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Doctrinal Discussions:

Sunday School

October 21, 2006

These studies examine the traditional doctrines held by the Church of Christ to see if they are actually taught in the scriptures. This is not an "anti-Church of Christ" site. I was reared in the Church of Christ and have been preaching since 1968 in the Church of Christ. My desire is that we walk righteously before God, not according to traditions of men.  Bernie Parsons

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Sunday School

By Bernie Parsons - October 21,  2006

You won't find Sunday School in the Bible, so why do we find it in the churches?

Churches extol the virtues of Sunday School, especially for children of folks who don't attend assembly. Excuses are offered, such as, "It is the only way that they will hear the gospel!" Your favorite excuse may differ slightly from this, but the purpose is the same to justify the practice.

There are people who are against Sunday School. There is an entire subset of the Church of Christ that is identified as the "no classes", or "no-classrooms", Church of Christ. Of course, my own disapproval of Sunday School starts at a more elemental level yet--you see, I don't even approve of "worship service" and "church buildings", let alone, Sunday School!

Most Christians don't even know the origins of Sunday School. The beginning of this practice is often attributed to one Robert Raikes, in Gloucester, England, in 1780. The earliest Sunday Schools were set on that day in order to educate poor children, who often worked the other six days of the week, and could not attend regular schools. In Mr. Raikes' Sunday School, they were taught reading, and spelling, with the Bible often used as the main study guide. There was an underlying effort to teach them the basics of religion, as well. They were also reprimanded for the use of bad language, and were taught some basic social skills.

Some parents did not approve of the Sunday schools, as many felt that it was the parents' responsibility to teach their children at home.

Many denominations now use the Sunday School to try to win converts to their religion by bringing in the children of parents who do not attend regular church assemblies themselves. In the Church of Christ, I have often seen Sunday School used as a way of keeping the children occupied while the adults conduct their Bible study. I am sure that other churches do the same. In fact, it has gotten so bad that some in the Church of Christ now also hold what they term "Children's Church" during the "regular" assembly (which they call Worship Service), to again keep noisy and disruptive children occupied. Of course, they also tender the excuse that, since children learn on a different level than adults, they should be taught separately.

What is my objection to all of this? It is unscriptural and unnecessary.

As many of the early parents protested, the responsibility for educating children lies with the parents. Some choose to home school, while others send their children to private or public schools. This takes care of the reading, writing, and arithmetic (and, in the case of public schools, some other things that you may not want your children to learn about sexual activity and promiscuity, as well as socialism), but what about religious education?

Again, using the Bible as our authority, the responsibility lies with the parents.

Ephesians 6:4: "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."

Colossians 3:20: "Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord."

When children obey their parents, they are following their instructions. Instructions are meant to educate. Children are to be reared in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. This means that the parents in general, and the father in particular, are responsible for teaching the children the ways of the Lord. This is a godly principle carried forward from ancient spiritual teaching.

Deuteronomy 11:18: "Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.
19: And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
20: And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:
21: That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.
22: For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him;"

The ancient Israelites were to teach their children, and their grandchildren, the ways of the Lord. We Christians are instructed to teach our children the ways of the Lord.

As for those critics who say that children cannot learn in the general assembly of Christians when they meet, as outlined in 1 Corinthians 14, to study the ways of the Lord, I offer this thought:

Joshua 8:34: "And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law.
35: There was not a word of all that Moses commanded, which Joshua read not before all the congregation of Israel, with the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them."

Joshua wanted even the children to hear the Law of Moses read to them. Shouldn't we want the teachings of Christ read to our children? It doesn't hurt.

Sunday school is unnecessary and unscriptural. If you want your children to know about Jesus, then teach them at home! If you want your neighbors' children to be taught, have your children become friends with them, and teach them all! There are opportunities all day long to impart the wisdom and instruction of Jesus through life's daily occurrences, which is what Moses told the children of Israel to do.

No one cares more about your children, their souls, and their faith than you do!

God bless all!

Love, in Christ,


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