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:
- What are Scriptural means?
- What means do genuine Christians use with their own children?
- What is the profession age and “rate” for Christian’s children?
- Are there reasonable answers to objectors?
- If I think of more, I will add them to this list, so that we all know where this is going.
Some final acknowledgments:
- 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.
- 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).
- I hope that hermeneutic is recognized and considered rather than dismissed.
- 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.