My wife and I have twin sons who headed off for their first year of college this fall. At such a time it is impossible not to reflect on the nearly inexpressible value of children, not only to parents and relatives but to society and just to life in general. I recently visited the museum dedicated to the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, which dedicated a special wall just to the children lost in that horrific act of hate. Whether it is Oklahoma City, 9/11, the devastations of war, or even kidnapping, it always is the children we mourn most. Relative innocence shattered, budding potential lost, the joy of youth blackened, life is never the same when children are lost.
I am pleased that my sons have grown up to accept Christ and be baptized in a nurturing church, developing their personal identities as Christians in their own circles of friends. As a former youth minister, I also know that growing up in a church is no guarantee to Christian parents that their children will ultimately and securely end up with a vibrant Christian faith of their own. Whether baptized as infants and attending catechism at 12, or walking down the aisle with their parents at 7 and being baptized (which occurred just last Sunday at the church I attended), or doing so at church camp later on, nothing seems to be the perfect formula for them to be confident Christians as they leave their parents' home for their own life of college or work or marriage.
Many crucial theological and educational issues come into focus when we consider children and salvation which encompasses such things as God's grace, personal accountability, true faith, true baptism, Christian youth education in the church, curriculum, youth ministry, education of parents in the spiritual development of children, and more. Is the system of youth conversion in the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ any better, despite its biblical support, than infant baptism when first-grade children can so innocently declare their faith in front of hundreds, only to say at fifteen that they didn't know what they were doing when they were seven or eight, and either deny their faith or demand rebaptism? Do we sometimes put so much confidence in baptism that we fail to have enough confidence in God?
It is highly unusual for a theological journal like SCJ to have any articles on children, not to mention two in just one issue. Counting the article in SCJ 5.1 (Spring, 2002) by Ralph Hawkins, "Infant Baptism and the Boundaries of Christian Fellowship," this actually makes three in two issues. Nevertheless, children deserve rigorous attention theologically and biblically. Jim Estep's article lets readers in on the theological conversations that take place about the conversion of children, which allows him to evaluate the typical Stone-Campbell position/practice and offer his own suggestions. Ron Clark's exegetical article offers an intriguing way of reading the remark "as a child" in Luke 18:15-17.
Ron Heine's article explaining in depth Alexander Campbell's controversial remarks about the law in his famous "Sermon on the Law" adds to our collection of articles which have touched on the subject, Gary Hall's "A Critique of the Place of the Old Testament in the Early Historical Perspective of the Stone-Campbell Movement" (SCJ 5.1), and Bruce Shield's "Campbell, Paul, and the Old Testament" (SCJ 2.2). Jim Sennett's article allows readers to dip their toes gently into a carefully crafted response to an ongoing philosophical debate about God. Rob Seesengood's article gives readers a glimpse into how work on ancient evidences, like cultic inscriptions, can aid in understanding the NT. A review article on Evangelicals and the Stone-Campbell Movement, which I am proud to have edited, recently published by InterVarsity, rounds out this issue.
The 2003 Stone-Campbell Journal conference will be March 21-22 at First Christian, Florissant. MO. The theme for the day-and-a-half conference (9:00 AM Friday to Noon Saturday) is: The Gospel ofJohn: Past and Present. Featured guest speaker, Craig Blomberg (Denver Seminary) will present: "The Historical Reliability of John," and also "The Latter Day Saints, Evangelicalism, and the Stone-Campbell Movement." Other plenary presenters include: Mark Matson (Milligan College), "Current Arguments for Johannine Priority," Tom Thatcher (Cincinnati Bible Seminary), "John in Current Study," and Carisse Berryhill (Harding Graduate School), "The Gospel of John in the Early Stone-Campbell Movement." Additional papers are welcomed in any subject area. Send the paper title by Feb. 15 to me, William Baker, at firstname.lastname@example.org.Information on registration can be found at www.stone-campbelljournal.comor by contacting Pam Ralls (314-837-3283, email@example.com).Cost $20 for subscribers, $30 for nonsubscribers, $12 for students.
William R. Baker, Editor
The OT forms a major portion of the Christian Bible. Yet, the StoneCampbell Restoration Movement retains an historic confusion onjust how the OT shouldfunction in the church. This article seeksthe rootsof that confusion in the thought of Alexander Campbell himself and argues that it originated in the historical and theological milieu in which Campbell did his work.
How does a child become a Christian? Is conversion necessary, or can a child simply be raised Christian? When is a child really ready to make an affirmation of faith, or is an affirmation even necessary? These questions raise profound theological, educational, and pastoral concerns. This article will address the question of childhood transformation by summarizing the major positions on the subject and identifYing the determining factors in reaching such positions. It will conclude with an attempt to coalesce the various positions into a paradigm of childhood transformation.
This article defends William Lane Craig)s Kalam Cosmological Argument against the objection that) even if the argument is sound) it does not prove theism) since it does not require the full-blown God of theism to solve the first-cause problem. A valid argument and defense of each premise is offered) followed by application to other natural theology arguments.
Many scholars of the Greco-Roman world of the NT continue to argue that Hellenistic ethics were articulated exclusively by philosophical communities and not by non-judeo-Christian religious communities. Many also disproportionately rely on ancient literature which only represents the views of a portion of the educated but not necessarily the populace as a whole. The analysis of an inscription from Lydian Philadelphia challenges both of these practices and offers insight into early Christian ethical thought.
The passages concerning children and the kingdom of God have been interpreted by various scholars to indicate a need for humility or childlikeness (Matt 18:1-6; 19:13-15; Mark 9:33-37; 10:13-16; Luke 9:4648; 18:15-17). Humility, simplicity, purity, and trust are themes suggested in this interpretation. When viewed in Luke's context of social justice, this kingdom/child story suggests a different interpretation. The use of ro~ natOtov (has paidion, «as a child») as a comparative clause, the attitudes concerning children, and the context of the texts suggest that this is another lesson about social justice.
Doug Kennard, Bryan College, Robert Rea, Lincoln Christian Seminary, Robert Hull, Jr., Emmanuel Schoolof Religion, and James North, Cincinnati Bible Seminary, review Evangelicalismand the Stone-Campbell Movement (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2002), edited by William R. Baker. The volume includes fourteen articles previously presented to the Stone-Campbell Study Group at Evangelical TheologicalSocietyAnnual Meetingsfrom 1996-2000 on the topics:"Are We Evangelical?» «TheRole of Faith in Conversion,» «TheRole of the Holy Spirit in Conversion,» «TheRole of Baptism in Conversion,» and «Modelsof the Church.»