What About Those Means?


Throughout time there has often or always been a school of thought that could be represented by the phrase “the end justifies the means.” To anyone who loves the truth, this repulsive and to be avoided at any cost.

Lately, I’ve have been made aware of a philosophy that seems to believe that “the means nullifies the end.” The promoters of this philosophy contend that any activity that could have an objectionable element in it cannot end with any good. They seem to believe that if “said activity” is used, there is no way that good can come from it.

The specific activity at hand is the use of snacks and trinkets in a bus ministry. Those “means” are labeled as bribes (using the current definition of that word). They say that since the children are not coming to church out of love for God and the gospel, they are receiving a perverted gospel (the children are somehow connecting a spiritual truth with a physical want/treat). The children in these churches then make professions of faith that are not real. Some even get baptized. After awhile, they quit going to church but continue in their life thinking they are saved. Those philosophers/theologians conclude then, that the means of “gimmicking” nullifies any gospel preaching that is presented to the children.

Since the picture presented by those of the “means nullifies the end” persuasion is genuinely bleak, and if true, must be addressed and corrected, I intend to examine this view in subsequent posts.

I hope to address the following issues:

  1. What are Scriptural means?
  2. What means do genuine Christians use with their own children?
  3. What is the profession age and “rate” for Christian’s children?
  4. Are there reasonable answers to objectors?
  5. If I think of more, I will add them to this list, so that we all know where this is going.

Some final acknowledgments:

  1. I am not trying to be snarky, if that’s a word. I do recognize the concerns of these godly men. I think it is obvious that I disagree with their position on a remedy and on what is proper.
  2. I hope to be completely biblical in this series. By that, I mean to use grammatical-historical hermeneutics to explain and support my positions (this should be something not seen too often from this side of the issue, I admit).
  3. I hope that hermeneutic is recognized and considered rather than dismissed.
  4. I made up the phrase “the means nullifies the end.” It seems to me to picture the position. If it is not precise enough, that should be okay. This is a discussion that by its nature must use generalities.
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2 Comments

  1. Although I am very bias about the bus ministry due to my own experience. I would like to share a thought about gimmicks.I hope this makes sense, since I am incoherent at times.

    The Bible often compares us as adopted children of God. In an earthly sense, when a child is adopted in a new family, do they join the family out of only love? No. They join the family because they need the family. they need the love, food, clothing, shelter and even gifts that the family has to offer. Is that family bribing the child with basic essentials to join the family. I think most would say “No”. Having our basic needs meet is even defined in Maslow pyramid. The higher up we are on the pyramid, the more successful we are in life, via worldly standards. This concept is taught in basic Pysch 101, even though it is mundane, it still holds true of the nature of man. Remember not EVERYTHING in pyschology is a crock.

    Now if this holds true in the earthly aspect, why wouldn’t it hold true to the spiritual. Man still has basic needs. We need food, clothing, shelter, love, trust, sense of belonging and the list goes on. When a child is given gimmicks, such as food, gifts, an ideal of belonging, they learn to trust. (Now remember we are talking about children, teens, adults, people at the age of accountability, not necessarily babies.) They will be more trusting, more open to the Gospel. How can one even accept something if they know nothing about it, ie the Gospel the love of God?

    Why is it that Christians that oppose of “gimmicks” have such a hard time joining the earthly and spiritual needs together? Why do they categorize it in it’s own little boxes? I think God knows that we should not separate the two. I think He but it best in Psalm 103:14 For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

  2. Noting the comment above, I would point out that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs turns the Biblical hierarchy of needs completely upside down. Maslow DID mix physical and spiritual: he put physical needs as man’s most basic, and put spiritual at the top of the pyramid as something only needed to be met when all the other needs (physical, security, emotional, etc.) were met. In Maslow’s godless proposition (contrary to the theme of Scripture) man lives by bread alone, and once that and all his other physical and emotional needs are met, eventually he can live by every word that proceeded from the mouth of God. Maslow would have man esteem his food as more necessary than the words of God in opposition to Job. There is no “application” of Maslow’s hierarchy to the spiritual realm, because he included its application right into the pyramid. Man’s most basic need is spiritual, not physical.

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