…
1. They can see the outworkings of contemporary worldviews. Secular humanism for example is hard to recognize for the average Christian because it is largely Christ-less Christianity. Types of Secular humanists attend our churches regularly while viewing the Bible as a book they can accomplish and Christ as an example that they can follow. The Book of Eli for example argues for a type of Secular Humanism, a type of moralism that comes from the Bible, but is divorced from Christ. Even “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” teaches a type of secular humanism: “So, be good for goodness sake.” = A false gospel.
2. They can recognize the various lies of culture. On most sitcoms, husbands are 1) stupid, 2) submissive to their wives, 3) uninvolved in raising their children, etc. Furthermore, 1) homosexuality is acceptable, 2) adultery is laughable, and 3) sexual immorality has no consequences. While watching one of these sitcoms with your teenagers, you can ask: What is biblical about this show? What isn’t? Are the characters good husbands, wives, parents, etc.? Why or why not? What is true about this show, and what is false?
3. They can discern what the prevalent worldviews are in the media. All media has an agenda that either reveals God’s glory or hides it. Most media seeks to hide God’s glory. Whether this is intentional or not is irrelevant; your children must recognize the difference between truth and lies. Furthermore, they must especially practice discernment when listening to music. It is easy for children and teenagers to just mumble lyrics while not thinking about or understanding what the artist is saying. This is NOT discernment!
Here is a song called “Judith” by a band named A Perfect Circle. Whenever this song first came out, I could only understand “f-o-l-l-o-w your Christ, your God,” and “He did it all for you!” I even called the radio station to request the song. I had not practiced discernment! Here is the song with lyrics; WARNING: This song is blasphemous and has explicit lyrics (Turn down your speakers). If you have a sensitive conscience, then do NOT listen to this song! I simply want you to see what can happen to your children if they are not taught to keep their minds active as they participate in media; to constantly filter everything, separating the good from the evil, while qualifying everything in light of the condition of man and the finished work of Christ:
4. They can learn how to enjoy media unto God’s glory alone. Christians must not enjoy media like Atheists, pagans, or non-Christians. Christians must enjoy God through enjoying media; thus, they must hate evil and cling to what is good.A Christian must always cling to what is good (Rom. 12:9, Heb. 1:9), and think on what brings glory to God (Phil. 4:8). You must teach your children that their minds must always be active as they participate in media.
Here is a song called “Nowhere kids” by Smile Empty Soul.It is a good example for us to examine as we “cling to what is good, and hate what is evil.”There is much about this song that is true because GOD made it true; as well as, much we should hate.What is good about this song?What is evil?WARNING: This is NOT a Christian Band; but, the lyrics are somewhat edited:
5. They can tell the difference between Greco-Roman love and Biblical love. Most definitions for “love” that are presented in movies, TV shows, books, plays, songs, etc. argue for love being an uncontrollable force that humans have no control over. People speak often about “falling in love,” and consequently about “falling out of love,” as well. The Bible however presents love as a choice that all humans are commanded to make toward God and one another (Mark 12:30-31). Husbands and wives are commanded to love one another as well. In the Bible, love is not based on “feelings” or “emotions,” even though this Greco-Roman mythical love dominates all forms of media. Therefore, if you or your children believe that love is an uncontrollable force that happens to you, then you have believed a lie. Furthermore, if you do not talk to your children about the biblical definition of love, they will believe and learn their definition of love from the media they participate in; and the definition they receive will NOT be biblical love. For Christians, “warm, fuzzy feelings” are a result of choosing to love rather than the result of an uncontrollable force that happens to us.
Here is an example of ungodly love; it’s presented by the Goo Goo Dolls in a song called “Iris.”
6. They can learn how to practice discernment. Your children will participate in media for the rest of their lives. It is part of the world that they live in. They will either enjoy media unto God’s glory alone, or unto an idol’s glory alone.
Here’s a very moral and clean song by Phil Vassar called “Just Another Day in Paradise.” Most Christian parents would have no problem with their children listening to this song; however, it is still an ungodly song. What gospel does this song teach? Is it the gospel presented in the Bible, or is it a false gospel? Does Vassar describe “paradise” accurately? Is it godly for Vassar to love his paradise so much that he “wouldn’t trade it for anything,” or, is his paradise an idol?
7. They can tell the difference between godly media and ungodly media. Ungodly media is any media that does not communicate the saving gospel of Christ. Thus, any movie, TV show, song, play, book, etc. that does not include the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as the answer for what’s wrong with the world, either needs further revelation that you must provide or is presenting a false gospel. Pearl Jam for example in their remake “Last Kiss” argues that the gospel is “being good.” Furthermore, the whole reason the author wants to go to heaven is not primarily to be with Jesus, but rather to be with “his love, his life, his baby” that died. We too must be careful to overemphasize seeing our loved ones in heaven. When you participate in media with your children or teens, you can point out the subtle differences between godly and ungodly media.
8. They can recognize the difference between cultural Christianity and biblical Christianity. Cultural Christianity emphasizes the various traditions of evangelical Christianity, often Southern and associated with fellowshipping with family and friends. Biblical Christianity however cares less about the traditions of men, and rather enjoys God through Christ. The glory and joy of Sunday is ultimately God alone.
Here is an example of cultural Christianity:
9. They can see how the media answers the various worldview questions all men seek to answer. Dr. Voddie Baucham lists four worldview questions that all humanity asks and seeks to answer: 1) Who am I? 2) Why am I here? 3) What’s wrong with the world? 4) How can we fix what’s wrong with the world? (The Ever Loving Truth). The Bible argues: 1. You are a creation of the most-high God. You are the crowning glory of God’s creation. 2) You are here to bring glory and honor to God. 3) We are what’s wrong with the world. In our sin we are not doing what God has created us to do. 4) The world is fixed by the redemption provided by Jesus Christ alone. Almost every movie, TV show, song, or book seeks to answer at least one of these questions; and many try to answer all of them.
10. They can recognize the difference between therapeutic deism and Christianity. Both of these religions come from the Bible; however, only one includes the finished work of Christ. Veggie Tales for example is Christ-less. It breaks this writer’s heart that most Christian adults and children are not discerning enough to recognize that Veggie Tales is merely Christ-less therapeutic deism. Just because it comes from the Bible does not make it biblical! All biblical truth must be understood in light of Christ’s physical life, death, and resurrection or it is not full biblical truth; and thus, it is not Christian. Veggie Tales teaches the Bible as if it is a book that humans can accomplish. Almost every episode concludes with a Bible verse that the audience can accomplish. If humanity can accomplish God’s requirements, then why did Jesus die for sinners?
What are your thoughts about this article? Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not?