“But the more familiar one becomes with any religious system, while yet the conscience and will are unawakened and obedience has not begun, the harder is it to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Such familiarity is a soul-killing experience, and great will be the excise for some of those sons of religious parents who have gone further towards hell than may be born and bred thieves and sinners.” George MacDonald
Wow. Those are really strong and hard words. How do I respond to the strength of conviction in regards to introducing my kids to a “religious system” that may push them “further towards hell”?
Let me back up and first explain who George MacDonald is. George was a Scottish minister and author who was alive from 1824 – 1905. He wrote several children’s fantasty books (Sir Gibbie, The Princess and the Goblin, At the Back of the North Wind), and several novels set in Scotland.
It is said that he influenced Edith Nesbit (you just HAVE to read some of her books to your kids!), C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Madeline L’Engle. (Of course I think that you should read these other authors to kids upon which you have influence, but because it is more likely that you will, since they’re more well known, I put emphasis on E. Nesbit…)
He also served as a mentor to Lewis Carroll, the author of “Alice in Wonderland”.
I know that if you’re just being introduced to the life of George MacDonald, his words don’t hold a lot of weight; but I’ve been a fan of his for several years, having read his novels even before I had children. I know what a gifted thinker he was.
Now, back to my thoughts on the quote.
I know a young lady, a relative on my husband’s side, that was raised by a single dad who also happened to be an active drug addict. Because of his addiction, she was forced to urinate in a cup so that he could take her clean urine to work to pass drug tests, she was put in the position to keep the family secret from all outsiders, she was asked to lie about his health and status, and of course, she had a front row seat to see his daily struggle.
At the same time, this father took every last penny that he didn’t spend on drugs and put it towards getting her placed in a Christian school. Every day she sat under Christian teachers, memorizing Bible verses, learning all subjects from a Christian perspective, and was treated as if she had a faith of her own.
As an adult, with “the conscience and will unawakened and obedience not begun”, but being forced a religious system, she made decisions to go the opposite way of her training.
I am definitely introducing my kids to something. We memorize Bible verses, they sit under a Christian teacher, they are taught subjects from my Christian worldview, and are treated as if they have a faith of their own. To most people, it could look like a “religious system”.
However, the beginning point of my parental foundation is not an adherence to a system – but rather a relationship with God. I believe that, through His Son, we can access the Creator of the universe. Without that relationship as the foundation of faith, all that faith is, is a series of rules and strivings. I don’t have patience for one more rule; however, I do have room for a relationship.
My prayer is that my kids have been introduced to a God, a friend, a comforter, a provider. I pray that they have seen their position as daughter/son to a loving Father, and that they recognize that He calls them “friend” and not “servant” (John 15:15). In this way, alone, will I have awakened their conscious and begun the journey of obedience towards His Word in their lives.
Thanks, Mr. MacDonald, for reminding me what my ultimate goal is for my children.