Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes and Sucklings

A stray conversation today taketh my mind back to the days when, a young evangelist-about-town, I found my way one dark Sunday night to the environs of the New Covenant Church in Dunstable. Frustrated by the impositions of the Strict and Peculiar Baptists, I thought to find new light in a dangerous and yet seductive new experience - the Charismatic movement.

I was sitting behind a young family - for the New Covenant Church took their evening services terribly seriously. And after a mere hour of the service, after a short time of worship and when the text had been given out, the sermon began.

A strong sermon, which I remember to this day. A warning about the importance of parental discipline. The pastor stressed that the woes of the modern world can be traced to too slack an attitude to children's behaviour. Does the Good Book not command, he remarked, that we should enforce a strong moral code in our children? Should we not teach them that we live not for pleasure, but to please the Lord? Should we not teach them that while all things are possible, not all things are permitted? Should we not, in short, bring our children up to keep within the bounds of the narrow road that leadeth to salvation - eschewing the wide and easy spiritual M1 which leads only to an unfortunate breakdown in the contraflow near Husborne Crawley?

As I say, in front of me was a young family. The Covenant Fellowship in those days encouraged its members to bring with them a notebook, for writing down the main points of sermons for future fruitful meditation. And this family had equipped its younger son - of the age, I should think, of seven or eight, with a pen and spirobound notepad.

And I watched as this young hero of the faith listened to the message from the platform, heard a particularly important point, and reproduced it in his notebook, exactly as he had understood it. He wrote "Always say no to your children".

Friends, it is a quarter of a century since this happened. The young man himself may now be a parent and patriarch himself. I pray he has kept his notepad.


  1. The Good Book also says one should stone naughty children.

    I wonder if the pastor could have provided advice on the exact infringements that permit stoning. I need it urgently.

  2. I hope my kids don't get stoned, well, at least not until they're old enough to pay the fine themselves!


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