Monday, August 01, 2005

Covenant children and camp

This past week I attended my first Heidelberg Youth Camp. Other than the fact that I was consistently loosing sleep, it was a great time. The teaching was excellent and I enjoyed meeting a broad range of people from the RCUS. I say this was my first HYC, but I have been to Christian camps before. Being raised in a Southern Baptist church, I attended my share of camps. There was one glaringly obvious difference with this one though, and that is what I want to comment on here.

The difference was in how the children were addressed. They were taught as part of the church--holy children of believing parents. In fact, the theme of the camp, “Set Apart,” was even about this. They were told over and over again that the promises are committed to them as much as to their parents and that is the reason they should live Godly lives. This fits perfectly with Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 7:14: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.” The children are holy by reason of their baptism and their believing parents. Of course, this doesn’t mean that they are saved. Salvation is by grace alone through faith alone, but just as the children of Jews were set apart, so believers’ children are set apart from the world. They are different!! What a comfort it must be to Godly parents (I am not one yet, so I can only speculate) that to them as well as to their children the oracles and promises of God are committed. God takes such an interest believers that he even in a special way cares about their children! The Heidelberg says it well.
74. Are infants also to be baptized?

Yes. For since they, as well as their parents, belong to the covenant and people of God, and both redemption from sin and the Holy Ghost, who works faith, are through the blood of Christ promised to them no less than to their parents: they are also by Baptism, as a sign of the covenant, to be ingrafted into the Christian Church, and distinguished from the children of unbelievers, as was done in the Old Testament by Circumcision, in place of which in the New Testament Baptism is appointed.

This was not the case with the Baptists. Now I know a lot of them are much better in practice than their doctrine should allow, but on this issue, they are pretty consistent to their own teaching. The focus of those camps was always to get as many of them “saved” as possible. Altar calls were given every night and success was measured by how many responded. The children were treated as if they were outside the covenant, outside the church, and without hope. They treated their children no differently than if they were simply unbelieving pagans living in their home and under their supervision!

Praise be to God that “the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

3 Comments:

At 9:04 PM, Blogger saltedobject said...

How true this is! One group measures success by the sheer number of responses (coupled with visible emotion, of course). For the other, simple belief in the promises given to parent and child alike suffices. Ah, the simplicity of the Reformed faith!

 
At 10:16 AM, Blogger La Bona said...

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At 10:56 AM, Blogger Ecthelion said...

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