Friday, November 04, 2005

Rick Holland on Gospel-Centered Parenting

What a week! If you're a newcomer to this blog, this week my employer, Positive Action For Christ, sponsored the first-ever God Focused Youth Ministry Training Conference. I plan to post a report in coming days, but I'm not sure I have the distance yet (or the energy) to do a great job of it. And on that energy note, please pray if you are so inclined for the physical recovery of the speakers. Frank Hamrick carried an exhausting load as a primary speaker and the individual ultimately responsible for all that occurred. Bob Bixby will be speaking three times at my church Sunday, and Rick Holland flew back to California today, where he was to spend some time in the office still this afternoon, lead in a college ministry function tomorrow night, preach Sunday, and leave for a pastors' conference in Italy next week.

Now to the point of this post. Much of the theological/philosophical message of the conference was familiar to me since I spend time every week with Frank Hamrick. Frank is not the originator of God-centeredness (God is), but he is a pretty good articulator of it. One concept that was not familiar to me but was one of those "Aha!" moments was Rick Holland's discussion of Gospel-centered parenting. I hope my paraphrase from memory does it justice. I will post a link to MP3s when they're available.
Children are responsible to obey. Parents are responsible to teach their children, not to obey, but that it is utterly impossible for them to obey. That is the point of the gospel. We cannot obey. We cannot meet God's standard of righteousness. Gospel-centered parenting teaches children that although they are responsible to obey, they cannot fulfill this responsibility. Only the righteousness of Jesus Christ applied to their accounts can remove sin's penalty and reconcile them to God. Parental discipline is a tangible reminder that they cannot please God by their own efforts.


Wendy said...

That's not all, right? Tell me more. You've set up the problem--can you flesh out the solution in greater detail or do I have to wait on the audio?

Ben said...

I'm afraid that's about all I've got. As I remember, Rick didn't dwell on this point. Maybe I should try to expand a little.

A gospel-centered parent does not use those times when discipline is necessary to inflict pain with the goal that the child obeys the next time. That's merely behaviorism.

Rather, a gospel-centered parent teaches the child being disciplined that the punishment is a very small representation of the penalty that God's justice demands and that the child's repeated failure to obey only proves his or her incapacity to meet God's standard.

The parent also teaches that only Christ's righteousness obtained by faith in His death and resurrection can remove the child's guilt before God. The good news is that He offers complete forgiveness. I don't think Rick said this, but I suppose that a parent could even give unconditional mercy from time to time as an illustration of God's unconditional grace offered to us.